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Authors: Alexander McCall Smith

Love Over Scotland

BOOK: Love Over Scotland
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Contents

Title Page

Dedication

44 Scotland Street: The Story So Far

1. Pat Distracted on a Tedious Art Course

2. A Picture in a Magazine

3. Co-incidence in Spottiswoode Street

4. At Domenica’s Flat

5. The Judgement of Neuroaesthetics

6. Gurus as Father Substitutes

7. Angus Goes Off Antonia, in a Big Way

8. Money Management

9. The Warm Embrace of the Edinburgh Establishment

10. Does He Wear Lederhosen?

11. The Bears of Sicily

12. Quality Time with Irene

13. An Average Scottish Face

14. Distressed Oatmeal

15. No Flowers Please

16. How To Let Down the Opposite Sex Gently

17. Anguish

18. Fibs

19. Leerie, Leerie, Licht the Lamps

20. Truth and Truth-Telling in Gayfield Square

21. Missing Domenica

22. An M.A. (Cantab.)

23. The Charms of Neo-Melanesian Pidgin

24. Pat Gets to Know Tessie a Bit Better

25. Matthew’s Friends

26. Matthew Meets an Architect

27. Leonie Talks

28. The Boy in the Tree

29. On the Machair

30. Schadenfreude

31. Bertie Makes His Statement

32. Sirens and Shipwrecks

33. The Ethics of Dumping Others

34. In the Elephant House

35. Setting Off

36. Singapore Matters

37. Ling’s Story

38. At the Queen’s Hall

39. Bertie’s Agony

40. Bertie Plays the Blues

41. Delta of George Street

42. Empower Points

43. Matthew Comforts Pat

44. Angus Lordie Prepares to Entertain

45. A Memory of Milanese Salami

46. A Conversation about Angels etc

47. Goodbye to Edward Hong M.A. (Cantab.)

48. A View of a House

49. The Story of Art

50. Bad Behaviour

51. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

52. Casting Issues

53. The Sybils of Edinburgh

54. Political Truths

55. Domenica Settles In

56. By the Light of the Tilley Lamp

57. A Nocturnal Visitation

58. Moving In, Moving Out

59. A Person from Porlock

60. An Invitation to Dinner

61. Beside the Canal

62. Humiliation for Tofu

63. Irene Spoils Things

64. Lederhosen

65. Reunited

66. Bathroom Issues

67. Bathroom Issues (Continued)

68. The Rootsie-Tootsie Club

69. An Unfortunate Incident

70. Mrs Choo’s Tale

71. A Formic Discovery

72. Preparations for Paris

73. At the Airport

74. The Principles of Flight

75. Scotland’s Woes

76. Brunello di Montalcino

77. Angus Impresses Antonia

78. The Third Person

79. Smugness Explained

80. An Evening of Scottish Art

81. At the Sardi

82. Misunderstandings

83. Mothercraft

84. No More Nonsense, Nurse Knows Best

85. Poor Lou

86. A Letter to Edinburgh

87. Stendhal Syndrome

88. Girl Talk

89. Irene Has a Shock

90. Stuart Lends a Hand

91. Pat and Matthew Talk

92. Alone in Paris

93. Bertie’s New Friends

94. Deconstruction at the Sorbonne

95. A Portrait of a Sitting

96. Angus Reflects

97. Domenica Makes Progress

98. Poor Lou

99. And Here’s the Train to Glasgow, Again

100. Grey over Riddrie

101. On the Doorstep

102. Antonia Expounds

103. Imaginary Friends

104. Lost in the Mists Hunting Pirates

105. At the Warehouse

106. An Unexpected Development

107. Wur Planets are oot o’ alignment

108. On the Stairs

109. In the Ossian Chair

110. Domenica talks to Dilly

111. Matthew Bears Gifts

112. Giving and Receiving

113. Domenica’s Dinner Party

About the Author

Also by Alexander McCall Smith

Praise for the 44 Scotland Street Series

Copyright

This book is for David and Joyce Robinson

44 Scotland Street: The Story So Far

At the end of the second series of 44 Scotland Street we saw Domenica leaving for the Malacca Straits for the purposes of anthropological research. We saw Bruce safely departed for London. Now Pat is about to start her course in history of art at the University of Edinburgh. She moves out of Scotland Street to the South Side, but this does not mean that she breaks off all connections with the New Town.

Poor Matthew. Even with the recent substantial gift which his father has given him, he is still restless and unfulfilled. Matthew, of course, would like to be fulfilled with Pat, but Pat does not wish to find fulfilment with Matthew.

In the second series, Angus Lordie got nowhere. He is missing Domenica, though, and hopes that the part which she played in his life will be taken by Antonia Collie, a friend whom Domenica has allowed to move into her flat in her absence. However, Antonia proves to be a somewhat difficult character.

We saw Bertie spending more time with his father, Stuart, who had managed to wring some concessions out of Irene, but some dawns, alas, are false. Irene does not change; to change her would be to deprive this story of the strong air of reality which has pervaded it thus far. For this is no fanciful picture of Edinburgh life, this is exactly as it is.

1. Pat Distracted on a Tedious Art Course

Pat let her gaze move slowly round the room, over the figures seated at the table in the seminar room. There were ten of them; eleven if one counted Dr Fantouse himself, although he was exactly the sort of person one wouldn’t count. Dr Fantouse, reader in the history of art and author of
The Discerning Gaze in the Quattrocento
was a mild, rather mousy man, who for some reason invariably evoked the pity of students. It was not that they disliked him–he was too kind and courteous for that–they just felt a vague, inexpressible regret that he existed, with his shabby jacket and his dull Paisley ties; no discernment there, one of them had said, with some satisfaction at the wit of the remark. And then there was the name, which sounded so like that marvellous, but under-used, Scots word which Pat’s father used to describe the overly flashy–fantoosh. Dr Fantouse was not fantoosh in any respect; but neither was…Pat’s gaze had gone all the way round the table, over all ten, skipping over Dr Fantouse quickly, as in sympathy, and now returned to the boy sitting opposite her.

He was called Wolf, she had discovered. At the first meeting of the class they had all introduced themselves round the table, at the suggestion of Dr Fantouse himself (“I’m Geoffrey Fantouse, as you may know; I’m the Quattrocento really, but I have a strong interest in aesthetics, which, I hardly need to remind you, is what we shall be discussing in this course”). And then had come a succession of names: Ginny, Karen, Mark, Greg, Alice, and so on until, at the end, Wolf, looking down at the table in modesty, had said, “Wolf”, and Pat had seen the barely disguised appreciative glances of Karen and Ginny.

Wolf. It was a very good name for a boy, thought Pat; ideal, in fact. Wolf was a name filled with promise. And this Wolf, sitting opposite her, fitted the name perfectly. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with a shock of golden hair and a broad smile. Boys like that could look–and be–vacuous–surfing types with a limited vocabulary and an off-putting empty-headedness. But not this Wolf. There was a lambent intelligence in his face, a light in the eyes that revealed the mind behind the appealing features.

Now, at the second meeting of the seminar group, Pat struggled to follow the debate which Dr Fantouse was trying to encourage. They had been invited to consider the contention of Joseph Beuys that the distinction between what is art in the products of our human activity and what is not art, is a pernicious and pointless one. The discussion, which could have been so passionate, had never risen above the bland; there had been long silences, even after the name of Damien Hirst had been raised and Dr Fantouse, in an attempt to provoke controversy, had expressed doubts over the display of half a cow in formaldehyde. “I am not sure,” he had ventured, “whether an artist of another period, let us say Donatello, would have considered this art. Butchery, maybe, or even science, but perhaps not art.”

This remark had been greeted with silence. Then the thin-faced girl sitting next to Pat had spoken. “Can Damien Hirst actually draw?” she asked. “I mean, if you asked him to draw a house, would he be able to do so? Would it look like a house?”

They stared at her. “I don’t see what that…” began a young man.

“That raises an interesting issue of representation,” interrupted Dr Fantouse. “I’m not sure that the essence of art is its ability to represent. May I suggest, perhaps, that we turn to the ideas of Benedetto Croce and see whether he can throw any light on the subject. As you know, Croce believed in the existence of an aesthetic function built into, so to speak, the human mind. This function…”

Pat looked up at the ceiling. At the beginning of the new semester she had been filled with enthusiasm at the thought of what lay ahead. The idea of studying the history of art seemed to her to be immensely exciting–an eagerly anticipated intellectual adventure–but somehow the actual experience had failed so far to live up to her expectations. She had not foreseen these dry sessions with Dr Fantouse and the arid wastes of Croce; the long silences in the seminars; the absence of sparkle.

Of course there had been numerous adjustments in her life. She had left the flat in Scotland Street, she had said goodbye to Bruce, who had gone to London, and she had also seen off her friend and neighbour, Domenica Macdonald, who had embarked on a train from Waverley Station on the first leg of her journey to the Straits of Malacca and her anthropological project. And she had moved, too, to the new flat in Spottiswoode Street, which she now shared with three other students, all female. Those were enough changes in any life, and the starting of the course had merely added to the stress.

“You’ll feel better soon,” her father had said when she had phoned him to complain of the blues that seemed to have descended on her. “Blues pass.” And then he had hesitated, and she had known that he had been on the verge of saying: “Of course you could come home,” but had refrained from doing so. For he knew, as well as she did, that she could not go home to the family house in the Grange, to her room, which was there exactly as she had left it, because that would be conceding defeat in the face of life before she had even embarked on it. So nothing more had been said.

And now, while Dr Fantouse said something more about Benedetto Croce–remarks that were met with complete silence by the group–Pat looked across the table to where Wolf was sitting and saw that he was looking at her.

They looked at one another for a few moments, and then Wolf, for his part, slowly raised a finger to his lips, and left it there for a few seconds, looking at her as he did so. Then he mouthed something which she could not make out exactly, of course, but which seemed to her to be this: Hey there, little Red Riding Hood!

BOOK: Love Over Scotland
4.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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