A MUSICAL WALL DISPLAY

A MUSICAL WALL DISPLAY

Bedroom Music WallA note to retired musicians: Here’s a way to display musical instruments that may have been played for years, are no longer in use but can still be enjoyed. We’ve included longtime bandsman Ian’s antique trumpet and a chanter used for those who want to practice the bagpipe but not make too much noise as well as a number of percussion instruments Gayle used when keeping time with a ukelele band, including a Celtic bodran and tipper, a hand drum, tambourine, a set of maracas, carved wooden spoons and a rainstick. Also included are photos of Ian posing with a trombone he played in a military and Salvation Army band, playing lead trumpet in a Royal Air Force band in the former Suez Canal Zone, of Gayle with her ukelele band and of us singing duets at a Robbie Burns’ party and as the duo “Okanagan’s Mr. Scotland and His Bonnie Lassie.” Displayed nearby are two trophies Ian won in years gone by for singing Scottish songs.

The crowning piece is the last trumpet Ian still owns. It has been about 12 years since he  gave up playing but Gayle has finally convinced him that he needs to polish up his trumpet, at least for our display. So here he is with a bottle of Brasso and some soft cloths starting on what is going to be a huge task. He found the trumpet years ago in some antique or thrift shop and found out it was made in Winnipeg probably in the early days of the last century. We could hardly see the manufacturer’s etching on the trumpet’s bell but after the initial polishing attempt can read “Premier Williams Winnipeg” and further on down the bell a large number “37”. We’ve heard a few squawks from it so far. Ian’s lip (embouchure) is sorely out of practice! However, we were both pleased that he had awakened an interest in the trumpet again. (Gayle is not going to hold her breath until the trumpet polishing is finished!)

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Ian documents his early years of music making in the Salvation Army and RAF in Scotland, other parts of the UK and in the British military sector of the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt in the early ’50s in his first memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.” Gayle is now editing the second memoir “Came to Canada Eh? Continuing a Scottish Immigrant’s Story” where further music making will be documented in Canada. A third memoir, written by both of us entitled “Mexican Follies” tells of the beginnings of our colloboration in music-making and in jointly producing books. Publication plans for that depend on how quickly Gayle gets to the editing. For her, there is never enough time and too many interruptions but little by little she hopes to get to publication again – some day!

Below is an excerpt from “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada” which tells a comical story about Ian’s attempt to “show off” with his trumpet to his new wife:

The following Saturday night, our dance band was playing at Forres Town Hall. I had been bragging to Mary about the introduction to the song, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” that I played on trumpet, standing up, before the rest of the band joined in. It consisted of the first three notes, then into a big glissando, using the third valve slowly, to go down and then up to the third note again and then continuing right into the melody when the rest of the band joined me. It was just a copy of what a big-time trumpet player (Maynard Ferguson) of that era did. Everyone thought it was very effective, sounding and looking quite professional. So, there I was saying, “Wait ‘till you hear me play!”

Saturday night came and my Mary was sitting at the side of the hall, close to the band, her eyes firmly fixed on “Lover-Boy.” Then it was time for me to shine. I stood up, the first two notes came out correctly, but I have no idea what happened to the bit where I was supposed to do the fancy stuff. I played absolutely terrible! The rest of the band started all right, but I had to sit down with a very red face—even redder than usual! In front of my Mary, too! You know, I must have played that “intro” at least 40 times previously without fail. (That’s what I get for trying to show off, eh?)

Ian playing solo cornet

Ian is playing a cornet in this photo, but about a year or two before his trumpet story above. A cropped version on an RAF photo, ca. 1952.

Bedroom-Ian and Gayle musicmaking photos

The Scottish Roots of Curling

The Scottish Roots of Curling

Andrew McDiarmid has shared on his Simply Scottish blog this fascinating account of the origins of the sport of curling. Thanks for posting this Andrew. We are also enjoying tuning in to your “Sport in Scotland” series on your PodOmatic broadcasts on Simply Scottish.

It has been great watching both the CANADIAN MEN’S AND WOMEN’S OLYMPIC CURLING TEAMS take the GOLD MEDALS at the Sochi Olympics. We are also sharing this in honour of our son-in-law, Eugene (Carl) German of Winnipeg who is also a champion curling skip.

The Simply Scottish Blog

Like a number of sports, the origins of curling are up for some debate. After all, who can say which person or people group were the first to enjoy skimming stones across frozen water? Because of the conditions needed, it seems a sure bet that it originated in a northern European country. Wherever it began, few will dispute the fact that the pastime developed into a modern sport in Scotland.

The first evidence of such a game in Scotland was uncovered when an old pond was drained in Dunblane. Two curling stones were found bearing the years 1511 and 1551 on them. Written evidence from 1540 records what seems to be a legal dispute that was settled on the ice between John Sclater, a monk in Paisley Abbey and Gavin Hamilton, a representative of the Abbot. The word curling appears in the work of Scottish poet and historian Henry Adamson…

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HUMOR AND A GOOD LAUGH CAN HELP YOU DEAL WITH LIFE

Yesterday we received our copy of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, 2013-2014.

50Writers2014-150front COVERVery nicely done and interesting reading about other writers and how they came to write. Ian is featured among the 50 writers, all chosen by public vote after reading writer’s essays about “How I Write”. The writers had all previously been interviewed on The Authors Show about a specific book they had written. Ian’s interview was about his memoir published in 2012 entitled From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. In the media release about Ian’s win, Ian is quoted as saying:

“The central message of my book is that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty. However, in order to do so, one has to have grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all. I’ve tried to look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.”

“The central message of my book,” Ian continued, “is that it is possible to overcome a negative lifestyle like poverty. However, in order to do so, one has to have grit, perseverance, sometimes luck and even humor to get through it all. I’ve tried to look for humor in each and every situation. When all else fails, a good laugh and then, determining to pick yourself up and start anew, will help you deal with most things that life throws at you.” – See more at: file:///C:/Users/Gayle/Desktop/AUTHORS%20SHOW/MEDIA%20NEW%20RELEASE/Final%20Media%20Release.htm#sthash.CM9gqbAA.dpuf

Another blogger – Kev – sent us a comment a short time ago remarking that he enjoyed some of our pictures from book readings and noted “Beautiful pic…some great laughter going on there. :).

Here is our favourite photo from a book Reacting to More than Slightly Sloshedreading, showing some of Gayle’s relatives enjoying a humorous story from Ian’s book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada. (Thanks for your hearty enthusiasm, cousin Janice! The menfolk all look amused as well, but quite a bit more subdued.)

Gayle’s reply to Kev was: “Your nice comment about the pictures and laughter has inspired me to put on a future post a humorous excerpt from Ian’s memoir. I think the excerpt that generated most of the laughter came from Ian’s story which he calls “More Than Slightly Sloshed.” Look for it in the next few days – as soon as I have time to put it on this website.”

Well, those “next few days” have grown to several weeks so it is high time that I (Gayle) fulfill my promise. So here is the excerpt from Ian’s story.

Airman Ian Morrans, Royal Air Force, 1951, RAF photo.

Airman Ian Morrans, Royal Air Force, 1951, RAF photo.

To set the scene, the year is 1950. Eighteen-year-old Ian has just completed his “square bashing” (basic training) with the Royal Air Force in southern England and tells of his disastrous first leave home to Campbeltown in southwest Scotland.

Then I got one week’s leave and was given my travel warrant to go home. From there I was to go to RAF St. Athens in Wales, about 17 miles west of Cardiff, not far from Bridgend. It was hardly worth going home, as it meant two days’ traveling time each way. I just got there and it was almost time to head out again. As things turned out, I really shouldn’t have gone at all! Here’s why. I call this story, “More Than Slightly Sloshed!”
I arrived at our house in Campbeltown at 9:30 in the evening after being on trains or waiting for connections in train stations for a total time of about 20 hours. I found two of my mother’s Salvation Army lady friends visiting her, the three of them huddled around a roaring coal fire.
Noticing a strange smell, I asked my mother what was causing it. She replied, “Oh it’s Bill; he’s makin’ whisky in the wee room.” (To us Scots, a “wee room” is a wee bit wee-er than a small room!)
My Irish stepfather Bill was not of the Salvation Army persuasion! Very often in the years since he’d married my mother, he’d told stories of how he and his buddies would go up into the hills at Antrim and make poteen, the Irish equivalent of “moonshine” or home brew. Even then I had no idea that it was close to 100% alcohol! I had heard him remark that he was going to make some “one of these days.” I’d heard it so often that I was sick and tired of hearing it, as well as many other of his stories of this, that and the next thing that might or might not have been true. Well, when my mother said that Bill was making poteen, I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was doing his usual bragging with no truth to it—and that wouldn’t have been unusual!
As I sat talking with the women, basking in their remarks such as, “Oh, Ian, don’t ye look handsome in your Royal Air Force uniform,” my mother tried to get me to eat something. I told her that I was dead beat and just wanted to go to sleep. At this point, Bill came through, said hello to me and asked me to taste his “brew.” What he handed me was a glass tumbler with about four or five ounces of clear liquid in it. Not knowing it was so strong, I had almost downed the lot when Bill shouted, “Stop, stop, that’s all I’ve got.”
Because it looked so much like water, I had had no hesitation in drinking it. Remember, I was not accustomed to alcoholic drinks of any kind. I didn’t know at the time that I was drinking pure alcohol! There was about an ounce left for Bill after all his hard work. It had taken him two days to distill that small amount.
Shortly after this I started feeling a bit woozy, especially as I had virtually an empty stomach. A little while later I said “goodnight” to everyone and took myself off to bed. Stumbling to my room, I stripped off, hopped into bed completely naked and was asleep almost immediately.
The next morning I got up, surprisingly clearheaded, and wandered into the living room. There was a fine, white dust everywhere and I said to Mother, “What is this white powder all over the place.”
“Oh, that was ye last night, ye daft bugger,” she replied, in the middle of trying to clean things up. “Ye came through here aboot an hour after ye had gone to bed, absolutely naked, walked in between my two friends and peed all over the fire.”
            “You mean that Ah came through here, sleep-walking, stark naked, in front of Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. MacGregor? Me with no clothes on?” I was horrified!
            My mother continued. “Ye should have seen the steam that ye created, plus all the ash that went up into the air with it. There was a stifling white cloud all over the house, not to mention all over the three of us, and Ah think Ah’ll be dusting here for a month. We were afraid to waken ye in case we did something wrong!”
To add to my embarrassment was the fact that both of Mother’s visitors were strict Salvation Army believers. I realized that what they thought about my imbibing—my getting fully pissed—well, that was certainly somewhere above the forgiveness level. By then I must have been the talk of the town! Even a long time later, whenever I was home on leave and I saw either of those women on the street and heading my way, I would cross over to the other side—just a wee bit more than slightly embarrassed! Strangely, no one but Mother ever mentioned the incident to me.
Somehow, it seemed, my Salvation Army days were really over. To quote my mother, “Since ye joined the Royal Air Force, ye’ve gone tae the Devil!”
— quoted from “From Poverty To Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada,” p. 96-98, copyright © 2012, Ian Moore-Morrans.
AUTHOR IAN MOORE-MORRANS CHOSEN AS ONE OF “50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING” FOR 2013-2014

AUTHOR IAN MOORE-MORRANS CHOSEN AS ONE OF “50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING” FOR 2013-2014

50 Great Writers logoIan_Moore_HeadshotCover full sizeSee the Media Release that has just been published about Ian’s win by pressing here: In The News

AN INVITATION TO VOTE AGAIN FOR IAN MOORE-MORRANS, A FINALIST IN THE AUTHOR’S SHOW CONTEST “50 GREAT WRITERS YOU SHOULD BE READING”

Seal-2013Finalist-300On September 18, 2013 we blogged an invitation to vote for Ian Moore-Morrans as he entered the first phase of The Authors Show 2013-1014 contest “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” which ended on November 1st.  We greatly appreciate any and all votes cast. Enough of you did vote for him so that now Ian is a finalist in the second (and final) phase of the contest. This is an invitation to AGAIN VOTE FOR IAN in this final phase.

Here is the information from Danielle Hampson, Executive Producer of The Authors Show:

The final phase of our contest is now open for voting through December 1, 2013. The top fifty authors with the most votes will be included in the 4th edition of  “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” to be published in January 2014.  A special prize will also be awarded to the top winner in each book genre: Fiction, Nonfiction, Children and Christian.  To view the names of all the finalists and to vote for your favorite author in our final phase, go to: 

http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow50Writers2013-Contest-Finalists.html.”

Thanks in advance to those of you who will cast a vote for Ian. We are including a copy of Ian’s entry into the contest which asked for him to write about his journey as a writer. We hope you will enjoy it.

Best wishes,

Ian and Gayle Moore-Morrans

Why I Write – My Writing Journey

by  Ian Moore-Morrans

Author of From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada

Folks remark that I have a gift for gab and storytelling. However, whatever free time I had was taken up by music-making. Important as it was to me, writing took a back seat to making music.

Though growing up in abject poverty in Scotland during the Great Depression, I was fortunate to attend school until I was 14. I liked learning and tried my best to do well in my class work. My English teacher had remarked about the quality of my essays and compositions. When she mentioned that I should become a journalist after I finished school, I found it an intriguing but totally impossible suggestion. I could only conclude, ‘What a picture that would be—me sitting at a desk with holes in my shoes and no underwear!’

When schooling was over, I had to find a job. Working as an apprentice to a local blacksmith, I had neither time nor energy to write, though I earned some money and built up muscle. My free time was spent learning to sing and play an instrument as part of the Salvation Army. Music-making became my passion.

Four years later I joined the Royal Air Force. Finally I had decent food, clothing and living conditions plus an opportunity to learn a trade—Flight Mechanic Engines—and to continue to play in a band. I served in England, Wales, Scotland and the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt. Being far away, I enjoyed writing letters home and hearing remarks about how exciting I made my life sound and how much folk learned from reading what I wrote. I was to benefit most by corresponding with my pen-pal. Mary and I kept up a steady correspondence and then met in Glasgow just after I returned to Britain. We were soon married.

Whenever I had a chance at work or leisure, I told stories when I wasn’t singing songs or playing my trumpet. I fancied myself an entertainer but never thought of trying to earn a living at it. After five years’ service, I left the RAF. Not only did I have a wife to support; we were soon blessed with two daughters. I found work as a machine fitter in the steel industry around Glasgow. After awhile I applied for a clerk’s job in a big steel company. When interviewed, the supervisor mentioned that one of the biggest problems in the job was reading what someone had written. He asked me to write the numbers from 1 to 10 and also spell each one out in longhand and then print the words in capital letters. “Very good” he said, “at least we’ll have one person whose writing is legible. When can you start?” I couldn’t believe that was the test! Soon, my “penmanship” earned me a better job as a shift scheduler.

Having been misled by the inflated promises of an unscrupulous Ontario official, we got “itchy feet” and headed for Canada. Arriving in 1965, we soon found that my promised machining job was not available, nor were we in a financial position to buy a house as we had been led to believe. After five years of misadventures finding and keeping jobs and suitable homes, we finally reached the level of prosperity we had had in Scotland.
My family and I continued to live and work in Canada, moving almost every year to a different house, town or province (and different band) as jobs came and disappeared. I never seemed to have time to write down my stories, though I told plenty of them, both true and made-up. Finally, in 1995 at age 63, I decided if I didn’t start writing, I’d never do it.

In longhand over three evenings, I wrote “My Friend Jimmy,” a children’s story about a budgie that had no wings. Then I bought a simple, used computer and studied a learn-to-type book. I rewrote my children’s story and sent it away to a publisher, thinking full well that he would deem it the very best children’s story he had ever read! Soon I could just about paper the wall with rejections. ‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘where there’s life, there’s hope.’ I went on to write others, thinking that I’d give “My Friend Jimmy” a try again at a later date. (Now, 17 years later, my wife/editor is starting the layout for “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie,” a highbred of the original story!)

Next, I tackled my life’s story. Several times I’ve encountered people who heard my Scottish “burr” and then told me of Scottish ancestors. After inquiring, I would hear they had died and the family didn’t even know where in Scotland they had originated. Finally, I vowed to write my life story to avoid that state. Thus began the long process of remembering and writing into the wee hours of the night over the course of several years. I ended up with two volumes called “From Poverty to Poverty” and “Came to Canada, Eh?” Again, I submitted manuscripts which were politely rejected.

In 1984, I taught an adult class for men who had metal-cutting lathes and wanted to learn how to better use them. I loved this first and only experience of formal teaching. Later, I wrote a “how-to” book about machining steel, written for the type of people I had been teaching. Completed in 1998, I called it “Metal Machining Made Easy.” I did all of the 60-odd illustrations by hand. This was published in 2002 through Writers Exchange in Australia.

Shortly thereafter, my wife Mary died. I vowed to go on with life, continue to write but also to socialize and enjoy what time I had left. Then came the most significant encounter of my life. I started a conversation with an attractive widow about the eclectic assortment of stories I had begun writing after retirement. When I learned that Gayle was working as a magazine editor, I began to envision a future of our living and working together. We married in 2003 and, after she took an early retirement, we bought a motor home and set out to explore Mexico. While basking along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Gayle started editing my stories while I sat at the laptop and did re-writes, as well as writing a story of revenge called “Legal Hit Man.” Later moving inland to the mountainous north shore of Lake Chapala, we became residents of the world’s largest community of English-speaking expatriates. We joined the local writers’ group and met some wonderful writers from around the world. Soon my short story, “The Moonlit Meeting,” was published in a local magazine.

We returned to Canada in 2007 and now live in British Columbia. We have since published two books with a Scottish flair—a novel of adventure and time-travel, “Beyond the Phantom Battle: Mystery at Loch Ashie” and my memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada.”

Age has caught up with me. When I first started seriously writing, I sketched out a few notes and went to work with everything flowing fairly smoothly. I kept going at all hours and wherever I was. At present, after over five years of illness, it’s becoming harder to find the energy to write. Luckily, I have a number of manuscripts waiting for Gayle to work on. Then I read through edits, give my approval or comments, and let her do the rest. Aren’t I fortunate?