Friday, February 10, 2017

Where's Wally?


Walls? A good thing? Or a bad thing?
I’m looking out my window watching the snow fall into my Victorian garden. It’s surrounded by a six foot stone wall.  It’s quite an interesting wall.  It has three sets of gates for easy access.  At the front of the house, the wall provides protection for the trunks of very large trees and delicate flowers (ok weeds!). At the moment, a carpet of snowdrops is peeking through the snow.  At the back of the house, the wall is an elevated highway for foxes and squirrels as they run from garden to garden on their way to the woods beyond.  So that wall is, I think, a good thing.

Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a matter of personal taste.

Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound probably revolutionised music and without it there would have been no ‘Da Do Ron Ron.’ So that too, is a good thing even if Phil himself is dubious.

Wall Street? It looks much bigger in the postcards and has NO ticker tape. Disappointing for Touristillium Scottus.   

The Wall, as known to marathon runners, (usually male marathon runners due to superior female physiology) is a very bad thing indeed.  It can be so debilitating that lifting your foot high enough to go up a step seems impossible. As this is mostly suffered by men, it is of little interest to us, the superior gender.

So if we put our backs to the wall and ask the question about good walls and bad walls, history would suggest the best thing about walls is the moment they come down.  Huge celebrations when the Berlin wall came down. Don’t really think anybody really enjoyed it going up.

The Great Wall of China? Was that designed to keep people in or keep people out? And did it work? Once the Ming dynasty was overthrown, the wall was unmaintained.  (According to Pixar, it was built to keep out dragons and other nasty beasts but I don’t rate them as an accurate reference). Did Genghis appear and do his thing, regardless of the wall?

The Romans, let’s say, had a Trump-ton attitude to walls.

Hadrian's Wall is usually considered to have been built for one purpose. To keep Scots where we belong but all of Hadrian’s wall is in England so that was a non-starter. At its closest point the wall is 0.6 of a mile from the border. At its furthest, it’s 80 miles.  They started building it in 122 AD and it took over 6 years to complete.

 I’ve had builders like that.

The wall had in cross section, a ditch, a wall, a military way and another ditch made by the depression formed by surrounding mounds. It is the biggest Roman artefact anywhere.  

But why was it built?

Well the jury is out. It might have been defensive.  It might have been a customs gate to collect revenue. It is recorded that Hadrian expressed a wish to keep "intact the empire".  And somebody else recorded that Hadrian wanted to separate the Romans from “the barbarians"…. I wonder who that was.

The Romans did get brave enough and advanced northward a bit and built the  Antonine Wall across the central belt of Scotland. The bit  between the Forth and the Clyde . The wall spanned 40 miles or so. It was made of turf and wood, three metres high and of varying width. Most of it has rotted away but is still present in bits and bobs here and there. A lump of it is in an acquaintance’s back garden up near Bearsden and they have to endure constant sightseers at the bottom of the garden.  Scotland has no law of trespass.

The wall took 12 years to build, then the Romans went home and abandoned it. They couldn’t stand the rain.
A rather attractive wall is the wall around Fort George in Inverness.  Again, I’m not sure what that wall was originally built for; keeping the soldiers in? Or keeping the locals (or local women) out? 

But sooner or later the best thing is (as the song says) ‘walls come tumbling down’ so it’s a bit of a stupid idea to put them up in the first place especially when you are paying to build it and then expect someone else to take care of the bill.

There isn’t a wall that has been built that you can’t go round, over, under or straight through if you have enough dynamite. Or if you simply walk round it making enough noise. ...

And to make you smile....
A friend typed in the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ to an automatic translation programme. His native Russian threw out ‘ invisible and insane.’

Caro Ramsay  10 02 2017


  1. I'd like a brick of Wall's ice cream.

    1. You could put that in the book Figbane, the great falcon murderer could try to use all her supernatural powers to melt the ice cream wall... and she drowns in chocolate chip vanilla. What a way to go. Leaves you short of a heroine though....

  2. Yeahbutt, yeahbutt... without walls, how would we know when the spaghetti's done? Use the glass ceiling in my glass house? And where would all the wall-flowers stand? And what would I do if I can no longer hold up a wall? And where would I hang pictures? (Not to mention paper... oops, mentioned it.)

    I think we need a wall, but not between Mexico and the U.S. I think we need a wall between Washington, D.C. and the rest of US.

  3. Coro, all the walls you have described here were built by medieval kings, emperors, or despots. I think you have hit upon a test for present and future rulers, regardless of how they got into office. If they declare they want to build a wall, they are autocrats and should be removed from power as quickly as possible.

    And by the way Everett, if the spaghetti sticks to the wall, it is overcooked.

    1. Maybe you should include some cooking lessons in your next book, AmA...

  4. And Evka, how would you know when your socks need washed if there were no walls. If the sock sticks when you fling it at the wall, it needs washed!

    1. Ooooh, ick, Caro.

      You know, you'd make the perfect aunt for every little kid who needs their horizons widened (probably because of too many walls...)

  5. I agree AM. I have a similar test for religion. If somebody says 'I am your new spiritual leader, give me your money' = body swerve. If they say 'I am your new spiritual leader, why not give your money away to people who need it more than you do.' Might be worth listening!

  6. Is Hadrian's Wall still keeping the Scots at bay? EvKa, the test for socks also works well for undies.

  7. All this back and forth has me convinced Wally's kept socks at bay, ice cream on the way, and pasta...oy vay!

  8. Both Hadrian's wall and the Antonine wall were not very successful owing to people being able to um, sail, row, swim or wade around the ends of them. Love the Russian translation, btw!