Thursday, June 01, 2006


I went back to Mrs. Pyke, who was waiting for me with the impatience of someone who hadn’t spoken to anyone in a week. She led me into the garden and asked me to restore “a bit of order to this jungle”. There is quite a bit of work, with the rose bushes collapsing, the ivy invading the walls and insidiously making its way through a badly-placed window, the lawn needs cutting and the weeds have come back… I went to see my peony again. There are only two flowers left, pale and dishevelled, with its rusty petals strewn over the ground.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A funny meeting

During our trip to Kilmartin I headed off, alone, to the banks of Loch Awe. I took a bouquet of wild flowers with me, for Deirdre. I threw it into the loch and prayed with all my soul for her safety, in that realm after death. We lost her one day in those waters, and we never really knew exactly what had happened. She was seventeen, beautiful and sombre. The police ruled accidental drowning, but I wasn’t totally convinced. I knew Deirdre well, her whimsical character that could see her go from laughter to tears in the blink of an eye. She carried an existential wound that led me to think that she let herself slip into the icy waters without any resistance. Maybe like Virginia Woolf she had filled her pockets with little stones, dragging her downwards to be swallowed up by the waters.When I lifted up my head and opened my eyes, I thought I was seeing things. A ray of sunlight was disproportionately lighting up the loch, and it was shimmering in its glow. I blinked my eyes, shielding them with my hand to see better. It wasn’t a hallucination, nor was it a mirage: a man stood a few metres from me, separated by a bit of the loch. He must have seen me easily, as there was no sun in his eyes, but he didn’t seem to be paying any attention to me. I was surprised to see someone here, as the tourists come later in the season, and even then in more compact, noisy groups. He didn’t seem like a tourist, but he obviously wasn’t a local. His weather-beaten face gave him away: the rest of us Scots are more peely-wally, with the climate, with only the warmth of the whisky and our ales colouring our faces. He was tall, thin and elegantly dressed. He was staring at the loch, and was crouched down at the side of the water. He took a fistful of earth and brought it up to his face, just like he was inhaling the land of his birth, his eyes closed. Then he let it slip into the water, and got up again. This time he saw me, looked at me in surprise, and moved slowly away, his arms moving in the breeze. It was like he was taking possession of each element: water, earth, air…A sudden impulsion seized me, and I held my hand out to him. I could have grabbed hold of him but I couldn’t move, as if I was nailed to the ground. What would I have said to him anyway? I went back to my own side, a little troubled.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A winning return

We came back late last night, exhausted by our long walks. I collapsed into bed and have just woken up, with my head still full of the images and soft emotions that I gathered while I was there. I don’t know if it’s Mum’s company or the fact of not being alone, but I really feel like I’ve been revived. The memories are less bitter, the places we revisited lit up by a warm, peaceful light. I went back to the ruins of the old kirk and found the laughing echoes of my childhood, as well as those of my walks with Alasdair. His image is alive in me, and smiles from the depths of my soul.

Friday, May 26, 2006


We’re off in a bit to Kilmartin. We’ll be back in three days. We’ll stay on the Argyll coast, with friends of Mum’s. I want to be there already, and I loaded our stuff in the car yesterday. Mum takes her time shutting up the house, and I turn around, nibbling on a muffin. She calls me at last – everything’s set. I run off to join her.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A clear morning

It’s almost nice today. We finished putting away our winter stuff, Mum and I. She asked me to go back to Kilmartin with her the day after tomorrow. It’s a good idea, and I’d be happy to go on the trip with her. The weather is looking up, and the spring is here at last. Over there the light will be beautiful, and I already have a host of walks planned in my head. I feel better, and I think I’ll get more out of this trip than the last one. The dregs of my memories clog up my spirit even more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pastoral crown

I listened to an old Tracy Chapman album, her first. Her almost masculine voice brings together sadness and revolution. I like the tone that runs through simple melodies and texts with no pretension. Her voice tells me stories of lost or deceased love, and evokes other things that touch me equally: the desire to flee, the absence of forsaking, the will to fight with poetry and music as our only unstoppable arms.I opened my Pandora’s box again, the one I had slid under my bed. I took out a crown of leaves that Alasdair had braided for me when we were in Kilmartin. I wanted to show him the place where I had grown up. He made that sprite crown for me, and placed it solemnly on my head. It has become all dry and fragile. I didn’t dare put it back on my head, for fear of breaking it. Besides, I’m no longer the fairy queen, even if I still speak their language. I went out into the garden to take a photo of it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

At home

I stayed at home, and didn’t go out today. We’re going to meet this evening, Harry sent me an e-mail to confirm. Mum told me that she thought I looked tired, and that I should get some rest. In any case, I don’t have any work on at the moment. The Pykes are waiting for their work to get on a bit before they allow me to re-do their garden. Mrs. Pyke phones me to ask me over for a cup of tea, but the idea of putting up with a conversation with her gives me an unpleasant feeling of drunkenness. I turned her down as politely as possible, saying that Mum needed me to tidy up at home, which was true. We spent the day putting away the winter things, picking over quite a few things. I obviously came across objects that brought back memories, without really lingering over them. I put everything I wanted to keep in a box, and I put it under my bed. I’ll have a look later.