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Graeme Hunter writer

What’s In a Name?

by Graeme Hunter



1.  Graeme…

My parents had the foresight to pick out a name for me before I was born.  Unfortunately the name they chose was Lorna, which became a bit of a problem when I showed up with outdoor plumbing.  Maybe Mum and Dad were a bit hazy about the law of averages and thought that, already having two sons (David and John) and one daughter (Alison), they were guaranteed another girl.

But what’s the chances of me ending up married to someone who had also been prenatally misgendered?  Sue’s parents were anticipating a boy, and it wasn’t a boy named Sue – it was a boy named Roy.  In that case, it’s a bit more understandable, as Mr. and Mrs. Colquhoun already had three male children. 

So I was supposed to be Lorna, and Sue was supposed to be Roy.  I’d love to sign our Christmas cards that way, but I’m pretty sure that nobody would get the joke.  “Honey!  Do we know a Lorna and Roy?”

In giving me the name “Graeme” rather than its more common homonym “Graham”, my parents ensured that I would have to spell it out for the rest of my life.  Here’s how that works.

Person behind a counter:     “Name?”
Me:                                          “Graeme Hunter.” 
Person:                                   “How do you spell that?”
Me:                                          “Graeme?  It’s G-R-A-E-M-E.”
Person:                                   “G-R-A…” 
Me:                                          “…E-M-E.” 
Person:                                   “And what’s your last name again?”

Whenever I complained to my mum about this unnecessary complication, she told me that Graeme was the standard spelling in the south-west of Scotland, where she grew up.  And that seems to be true.  I remember being in a gift shop in Newton Stewart and seeing personalized mugs with the name Graeme, but none with its variant.  Take that, “Grey Ham”! 

In the end, it didn’t really matter which way my name was spelled, because most people called me Gordon.  In the Scotland of my childhood, that was a much more common name than Graeme (or Graham), so you can see why people defaulted to it.  When I moved to Canada, nobody called me Gordon anymore.  They called me Greg. 

Then Starbucks became a thing. 
Me:                  “A grande latte, please.”
Barista:           “Can I have your name for the cup?” 
Me:                  “Graeme.” 
Barista:           “How do you spell that?” 
Me:                  “I don’t care how you spell it!  It’s a disposable cup!” 

No, I didn’t say that.  I went through the usual spelling-Graeme routine.  When I got fed up with that, I tried using the name Greg.  But then the barista would write C-R-A-I-G.  It seemed that I couldn’t win.  Until the day a guy in front of me at Starbucks gave his name as Dave.  I had an epiphany.  Dave is the perfect disposable-cup name!  You can’t mishear Dave.  You can’t misspell Dave.  And as far as the Starbucks Corporation is concerned, I’ve been Dave ever since.

People who hear my first name can’t spell it; people who see it can’t pronounce it.  It’s not uncommon for people to phone me and ask to talk to “Grah-EEM” or “Grimy”.  Other people elect to give me a pet name.  One day my girlfriend called me at work.  The female co-worker who answered the phone yelled “Graemey!”  When I got on the line, the first thing Francine said was: “Who was that woman?  And why did she call you ‘Graemey’?”

My mother was almost ninety when she died, and to the end remained mentally sharp.  At some point, however, she lost the ability to distinguish between her three sons.  Sometimes she called me Graeme, but she was equally likely to call me David or John.  Or else she would scroll through a list of possible names, and call me Joh-Da-Graeme or Da-Joh-Graeme.  I didn’t take this personally.  I answered to David, I answered to John, I answered to Joh-Da-Graeme or Da-Joh-Graeme.  The only thing I asked was that Mum didn’t call me Lorna.   

2.         …Kenneth…

It’s a funny thing that my siblings and I all got “English” first names (Graeme is not as English as Graham, but it’s certainly not a traditional Scottish boys’ name).  Perhaps in compensation, we all got Scottish middle names (Ian, Margaret, Andrew, Kenneth).  Ian is the Gaelic version of John.  Scotland has had many famous Margarets, including Queen Margaret, who was canonized, and Mons Meg, which is a cannon.  Andrew is, of course, the patron saint of Scotland.  The name Kenneth also has an honored place in Scottish history.  According to legend, Kenneth MacAlpin was the first king of Alba, the land subsequently known as Scotland.

King Kenneth (Coinneach, in the Gaelic) was born in 810 C.E. on the Hebridean island of Iona, where Christianity had arrived in Scotland two and a half centuries earlier.  After uniting the western kingdom of Dal Riata with the eastern kingdom of Pictland, he established his capital at Scone (pronounced “skoon”), in central Scotland.  He brought with him a red-sandstone block of mysterious origins that became known as the Stone of Destiny.  Scottish kings were crowned sitting on it until 1296, when it was seized by King Edward I of England.  The “Hammer of the Scots” put the Stone of Destiny in Westminster Abbey, where it became part of the coronation chair.  Seven hundred years later, it was finally returned to Scotland and placed in Edinburgh Castle, where Mons Meg should deter any marauding English monarchs.

When I started to publish scientific papers, I used the name ‘Graeme K. Hunter’.  I included a middle initial to distinguish myself, for indexing purposes, from other Graeme Hunters.  One day a female colleague asked me: “What’s your middle name?”

I said:  “If I told you that Kenneth means ‘handsome’, what would you guess my middle name is?”

“Hmm … Kevin?”

But Kenneth does mean ‘handsome’.  Is that nominative determinism, or what?

3.         …Wyness…

Unlike my siblings, I got a second middle name.  My mum explained that Wyness was her maiden name.  But her full name was “May Baxter Hunter”, so wasn’t Baxter her maiden name?  Or what about Welsh, which was the surname of my maternal grandparents?  On the other hand, why did everyone call Mum “Winnie”?  Was that short for Wyness? 

I still hate being asked the security question “What is your mother’s maiden name?”  Whatever.  Pick a number.

It took a long time for me to learn the whole story.  My mother was born to a single mother, Ella Wyness, and named May.  When she was fostered by a family named Baxter, she was given their surname.  During the Second World War, May Baxter worked in a munitions factory.  There she made friends with Doreen Welsh, whose mum and dad became surrogate parents to my future mother.  May never had the surname Welsh, but I was brought up to believe that Doreen’s parents were my grandparents, so you can see how the confusion arose.

I don’t know why Mum decided to give me Wyness as an extra middle name.  Although it must have been obvious to her that, at age 36, this was probably her last kick of the can.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like the name Wyness.  I could claim that I already had enough problems, having to spell out Graeme all the time, and apparently not being handsome enough for a Kenneth.  But the fact is I just didn’t like the sound of Wyness (wino? whiniest?), and was uncomfortable being the only person I knew who had two middle names.  So at some point I just stopped using it.  As noted above, my moniker in the world of professional science was Graeme K. Hunter. 

The last vestige of Wyness in my life was my U.K. passport.  Three years ago I had to renew that document, and decided to ditch the dubya, which required convincing the Passport Office that I hadn’t actually used the name Wyness for a number of years.  That was fairly easy to do, since I’d gone W-less on my Canadian passport for a long time.  Now the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, like the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of London, all know me as Graeme Kenneth Hunter.

And my mother didn’t live long enough to see the day when I finally dropped her (real) maiden name.

4.         …Hunter

Hunter isn’t as quintessentially Scottish a name as Macdonald or Stewart or Campbell (I included Stewart because, if you put a Macdonald and a Campbell together, they’ll get into a fight).  But there is a tartan.  Quite a nice one, too; I have a Hunter tartan tie that I wear on formal occasions. 

If there’s a tartan, there must be a clan.  The Hunters didn’t play a big part in Scottish history; they weren’t bold seafarers like the Macleods, fierce Highlanders like the Gordons or border reivers like the Douglases.  The name Hunter doesn’t even appear on many clan maps of Scotland.  But there is a place in Ayrshire called Hunterston, and that is indeed the ancestral seat of Clan Hunter.  There’s even a castle.

In August of 2009, David and I were driving to the seaside town of Largs to scatter the ashes of our late mother, May “Winnie” Wyness Baxter Hunter.  David remarked that he’d been hiking in this area and had come across signs for Hunterston Castle.  Since Mum wasn’t in a hurry, we decided to take a detour.  After a few false turns, we came across two stone pillars bearing the words ‘Hunterston Castle’.  We drove down the roadway marked by the pillars until we encountered a sign that said: “Strictly no admittance.  Clan Hunter business only.” 

OK, bit of a mixed message there.  On the one hand, “strictly no admittance” seemed clear.  On the other, were we there on “Clan Hunter business”?  Do you automatically become a member of the clan by virtue of having the last name Hunter, or do you have to join and pay a fee?  We decided to go on.  What’s the worst that could happen? 

The road ended at a large manor house.  No-one was around, so the obvious next move was to knock on the imposing oak door.  David pulled birth order and made me do that.  As he sat in the car, I took a deep breath, grasped the ancient cast-iron ring and knocked it three times against the ancient strike-plate. 

I expected the door to be opened by an ancient, wizened retainer dressed in a black Victorian frock-coat.  In fact it was a youngish man in casual clothing.

“Hi!” I said brightly.  “My brother and I were hoping to see the castle.”

“I’m afraid it’s not a good time, old chap” he replied in an English accent.  He’s the head of Clan Hunter and he’s English?  “Bit of a flap on at the moment.”

“We’re Hunters,” I added helpfully.

This seemed to do the trick.  “Look, I’ll give you the key,” the laird said.  “Just let yourselves in.” 

He disappeared inside, came back with a giant cast-iron key, and directed us to the castle.  We’d actually passed it on the way in, but it was hidden by trees – a square Norman tower, in good shape considering that it dates from the fourteenth century.  David and I unlocked the door and start wandering around our ancestral home.  Unable to figure out how to turn on the lights, we were dependent upon what little sunlight filtered through the narrow windows, but that only added to the atmosphere.  There were suits of armor, racks of medieval weapons, hunting trophies, a dining table and chairs with the Clan Hunter crest.  For half an hour, David and I were the lairds of Hunterston Castle.  (Well, he was, being older than me).

I’ve always liked the name Hunter; it has a rugged, outdoorsy connotation.  In her 2020 novel ‘The Mirror and the Light’, Hilary Mantel wrote: “Hunters, it is said, live longer than other men; they sweat hard and stay lean; when they fall into bed at night they are tired beyond all temptation; and when they die, they go to Heaven.”

Picture the scene: I show up at the Pearly Gates and there’s St. Peter.  He’s holding the naughty-and-nice list.

St. Peter:         “Name?”
Me:                  “Graeme Hunter.”
St. Peter:         “How do you spell that?”



BIO

Graeme Hunter is the author of ‘Vital Forces’ (Academic Press) and ‘Light Is a Messenger’ (Oxford University Press).  His personal and hybrid essays have appeared in Riddle Fence, Queen’s Quarterly and Talking Soup.  He publishes the blog Opera Through the Looking Glass.  For further information, see www.graemehunter.ca.





Sportin’ Life

by Graeme Hunter



When I say that I’m a Rangers fan, I don’t mean the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.  Nor do I mean the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball or Queen’s Park Rangers of the English Football League.  No, I am a fan of Rangers Football Club of the Scottish Premier League.

My father was a Rangers man, and his father before him.  Like me, they had no choice in the matter.  Rangers were the Protestant team in Glasgow, just as Celtic were the Catholic team, and my grandfather, father and I were all brought up in that most Protestant of Protestant denominations, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  We got to choose whether we would practice that religion: I became an atheist in my teens; Dad lost his faith much later in life.  We also got to choose whether or not we participated in such ancillary activities as joining the Orange Lodge, becoming Freemasons and commemorating King Billy’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne.  But whatever our choices, at the end of the day we were still Proddies.  And in Glasgow, “Proddy” meant “Rangers supporter”.

Celtic Football Club was somewhat more ecumenical than Rangers.  In my days as an active Rangers supporter – I’m talking about the 1970s – Celtic had several Protestant players.  But in 1972 Rangers F.C. celebrated its centenary having never fielded a Catholic.  How did the club manage to maintain its religious purity?  For native-born players, a simple enquiry about the candidate’s schooling would suffice.  Scotland has both non-denominational and Catholic schools, with the latter easily identifiable by having names such as ‘Lourdes’, ‘Holyrood’, ‘Notre Dame’ and ‘St. Joseph’s’.  In the case of foreign-born players, weeding out the Catholics was a bit trickier.  So Rangers erred on the safe side by restricting its scouting efforts to reliably Protestant Scandinavia.            

I started going to Ibrox Park, where Rangers played, when I was about twelve years old.  At that time my family lived in Greenfield, in the East End of Glasgow; Ibrox is across the city, on the South Side.  So my friend Kenny Cairns and I took the Blue Train into the City Centre and travelled by subway to Copland Road station, in the shadow of the stadium.  A bit later, we also started attending away games.  From The Drum, a Rangers pub in nearby Shettleston (every pub in Glasgow was either a Rangers pub or a Celtic pub), a chartered bus took us to Falkirk or Dundee or Edinburgh, with a couple of stops along the way so that supporters of drinking age could relieve themselves of the beer they’d drunk before we left.  

As I said, my father was a Rangers man, and after retiring he worked as a steward at Ibrox.  But the only game I remember going to with him was the most infamous match in the history of the club.  On January 2, 1971, Rangers played Celtic at Ibrox Park.  When the visiting team scored the first goal of the game in the ninetieth minute, my dad, brother John and I left the stadium.  We thereby missing Rangers’ tying goal in injury time.  We also missed getting trampled to death, the fate that befell 66 supporters – men, boys and one young woman – on the very same stairway we had descended a few minutes earlier.  Until 1989, when 96 people died at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, the Ibrox Disaster represented the largest loss of life at a British football ground.

This near-death experience didn’t stop me from going to Rangers games.  When I was working on a Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow and living in the West End of the city, I went to Ibrox with my friend Ken Brown and his dad.  We’d take the Govan Ferry across the River Clyde and walk to the stadium from there.  After the game, we’d have a couple of pints at The Overflow.  A Rangers pub, of course.

Those Saturday afternoon trips to Ibrox Park ended when I completed my Ph.D. and moved to California for a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.  My supervisor was Merton Bernfield, but I worked most closely with his research associate, Shib Banerjee.  Before I found my own apartment, I occupied the spare bedroom of Shib’s house in Menlo Park.  He’d recently split up with his wife, and was too gregarious to live on his own.  On January 20th, 1980, Shib and I went to a student pub on El Camino Real, just outside the university gates.  There I watched my first National Football League game: Super Bowl XIV, in which Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Los Angeles Rams. 

San Francisco’s N.F.L. team, the 49ers, played at Candlestick Park, about a half hour drive from Palo Alto.  But I didn’t go to any of their games, or those of the Oakland Raiders, whose stadium was just across the Bay.  The only live football I saw during my fellowship involved Stanford Cardinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  Football wasn’t a big deal at Stanford; the Board of Trustees valued Nobel Prizes more highly than Heisman Trophies.  But the Big Game against the University of California at Berkeley (another brainy school) was always fiercely contested. 

The first Cardinals’ game I saw was against San Jose State University.  On the first play from scrimmage, the San Jose quarterback dropped back to pass and was promptly flattened by about four Stanford defensive linesmen, who then high-fived and back-slapped each other with hands the size of dinner plates.  “Hey, we just beat up a guy half our size!  Good on us!”

The only other home game I remember from the Cardinals’ 1980 season was against the University of Southern California.  And all I recall about that game was the half-time show.  First, the U.S.C. Trojans Marching Band came onto the field in their plumed helmets, scarlet cloaks and plastic Bronze Age armor, playing their fight song while executing precision manoeuvers.  When the Trojans left the field, out swarmed the groovy Stanford Band, its members casually dressed and wandering at random across the playing surface.  It was Bach versus jazz.    

The Cardinals ended the season with a mediocre 6-5 record.  And, more importantly, they lost the Big Game.  But that 1980 team did have three players who went on to have distinguished careers in the National Football League: wide receiver Ken Margerum, running back Darrin Nelson and, most notably, quarterback John Elway.

I planned on spending three years at Stanford, and then, having completed a B.T.A. (Been To America), find a real job at a university in the U.K.  But my research project was a bust, Mert went on sabbatical to the East Coast and my fellowship renewal was turned down.  By December of 1980, I’d Been To America for a mere eleven months and my time at Stanford was already over.  I found another postdoctoral fellowship, at the University of Toronto, but that wouldn’t start until February.  In the meantime, I went back to Glasgow.

I had to fly via New York, so I stopped off there for a couple of days and visited an old university classmate, John Logan, who was doing a postdoc at Stony Brook.  He took me to my first in-person N.F.L. game, the New York Jets against the New Orleans Saints.  Unfortunately those were two of the worst teams in the league, and my California winter coat wasn’t a match for a snowy day at Shea Stadium.        

Back in Scotland, my dad picked me up at the airport (Prestwick, in those days).

“Good to see you, son!” he said.  “How long can you stay this time?”

“Two months,” I replied.

“Two months!”

In the meantime I signed on the dole and paid rent to my parents.  My mum, at least, was glad to have me around.  (I think.)

The U. of T. fellowship was for two years, so I was back on track to spend three years in North America.  But, as my national bard observed, the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.  I’d hardly set foot in Canada when I fell in love with a young woman who, for reasons that will hopefully become clear, I’ll refer to by a nom de plume.  “Ruth” had been/still was/never had been (take your pick) married to “John”, who played linebacker with the N.F.L.’s Houston Oilers/played linebacker but not with the Oilers/didn’t play linebacker/didn’t exist (again, your choice).  If I’d been more interested in the N.F.L. in those days, I’d probably have suspected a lot earlier that there was no “John”, at least in the form that “Ruth” presented “him”.  But in fact I was only interested enough to have a favorite player: number 72 of the Dallas Cowboys, Ed “Too Tall” Jones.  (The quotation marks in this case referring to the fact that “Too Tall” was Ed Jones’ nickname, not to cast doubt about him being called that, or to dispute the fact that the 6’ 9” Mr. Jones was, in fact, tall).

By the time my on-again, off-again relationship with “Ruth” finally ended, I’d missed my target date for repatriation.  Still planning on returning to the U.K., I applied (unsuccessfully) for positions at University College London and the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen.  But then I fell in love again, with Francine (real name), and decided to make my career in Canada instead.    

An English couple I knew in Toronto made the opposite decision, returning to Britain on the grounds that the beer in Canada was too cold and you couldn’t get a decent pork pie.  But before leaving, they took me to the University of Toronto’s Varsity Field for a soccer game between Toronto Blizzard and Chicago Sting.  This was the second leg of a home-and-away final to decide the 1984 champion of the North American Soccer League.  The Sting had won 2-1 in Chicago; now they won 3-2 in Toronto.  The N.A.S.L. went bust before another season could start, and thus the Varsity Field game was the last one ever played in that league.    

Francine and I attended a couple of Toronto Argonauts’ games, but the Canadian Football League was not for me: too big a field, too many players, too much pre-snap activity.  It wasn’t Francine’s cup of tea, either, but then she wasn’t a sports fan.  Nonetheless, we did go to quite a lot of baseball games.  In those days the Blue Jays still played at open-air Exhibition Stadium, so Francine could at least work on her tan.  I got quite heavily into baseball, to the point of reading box scores in The Globe and Mail every morning.  I think I liked the fact that baseball, like chess, has almost endless permutations.  If there’s one man out and a runner on first base in the fifth inning of a 2-2 game, with a 3-1 count on a right-handed power hitter and a left-handed line-drive hitter on deck, should a left-handed pitcher: (a) intentionally walk the batter, putting the go-ahead run on base; (b) try to pop the batter up with an inside fastball; or (c) throw a change-up in the hope of getting a ground-ball double-play?  How does the calculation change if the runner is a good base-stealer, or if the wind is blowing out, or if the centre-fielder is nursing a leg injury?  When, after many years of watching baseball, I finally knew the answers to questions like those, I lost all interest in the game.

In 1988 I was offered, and accepted, a faculty position at the University of Alberta.  Francine and I got married and moved to Edmonton.  We’d been dating for four years, and now wanted to start a family as soon as possible.  But first we had a decision to make: what, if any, religious indoctrination would our (hypothetical) children receive?  Francine was a practicing Catholic; I am, as noted above, a born-again atheist.  So I offered her a deal.  She could have our (hypothetical) children baptized and confirmed, first-communioned and first-confessioned; she could take them to Catholic churches on Saturday or Sunday, and send them to Catholic schools on all the other days of the week.  In return, all I asked was that I be allowed to bring them up as Rangers supporters.  It was a good deal, and she accepted it.  

But she had a question: “What are we going to say if the children ask why you don’t come to church with us?” 

“I’ll tell them I have a different religion,” I replied.  “N.F.L. football.” 

Despite shivering through a game between the woeful New York Jets and the even more woeful New Orleans Saints, I had become a fan of the National Football League.  I could claim it was because of my unrequited man-crush on Too-Tall Jones.  I could claim it was because the former Stanford Cardinal John Elway, subsequently of the Denver Broncos, won two Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXIII, if anyone’s counting in Roman numerals).  But really it was because football is the only sport in which men with beer guts get to be “athletes”. 

What I don’t like about N.F.L. football – hate, actually – is all the commercials.  The game has umpteen unavoidable stoppages: half-time, the end of the first and third quarters, six timeouts and four challenges, injury timeouts and video reviews.  So there’s no excuse for inserting additional commercial breaks between (say) a kick returner fielding the ball and the offence running out onto the field.  But the television companies do “step away” on such occasions.  As a result, an N.F.L. telecast consists of 60 minutes (or less) of actual football and two hours of commercials for “best-in-class” pickup trucks, fast-food restaurants, investment advisors and upcoming TV shows.  (In Canada, at least we’re spared the political attack ads.)    

Fortunately I came up with a cunning way of watching football while preserving my sanity.  I program the game to record, then start watching the recording about an hour after kickoff.  This means I can fast-forward through all the commercial breaks and the inane, testosterone-fueled half-time panel, and still arrive at the end of the game at the same time as the chumps who watched it live.

But every February there’s an N.F.L. game that I do watch live.  It’s the one that decides which team will be world champion of a sport played only in the United States.  The Super Bowl has truck commercials that I haven’t seen before; a pregame show with heart-warming stories of good deeds performed by N.F.L. players when they’re not beating up their domestic partners in a fit of roid-rage; a flypast by U.S. Air Force killing machines; grown men learning how to toss a coin; the solemn moment when the stadium announcer says: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, please rise, remove your MAGA hats and honor America by singing the national anthem”; a country “artist” warbling: “O’er the land of the free-EEEEE!  And the home of the bra-a-a-a-a-ave”; and a half-time show featuring superannuated pop stars and frenzied choreography.  (Why not invite the U.S.C. Trojans Marching Band instead?  The N.F.L. wouldn’t have to worry about “wardrobe malfunctions” with those clean-cut young people.)

Long story short, the University of Alberta didn’t work out for me.  Edmonton didn’t work out for Francine, who described herself as a “hot-blooded Italian” and wasn’t a fan of cold weather.  So after three Prairie winters, we and our Catholic-baptized daughter moved to London, where I had found a new job at the University of Western Ontario. 

By then, soccer hadn’t been part of my life for a long time, but I started to watch the occasional game from Italy’s Serie A on the Telelatino channel.  As a result, I soon learned Italian terms like “fuorigioco” (offside), “tiro in porta” (shot on goal) and “cartellino rosso” (red card).  Sometime in the mid-1990s, English Premier League games became available on The Sports Network, which, like TLN, was part of our cable package.  I got into the habit of doing my ironing on Saturday mornings, with one eye on the shirt, one eye on the game.  

In Scotland, soccer had gone into a long decline from the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, when Rangers won the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, another Glasgow club won the European Cup, and the national team held its own against England.  In 2012, Rangers Football Club suffered the ignominy of going bankrupt, and the even greater ignominy of being cast into the outer darkness of Scottish football.  Now the former Cup-Winners’ Cup winners weren’t playing Celtic – they were lining up against the part-timers of Elgin City and Annan Athletic in the Scottish Third (actually fourth) Division. 

But three successive promotions got Rangers back up to the Premier League.  And today, midway through the 2020-21 season, my team is cantering to its first top-division championship in a decade.  Rangers even qualified for the knock-out stage of the Europa League.  (Which, back in my Ibrox-going days, was called the Fair Cities’ Cup.  Rangers played in this competition not because Glasgow was a fair city, but because it was a city with a fair.)

When my children were young, I didn’t get back to Scotland much.  But on one visit I showed my Uncle Gibby photographs of Francine and the kids.  Gibby was the husband of my (paternal) Aunt Agnes, and very much an Orangeman (possibly also a Mason).  One of the photographs I showed him was of my middle child standing in a schoolyard.  Behind her was a sign saying ‘St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic School’. 

“What’s this, then?” Gibby said.  “You’re sending your kids to Catholic school?”

Fortunately I was able to extricate myself from an awkward situation.  “Yes, Uncle Gibby.  But they’re all Rangers supporters.”



BIO

Graeme Hunter is a gentleman writer living in London, Canada.  His essays have been published in Queen’s Quarterly, Riddle Fence and Talking Soup.  See www.graemehunter.ca.



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