It’s that time again. The papers, TV and radio are full of retrospectives on the year that’s about to vanish into the past. It’s that time when I sometimes wish I could be bothered keeping a diary of events or a journal of thoughts and ideas. But the feeling doesn’t last. I’ve always preferred to live in the moment and look forward rather than back. So if I try to retrieve some highlights of 2014, I know they’ll be patchy and incomplete. Apologies to those people and events missed out.
Let’s say then that I enjoyed readings at Platform Poetry (Ladybank), 10 RED (Leith), the Scottish Writers’ Centre (Glasgow), the Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh), the Hot-Pot (Musselburgh), the Lit & Phil (Newcastle), a pub off George Square (Glasgow), Write On Festival (Haddington) and other places. With the Dunbar Writers I took part in readings and events to celebrate John Muir’s centenary. I did some talks and adjudications too, including a talk on Japanese verse forms to the Edinburgh Writers’ Club. During the Edinburgh Festival I improvised on saxes and clarinet with other musicians behind the Loud Poets at the Netherbow Theatre – huge fun.
I was elected to serve as Chairman of StAnza’s Board of Trustees for the second time (the first time being from 2005 to 2009), and I’ve thrown myself into that. I’m also involved with CoastWord, Dunbar’s Festival of Words, and we staged a lovely festival in June, with Bernard MacLaverty, Liz Lochhead, Linda Strachan and other super authors. Among other things I conducted a tea ceremony on the railway station platform – definitely a first for Dunbar.
Jane and I had a great holiday in Southern Italy (Puglia, Calabria, Basilicata and Sicily) in April; we had an unusually hot retreat in Assynt in July (including my 72nd birthday), and in September we excursed (I know) to the landing beaches of Normandy with a group of dear friends.
I’ve had lots of trips, liberally libated, with the Russian Embassy Club (it’s a social club of good friends where vodka is drunk, among other light beverages).
I signed up Lindsay Macgregor and Nuala Watt as Calder Wood Press authors for 2015 pamphlets, and I’m looking forward to that.
On the domestic front we put in a new bathroom, boiler and radiators in November.
The biggest personal event of my year was the publication of my new book – The Book of Ways – in October. I owe huge thanks to my publisher, Sheila Wakefield, of Red Squirrel Press, for her unfailing support, and to Gerry Cambridge for the design of the book, which I wrote during my Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013. Enormous gratitude to Hawthornden for giving me the space and time to write it.
Best wishes for 2015 to everyone.