I chose to suggest to my mother that we do the West Highland Line as I thought it would be a fun trip away and also my mother is very fond of trains. Our birthdays are both in September but really as a joint celebration due to my mother’s packed schedule and mine, October was the first date we could both make it together.
I owe my mother my love of landscape especially mountains. Growing up in South Africa instead of going to the beach like every other white family we took off to the Drakensburg Mountains where we stayed in basic self catering taking our food into the interior, walking up to ancient caves, marvelling at the most bejewelled insects. My father was a member of the South African Mountain Club when my mother met him at University. We were lucky when we got to Scotland in 1977 my grandmother remembered some connections from Roma University in Botswana who had returned to Scotland. So every summer we travelled to the west coast to spend our holidays on the Isle of Mull. In the unacknowledged but aching pain of exile the landscape soothed me.
I have an enormously complicated and difficult relationship with Scotland, some 15 years ago I spent a year making a documentary exploring some of these issues. It was painful, revelatory and I thought helped close a chapter. I learned to live with Scotland.
Then the referendum happened.
Now it has been made quite clear that I am will never be Scottish enough. And it isn’t just Scottish people who articulate this. So sitting in a train chugging through the Western Highlands a woman from Manchester yes Manchester. insisted that both my mother and I were not Scottish. ‘But yes’ she said ‘where are you really from?’ when I said that there were people with all different accents living in Scotland. ‘No; she insisted ‘Where are you really from’ ‘We’ve lived here for 37 years’ said my mother patiently. To no avail this (Black) woman would not allow us to belong to Scotland.
Oh how can I explain how odd how difficult this all is. My great Aunt Mary whom I’m named after is a founding member of the Scottish National Party which has effectively ensured there will never be a place for me in my adopted home. My mother’s family has an extraordinary long intertwined history with the arts and culture of Scotland though our ex family business, through relatives like this person but to no avail.
Meanwhile my mother reminisces about coming up the West Highland Railway as a student at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1960’s to do VSO work building a road to some very remote crofts in Glenuig. Where we had some distant relatives who were crofters. Walking 25 minutes along from the station at Lochailort to pick up a boat.
I’m sorry about the lack of updates. My camera was finally found but its different from the last model and I’ve not worked up the energy to work out how to download pictures. I’ve been attempting a ‘still life’ this last week after much energy being expended. Sadly I’ve not made much progress but a blanket and a half have been completed. Again no photos due to rubbish weather for photographing crafts.
Belated report back on the dinner of the 24th of August. My crazy plan to hold soirees to get people together happened! In the end there were nineteen of us. Most wonderful of all Jim Haynes came to bless this enterprise. My uncle who worked on the Traverse in the early days came later. Another guest had met his life partner through one of Jim’s dinners – just showing how much one man can change the world. We ate Indian Curry, quaffed fizzy wine, and talked and made connections. Even if it was one guest making connections between South and North Edinburgh!
Btw my camera has given up the ghost so had to rely on guests for pics – thanks to David Cairns for stepping in at the last minute.
As I’m teaching most of September I’ve decided to skip holding another one this month but next dates are 12th October and 16th of November email me to book or more info fatblackcatindustries At gmail.com
This really sweet mini garden around the post box in South Ockendon is a little bit of public spirited civic improvement by a local person which I snapped back in June.
Today I got a letter ! a proper hand written letter!. It was lovely to sit and read it over a coffee before went out to gather more supplies for the dinner tomorrow. Again I’m reminded that the ‘real’ the analogue and the made are so much better than then click of a mouse or a ‘like’.
Brilliant! I took this picture on Broughton St just before I went to Berlin. To be honest it just crystalized changes that have been percolating since before Christmas. Many things have moved and changed. I’ve put in more boundaries, I’m more focussed on making things happen for myself rather than bob along doing what others want me to do. I’ve just spent 3 days painting my kitchen – back-breaking work especially the ceiling. I’m slinging lots of things out towards the charity shop / bin. I’m so tired of holding onto things given to me by other people. Lets just put a moratorium on stuff OF ALL KINDS unless it can be crocheted or consumed. Lots of different and new projects in the pipeline. Updates soon…
Its celebrated in South Africa with the call to make things better. Some people commit to volunteering for 67 minutes (the length of years of public service Mandela gave). I shall continue to crochet squares for one of the 500 children who are orphaned by AIDS in Southern Africa every day. If you are a crafter and have some stash do think of doing one. Info here. All you need to do is make an 8 ” square crochet/knitted/loomed with a 18 inch tail to help sewing and post it out there. If you live in Edinburgh contact me I’m happy to post out squares. Above is a blanket sewn up with 30 or so squares I sent to SA in the last month.