Wayfarer Column- The playing card known as ‘The Curse of Scotland’

The most surprising things that we learn are usually about ourselves. We become so interested in tales of others that we overlook just how interesting things can be closer to home.

Did you realise that the landmass of Britain, including Northern Ireland and all the various islands, amounts to 88,795 square miles of which Scotland accounts for 30,414 square miles, roughly a third of the total area.

However according to the 2011 census Scotland only contributes 8.4% of the total inhabitants of that area, so we do have at least room to spread ourselves. Perhaps that explains why the roads are so poor in this part of the world as they have far more ground to cover and fewer people to look after them. But stop, I am not making excuses for the potholes suffered by the residents of South Ayrshire which has quite a dense population so no excuses are acceptable. Having recently returned from a visit to Perthshire I was very surprised to find thateven the minor roads, are better surfaced than our main roads. However that is not within the bounds of the Wayfarer’s deliberations so I will pass on to more interesting facts. Were you aware that the nine of diamonds in a pack of playing cards is known as ‘The Curse of Scotland’? Apparently little is known about this except that it has a resemblance to the armorial bearings of Sir John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair who was responsible for sanctioning the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. It was the Macdonalds who suffered and whilst on that family name an interesting tale emerges concerning a Major Macdonald at the battle of Falkirk in 1746 who unhorsed an English officer commanding an English regiment and realising that his opponent had a much finer beast than he had, mounted it but could not control the horse’s urge to return to its own and Major Macdonald found himself against his will in the thick of the enemy where he was taken prisoner. Another strange fact to be told is that of Pipe Major Iain McLeod who recorded four bagpipe tunes on a tape back in 1966 which was sent to a London recording company who produced and distributed one thousand long playing records. It was only when the Pipe Major received and listened to a copy that he found that it had accidentally been recorded in reverse. But what was even more disturbing was that over four hundred copies had been sold and not one complaint received. Somebody records all these facts to pass on as tales which may be of interest.

See you next week.