A Short Life


Some smart-ass has been fooling around with this photo and if I knew how to I would erase the witless text from between the windows but anyhow this is the house, the house  where I was born and where I was destined to spend the first dozen years of my  sadly short life.  We were poor and often went without but I can’t  recall ever being unhappy. Hungry, yes, but unhappy, no.


This is one of the luggs we built to mark the solstice and the figure in the distance is one of the ingangers from the mainland we had to put up with. “Up with whom we had to put”?
Anyway even the gathering of the stones was good fun in its way –  hard work, yes,  but after we  had finished and  had  all linked arms round the cairn  to sing what we remembered of the old ingaitherin song, we would troop off to the Hall  for  games and music-making and the big meal.  It was always  a memorable day. And night.

But it was hard hard work the rest of the time, my father diligently farming the harsh land between the house and the sea,  in whatever weather,  giving up more and more of his time to the ungrateful fields,  less and less to his impoverished family.
Unlike his Ayrshire  counterpart however, one day the coulter of his plough threw up something a bit more valuable than a wee moosie’s nest – a larchwood chest containing a dozen Celtic brooches,  five rings, a couple of bracelets and the jaw bone of a porpoise. We all stood looking down at the opened box, our mouths as open as the box then  mother began to cry but not unhappy tears and father just looked at the shiny gold ornaments and shook his head then looked at us all and grinned his big grin and shook his head a bit more.

With the money he eventually got for that miraculous find, we all left Gartwick, a move about which I had mixed feelings –  leaving my best friend Callum and the hens and the pony and the fishing was only partly made up for by ( can I use 3 prepositions together like that? Anyway I have!) the excitement of  the moving to someplace new,  someplace I’d just read about.  New York.
Only I never got there. Just before we left I went down to the sea to, I suppose, bid some sort of farewell to all the good times I’d had, and

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