In the busy market town of Bigger, Scotland, (this means there is more than a church, pub, and village store), between the green hills of Bloughton and the green hills of Thankerton, we met a group of mates/blokes/chaps getting ready for an afternoon bike ride. They were chatty and friendly and I asked them the question I have asked several mates/blokes/chaps who interchangeably refer to each other with these jaunty nouns. How do you refer to people who are not men? One immediately said, “My wife is a lady.” Not suggesting otherwise, I pushed on. One bloke, after a thoughtful pause said, well you could say “lass” and another, looking at Jo and me said, “well if you stretch it a bit…” I took that as a compliment.
We came upon a statue in the tongue-twister town of Ecclefecham heralding their local claim to fame, Thomas Carlyle. The description of his life does not even once refer to him as a bloke, mate, or chap. He was a CRITIC OF LETTERS.
Although Thomas Carlyle kicked around quite a bit in his career —he thought about being a minister and a lawyer – and ultimately was an “essayist, satirist, historian, teacher, and critic of letters…,” he had purpose. He wrote, “A person with a clear purpose will make progress even on the roughest road. A person with no purpose will make no progress, even on the smoothest road.”
Smooth roads are definitely overrated.
When not stopping to fix tires (tyres), or meet the locals, we are riding. And riding. And riding. Past sheep and more sheep, and cows and more cows, and green and more green. Scotland is spectacular.