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Flamborough (John Knaggs) 6: 28 September

FJK140928a I know I said I wasn’t going to do an entry this week, but as I’ve just finished the neck I thought I’d post this while we’re away in rural Northants (think of this as a ‘post restante’).

Now, my second-favourite Bob Dylan song is the sublime “Mississippi”, an amazing jumble of images about life and death, all delivered in the strangled croak of an elderly raven with laryngitis who’s decided to become a folk singer.

It’s full of wonderful lines that mean a lot to me (e.g., “Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay/ You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way”); and my favourites are “Walking through the leaves, falling from the trees/ Feeling like a stranger nobody sees”.

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Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags and the Pentlands from across the Firth

We’re into autumn now and this line plays in my mind every time I find myself scrunching through the fallen leaves down by the river (it doesn’t take long, of course, as there aren’t that many trees in Caithness).

Bearing that in mind, a curious thing happened to me the other day. I was strolling along the river when a woman who was walking her dog stopped me as I passed. ‘Excuse me,’ she said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but we see you walking here every day, and we were wondering who you were?’

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Haws and lichen

Once I got over my surprise, it turned out that, far from being a stranger nobody sees, the good people of Wick had been noticing me all the time and, since I appeared to be a fixture, had decided it was time to place me. (I mentioned this to my colleague at work, a native herself, and she looked at me like I’d just discovered Santa wasn’t real. ‘Of course,’ she said. ‘People ask about you all the time.’) Dog walkers. Who knew?

Meanwhile, I’ve emailed Dylan and suggested that in future he change the lyric to more of a Caithness vibe: “Walking through the leaf, falling from the tree/ Feeling like a stranger with zero anonymity…”

Still haven’t heard back, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

See you next week!

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