The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Working my way through the McVitie’s chocolate digestives, from my Christmas box – did you know that if you put two together with the chocolate sandwiched in the middle you don’t get chocolate all over your fingers and you’re conscience is clear too, good tip Hamilton.

Yesterday was ‘Opera Night’, Giacomo Puccini (1856 – 1924) and his greatest opera, Tosca. (Giacomo – did he no have a cafe in Dunfermline?)

My DVD is performed at the Metropolitan, Hildegard Behrens, as Floria Tosca, what a range this girl has. And Mario Cavaradossi, well the one and only Placido Domingo, he is so well known now that he needs no introduction from me. Then we have Scarpia, brilliantly played by Cornell MacNeil, this man has made the part his own. Surely there has never been three voices better suited to this opera. Then again I do have a CD that I play, almost as audio wallpaper, in the workshop, and in the lineup, Maria Callas, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Tito Gobbi, hard to beat.

Of course they all end up dead in the end, very dramatic. If I were to pick just one aria from the opera it would have to be Vissi d’arte, Vissi d’ amore, sung by Tosca, she is wondering why she is being subjected to such an ordeal since she has followed all the laws of man and god.

However the aria that will have the audience on their feet and screening in the isles, is “E iucevan le Stelle” Mario has given his ring to his jailer in exchange for a chance to write Tosca a last letter. As he writes, Mario is overwhelmed by his memories and despair, he breaks down, overcome by his emotion.

At school, we had a teachers who was a big fan of opera. One day Hamish Bell, a classmate, told her he had forced himself to sit through an opera on the television, and he still was not a convert. And I remember her answer, ‘Good, she said, the next time you hear that opera or an aria from it, you will remember and enjoy it, I promise’. I have no idea if Hamish sat through another opera but our teacher was right, it takes time to appreciate opera, but it is well worth the effort.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig.

Tomorrow the Commons will vote through the agreement reached between the EU and the Westminster government. Most of the MPs voting on Wednesday, will not have even read the document, and if they have done do they really understand the implications of what they are voting for?

It is a foregone conclusion the house will pass the document into law, for there is no alternative to this agreement, you see the UK left the EU a year ago. No one is suggesting that we have a referendum in the country to ask the public, if what is being proposed is really what they expected when they voted to leave the EU some four years ago, to ask, is this still what they wish for, or have you changed your mind and would now prefer now to stay in the EU? No we will have to wait until 2025 for that answer.

The Tories have a majority of 80 and now we have a Labour leader that is more of an establishment man than any Tory. Those in power within the Labour Party, stitched up Corbyn (although I never rated him as a leader) to get back to a Blair agenda, with policies more in keeping with the Westminster establishment, and its backers. Labour spokespersons will now troop before the cameras and tell the people we will vote with the government – because this deal is better than a no-deal, Aye right.

The SNP will vote against the bill so they can trot out the line that Scotland is being treated shabbily, again. In the hope that this will win them favour in the upcoming, Holyrood elections. Of course, they will be accursed of greeting Jocks, by the national press and media, bad loser and by voting against the deal they are voting for a no-deal, well what’s new.

The Tories, along with their newfound allies, the Labour Party will move quickly to stem any attempt by the SNP to hold a referendum on independence and do so before the Holyrood elections.

Will this stop the beat of the independence drum?

This is no longer about independence for independence sake, we are now fighting for our very existence, our right to be. There is a grassroots movement in Scotland (that has supported and kept the SNP in power at Holyrood) and to a greater of lesser degree have been sidelined by the SNP, They come from all political parties and none, and if the SNP ignore their drumbeat they will continue to march on, all the way to the polls.

Whatever else 2021 brings, it is going to be quiet.

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