week we clear up a query regarding the use of the nine of diamonds
playing card used as an illustration in a recent issue of The Flag.
The card is known as 'The Curse of Scotland' and seems to be named as
such from the time of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. It is taken
to be a reference to the nine lozenges displayed on the coat of arms of
the Dalrymples of Stair. John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair and
Secretary of State for Scotland, and King William were the men behind
the infamous massacre.
Another explanation is that the card is similar to
the arms of the Duke of Argyle, who was instrumental in bringing about
the despised Union of 1707: or again, some hold that 'Butcher'
Cumberland scribbled the order of "No Quarter" on such a card at
Culloden in 1746.
Others say the 'Curse' is the nine of spades; and
give us the reason that news of a great defeat was once brought to the
capital written on the back of such a card. But whatever disasters
are associated with either the nine of diamond or spades, they are
nothing compared to the one which will be marked next week at Petticur,
Kinghorn, in Fife.
719 years ago at that spot, the accidental death of Alexander III marked the
end of 'The Golden Age' of Scottish history. As the historian James
Halliday has pointed out Scotland has enjoyed no luck since that unhappy
20 March 2005 will see the annual commemoration of 'The Golden Age' at the
Alexander III Monument at Petticur at 3pm. Car parking is available at
the nearby Kingswood Hotel, Burntisland. The main speaker will be
David R Ross, Convener of the Society of William Wallace. This year in
August to mark the 700th anniversary of the murder of Sir William Wallace
David is to walk in his footsteps from Robroyston to Smithfield, London.
www.walkforwallace.com for full details. We wish David every
success in his endeavour which hopefully will be an inspiration to all
At the time of his death Alexander III was due a massive wine bill to the
merchants of Bordeaux and this week's recipe combines Scotland's favourite
wine, claret, and her finest meat product - meat.
Beef Cooked in Claret
For the meat: 4 tablespoons oil; 3 lb (1.5kg) stewing steak,
cut into 1.5 inch (4cm) cubes; 5 cloves garlic, crushed; 2
tablespoons flour; 1 bottle fruity, young claret; salt and
freshly milled black pepper; 1 teaspoon sugar; bunch of fresh
For the trimmings: 5oz (150g) lean bacon; 6-8 very small
onions; 14oz (400g) button mushrooms, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 300F / 150C / Gas Mark 2
Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the pieces of meat. Put
into the casserole, add the garlic and sprinkle over flour. Leave
uncovered in the oven to continue browning for 15 minutes, stirring from
time to time. Add wine, season lightly, add herbs. Cover and
simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
Meanwhile cook the trimmings. Heat a frying pan and fry the bacon
till lightly brown. Add the onions and cook uncovered for about 10
minutes. Then add the mushrooms, stir, cover and cook gently for
another 10 minutes. Keep aside till serving.
Remove meat from the oven and stir in the trimmings. Heat through
for five minutes and serve with chopped parsley and boiled potatoes.