I thought I would put down a few quotes and thoughts from
As we have been told that Alistair Dunnett was Dorothy's inspiration for Francis I could not help but look for him at the turn of each page. Of course Francis is his own dear self, as I am sure Alistair Dunnett was, but here are a few similarities I have drawn form my remote and uninformed vantage point.
The most overwhelming similarity must have been a profound love of Scotland. Alistair Dunnett talks of having a covenant with Scotland which is beautifully expressed in the following passage.
"As I climbed I stopped often and looked back, to dote in a daze upon this amazing new revelation of beauty and endearment. I often spoke aloud to the scene - I still do this in the right places - pledging some sort of commitment. I remember I had tears to shed, just as some women do at weddings and probably for much the same reason." (Hiking in the mountains)
A streak of the romantic akin to what might have carried Francis across the seas in Pawn in Frankincense. Expressed on the death and burial of their first little boy.
"It seems to be well known that Roman Catholics believe unchristened babies have no entrance to paradise, and are relegated to somewhere called Limbo. Of course I do not believe a word of this myself. The founder has done and adequate job of endorsing the claims of children to whatever present or ultimate citizenship is attainable. But none of us knows. And if after this I find it to be true, and there is a heavenly limbo, I shall go there and find him and take him away."
The fifteen year age difference expressed, as imagined, through the eyes of Dorothy's parents as she and Alistair embarked on their honeymoon.
"I do not recall that anything was said to me about these clinking crates, which had been delivered to their house the night before, to accompany their daughter on some prolonged and nameless debauch in the company of a man fifteen years her senior."
The other obvious similarity was the migraines, although they do not seem to have come from the same source as those experienced by our high-strung hero.
"It was about this time that I remember the onset of the mild (I suppose) migraine which has been with me ever since."
I can recall when reading Ringed Castle that mention was made of Lymond's style of leadership. That even at this stage, when he was at his distant and obnoxious worst, the men of St Marys enjoyed sitting around a table planning and talking about the history, philosophy and practice of warfare. When Alistair Dunnett began work at the Scotsman he introduced a new style of leadership in the form of editorial conferences.
"They were terribly tongue tied to begin with, but that passed in a week or two and soon they were giving me as a good as I gave them. I expected them to come to the conference already well aware of what was happening in the world of their speciality."
In the family history of both Alistair's parents I also see echoes of the Francis we have come to know and love.
"My mother was small. She was a dancer of renown and a truly wonderful singer. She sang and was recorded in Gaelic, Scotts and English."
"All this time my father, now well so far as we could see was pursuing his dogged task of learning and studying(...). He enrolled incessantly in evening classes and having left school at the age of twelve, had attended extra classes until he was well over sixty. He took them all - languages, philosophy, archaeology, history, everything."
Finally, in his adoration of Dorothy, I see shades of Francis and Phillipa. We know that for Lymond there was only one love, both deep and profound. I found the expression of a similarly profound affection in Among Friends.
This is passage was written in relation to their 25th anniversary celebrations when they journeyed with family and friends back to the island of Inchruin in the Loch Lomond.
"Then I was waiting for her at the door of the main bedroom. She came at length, walking slowly, wearing a dressing gown splashed hugely with a pattern of gold, and with a lamp in her hand. That's my wife, I spoke into the long corridor, which like my life was empty but for her."
With Love and best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year