Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You know nothing about Lemmings!

Following a conversation with a young person about activities which "everybody does", I stopped myself from uttering the old canard about people jumping off bridges. I didn't even mention the Lemmings - those little rodents living in the north of Canada and along the same latitudes throughout Europe and Asia with a reputation for tossing themselves off cliffs in large numbers at the behest of some inner compulsion.

In fact it's all tosh. They don't throw themselves off cliffs. They migrate for food across vast distances where they are easy prey for owls and foxes. Most of them end up being dinner not suicide. A few of them fail to make it across rivers.

But no cliffs. They're smarter than that.

In order to create the myth of the suicidal lemming for their film "The White Wilderness" the Walt Disney people, in 1958 needed to transport large numbers of intelligent and self-preserving lemmings from the Canadian north to a suitable cliff down south from which they were tossed off with a turntable contraption for the benefit of the camera.

Without the commercial interests behind the enterprise, the poor creatures would be up on the tundra enjoying the Midnight Sun and munching on some sedge.

Lemmings know better. So should you!

Monday, March 21, 2011


When the studies are more in hand and Holy Week and Easter are "accomplished" I do want to take a day trip the the 15th Century Church at Fowlis Easter near Dundee and Guthrie Parish Church, a little farther on, to see some of the medieval paintings there which survived the Reformation (and only just). My pal Stephen has just come back from a jaunt to Fowlis Easter and includes a few of the photographs he took. Here you see the soul of the Bad Thief to one side of Jesus at the crucifixion yielding up his soul to a demon.

Mention is made in one article to paintings at Fowlis Easter being discussed at the Synod of Fife on May 6th, 1612

'Item, it is statute and ordained that the paintrie quhilk is upon the pulpitt
and ruid-laft, being monumentes of idolatrie, sal be obliterate be laying it over
with grein colour. The minister with diligens to see the same exped.'

The same article notes that the paintings were rediscovered 'at some point after 1746' languishing beneath a coat of whitewash. I am unclear whether they are now situated exactly where they once were or whether these fragments have been moved elsewhere within the body of the Church.

The article also makes reference to fragments of a judgement scene in the "Guthrie Aisle":

"...'Doom', a subject popular in medieval times,
but now surviving in Scotland only at Guthrie

So - those of us who are not residents of Guthrie, overshadowed by a residual sense of doom, might we consider a jaunt up north and a few "monumentes of idolatrie" some Saturday after Easter?