How Ideas Are Formed 1


Here they  come  

from the unfathomed  depths, up

through shade after shade, green 

after green

                                         towards that little patch of blue

                                         that Oscar called the sky, surfacing  beyond

 the  bobbing harpoon boats, surprising

 the platitudinous sea with

their prodigious  skyscraping leaps then



motionless under the troubled waters, unseen

 below the disturbed surface, 

their haunted wailing

absorbed  into  the


of the ever




How Ideas Are Formed 2

Here they come, the blind bats

shrieking from Plato’s  shadowy cave

nails  screeching on blackboard

black umbrella shards 

zigzagging  downwind 

into the embers of a dying sunset

a late quartet of notes by a deaf composer

flung into the void

tossed into the unresponsive void

which only they can hear.





The Tay Bridge Disaster

The Tay Bridge is a railway bridge approximately 2.75 miles long that spans the Firth of Tay in Scotland, between the city of Dundee and the suburb of Wormit in Fife.

At 7:15 p.m.,  28 December 1879, the central spans of the Tay bridge collapsed into the Firth of Tay at Dundee, sending a train including six carriages and 75 people into the water below. At the time, a gale – force 10 to 11 – was blowing down the Tay estuary at right angles to the bridge. The collapse of the bridge, opened only 19 months earlier and passed safe by the Board of Trade,  is still the most famous bridge disaster in the British Isles.

It is the subject of a long poem by William Topaz MacGonagal, famous for being the world’s  best bad (published) poet:

“Beautiful railway bridge of the silv’ry Tay

Alas! I am very sorry to say

That ninety lives have been taken away

On the last sabbath day of 1879

Which shall be remembered for a very long time.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh! Ill-fated bridge of the silv’ry Tay

I now must conclude my lay

By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay

That your central girders would not have given way

At least many sensible men do say

Had they been supported on each side with buttresses

At least many sensible men confesses

For the stronger we our houses build

The less chance we have of being killed”

Understanding Stones

This is the Craw Stane standing on its own above Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. The carving below the salmon  is called the Pictish Beastie. What it means nobody knows. The stone is either a boundary  marker or a memorial plinth.

These are what’s left of a stone circle near Kirriemuir in Angus. It marks a burial site

These are gneiss stones  which  form an avenue leading to some central significant location.


These are the Callanish Stones in Lewis which form a circle round a central pillar and are part of a lunar clock.
Local tradition says that giants who lived on the island refused to be converted to Christianity by Saint Kieran and were turned into stone as a punishment. Another local belief says that at sunrise on midsummer morning, the “shining one” walked along the stone avenue, “his arrival heralded by the cuckoo‘s call.” This legend could be a folk memory recalling the astronomical significance of the stones.

And full circle – back to Rhynie’s Craw Stane…..The cows in the field  find the Craw Stane an ideal rubbing post and it is in grave danger from theme


Young people in cafes

tapping away at a laptop keyboard

or simply texting

are ten a penny

but something you seldom see


is someone

usually a woman

(like J.K. Rowling

for example

but in this case

a young man)

actually writing

–  not typing  –

putting  pen to paper

and actually WRITING.


The ancient mariner arrives at St Salvators’ by taxi from Leuchars…..

*  *  *  *  *

Is this the right day?

Am I perhaps late?

Where is Wlliam?

Where is Kate?

I don’t know the bride

I don’t know the groom

I don’t know who

is marrying whom

Yes this is the place

today is the date

but he is not William

and she is not Kate.


things on their own

(especially old things)

look sad, dejected,

no longer fit for purpose

(to use the current buzz phrase)

well past their sell-by date    ……

not waiting impatiently to be used

but waiting submissively to be wheeled away

to their scrapyard in the sky

or just waiting

for the relentless rust of Time

to get on with

the job it does so well.

dogs,  on the other foot,

are patient waiters…

or most of them at any rate…

(this  collie for example,

with only ears alert)

although some

(like this arch-backed anorexic  Edinburgh whippet)

stand shivering,  quivering,

body, face, eyes

alert with  the awful  fear

that he-(or she)-who-must-be-obeyed

has gone away


never to return..

leaving them purposeless…


(A bit like us really)