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TITLE
'The Most Glorious Strip of Bunting'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_JOHN_MCGILL
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
John McGill
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1385
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'The Most Glorious Strip of Bunting' by John McGill, published in 2007.

'Tyson, virtually naked when they parted from the Polaris, his spare britches stolen on the first night of their drift, stands in his ragged sealskin at the mercy of every draught and worries for his testicles. But there are moments of intimation even for him: icebergs, rendered unstable by the grinding pack, topple with shock-waves that rattle the million tons of their floe; clouds clear to reveal the myriad twinklings of the clearest firmament ever seen by human eyes; ghostly paraselenes - phantom moons - cancel hatred and bring the whole company together for brief minutes of shared wonder; and night upon night they hear, not in their ears but in their hearts and bones, the silken music of the aurora. They watch it dance, and Meyer taunts Tyson with the glory of it.

'I suppose you regard it as a manifestation of the divine.'

Tyson does. 'Don't you, Mr Meyer?'

For Meyer it proclaims the failure of the North Polar Expedition, and Tyson does not disagree - but the scientist needs an argument.

'I question the wisdom, if not the existence, of a deity who has to patch and mend. He pitches this benighted land into endless night, then comforts the bears and the eskimos with pretty displays of electrical discharge.'

Tyson raises his hand toward the shimmering green and yellow curtain that sweeps across the southwestern sky. 'I feel no need to question this,' he says.

Meyer laughs and there is a hint of German, a delicate lacing of Doctor Bessel, in his reply. 'Not even to ask why he troubled to make the darkness and the desolation in the first place?'

Tyson wonders if the theological speculation will continue when the flesh has properly wasted from their bones, whether Meyer will still be interested in metaphysical pointscoring when they have eaten the last dog and are turning to the sledge-lashings and the lamp-oil. 'Precisely in order that he might make the display. This might be as close as we are allowed to looking him in the face,' he says.

Meyer has uncased his sextant, but begins now to pack it again. 'You might ask him in your prayers to spare us the divine front tomorrow. I can get no bearing n Cassiopeia tonight.'

John McGill was born in Glasgow in 1946 and attended school and university there. He did his teacher training in Edinburgh and went on to teach English in Orkney, Shetland, Germany and Lincolnshire. John now lives on a farm on the west coast of mainland Orkney, close to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

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'The Most Glorious Strip of Bunting'

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: John McGill

This audio extract is from 'The Most Glorious Strip of Bunting' by John McGill, published in 2007.<br /> <br /> 'Tyson, virtually naked when they parted from the Polaris, his spare britches stolen on the first night of their drift, stands in his ragged sealskin at the mercy of every draught and worries for his testicles. But there are moments of intimation even for him: icebergs, rendered unstable by the grinding pack, topple with shock-waves that rattle the million tons of their floe; clouds clear to reveal the myriad twinklings of the clearest firmament ever seen by human eyes; ghostly paraselenes - phantom moons - cancel hatred and bring the whole company together for brief minutes of shared wonder; and night upon night they hear, not in their ears but in their hearts and bones, the silken music of the aurora. They watch it dance, and Meyer taunts Tyson with the glory of it.<br /> <br /> 'I suppose you regard it as a manifestation of the divine.' <br /> <br /> Tyson does. 'Don't you, Mr Meyer?'<br /> <br /> For Meyer it proclaims the failure of the North Polar Expedition, and Tyson does not disagree - but the scientist needs an argument.<br /> <br /> 'I question the wisdom, if not the existence, of a deity who has to patch and mend. He pitches this benighted land into endless night, then comforts the bears and the eskimos with pretty displays of electrical discharge.'<br /> <br /> Tyson raises his hand toward the shimmering green and yellow curtain that sweeps across the southwestern sky. 'I feel no need to question this,' he says.<br /> <br /> Meyer laughs and there is a hint of German, a delicate lacing of Doctor Bessel, in his reply. 'Not even to ask why he troubled to make the darkness and the desolation in the first place?'<br /> <br /> Tyson wonders if the theological speculation will continue when the flesh has properly wasted from their bones, whether Meyer will still be interested in metaphysical pointscoring when they have eaten the last dog and are turning to the sledge-lashings and the lamp-oil. 'Precisely in order that he might make the display. This might be as close as we are allowed to looking him in the face,' he says.<br /> <br /> Meyer has uncased his sextant, but begins now to pack it again. 'You might ask him in your prayers to spare us the divine front tomorrow. I can get no bearing n Cassiopeia tonight.'<br /> <br /> John McGill was born in Glasgow in 1946 and attended school and university there. He did his teacher training in Edinburgh and went on to teach English in Orkney, Shetland, Germany and Lincolnshire. John now lives on a farm on the west coast of mainland Orkney, close to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae.