The 117th session of the North Bute Literary Society started last week with a fascinating talk on Fantastical Creatures by Alison Clark.
Alison is a local storyteller and performer who brought her subject alive in a most entertaining way.
She led her audience gently into the world of old Scots fairy tales - originally a way of interpreting people and events which at that time had no known explanation, and, importantly, of re-enforcing good behaviour in children.
The ‘bodach’, a malignant house spirit, usually an old man, could come down the chimney to fetch naughty children.
There were memories of childhood when Alison encouraged the ladies present to remember the patrol names from their days in the Brownies – Elfs, Sprites, etc. - and explained that in times past every household had a ‘brownie’ who good naturedly helped with the milking or housework.
‘Cryptozoology’ is the search for animals whose existence has not been proven, the best known being the Loch Ness Monster. Alison told stories of other creatures including the ‘kelpies’, water horses who live in lochans and entice lonely night time travellers or unwary children to a watery and gruesome death.
Using a beautiful puppet of a raven, Alison enchanted the audience by retelling the old legend of how the ravens got their shiny black colour and lost their golden beaks. The last fantastic creature of the evening was the unicorn, known throughout history, and featured on the Duke of Rothesay’s coat of arms.
Alison only had time to share a few of her stories but she dreams of one day writing a book of Bute fairy stories and the Lit members look forward to that.
With memories of last week’s ‘invasion’ of Rothesay by the Vikings still fresh,Tom Barclay will talk on “1263 & All That – the War with Norway and the Battle of Largs” on Tuesday, October 15, at 7.30pm in the Pavilion Cafe.