This is a piece that has come straight from my sketch book. It is a drawing, a sketch, something not fully realised but I like the way it may or may not become something else. It comes from a walk when I took the photograph. My phone hummed in my pocket and I looked at it to discover I was being followed by a Russian man, on Twitter….. The final connection was a conversation about claimants and the benefits system.
In a scrubby woodland of sycamore and thorns, the wind has smacked a punch right through his den of black plastic bags. He looks at the gaping hole, like a mouth of a ray filtering food, the way his mind sifts words to find ones that fit. Except today there are none. He turns to see the man still there. He thinks he might be Russian. He knows the sanctioning will not end.
Here are the opening lines to a new composition ‘Caravan’, the inspiration coming from a walk along the burn one particular day when I came across a torn up Christmas card on the verge. It read To Lisa and the wee man and I began to wonder who they were and why it had been ripped up. The other point of reference came from a wartime story I was told about an old bakers van that had been buried in a garden and fitted out with bunk beds for the eight children for use as an air raid shelter. So here’s the opening to the piece and a drawing that goes with the composition….
On the edge of town
a bone black fineness of winter air
licks the salty rime at the lip of last tide.
Bridge pilings punctuate the slaked
sooking the river toward the sea….
Here are two new works from along The Tay, the first at East Haven and the other at Tentsmuir across the bridge in Fife.
Warm sun on our faces
this February morning.
and thick ice on the pond.
Start work on the dry stane dyke
and the space where we will make a seat for Billy and Davey.
We were the only twa’ that smoked.
now its jist me.
New faces, old faces.
trying to make them fit.
We walked the ridge of the Sidlaws with a bottle of Guinness in hand.
Mountains in the far north.
A picnic tea on the tarpaulin,
eating jammie dodgers in Daveys honour.
Warm sun on our faces.
Broon plastic sandals from Woolies.
They would break an’ your toes would stick oot.
Brilliant for sliding,
great for the burnie.
Warnings of gales……and cross party support…..as long as we’re together…..you give me…..the quantitative easing…… of Bach’s cello suite no.1 in G major…….setback for the Tangerines…….who have vowed to devolve powers……back to the 70’s and the tunes keep coming. Its tartan turn-ups, mullets and Disco Duck by Ruby Flipper. Aye, I hud nae idea either. Anyways its Ra Ra Rasputin La Belle Epoque here on your local Longhaugh music station, here with the grooves. On line two we huv Stuart fae Fintry. Morning Stuart and what’s your Hi ho silver lining ? Uh, Hiya Bob, jist wanted to tell yous I found a tenner roond the back o’ Iceland the morn. Happy days, eh Bob ? Nae bad Stuart, whit you gonna dae wi’ it ? Aww, easy man, stick it on a pony. Shang a Lang, 12.40, Kempton. Stuart thats sweet. An’ fae one sweet tae another…..keep warm oot there litter pickers…. Aah, aah you better beware, you better take care…….
The burn was different last week. The night before had brought strong winds and the morning was little better. The water was high and the path strewn with branches. The wind hurried me along. I met a man with a wheelbarrrow. It was full of things he had collected, an archive of the paths we both trod. In some ways his collection and mine are similar, in that I collect words and pictures through walking, he, objects. I don’t know what he did with his things, he said he was very busy somewhere up the road. My foraging brings me back here to tell stories.
Twa’ shilpit eyes in a snorkel parka,
hurl January at me full in the face.
Tells me he’s off to a job,
points with a tilt of his fur lined hood
to a place away,
beyond where we are,
known to him and not me.
Well you better get along I said,
Aye, he winks,
inhaling on his no.6