I don’t fancy doing a retrospective this year; nor a listings post, nor a resolutions post. So just a wee narrative then, with a few highlights, and some thoughts.
The most recent highlight has been the celebration of my mother’s 90th birthday this week. Her actual birthday was on Sunday 27th December, but we waited until Monday night before getting together for a family meal in Yann’s restaurant in Crieff (highly recommended, by the way – the food was wonderful and the staff were friendly and helpful). My younger brother was recently transferred to Switzerland by his employers, so he flew in from there, joining my sister-in-law and two of their three sons who had arrived from California the day before. Their eldest is a fisherman, and he was at sea. When their middle son goes to college next year, J and A will join S in Switzerland. So it was a nice get-together for them too. Yesterday they all came south from Crieff to Dunbar, where my youngest son and his family joined us for DunbarJane’s fantastic cooking. Table for ten? No problem. It was wonderful.
At the beginning of 2009 I think I rather overdid things with primary school workshops. They were good fun, but 30-odd sessions between January and March was a bit much for me – I’ll do fewer in 2010. In December I stepped down from the StAnza Board, after five years, the last three as its Convener. That immediately followed ten years on the Scottish Poetry Library’s Board, with the final four being its Convener. So that was fifteen years involvement with Scotland’s top two poetry organisations. Time for a break from Committees, although East Lothian Council have got me involved with a few more I didn’t plan for. There’s less pressure in these though, and I know I can cope – three of the projects are short-term, and for specific purposes relating to horticulture and environmental planning. The fourth project is the formation of a functioning Dunbar Arts Trust, and that’s close to my heart.
I finish my two-year term as Moray’s Poet Partner at the end of January. I’ve enjoyed that hugely, and I know my connection to the North-East has been deepened by the experience. Speaking of connections, the most shocking and poignant experience of the year was the trip (with my friends, the Fahrters) to the Somme, where I discovered the graves, or just the names, of twenty-five Will and Mutch relatives (however distant). I hadn’t known they existed. I’m grateful to the Archivist of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for helping me with my research.
On the publishing front, I said I’d publish eight books in 2009, and I did. On the other hand, it’s been a poor year for getting my own poems published – only half-a dozen or so. Must do better in 2010! I’m looking forward to having The floor show at the Mad Yak Café published by Red Squirrel Scotland in the Spring. I like it, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Have a great New Year.