Sunday, 16 December 2012

Callander's Ghost

My book may be at the proof-correcting, indexing stage already, but there's still plenty about my subject to interest me.

Take Mr John Callander, Esq.  He proposed to write a book about Scottish music.  He never did, mind you, but that's hardly the point.  I wanted to know what it would have been like, if he'd written it.


Off I went to Edinburgh last Monday, to inspect the eighteenth century Edinburgh Musical Society's Sederunt books - that's the minute books of the chairman, treasurer and directors' committee meetings.  As I sat on the train to Edinburgh, Mr Callander's ghost started up. 'Why are you off to Edinburgh?  You won't find much about me there.  Haven't you got better things to do with your time?  I never wrote the book, for heaven's sake.'

I ignored him, naturally.  I wanted to know more about him, I knew he'd been in the EMS, and there was a chance I might find just what I was looking for.

Callander was scathing.  As we walked up the steep steps to the Royal Mile, he kept up a running commentary.  'THIS wasn't here when I used to come to Edinburgh.  THAT MONUMENT wasn't there.' (He pointed to the Sir Walter Scott monument).  Well, he piped down once he realised I was going to sit and read the Sederunt books whether he liked it or not.

Did I find him there?  Intermittently, yes.  But not in connection with the proposed Scottish musical history book.

He wouldn't give me a moment's peace on the train back to Glasgow.  'I TOLD you so, I TOLD you so, I TOLD you so, Oh, so I did, Oh, so I did!'

Eventually, I had to tell him to shut up.  I'm afraid I was rather brusque.  'You didn't actually write the book, John.  But I have already written 6,000 odd words about you, so you're not really in a position to criticise!'

'Madam, you should be at home looking after your family, not writing books and articles, or earning a professional income.  It's most unladylike and unbecoming.'

Shall I let him think he's had the last word this time?

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