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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 78 - A Lost world of forlorn knights and faerie ladies

THE hamlet of Lost on Donside, Aberdeenshire, may only have four inhabitants but its name, suggestive of the feeling motorists get when driving in the rain at the evening rush-hour in a strange town with a newly-constructed, complicated one-way system or peering at the opaque text of a computer manual, has been resonating all over the world.

The settlement’s signpost has been stolen by souvenir-hunters four times in five years and when the council decided to change the name to Lost Farm, it was a sign of the times that cries of protest came from across the tourist-travelling globe.

On the Lost horizon, however, comes good news. The council is to reconsider its decision to wipe the place off the map. One plan that might please the four Lost souls is to produce replica signs or place the metal plate on a pole, high enough to deter thieves but not of a height to trouble low-flying aircraft.

Lost is a treasure to the imaginative, perhaps conjuring up visions of forlorn knights at arms, wondering what hit them after a romp with faerie ladies or the Elsinore prince drifting about dank battlements wondering how to deal with the dastard who did his daddy in. I see Lost as a kind of Brigadoom, appearing in headlines when Scotland is in a bad way; at this time, economically, in personal health, in sport and its inability to construct a Parliament building to budget.

Scotland has a plethora of place names that indicates an other-ness, a semantic secretiveness that we unconsciously take in like the air we breathe and the mineral water we drink. Here is a selection of hidden meanings of places in the land of mountain and flood:

Achiltibuie: Goodbye until we meet again.

Alloa: A greeting, followed by "Howzit goin?" and the resigned reply: "Ye see it all."

Ballachulish: A lot of rubbish, nonsensical chatter.

Clashmore: Descriptive of domestic strife in Scotland.

Comrie: Well-favoured, pleasant in manner - "A comrie lass wi’ a lang pedigree" - sometimes used to describe Edinburgh.

Dalnaspidal: An obsolete Highland spittoon.

Drumnadrochit: Soaked in a downpour that might have made Noah consider building an Ark and repenting.

Drumtrodden: Downcast, the feeling that fate is going out of its way to make you miserable.

Drumsturdy: A well set-up young, shot-putting porridge-filled, Scottish male who eats the best Scotch beef and, if a kilted shop assistant, is adept at shinning up a ladder to fetch stock for young, female customers.

Duncomb: A man who has finally given up the cross-over hairstyle. (see Scalpay)

Dundrennan: The home of a retired sanitary engineer.

Drunkie: Affectionate de-scription of an inebriated Scot, possibly admiring a thistle.

Duffus: A bungler, possibly uneducated, ignorant about the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.

Dumbuck: A Duffus, only more so.

Echt: A preliminary clearing of the throat, a characteristic sound in catharral Scotland.

Fitful Head: A hangover. (see Drunkie)

Hirsel: An independently-minded, selfish woman. "There’s naebody but hirsel to blame."

Gargunnock: A clumsy, loutish Till Eulenspiegel figure, given to unfunny pranks.

Girvan: Generosity. "It is better to girvan to receive."

Glendaruel: A thick, porridge-like, breakfast food of unknown ingredients, said to be shovelled internally by Picts.

Grimsetter: A pessimist, one who believes that Tony Blair will discover the secret of perpetual prime ministership.

Killiecrankie: Peely-wally, a bit wabbit, washed-out.

Kinabus: A people-carrier, a stretched limousine.

Knockando: Inability to perform a task.

Lumphinnans: The lumpen proletariat, noisy popcorn-eaters and juice-slurpers in cinemas.

Meigle: A small amount. "Many a meigle makes a Muchalls (large amount)"

Monymusk: The scent that women like.

Muckart: An untidy, often anti-social person, a chewing-gum dropper.

Muckle Flugga: Ancient, possibly Norse, expletive as in, "M F, not another rise in the cost of the Parliament building’s, tungsten-laminated coat-hangers."

Onich: A stuffed nose (see Echt).

Scalpay: A bald-headed but distinguished-looking man.

Scroof: A scalp affliction, similar to dandruff.

Snizort: a distant snorer.

Udny: To have not. "She udny a bean tae her name."

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