A bit of redding

When I moved to Scotland, I prepared (as I thought) by reading Lewis Grassic Gibbon pretty thoroughly.  Wonderful ‘speak’ from the Mearns – i.e. E. Scotland.  But we went to Callander, where many of the words and expressions I tried out met a blank stare.  It leans more to Glasgow, I guess. 

I’ve not used the word ‘redd’ much here, but it’s what I like to do around Hogmanay.  Scots dictionary definition:  “To clear (a space, or a passage) by removal of debris, undergrowth or other encumbrances”.  I started with the chimney, which I swept.  Then recycled the wrapping paper still floating around. Chipped away at the ice encumbrances on the drive.  Looked at the undergrowth of stuff to be filed and decided that it didn’t have to be all completed by January 1st.

But without deadlines, or at least notional target times, I’d probably put off redding , even though I like the end result of clearer and more orderly space to live in.  I suppose that’s why the Church’s year is also a Good Thing.  W.H. Auden had a wry take on this time of year in ‘Well, so that is that

“The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory / and already the mind begins to be vaguely aware / of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought / of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now / be very far off.”

The much more serious redding of the soul that begins on Ash Wednesday is still well over 2 months off.   New Year resolutions are just a secular warm-up.   But traditionally, you are supposed to settle quarrels as well as pay off debts before New Year, which seems like good practice for Lenten forgiveness.

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3 Responses to A bit of redding

  1. Alistair says:

    ‘Reddin’ up’ was a great Ulster expression, much used by my mother. I particularly remember her saying it in the context of people coming to visit – you had to make the house presentable, or ‘Protestant-looking’ (to coin another northern Irish expression). I like the idea of ‘redding up’ the soul, i.e making it presentable to God, as he when he decides to drop by for a cup of tea!

  2. alisonpeden says:

    ‘Protestant-looking’ made me think of those clean, minimalist Dutch interiors painted in the C 17th. But which came first – the clean lines or the Protestantism? Did a ‘pared-down’ religion (minimalism makes hoovering easier) just appeal to those already wedded to that style of life, or did it actually change their psyche?

    And I wonder about Northern Ireland too – what is the division alluded to here all about? Is it religion or class or style or what?

  3. Ann Lees says:

    ‘Redding’ was certainly in use in my childhood home – usually as the imperative ‘this places needs to be redded before x happens’. Not sure if it came from the local Lallans, influenced by much to-ing and fro-ing between Stanraer and Larne, or my father’s native Lanarkshire version. No reference to ‘protestant-looking’, which I would feel is more a slur on non-Protestants – quite possibly unintentioned, I can think of a whole converstion’s-worth of common phrases, used in all innocence then but which would shock me if I heard them used now.
    Autre temps, autres moeurs. Which was my reaction to The Nativity (just to confuse a couple of strands). I enjoyed it, I thought it was both entertaining and an acceptable ‘contemporisation’, along the lines of Madhouse videos we watched one Lent. Not presented so polemically, perhaps, but at least it got ‘our’ Christmas story out there on national TV.

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