Recently I went to Lanzarote to do some research on the painter/politician Cesar Manrique as well as a spot of sunbathing. I stayed at the Beatriz, outside Costa Teguise, and was given room 225. 225! How that number brings back memories! My father was a GP. Perhaps because of his profession, he was inclined to spend as long as it took when meeting someone which meant that somewhere along his chain of arranged meetings for the day, someone had to suffer. As often as not that someone was me. This may explain my obsession with punctuality – my own, not anyone else’s. I remember all too clearly the agony of waiting, the nightmare dread, the sense of abandonment once the time for our meeting had passed without a sign of him. Now, to avoid putting anyone else through that ordeal, I invariably arrive at least five minutes early for any appointment, no matter how important or unimportant. In fact I worry more about being on time than about the appointment itself, how I look, what I’m going to say, what sort of questions I might have to answer…… When I was ten I went with my father to Paris and on our last day there he arranged to meet me at 12 o’clock outside the main doors of Notre Dame. (All this was way before the mobile phone came into being – one of the first presents I gave my daughter!) Anyhow 12 o’clock came and twelve o’clock went. No father. Panic stations….. At half past I started counting the number of people who passed me coming from the right, having told myself that he would appear before I had even got as far as 30. 30 came and 30 went . No father. Should I leave the big doors and walk round to see if he was waiting for me somewhere else? What if as soon as I wandered off, he arrived and went off looking for me? How would I get to the airport? Should I try explaining my problem to the gendarme who was standing with his back to me only a few yards away? 100. As well as counting I now filled my mind with how I would explain my problem to the gendarme. Excusez-moi, monsieur. J’ai perdu mon pere. Aidez-moi, s’il vous plait. Je suis…Je ne sais pas….Je pense que…. If I stopped counting or stopped rehearsing my speech, I didn’t know how I would cope, what I – The gendarme wandered off, giving me a passing look. 200. What I would do, in Paris, abandoned, no money, no – 225 and there he was, not even hurrying, smiling his usual smile. There’s a little cafe near the Metro station where I used to sit with your mother and watch the world go by, he said. Fancy going there? I nodded.
That was my father. And Paris? I’ve never been back.
o years an years ago
at a roup in whit used tae be
st mary magdalene’s kirk
(noo the vertical world climbin centre)
I bocht this pentin
that I still like
a street wi a garij an a big hoose
an in the backgrun
a kirk steeple wi a clock
(10 past 10)
it wis signed d adamson
nae capitals d adamson jist like that
whin they saa it on ma wa
is yon nae thon kirk
jist aff the perth road
next tae the ryehill surgery?
which is whaur I thocht it wis masel
when I bocht it
but it wisnae
in fact it wisnae dundee ataa
or aa thae ither places that wir suggested
it wisnae perth
nor wis it letham
it wisnae friockheim
it wisnae crieff
I searched them aa
ilka weekend fir twa/three months
till I began tae think
d adamson hud jist imagined it
pentit it oot o his heid
it’s aye the hinmaist pooch i yir jaiket
whaur ye fin the keys
last friday I hud tae collect a dug fae the osnaburg bar in forfar anther it wis ahint the osnaburg ther it wis starin me i the face the vennel wi the big hoose the garij an the railins the kirk steeple i the backgrun an steerin bi a photo o d adamson’s pentin I fund the very spot whaur he’d stood (or sat) a thae years ago tae pent his picter ma picter noo
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