We had a most exciting day. The weather forecast was fair, and we have a guest, with a particular interest in Catholic church history. So we went up to Glenlivet with Miss Dog — stopped at Charlestown for a walk before the animal exploded with excitement (we’d had ‘are we there yet’ for 45 minutes), picked up some food at the Charlestown deli and, having temporarily quietened Miss Dog, went on and up into the hills, where in the secret recesses of Glenlivet there is the plain little farmhouse which kept the continuity of Scottish catholicism alive through a century of the penal laws. It’s an extraordinary place. Nobody is there, and it’s not locked. There’s a wee notice which says that that the fireplaces have been blocked so please don’t try and light a fire — the implication of which is that people might well be spending the night there (there are loos, and running water, out the back) and that nobody is trying automatically to prevent it. It’s a very holy place, and on a day estival, quite extraordinarily beautiful. When we were walking Miss Dog, we saw a red squirrel which seemed to be leaping about for its own entertainment, its tail like flame as it bounded though the grass. We went home via our old friend the antiquarian of Dufftown and I bought an intaglio, an Islamic one in a ring of some real age. 16th/17th century? Something like. Black onyx set in timeworn silver, ornamented with a zebu cow, or bull, very elegant.
One thing I didn’t blog partly because it occurred in the Great Gap, was that I had a brain scan. I did a Tesco shop at Banff while the Prof. was seeing Dr Wu, and as we loaded stuff into the car, began to feel a little faint, and by the time the Professor was driving us home, found the landscape was waltzing round me. We got home, and I could hardly get myself out of the car. An emergency doctor turned up twenty minutes later by which time I was feeling a lot better. Inevitably the first thought all round was that I had had a stroke. So I had a scan, and very weird this was too. One is loaded into a tube, like a torpedo. What happens after that impacts on the patient as noise. Zttt, Zttt, Zttt, for a minute and a half. Or Da-DEE, Da-DEE, Da-DEE, for four minutes, or whatever. The circumstances are massively claustrophobic. My personal way of dealing with it was to shut my eyes and pretend I was at a concert of work by first year students in electronic music, at which point you can criticise ‘Da-DEE, Da-DEE, Da-DEE’, and start saying to yourself, ‘oh, come on. Even Philip Glass would’ve allowed a development by now’. Or, music for a frightfully earnest experimental interwar ballet with six dancers representing Complexes. Ooo, I think this chap’s meant to be Oedipus… It wasn’t a whole lot of fun (though translating it into ‘I’ve suffered for my Art, now it’s your turn’ made it quite controllable), but the main thing is, eventually I got a letter through from the hospital to say that there was not the slightest trace of evidence of a stroke, or indeed of anything else. They came up with some stupendous medical version of ‘just one of those things’, which I now forget, which implied, you must’ve had a problem with the balance bit of your inner ear because we really don’t have a clue what else it can have been. But anyway, odd and unsettling as it all was, it seems to be the end of this particular saga except that I’m still having to work through a barrage of tests — I had to have an ECG yesterday, which is what brought it all to mind.