'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Curse Of The Grahams

A 16th Century ASBO . . . Posted by Hello
Business took me to the Red City yesterday. Arriving early for a meeting, I spent an hour or so in Tullie House, the local museum. As part of the millenium celebrations they had the bright idea of refurbishing the galleries with a public walkway and underpass, embellished by a cursing stone. This beautifully inscribed granite sculpture reproduces the highlights of the 16th century Archbishop of Glasgow's curse upon the border reivers (a group of lawless thugs mostly made up of my ancestors). The idea of excommunicating the politically and socially undesirable probably seemed like a good idea in 1525, but even today Gavin Dunbar's prose strikes fear into the soul:
"I curse their heid and all the haris of their heid; I curse thair face, their ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thair tong, thair teith, thair crag, thair schulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair stomok, thair bak, thair wame, thair armes, thair leggis, thair handis, thair feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of thair heid to the soill of thair feit, befoir and behind, within and without."
This is still so resonant that when Carlisle was successively afflicted by Foot & Mouth Disease, disastrous floods and, errmm, relegation of the local football team to the Vauxhall Conference, the Lib Dem city councillors, showing a rather touching faith in the principles of sympathetic magic, decided that the sculpture needed to be destroyed and its pieces moved beyond the city boundary.
So far, so iconoclastic - though this is as nothing compared to what Archbishop Dunbar wanted done to the Grahams of 1525 -
"I condemn them to the deip pit of hell . . and thair bodies to the gallowis of the Burrow Mure, first to be hangit, syne revien and ruggit with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warlde"
No namby-pamby liberal anti-social behaviour orders for the Archbishop . . .
I have a better suggestion, based on the principle that, as with all fatwahs, the person lifting the curse should be the lineal succesor of he who pronounced it. I've asked the Northern Professor to have a word with his pal the current Archbishop to see what can be done in the way of un-cursing. Unfortunately Super Mario (as he's apparently known) is currently rather busy in Rome. But assuming he returns to Glasgow after the forthcoming election (no, not that one, the other one) I'm hoping he'll be able to sort it out. This brings the possibility that, being free of a 500-year-old curse, I may find myself owing a big favour to a respected member of the local Italian community . . . .


Blogger RenMan said...

1)Pope Tony 1. Have to deny Cherie first though.
2) 'ruggit with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists' - doggis = ' princess of darkness' - maybe the curse will be in place for a few more years yet.

18/4/05 12:01 am  

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