I’m sitting in Edinburgh’s Poetry Library. I often sit here. I sometimes work here. It is modern, bright, quiet, and never too warm. Like being at home, I need an extra layer here. The soundscape moves from quiet footsteps and soft tapping keyboards to the gentle hubbub of staff dealing with visitors’ enquiries. They speak … Continue reading Even The Simplest Poem
The desk at which W.S. Graham wrote his poems has found a home in Edinburgh’s Poetry Library. His chair too, though the seat has been put away somewhere, “for the time being,”the man told me. More suitably described, I think, as a table, it looks like something from a farmyard kitchen as opposed to a study. It’s … Continue reading Wheesht
For about a year after my husband died, maybe more, I could not read. My concentration wouldn't hold. It is a common side effect of bereavement: that inability to focus - on work, on conversation, on words on a page - without your mind wandering off into the past or spooling off into an unknown … Continue reading The Abstract Voice
In the morning I’ve taken to lying in the dark for a while before I get up. I listen to the birds outside and try to decipher what they have to tell me about the day ahead. “Stay in bed, it’s freezing out here,” is what I’ve been hearing a lot of lately. I’m using … Continue reading Winged Messengers
I’m back in Yorkshire for a few days. Mostly I’ve been in York itself, town of snickets and ginnels, inviting little passageways that you might call an alley, close, entry or vennel, depending upon where you come from. Last time I was down here was December and I could barely move through the narrow streets, … Continue reading Yorkshire
The Bayeux Tapestry is coming to the British Museum in 2020 on loan from the French. It might seem to be too early to be talking about it, but two years is a blink of the eye when you consider that it hasn't left France for 950 years. The museum in Bayeux, Northern France, where … Continue reading May I Borrow It?
Ask someone about the super power they would most like to have, and apparently the top answer is: the ability to read other people’s minds. Wow - that might be the end of a few marriages! I can’t think of anything worse. I was mulling it over as I was sitting in the silence of … Continue reading Super Powers
My hair is too long. It’s ridiculous. I can nearly sit on it. It hasn’t been near a pair of scissors in ten months and it needs to be chopped. Nothing dramatic, but I want to be able to look at the floor and see plenty of it down there - two inch lengths. A. … Continue reading Cut!
Santa deposited a little book about clouds in my Christmas stocking this year. It looks like today is going to be a cloudless day in Edinburgh, which is rare. Ordinarily, I would have ample opportunity to put my cloud-spotting book to good use, but not today. Yesterday I saw pink contrails low in the sky … Continue reading Clouds In My Coffee
Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, the end of the season, the Epiphany, marking the arrival of the three Kings to the birth of Jesus. In Ireland, this day is known as ‘Little Christmas’ - also called Nollaig na mBan, which translates as Women’s Christmas. It used to be quite widely celebrated and apparently … Continue reading The Dead