The last Loose End was at the Caledonia Road Church in the Gorbals. My next mission was to find a place to write and scribble my notes. I crossed the river and ended up in the Arandora Star Memorial Garden, by St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It was only after I had finished my notes that I realised the garden linked neatly to Caledonia Road Church through religion, simple as that, even if Presbyterianism and Catholicism are rather different brands of Christianity. The garden was unveiled in 2010, a memorial to the 446 Italian internees on the Arandora Star, sunk by a torpedo off the coast of Ireland on 2nd July 1940. It is rather beautiful, the mirrored glass symbolising the destruction of the ship with a fountain in the middle. The glass panels bear quotes from the Bible as well as Dante and other Italian writers, some words in Italian, others in English. My first visit came a couple of Doors Open Days ago and there was a volunteer guide there, ready and willing to tell the story of the Arandora Star. There were various information boards around, talking of the history not only of the Italian community in Scotland but of Christianity and Catholicism in the city, and I read them, wandering amidst the glass.
As I walked, I thought of a favourite Proclaimers song, ‘Scotland’s Story’, which in an echo of Robert Burns says that we are all Scotland’s story and we are all worth the same. Our country was made by immigrants. We can do worse than remember that.
‘Scotland’s Story’ talks of an Italian immigrant who settled in Leith, which might be the destination for the next Loose End. Maybe Little Sparta, a place of sculpture much like these, or George Square, the place where protests and movements are centred. Those will be for another day. I spent a few minutes more in this beautiful and sobering place where those blameless people are forever remembered.
Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends post will appear next week. Loose Ends is a series and links to other parts of the series can be found on this page.