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.
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
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.
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
Alloa: A greeting, followed by "Howzit goin?" and
the resigned reply: "Ye see it all."
Ballachulish: A lot of rubbish,
Clashmore: Descriptive of domestic strife in
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
Dumbuck: A Duffus, only more so.
preliminary clearing of the throat, a characteristic sound in catharral
Fitful Head: A hangover. (see Drunkie)
independently-minded, selfish woman. "There’s naebody but hirsel to
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.
people-carrier, a stretched limousine.
Knockando: Inability to perform
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
Muckart: An untidy, often anti-social person, a
Muckle Flugga: Ancient, possibly Norse, expletive as
in, "M F, not another rise in the cost of the Parliament building’s,
Onich: A stuffed nose (see Echt).
Scalpay: A bald-headed but distinguished-looking man.
scalp affliction, similar to dandruff.
Snizort: a distant snorer.
To have not. "She udny a bean tae her name."