Wouldn’t have minded a few more of these over the years. Ten pound notes that is but hey you know how it goes. And I’m not going to enter into a ‘My hard luck story’s harder than yours’ contest. Because I’m a really lucky man so instead I’ll try and share some of the powerful symbolism and the beautiful art of this tenner and the stained glass windows beneath.
The woman on the banknote is Mary Slessor born in Aberdeen but an adopted daughter of Dundee where her parents worked in Jute Mills. As did she herself – a ‘half-timer’ or ‘halflin’. These were children who attended school in the mornings and worked long afternoons in a Jute Mill. From there to getting your coupon on a bank note is a quite a quantum leap. But Mary Slessor is there because of her remarkable life and the good she did for others. In her late twenties inspired by David Livingstone she became a Missionary in Nigeria. Among other things she resolved tribal conflicts put an end to the killing of twins and learned native languages. It kinda takes your breath away.
Mary Slessor is better known today in Nigeria than in her native Scotland a considerable historical irony. But next year the centenary of her death there will be a concerted effort to correct that anomaly with a series of events to mark the occasion including an exhibition in Verdant Works Jute Museum Dundee. Before then visitors to the city can access information on Mary Slessor in the McManus Galleries which is from where the stained glass work in the bottom half of the top pic is taken. Entry to the McManus is free but the soup and home baking in the cafe are worth parting with one or two of these tenners for I reckon. And if you have one with Mary Slessor on it you can contemplate her life a little longer before you hand over your money.