Sunday, November 12, 2006

Glass of Many Colours

Today was a true "Lagniappe" day. For explanation I can think of none better than Mark Twain in "Life on the Mississippi":
We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — "lagniappe." They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish — so they said. We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a "baker's dozen." It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — "Give me something for lagniappe."

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans — and you say, "What, again? — no, I've had enough;" the other party says, "But just this one time more — this is for lagniappe." When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady's countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his "I beg pardon — no harm intended," into the briefer form of "Oh, that's for lagniappe."

So today I had my little bit extra, my serendipity, a little bit of magic floating along on the New Orleans wind. My wonderful friend, Harriet, whom I am blessed to know, called me up this morning and invited me to go on a tour of stained glass windows in New Orleans churches. I said I'd be delighted and so began my adventure.

In any other city most people would reply to the suggestion of a stained glass tour with derision, as something to perhaps suffer through. But not here. There are so many churches here - so many. They are of every shape and colour but generally can be relied upon to be Catholic, that being the predominant faith in this town. In another city my friends would have heard my afternoon plans and taken pity on me, but not here. So many were excited for me, even a little envious. To be honest I cannot blame them.

In total we went to four churches, four totally different churches, all thrilling in thier own individual way. All deserving of their own individual postings.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Hi Kirsty! I'm glad you're enjoying New Orleans - it sounds like a fantastic city.

In response to your question, I've definitely picked up a bit of a Scottish accent since I've been here, but it's not that strong - people occasionally think I'm Irish!

Despite some faults, I think Glasgow's a great place - if my visa didn't run out next year I'd never leave!