26 July 2016


A day trip to the East Neuk of Fife under high clouds breaking to allow occasional sunshine. Coffees, wanderings and fish and chips. Occasional quiet interactions with strangers from various lands - smiles and nods and the exchange of pleasantries. One could almost imagine that the world is a peaceful and contented place. If only...

21 July 2016

Great Glasgow

A day in Glasgow can be very good, especially in the sunshine and with a fine street musician playing haunting lilts on an electric guitar. The man has clearly lived a bit, at least as long as me while keeping his hair, unlike me, and managing to look just so much more in tune with his world than I could ever manage. He was so good I had to return and add a further donation to my first one.

The city must have been quite something in its mercantile heydey, perhaps in the 1800s, with so many magnificent stone buildings and none of today's plastic and tat; but I certainly approve of the new use as a coffee house that has been found for this magnificent little construction of old stone:

We also found a splendid place to eat:

and I even managed a somewhat epiphanic moment while listening to the sweet guitar notes, wandering along to the old Tron clock, and realising that my priorities really needed to be realigned again as the sunshine warmed my neck and I gradually felt the next move forward crystallise in my thoughts.

All thanks to sunshine, old Glasgow stone and the great grey-haired guitar guy of Argyll Street.

20 July 2016

North Berwick

...on a day when violent thunderstorms and downpours mixed with sunshine and heat - nature at its most magnificent. This summer season is proving very pleasant, with steady work on the laptop mixed in with travels on a whim. How did we ever manage without laptops and wifi? I used to write books and articles on a typewriter with liquid whitener or the angry crumpling of pages as the only option for correction or change, oh and some articles used to be dictated laboriously down the phone to a copyist in London. How did I ever manage? Anyway, lunch at the Scottish Seabird Centre was very fine, looking out at the white-encrusted Bass Rock and thinking how much more picturesque it sounds to say it is coated in rich guano rather than just covered in bird shit.

Simply sitting

18 July 2016

In Dundee

Dundee has a reputation for being rather dismal but this is undeserved, or at least has become so in recent years, and a day in Dundee can be rather fine. Dundee is a city getting better. The waterfront is magnificent on a sunny day, of which there are many more than the city's rather grey reputation would suggest, and the tide rushes in and out of the wide Firth of Tay at a surprising pace. Sitting by the Caird Hall in the city square I watched seagulls swooping in the sunshine over peaceful humanity speaking in many tongues. I think the couple who politely asked if they could sit next to me may have been Mexican, and while they agreed with me that the pale sunshine through hazy cloud was nice, they nevertheless offered the view that, "sun lotion will not really be required for us in Scotland." I also heard some French people, sadly discussing why the sole decoration on just one of the Caird Hall's many flagpoles today was the French flag at half mast, as far as my limited grasp of their language could comprehend; and I heard some Italian, I think, in addition, of course, to deep Dundonian. Dundonian is a version of English, but not one that all English speakers can readily comprehend, and nor would they wish to, on occasion, given what is sometimes being discussed. I sat, I wandered, and I looked at it all and listened, while having a fine time in sunny Dundee.

Waiting on the tide to turn, again

17 July 2016

A slice of Arran

A slice of 'In Vivo'

... on the bus now, back in Leith quite long ago, the remembered moments never stop, all jumbled in with the new ones that come rushing in too, and on that bus there was an old dishevelled man who was looking at a crying baby that was struggling in its mother's arms.

And some women were coo coo-ing, and smiling at the baby, as women do.

But the man was muttering quietly, and I could hear him as he said, 'Jesus fucking Christ... poor thing... poor bleedin' thing. I just hope you don't have to suffer like I have. Poor thing...'

And the new life quietened, soothed by its mother's attention, while I looked at the man and saw a tear forming in one eye.

I realised he was probably drunk, just as he shook his head suddenly in great agitation and wailed out loud, 'Oh... fucking hell! I forgot to get the beans! She'll kill me. No fucking beans! Fucking, fucking hell!'

And we jostled along in our dirty bus, along the deep canyon of the street and then taking a turn down towards the water, where seagulls wheeled in the sky and some gentle waves hit the harbour wall, and I looked at the baby, then the old man. The baby, then the old man... My past, my future, and there within my present, I was consumed with a long sad sigh.

And I very vividly recall on that bus, as I looked at the baby, the old man, and me in my thirties, that I thought, 'we get a chance of everything, if we survive... A shot at everything, young, teenage, middling, ageing, old... Just one shot at it all...'