I walk the old route across the city. Mapped in my head. New flats fill the wasteland where the towerblocks once stood. New shops, old shops. I push open the door to Ianeeta’s the sweetie shop in the hilltoon and smile as my english voice struggles with asking for a quarter of soor plooms again. I stuff the twist of a paper bag into my brown corduroy coat. Past the engravers shop where Jimi Hendrix lies next to a sign for a petrol pump now. At the school a wee boy walks home with his mum. She says….’just don’t react, thats what he wants.’ ‘But he says bad things to me.’ ‘What does he say ?’ ‘He says I’m a little loser’. ‘ Well you must tell your teacher. And I’ll be having words with his mum. Anyway tell me something nice that happened today.’ She sighs, opens the gate and they go inside.’ The sun peeks out fleetingly. The lollipop man tells me he enjoys his job, says it keeps him out of the pub, out from under her feet. These streets bring back memories of my year at art school, of making and writing and walking my way into this city. I feel for a sweetie in my pocket. I prise one away, sticky and radioactive green, pop it in my mouth and walk to the end of the line.
Study – ink and charcoal.
Snowdrops, lager cans, a birds wing, an old marble on the road to the farm. Tracks in the mud record the comings and goings of geese, tractors, boots. A lorry arrives with the steel for the new sheds. The driver says they’ll outlive him and tells me about the galvanising tanks that measure 15 metres in length and 4 metres deep, full to the brim with liquid zinc. I suggest it might not be nice to fall in. He asks who owns the giraffe sheep down the road. Looking puzzled he qualifies this with ‘I think they’re alpacas. What do we do with them ? Eat them ?’ he asks, to which I say I think not, that we keep them for their wool .He reckons they might end up in a burger yet…. I record the sound of the turbines. The crops in the surrounding fields are sprouting. Grey, damp, drumlie skies.
For Joe who left for China this morning.
The path crosses a small bridge to the backside of the kirk. Butter burr, bramble, nettle. Islands of tarmac raised high and dry from the rain that scours this track. Tottie pebbles roll, slip underfoot while Rheumy gravestones lean, shuffling slowly away across the fields to the sea. Dust lifts, blooms, unsettles a two shilling coin. I pick it up, turn it over and over in my fingers. 1951. Then and now.
Sheep. They are difficult animals . I think that it why I like them. They are beligerent, stubborn, and show no fear. It seems to me then to draw a sheep it must be looking straight at you as if it’s saying – ‘…yeah, so …., what…. ?’