Remember that ancient Chinese saying –
And may you live in interesting times?
It sounds like benediction, blessing,
but no, it’s contrary, not what it seems.Alan Spence Interesting Times: 2021
Alan Spence the fifth Makar of Edinburgh has written a poem to be buried in the ground. A time capsule poem for future generations. It was his last official commission at the end of his four years as poet laureate for the capital city (the original three year term was extended by a year thanks to Covid).
With the Makar’s blessing, I had started to post this wryly gentle poem before Putin invaded Ukraine. A time capsule poem reflecting on our shared experience of the last two years seemed to belong in what was likely to be the last scheduled publication of Sceptical Scot [and it came to pass, see Sceptical shuts up Shop statement – not buried but safely secured in the archive of the National Library of Scotland]. With obscene cruelty the President of Russia had added his own crude lines to the Chinese curse.
Pause for thought. I’m not sure why the poetry of Gael Turnbull moves me so much. Perhaps because he was a hands-on doctor as well as a poet – and I often think of my GP brother working at the sharp end of the pandemic, meeting real people in real life, taking the occasional breather to make a black joke.
“I’ll be mighty pissed off if I die in my last year at work,” he texted last March as Covid put paid to his plans for earlyish retirement and the local health authority struggled to meet demand for personal protective equipment. Nevertheless, I was proud to discover, he insists on seeing his patients in person, distrusting the evidence presented on screens: “Doctors need to prod patients.”
‘And so, let’s pause a moment here, draw strength –
and reclaim what is ours.’
Reclaiming St Andrew Square Ron Butlin
Green, gold, gone. Any day soon the leaves will turn and fall. And in a shady corner of Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square a young tree will reflect the colour of its relatives on distant mountains of Japan. Here’s a good news story for the telling. Continue reading
Women may be from Venus but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the occasional trip to Mars. On a dreary, rain-smeared midsummer night, I land on a sociable planet light years away from Brexit Britain, and find the perfect holiday poem for my husband. Continue reading