Esperanto-Asocio de Skotlando


Friday, June 17, 2005

A few comments re the 100th Scottish Esperanto Congress

Longer Reports will appear in other places; and as I had an official role, it is difficult to be objective.

It is also difficult to avoid the compilation of a catalogue. However, I must say something about a unique event!

The first point is the incredible variety of the 30 item programme; the second is the almost uniformly high quality of almost every item; the third is the fact that the sun shone; the fourth is the friendly atmosphere; the fifth is the organisational genius of Jean Bisset the President of the Scottish Esperanto Association.

Is it necessary to emphasise that everything was conducted in Esperanto? Probably yes; for this phenomenom seems to surprise even well educated persons.

By definition 100th Scottish Esperanto Congresses take place rather infrequently; and the presence of World Esperanto President, Renato Corsetti from Rome, underlined this fact. However, being Scotland his titles were soon discarded; and he became Renato to everyone! There were participants from 9 countries: some of whom had been attracted to the event by the wonders of the Web. According to unofficial statistics about 65 persons took part; not all were experts; but the language standard was excellent; and I guess that everyone dreamed in Esperanto!

Now comes the subjective chronicle of what went on; apologies for omissions! The subjectivity cannot really be avoided!

Ed Robertson masterly analysed the achievement of Albert Goodheir when he translated from Greek and Latin. David Bisset stood outside the Largs Priory House Hotel and endeavoured to explain the topography of the islands and peninsulas which which could be seen from the hotel. After a lively buffet during which the centenary cake was cut by Renato Corsetti and Phyllis Goodheir, Renato lectured about the interesting phenomenon of children who have been brought up speaking Esperanto: the lingustic results are unexpected, and merit the study which the UEA President has devoted to the subject. The first day (Friday) ended with singing around the piano: often hilarious, but tradional in Esperanto circles.

Saturday was a cornucopic day: if such a word exists! Hugh Reid introduced John Francis, a member of the Scottish School (skota skolo) of Esperanto poetry. He rightly said that John had always tried to hide his warm humanity under a disguise of severity! John them spoke about the genesis and early days of the Scottish School: a contribution of historical importance. The theme of the School was continued by a pyrotechnic lecture by Paul Gubbins about Reto Rossetti, who was the Father of the School. The AGM of EAS did not shake the world, but progress is being made. Others went out to enjoy the sunshine and visit Vikingar, which explains the Viking role in Scotland's story. This theme was developed by Geoffrey Sutton; with erudicion and dry humour he lectured about the development of the Scandinavian languages. William Auld then appeared: not literally as he does not do much travelling now, but by means the declamation and singing of his works. Stephen Thompson performed most of this tribute with skill and wit. An unusual item was a reading from Bill's translation of Pickwick Papers: a translation which he did not complete because of infirmity. Permission to use the material was given by the Russian publishing house, Sezonoj. The next lecture was concerning Douglas Gregor, polyglot and polymath. It was the first lecture in Esperanto ever given by David Lilley. What an extraordinary debut! The participants were then (oficially!) allowed to escape: some took to the hills with Duncan Thompson; other had an architectural perambulation with David Bisset; the majority tasted the pleasures of Largs on a sunny day! The Congress Banquet was the sort of solemnity which Scots love: structured informality. Jane Gorman, the Depute Provost of North Ayrshire, welcomed the participants. It was a particular pleasure to hear her making good use of Scots! After the feast Renato surveyed the state of Esperanto in many countries: Dr. Zamenhof's incredible creation is alive and well in the most unexpecte places! The evening finished with contrasted guitar music from Connal and Duncan.

On Sunday the Congress moved across to the nearbyIsland of Cumbrae where all events took place in the Cathedral of the Isles and the adjacent College. The more energetic made a bicycle circuit of the small island for enjoyment and also to earn some money for the Esperanto charity EVIDENTE. Proffessor John Wells was so enthused that he made the circuit twice! While the cycle run was proceeding Norman Richardson lectured about the passenger ships of the Clyde Estuary. The factual knowledge if Esperantists is always a source of amazement. During the buffet lunch in the Cloisters, Esperanto wine, which is produced by a small chateau in the Garrigue, was enthusiasmically quaffed! An Ecumenical Sevice took place in the Cathedral guided by Revd Charles Dornan; the Alternative being led by Bill Simcock. These parallel events were followed by a lecture given by David Bisset in the Cathedral about the extraordinary origin of the building; its architect, William Butterfield; and its significance for the Oxford Movement. For those with other interests Duncan Thomson dexterously demonstrated the art of knot- making. The Cathedral was the sublime venue for a concert of classical music, poetry and songs. Stephen Thompson was the MC, and an important participant. The final item of the day on Cumbrae was a moving lecture by Marjorie Boulton about John Dinwoodie, the least known member of the Scottish School, and, in her opinion, one of the finest Esperanto Christian poets. The Congress then made its way back to the mainland where after dinner John Wells spoke about the planned changes in many national languages, and then concentrated upon the role of the Academy in the continuing evolution of Esperanto.

A surprising number of participants were still in Largs on the Monday morning to attend a fascinating forum led by David Kelso in which the opportunity was taken of asking Renato's opinion about multitudinous matters. Comments and supplementary questions from the floor were not lacking!

President Jean Bisset closed the 100th Congress with typical Scottish informality; then gave out words and music to ensure that La Espero was sung with suitable fervour.

After lunch 18 persons participated in an enthralling private visit to Kelburn Castle, the seat of the Earl of Glasgow. As Lord Glasgow's ancestor had built the Cathedral of the Isles on Cumbrae, this short Post-Kongreso was splendidly on theme!


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