The 1st Gathering
The first gathering of the QCC clan took place in Edinburgh, in May 2012. Nine brave souls took up the challenge: FriedFish, PeterKelly, Suckspencil, MisspellAny, Panurus, LondonBBG, Deelfi, Starrock and Spanishscot. It was to be the first of many more gatherings to come.
This is Peter Kelly's account of that first gathering
The Gathering by Peter Kelly
We gathered in Edinburgh city,
A town most remarkably pretty -
But Spanishscot's flat !
You should have seen that;
It really deserves its own ditty....
A Georgian parade of real splendour,
Which feelings of awe would engender,
A large flat, most smart,
With much style and heart,
(And a great place to go on a bender.)
Arrival (Saturday, 1.25 pm.)
The train to Edinburgh; the guest-house handily situated near the station. Bags dropped and I'm off with my wee A to Z in my wee rucksack, in search of Spanishscot's flat.
Somebody has thoughtfully excavated a splendid trench along each main road, about twenty feet wide and five feet deep. Then they have erected neat plastic barriers around them all to prevent unfortunate accidents.
Then they seem to have gone for lunch and not come back....
Somebody else has placed a rather impressive castle on a huge rock in the centre of the city. I pass it by as I make my way to Georgian George Street and Spanishscot's abode.
Up sixty-six steps to the top of the building and I am met by a delightful welcoming committee: Spanishscot, Misspellany and Deelfi.
We settle in the large living-room, with views both ways across the city. And we begin to splother...
Presently, Suckspencil arrives - he's camping ! Like a Viking, somewhere beyond the city walls.
And the splothering continues...
After some six hours, we decide to go to the pub for a change of scene. Spanishscot stays behind to put the finishing touches to her food preparations. Misspellany, Deelfi, Suckspencil and I repair to a charming local hostelry, where, for no discernible reason, we fall into a philosophical frame of mind. Wittgenstein is invoked; Bertram Russell gets a polite mention. We consider the concept of different kinds of infinity and the possibility of the existence of S, the set of all sets.
We decide that the former is both reasonable and delightful but that the latter is fundamentally flawed.
We have another drink and this seems to confirm our opinion.
(Misspellany is served at table with a pot of tea in a beautiful white teapot. Infinity seems that much nearer.)
Four went to the pub for a drink,
It made us all think we could think.
And did Aristotle,
Have quite so much bottle ?
But then it all went in a blink.
A Relative Interlude
Having all returned briefly to check that Spanishscot is OK, (she is), I am walking back to my digs alone, guided confidently by the aforementioned arrangement of trenches and plastic barriers. Ten minutes should do it.
After about twenty minutes my confidence is waning. Too cold and lazy to extract my wee A to Z from my wee rucksack, I address a young woman coming towards me and ask her the way.
In a lovely, lilting Edinburgh accent, she not only tells me the way but offers to accompany me ! We set off in a new direction.
She seems quite happy to make conversation.
"I did an exam today," she says.
"What was it in ?" I reply, politely.
"Particle-physics," says she.
"Blimey!" say I.
We then have a very jolly and amusing time as she shepherds me home, talking of the over-eager neutrinos, black holes and the theory of relativity. (She talks; I listen.) It also transpires that she is not local, but Polish, which just goes to show that there is no limit to the false assumptions which you can make about someone, at the same time.
When lost in the dark in the city,
It's great when a lassie takes pity,
And if she's quite keen to
Discuss a neutrino,
It makes for a journey that's witty.
A View of the City
On Sunday morning, Deelfi and I rendezvous to make a small walking tour before the party begins. We spend a happy hour in a coffee-shop, (gathering our strength), and then set off in a strong breeze.
We see remarkable examples of architecture; Georgian tower-blocks, mock-gothic churches and goodness knows what else. We pass the famed new Parliament building and agree that it is overly fussy. Then, (both being well-known outdoors types), we decide to ascend to "Arthur's Seat" up a steep hill just beyond the city. The breeze builds to a gale as we climb. We tighten our anorak hoods and continue, leaning now into the wind at about forty-five degrees. Looking back across the city we agree that the Parliament building now actually looks OK from above and at about three-quarters of a mile.
But we now realise that we'll be late if we go on much further, so we turn for home, well exercised and de-cobwebbed.
We wanted to climb Arthur's Seat,
But gales had us knackered and beat,
But Parliament's building,
Which has too much gilding,
We thought from a distance looked neat.
It is Sunday afternoon.
Panurus has arrived, looking very dashing in his dancing gear, which he has on because he is going to be the caller at a ceilidh later in the day.
Starrock has also arrived, full of charm and bonhomie.
LondonBBG is there, splendid in a long, magenta silk jacket.
Friedfish arrives with Bo's'un, a most civilized creature, and we are quorate.
Then the Skyping begins. NickWit, PreahPithu, Civsum, Sparclear, Brian, Crucigrama, Mrsmatisse, Paunjohnson, SillyAunt, Bloggsie all come online with greetings and exciting glimpses of their natural habitats. We see dancing, flowers, a pool, several desks, a broken arm, ... Everybody is trying to talk to everybody else and an atmosphere of benign chaos develops. Black Sheep and margaritas are flowing; Misspellany plays her new accordion across the world. We hear of prizes won, places visited, people met.
More guests are arriving by Skype,
(Those of a more far-distant type),
And though disembodied,
They will not be modded,
And this makes the Gathering ripe.
Anything seems possible and many things even are possible. Some Skypers are speaking to each other, as we have two skype-receiving devices. We bodily-present human-beings watch this from above like Gods.
Several people are treated to a close-up of my right ear as I find that I have to hold the i-pad very close in order to hear the Skypers above the rising volume of noise being generated by my slightly inebriated fellow QCCers.
The party takes on a life of its own.
Have you ever read "Cannery Row" by Steinbeck ? In it there is the best description of a wild part ever written. They get drunk a skunks, they break stuff and run amok; they have sex all over the place and never stop until the next morning.
Admittedly, we do none of this. But in our Guardian-crossword-loving hearts our spirits rise to the occasion.
And towards midnight, as the Skypers have departed, we regroup around the coffee-table and we feel as though we have ridden a great wave and come surfing gently to land.
A Cultural Diversion
It is Monday morning. The remaining party-goers meet up at the new Edinburgh museum to see what there is to see. Present are Spanishscot, Deelfi, Misspellany, LondonBBG, Friedfish and me.
We amble through the museum, (worth a visit just for the building), and amuse ourselves with ancient mechanical clocks, rocks, artifacts of art, the world's oldest colour TV, sarcophaguses and much else.
There is a worrying time for me when we find a full-sized stuffed sheep on a revolving pedestal and I have a moment's terror that Mary's little lamb has followed us only to be caught, killed, stuffed and mounted. But it is only Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep; a sheep of relatively little importance, in fact. A sheep of no sporting prowess whatsoever.
We go to the roof-terrace for a final group photo and then to the cafe. Nellietheelephant rings Friedfish as we are munching our sticky buns and we all have a chat with her.
LondonBBG has today's Guardian and we tackle the crossword. It takes about five minutes; it doesn't stand a chance against us.
While sitting and filling our tum,
We try to be glad and not glum,
But sadly we know,
It's now time to go,
The end of the party has come.
I am painfully aware that my 1.35 train is going to signal the final break-up moment. But we force ourselves to move; everybody hugs everybody else and we part.
I catch my train northwards and set off for the furthest reaches of the land.
But that is another story.