The things we come across whilst searching for the unusual which with a little embellishment can become the subject of tales to tell around a warm fireside on a winter’s evening are truly amazing.
An unusual tale is one of Peter Grant who at the remarkable age of 110 was the oldest survivor of the 1745 Jacobite Rising when George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822. The King was no doubt amused to be introduced to Peter Grant as ‘His oldest subject and oldest rebel’ as he granted him a pension of one guinea a week for the rest of his life. We will no doubt have a King George again sometime in the future when the son of Prince William ascends to the throne but I wonder what the then value of a guinea will be should he wish to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps.
On another track altogether is the tale of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson who when in Samoa in 1890 became friendly with the American diplomat Henry Ide. In conversation Ide mentioned to Stevenson that his daughter, Annie, always bemoaned the fact that her birthday fell on Christmas day meaning that both were celebrated at the same time. Stevenson promptly drew up a formal deed of gift, properly sealed and witnessed, in which he gifted his birthday, November 13th to Annie Ide. From then on Annie celebrated that date as her birthday until she died in 1945. A nice little tale about the friendship and humour of a famous man.
Catrine in Ayrshire had a town clock which had not worked for many years, no doubt been overlooked by a frugal council. However in May 1970 a strong gust of wind blew down a flagpole which struck the clock and started it working again. The flagpole was also I expect in need of maintenance but no doubt the council would try and claim credit for the clock as it may have been cheaper to replace the flagpole than repair the clock.
In 1150 King David 1 of Scotland defined an inch as being the width of an average man’s thumb at the base of the nail. Hmm! Food for thought that one, the thumb is a very important part of the hand and no doubt as a baby you sucked it. But as a measurement, interesting and about right if you try it. I may come back to this in the future as it has a lot of possibilities. There are many tales to tell which are in many peoples’ memories and unfortunately are never penned and so die with their host. It is a shame but I will certainly do my best to tease out more tales of the unexpected for your delectation. See you next week.