Broo o’ brinkie, eye o’ life

“Broo o’ brinkie, eye o life, bubbly jock, pen knife” This rhyme is laden with memories of granny, my paternal grandmother, reciting it to me, touching my forehead (broo), eyes, nose (bubbly jock) and mouth (pen knife). Passing on more than names and dates Now, over fifty years later, I recite the same rhyme with  |  more…

“Fatal termination of the late accident with firearms”

Thomas Slater died on 6 May 1868 in Kirkwall, Orkney, as the result of “a gunshot wound, tetanus 4 days”, according to his death registration. He was just 18 and a younger brother of one of my maternal great grandfathers, William H Slater. It is from newspapers that I learned more about the circumstances of  |  more…

Stick in

“Stick in”, a phrase I associate with James Slater, Pa as we called him, my maternal grandfather. Born in poverty, he crossed the globe, returned to Orkney, bought and grew his own farm, working hard and innovatively. (It should also be said that I write from the perspective of the first child of his favourite  |  more…

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