Another milestone – 25,000 words written, about a third of the way towards my target, and the book is beginning to take shape. Sandstone Press, my publisher, has put this on their website, which makes it all seem very real. Let’s hope I can live up to my billing of bringing ‘wit and intelligence’ to the page.
Frustratingly, the book remains untitled. I’ve got more than 20 ideas written down, but none of them quite fit the bill. The title needs to eloquently sum up the various themes – the outdoors, travel, adventure, and ideally have the words island/islands or Hebrides in there. Any ideas very gratefully received.
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A professor of Spanish and a professor of Gaelic met at a conference and began discussing the relative merits of their respective languages. ‘Tell me, ’ said the Spanish professor, ‘do you have a Gaelic equivalent for the Spanish phrase mañana, mañana?’ The Hebridean professor thought for a while, then replied, ‘No, I do not think that we have in Gaelic a word that conveys such a pressing sense of urgency’.
The name Hebrides is not Gaelic, and is probably a corruption of Ebudae, the Roman name for the islands. But the alternative derivation from the Norse havbredey – ‘isles at the edge of the sea’ – has a much more poetic ring, alluding to the broad vistas of sky and sea that characterise the islands’ often bleak and treeless landscapes. But there is beauty here too, in the machair (grassy, wildflower-speckleddunes) and dazzling white-sand beaches, majesty in the rugged hills and sprawling lochs, and mystery in the islands’ fascinating past. It’s a past signalled by Neolithic standing stones, Viking place names, deserted crofts and folk memories of the Clearances.