Friday, July 31, 2009

MacDuff Race Shock

Macduff's Training Camp Yesterday

Emergency services are on high alert following the news that MacDuff is to participate in a 212 mile walking race along the Southern Upland Way next week. The news has taken many of his closest acquaintances by surprise and his unique training methods have already prompted some raised eyebrows in atheletic and medical circles.

"It's unusual for a man who hasn't been seen upright since last October to engage in sudden strenuous physical activity of this nature" admitted Dr Ranjeet Singh of the Clatteringshaws Mountain Rescue Service, "but you must remember Macduff, as the Territorial Army's first prototype Cyborg Killing Machine, cannot be judged in purely human physiological terms."

Others are less optimistic. "It's a strange challenge for a man with chronic vertigo" commented his close friend tobacco plantation owner Theosyphillis Neill.

Macduff and his two companions, both prominent local aesthetes, are in buoyant mood however. "I'm completely on the ball," said MacDuff yesterday, "So far we've raised 25 million pounds in sponsorship money for local good causes. I think we'll all be back by November before the rainy season begins. It's the bears I'm worried about, though."

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I'm still processing the events of the school trip- so much as usual in such a short and exhausting time, paramedics in Berlin, train derailment in Poland, robbery in Slovenia (or was it Croatia?).

We went to Auschwitz/Birkenau and Sachsenhausen. It was my second time in both, and I'm always left sad (of course), angry (naturally)but also dissatisfied because the problem with museums (and Auschwitz is a museum) is that they seems to draw a line under events in history. Our guide this year was excellent but he stressed to the students that the lesson of Auschwitz was never to subscribe to the twisted ideology of anti-semitism. Now he is right of course but that's not the only lesson is it? I always think there should be an annexe bringing Auschwitz up to date via Cambodia, Serbia, Rwanda...even Palestine.


Children off the trains
stirred gravel with their shoes, went
hand in hand to the gas chambers.
We must remember.
Off the trains now, they wait
to be told to go to the toilet
or join the queue to buy some crisps,
and march in files through dust,
earphones glued to sweaty hair.
If you think this is bad
says the guide just remember……
Later we light candles
that die in the breeze as the sun
seeps through pine,
and birds, unaware of things
the guide books say, sing.
In Krakow we eat ice cream
below a banner hung from the first floor:
that Arab girl shot last week by a sniper.
Museums draw lines in time, remember,
and people cross, just like before.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

the far south west

Back from a week in the Machars and the South Rhins. Lovely beaches, sunny forecast busting weather and villages that have a flavour of the north west but something extra- is it an extra degree of isolation?- don't know. Here are some
photographs. I will post on my experiences on the 7 country tour of Europe with 72 weans as soon as I recover my photies ( and my senses).

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Black Loch

Just back and just about to go again. See you soon.

The Black Loch

We climb the track, and go
through the ghost of gardens,
stone seats melted to moss,
a heron frozen by a pond
lacquered with shoreweed.
There’s a gap in the wall,
and a bluebell path
cut by the edge of a burn,
but we leave fairyland
for wilder stuff, where pines
brood on hilltops and each
step slips on centuries,
a carved rock, a tumulus,
and all the while we sense in
the strobe of light a revelation.
At last through the trees,
a skin of water rippling with fire.
The Black Loch,
more ancient than the forest,
older even than the rock tombs
bound in bracken at its side.
Here the people of the parish
left gifts as their fathers had,
took the cold spring water,
while the Minister fumed
in his pulpit far below.
There’s no-one now,
nor trace there ever was,
but as we look at the surface,
flat as glass except for the tiny
needling of dragonflies,
as we listen to the silence
behind the song of lovesick birds,
it is easy to imagine a presence
that long predates our trying
to call the world our own.
What would you name it?
Not some red brick god,
nor love, nor death,
nor any currency of ours.
It is divine context.