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Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray): Week 6 – 29 April

I turned 59 last week, which was a bit of a shock. Not the fact of the birthday as such, which I’ve rather got the hang of by now; but the total. I seem to have lost a decade along the way somewhere, as though my memory has done the equivalent of plastic surgery on my life, to tidy it up—a nip here, say, or a tuck there. And yet, if I add up the years they’re all accounted for; at least they are if I involve a couple of friends, and we all take our shoes and socks off.

Of course, the symptoms of ageing are universal, and every generation has to go through them. (One of Jefferson’s early drafts of the Declaration of Independence began: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that modern music sucks and no one writes proper tunes any more, and the edgy new sitcoms of today just aren’t funny, fact.”) I just can’t help feeling I made a crucial mistake in my pact with Mephistopheles all those years ago: and somewhere there’s a youthful painting of me in an attic that isn’t ageing at all, while here I am in real life…

Primroses at Nybster

In gansey news, I am almost to the shoulders of the back of the Scarborough gansey. I think one of the reasons I’ve always liked this pattern is because it’s essentially one block of one pattern. So many gansey patterns rely on detail for their effect—and very effective it is too, of course. But there’s still a lot to be said for simplicity. Meanwhile I’m still inching (centimetring?) my way up the body of the Wick gansey. The yoke pattern will be the polar opposite of the Scarborough one, and we should reach it in another month or so.

. . . and Primroses at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Finally, as it’s May this week, and even in Caithness Spring has definitely sprung, I thought I’d share with you two of my own poems. This time last year I was possessed by the spirit of a Chinese zen poet, albeit one remarkably fluent in contemporary English, and found myself writing a bunch of poems in the old style. Here are two of my favourites:

Hawthorns heavy with blossom,

Shaggy as sheep—
Waiting for the wind to shear them.


Full moon in spring—
Only a dog’s solitary bark
Tells me I’m alive.

7 comments to Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray): Week 6 – 29 April

  • Dolly Sarley

    I’m looking at celebrating my 70th in June, so can relate! However, I recently “discovered” the music of Hozier and am revising my negative view of today’s music. I’m even going to one of his concerts next month, my first in many, many years. Anyway, happy birthday to you!

    • Gordon

      Hi there, you’re right of course and I still find new tracks now and then that blow me away. A year or two back I came across an 8-hour piece of (more or less) ambient music called “Sleep” by Max Richter which is fast becoming the soundtrack to my life!

      Happy 70th in June and I wish you many enjoyable concerts to come,

  • =Tamar

    I hadn’t realized you were such a spring chicken, Gordon! I’m 70 myself, despite a tendency to think I’m 18 and really ought to be able to leap gracefully over obstacles. The ganseys are looking fine as fivepence (I have sometimes wondered about that terminology…)
    but that second haiku is giving me the creeps.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I think that might be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about my poetry!

      As for the ganseys, I’m torn between “right as ninepence” and “right as a trivet”…

  • Lois

    Well, Gordon, you’re only a wee tad yet. And I hope we both can look forward to more gansey inspiration for a long time to come.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, yes, I’m “nobbut a bairn” as they say in Yorkshire. Though not all the time, obviously. I’ve got yarn for another dozen ganseys, which at the current rate will take 3-4 years. And after that…?

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