Friday, June 26, 2009


I am offski this evening to Berlin, then over the next while to Krakow, Budapest and Venice. Silence from here for a while, then. It would be good to get your aupport for the Peter Pan Garden by using the petition link below. It's quite correct to say that the Housing Association that owns the site is keen to restore the gardens but it would be good if we could get public awareness of the problem and perhaps generate more support and funding.

woops. Can't get my linkthingie to work

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

peter pan garden

At a time when Kensington Gardens in London is set to celebrate its connection with JM Barrie’s Peter Pan with a million pound marquee and a series of spectacular events this summer, it’s sobering to reflect on the state of the Scottish garden that Barrie himself described as the true inspiration for his famous play: the ‘Moat Brae’ Gardens in Dumfries. This idyllic playground, adjacent to the school, Dumfries Academy, that he attended as a young man inspired his early creative imagination to such an extent that he wrote in his memoirs “When the shades of night began to fall, certain young mathematicians changed their skins, crept up walls and down trees, and became pirates in a sort of Odyssey that was afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan . . . For our escapades in a certain Dumfries garden, which is enchanted land to me, were certainly the genesis of that nefarious work.” Unhappily the garden is now in a ruinous condition, as is the Georgian house it once belonged to, and is the subject of a tug of war between a local and, so far, impecunious, charitable trust who wish to see the property restored to its former glory and a local housing group who currently own the site and who say it is not feasible to save the building in its entirety. In the meantime the garden, undeniably a piece of Scotland’s literary and cultural history, remains a wasteland.

Thursday, June 18, 2009



There’s a light in the courtyard,
flowers bend to the nag of bees,
and beyond the fringe of brick and slate,
an echo grumbling like the sea-
whisperings of places I should be,
not urgent yet, that time will come.
Now, rollicking between student trees,
the brilliant mendicant sun
scratching questions on my eyelids.
What can I do but watch
the bubbles burst in double gins,
the shadows dance on table tops?
It is a sad waste of education
spending days in such illumination.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


This looks like a good new addition, if the editorial consultants are anything to go by. I hope it's successful and fills the gap that's been left by Rebel Inc and Cencrastus and all the other Scottish litmags that have gone west over the last few years. It seems the more people write the more restricted the markets are, in magazines and even in book publication, with a lot of the old outlets like Peterloo and Shoestring, for instance, losing their Arts Council Grants and shutting up shop, at least as far as new projects are concerned. It explains the explosion of pamphlets, of course, but the trouble with pamphlets is, notable prizes excepted, no-one (apart from Happenstance) pays any critical attention to them. I certainly sent my recent pamphlets away to all the usual Scottish literay Editors who duly ignored them, and then I overheard one of them in a pub lamenting that he or she "receives so little Scottish poetry to review".

Of course maybe e-zines have filled the gap left by defunct litmags. Have they? It's an area I know nothing about.

Monday, June 01, 2009

St Margaret's Well

Angus Calder, scholar, poet, historian and raconteur died recently and one of his last requests was that people should mobilise to save the historic St Margaret's Well at the foot of Edinburgh castle. Below is a link to a petition, or should be. My link thingie's a bit suspect.

Hedge Tops !

Thanks for all your kind comments folks. I was very honoured. I was very drunk too, by the end of it. Ended up in the Bow Bar with Mrs Shug and the legendary Hayden Murphy.