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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Writing on the wall

sorry, my error. I tried to put the South Gare picture into the quiz. I seem to have forgotten how to insert a picture. I'll have another go when I come home after the weekend. I've had my Omega 3 and still feel numb in the head.
In compensation for all this blather here is a short story I wrote once.
Hope I hav'nt sent it before.

Hokkaido the Noo!
draft 5 16.7.03

Long, long ago a Japanese war fleet sailed out to conquer Manchuria. A great rotating storm came up from the south and swept them all away; scattered them far and wide across the oceans from the Bering Straits down to Cape Horn.
After many an adventure one band of survivors, rusting in their Samurai armour, came in sight of Scotland and put ashore in Caithness. They quickly made themselves at home and set about pressing the inhabitants, the simple Beaker Folk, into service as their personal retainers.
Down the generations they clung to memories of a land of plum and cherry blossom, and delicate bridges across pools of beautiful carp. So fearful were they that in this treeless land of horizontal, wind blasted brown bog, they might lose these memories that they had their dreams of home tattooed upon their chests.
We know this because the Roman historian Tacitus records that when the Empire’s legions probed the northern limits of Albion they met exceptional resistance. This was said to be in a region called Mons Graupus (now understood to be the Pass of Killiekrankie). Here a wild painted people fought them berserk (without a shirt) exposing, behind the blur of great two handed swords, strange images in blue across bare hairless chests. This marked the limit of Roman advance in Britain. The retreating legions went back to their camps on Hadrian’s Wall with tales of a humiliation at the hands of the Pictii (the Picture People). These willow-patterned warriors are honoured still, on dinner services manufactured in the Staffordshire Potteries.
The time came when some of the younger and more restless of the Painted Picts set off in search of the land of their ancestors. They took with them their Beaker Folk servants.
Their sagas were many as they wandered across the oceans sternly interrogating every one they met as to the whereabouts of the fabled ‘Islands of Plum and Cherry Blossom’.
Wherever they set foot the inhabitants experienced a cultural shock from which many civilisations, both infant and ancient, never recovered. Their collapsed cities are now only to be wondered at, forgotten and buried deep in Asian jungles or crumbling on high Andean crags.
The wanderers’ fingerprints are everywhere, a long chaotic trail of cultural and racial paraphernalia reaches into every corner. Notice, next time you watch a do***entary about the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the curious Mongoloid folds on their eyelids. Recall the great stone statues of Easter Island, and notice if you will the stone Tam o’ Shanters on the heads of the gods. The population of remote Easter Island fled in despair eventually running their canoes onto the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ which was most unfortunate for the flightless and harmless Moa wiped out by the Maoris seeking sanctuary in isolated New Zealand.

The Pictish fleet had grown considerably by now, having been swollen by vessels taken as prizes of war. It headed northwards and ran into a sea battle between the Straight Hairs and the Crinkly Hairs, both forces broke off and scattered immediately such was the great migration fleets fearsome reputation. These races are in hiding still, right across the Pacific on the little groups of islands that make up Melanesia and Polynesia, where they quieten noisy children into good behaviour with stories of the Blue Ones who might at any time come from the sea.
Shortly after this they encountered and pillaged a fleet of Chinese Junks and unwittingly changed history by disrupting a serious attempt by the Ming dynasty to colonise Aztec Mexico. However from that encounter they did at last learn whereabouts of the lost islands of Japan.
Imagine dear reader the surprise of that refined civilisation as it awoke one morning to find a fleet of tattered ships in the bay. Spars and rigging of a design not seen before. Barbaric devices on the sails. Hideous dragonheads rearing out over the bows. Beetle browed and bearded shaggy men on the oars of these strange galleys, wailing and yelling in animal tongues. Then on the decks striding about as haughty as emperors, blue painted men in the armour of the Samurai of a thousand years before. And on their banners, their clan battle cry in runic Japanese: “It taks a lang spoon to sup wi the devil or a man frae Fife”.
Politeness being the essence of Japanese society the strangers were accepted, made comfortable but kept at arms length on account of the smell. Assimilation was possible, but only just.
However the crude little creatures on the rowing benches the sensitive Japanese could not tolerate in their midst. They were given an island of their own, to the north, cold and hard and unwanted, far away from Mount Fuji. And there they remain today, archaic and on the point of vanishing, objects of anthropological study and speculation, the curiously isolated, the supposed Pale-Celts, the little, blue eyed, Hairy Ainu of Sakhalin.
Should you incline to scoff at this tale. I refer you to the death verse of Issa, the last of the great Haiku writers. Its penultimate word is surely one more evidence of the link between Japan and Scotland.

“From birthings washbowl
To the washbowl of the dead
Blathering nonsense”
.................. Harry Nicholson June 2003 .
 

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The Plot Thickens

Great story, Harry, and very intriguing. It is common knowledge, at least in the Land of the Rising Rowie, that the music of Auld Lang Syne is from an old Japanese folk tune! And how can doubters explain away the ancient saviour of Japan, Cam MacArzie?

John T.

PS The Scots did eventually invade New Zealand too.
 
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