Ballindaloch Castle background

Victoria’s Gloves

02-11-2011 No comments yet

Even though I’m used to synchronicity it never ceases to amaze me how one thing can lead to another.

Here’s my sequence of events:

For the upcoming book launch of Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat at the American Book Center, I needed something appropriate to wear. Men have an easy life; (also) where dressing up for events is concerned. All they need to do is wear the right suit with the right tie, the right socks and the right shoes and they’re done.

“Scottish men,” I said to Tom, “have even less to worry about.” They simply wear their kilt and that’s it.”

“Just wear what feels comfortable,” Tom said, trying to shush me.

I pictured myself at the launch: Dutch girl… Scottish American novel… Scottish co-author in kilt… what was I going to wear? Clogs and a white lace cap? It wasn’t that easy to decide.

I didn’t want to wear any particular tartan, as my clan is Dutch and the Dutch don’t do tartans.

As I’m in a long lasting relationship with my computer I decided to ask my MacIntosh for advice.  I typed in:

‘Scottish Holland clothes woman.’

To my utter delight my Mac’s search engine took me by the hand and brought me to a shop called, “The World of Scotland,” near the famous Rotterdam harbor of Holland. The shop sells all sorts of products directly imported from Scotland, including… woman’s clothes.

One of the tartans displayed on the website had an highly unusual match of colors. Sunny pink, with cobalt blue (Rangers-blue Tom would say,) and a green and a yellow line.

It looked highly un-Scottish to me, yet was absolutely lovely.

I stepped into my car and covered the 60+ kilometers dividing The Hague from Gravendeel where “The World of Scotland” is located.

On arrival, the owner of the shop, Fiona, a resident in Holland for almost 30 years now, yet from Scottish origin, explained to me that the particular tartan design I had seen on line, was a design of her own. It has no specific connection to any clan and was in fact designed in Holland.

There you go! I had found the answer to my problem.

I had found myself a Dutch Tartan.

The story doesn’t end there though.

I had of course brought with me a copy of Bloodlines-Touch Not the Cat. While leafing through it, Fiona asked me if the novel was based on true fact.

“The storyline,” I told her, “is entirely fictional. We do use actual locations and events as a basis. For instance, the Tay Bridge disaster was a major railway accident in 1879 where a train plunged from a bridge into the Forth of Tay during a December storm. Many bodies were never recovered and simply disappeared.

Fiona looked at me and said, “Victoria’s gloves were on that train.”

Intrigued I stared back at her.

“My great grandfather,” Fiona continued, “was a glover; someone who makes gloves. He lived in an area north of theTay Bridge. Queen Victoria had ordered a pair of gloves and they were on that unfortunate train. The gloves were recovered. My family kept them for over three generations until they donated them to a museum. I remember as a child thinking how small Victoria’s hands must have been as they were really tiny gloves.”

It’s at moments like this I get a major case of goose bumps and realize how, as an author, you can never really know what your book triggers in the mind of the reader.

We may have written the book, but we will never know exactly what resonates, what rings the special bell.

Will it be the Genealogy? The Mystery? Or the Tay Bridge disaster with the train that carried Victoria’s gloves?

What a Gift to be told such a story as an author.

Ingrid Schippers.


Place a comment

Your email address is safe and will not be published. Required fields are marked by a *