A trip to the north east to attend a beautiful wedding leaves Guy Grieve feeling grateful for those that fill his life with an abudance of love, laughter and happiness
There’s something about the way things are done in rural Scotland which I am starting to enjoy more and more as I creep along life’s sinuous path. There’s a kind of instinctive subtlety and understatement which I like. A simplicity of approach which allows space to reach one’s own conclusions.
Of course this is not to say that the fabric of rural life here is simple. Far from it. There are endless layers of cultural and social complexity in every corner of this country which, at least to me, sing voices and stories of the past. It was with these thoughts in mind that I found myself recently sitting in the parish church at the village of Insch in Aberdeenshire. The church was simply furnished and sparse in keeping with its Presbyterian denomination.
The occasion was a wedding between two perfectly matched people and it was presided over with humour, warmth and love by the groom’s grandfather who had been a minister in the church and had stoically battled recent illness to make sure he did the deed.
As he spoke I thought for a moment about my great grandfather who had also been a Presbyterian minister and had come from this part of Scotland. As the minister raised his hands to offer a blessing and looked about at the congregation I remembered a story my gran told me about her father. He was presiding over a service at his church in Ladysmith Natal during the Boer siege of the town.
A shell crashed through one corrugated tin clad side of the building, whistled over the heads of his flock, and knocked a gaping hole out of the other side. According to my gran, he simply paused for a moment then continued as if nothing had happened, a classic case of Scottish understatement in foreign climes. I was sure the minister I was watching now would have dealt with such an incident in exactly the same way.
After the ceremony we all trooped out into the church yard. No confetti or cheering, just the church bells peeling and pictures taken. Next we all made our way to Logie Durno village hall which had been beautifully prepared for dinner and a ceilidh. Once again, simplicity and understatement were the theme and I liked it. Too often weddings seem to be taken over by grand hotels and banquets and the kind of outrageous expense one would normally associate with a corporate sales and marketing conference. Meaning is lost somehow.
Not here. We waited for the newly wed couple to arrive which they duly did in a carriage built in 1911 and pulled by a fine Clydesdale horse from the farm where the couple worked and had met each other. The weather was perfect. A cold, clear, early evening.
As I met the other guests I noticed again what I like so much about the way things are done in Scotland. No one asked the classic; ‘So what do you do?’ question which is often the first line after ‘Hello’ in the more crowded parts of the
UK. It seems somehow very Scottish to be more interested in character before earnings or status.
After dinner tables were pushed aside, three young musicians began to play and this for me was the icing on the cake. A young man aged
20 began to play the fiddle with such skill that it silenced the happy crowd for a moment. One great Scottish export has been our music which has become the founding stone of many other great musical traditions. And then the dancing began and it was wild and good, as was the whisky and the company.
I sat back and watched it all nursing an indecently large dram. Luck and chance had brought me right back to where my father’s roots began and I was suddenly ambushed by a great sense of wellbeing. And then my host gently placed her hand over mine and for just a moment I allowed myself to imagine that maybe destiny had as much a part to play in this moment as luck or chance.
“It seems very Scottish to be more interested in character before earnings or status