Monthly Archives: April 2016

15 more cantos to go


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12994460_10153715180348246_7239557658124594534_nI am now sat in the office, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.  Downstairs are my new bass guitar – a fender jazz bass – plus a new amp. Total cost £527. The money’s come from Emily’s recent house sale, god bless hair – I guess I did do some painting & stuff, so its cool. It would have cost more, but Tinky’s new keyboardist, Will, works there & got us a discount. Earlier today I had a sing-song with Mike – we’re working on the songs (for once) & its sounding good. We’ve a gig coming up this Saturday – Wee James’ birthday – plus the big one at Arran at the end of April when Tinky go West-side.

Working on the lyrics with Mike

Its been a couple of weeks since I got back from Skye, in which time I’ve decided to add 15 more cantos to Axis & Allies, bringing the total up to a Dantean 100. This means 135 tryptychs, some of which are already typed up, but about two thirds are still in pencil form, barely touched since I etched them out a decade & a half ago.

The New Ranch – Donna’s centre


The same period saw the visit of Donna Waddington, Emily’s mum & grandma to the girls. It was fun having her over, in tow came some poetry books from her husband on the Harlem renaissance. Her visit also gave me & Ems the opportunity to head to Burnley for a couple of days. En route we saw, for the first time, the new cottage we’ll be moving into – next door to Kenny’s partner.. Its a cracker & the gods really have smile on us. Its weird how fate works – Emily was destined to marry a bass player & I to live in East Lothian. Both of these transpired, but it is only at the second time of asking, & sharing each other’s destiny, that our fates have been properly worked out.


Leaving about 11 AM, I drove us over the Lammermuirs & into Duns for a baguette & a pannini. Ems loved it & we can pop in from time to time in the future. From Duns we shimmied through the borders on a mini-burnsian tour… Kelso, Jedburgh both passed by before a wee look at the Otterburn battlefield, where I read some of my modernized ballad on the battle – a mixture of the English version & the Scottish ‘Battle of Chevy Chase.



12961551_1621654548159495_7174585620595428844_nFrom there we pottered at Hadrian’s Wall awhile, before passing through Haydon Bridge, a delightful small town spanning the River Tyne. In fact, most of the Border towns a quite beautiful & calm. We also checked out Langley Castle, & decided a romantic night there roundabout our honeymoon would be splendid. We also checked out a marvellous waterfall, whose name Ive forgotten, but was a roaring swirl of nature at its rawest.





From there we headed due south, along a series of obscure & some rather dodgy roads, especially the one that dropped into Dent valley – a ridiculously magnificent place full of all of nature’s bounties. Then came Settle & before we knew it we were in Burnley at seven o clock in the evening. En route we’d driven from Midlothian into Edinburgh & then into East Lothian, into the Scottish Borders & over the border into Northumberland, before passing through Cumbria (twice) & North Yorkshire before entering Lancashire.








After calling on Nicky & co (addicted to a new game), we proceeded to chill out at mine, where I turned my house into Damospa – foot rubs, bath-runs & lazy film nests included. Friday night we spoilt all that, however, by hitting the beers with my dad, including a rather funny session with the Accy Roaders down the White Lion. The drive back to Scotland the next day was tiring & hungover to say the least. This route was still wonderful, more new roads.



IMG_20160416_101835917En route I checked out Black Tower’s view of Pendle – which is almost the one contained in the Shephereds Calendar woodcut. I’m getting closer. I think I have to go back another mile or so to get the exact spot. We then passed through teh Bowland Forest – an amazing place I’d never traversed – through antiquated Slaidburn & Dunsop Bridge – the heart of Britain – before dropping down into Lancaster & connecting with the M6 & the much quicker drive North.

220px-Lunnasting_stoneAlongside Axis & Allies I have also began work on Humanology – my version of the Thirukkural. A prompt was me chatting to Donna about my poeslation while watching the BBC$ ‘Treasure of the Indus series’ in Tamil Nadu, & she, in a rather ‘support my daughter’ fashion urging me to do something with it. So I’ve started & I must say I am fairly romping through it. I am also carrying on with the work on my ‘Camlann & the Pictish King Arthur,’ including a new bit of research with the Attacotti. These were an unplaced British tribe of the 4th century who ate shepardesses’ paps & the buttocks of shepherds, & their name turns up in an Ogham inscription on the Lunnasting Stone in the  Shetlands where they are the ‘Ettecuhets.’ I gave the story to the Shetland Times  actually – its a good un – but they did the usual thing & asked a local historian who did the usual thing & said it was bollox. People just can’t see the woods for the trees.


Druidry_101_html_108ea1b4The thing is, I’ve started looking at the inscription (Ive got books on Ogham in front of me in the NLS) – & I’ve realised one word has been mistranslated – its actually hcungu, or Cungu, which opens up some very interesting possibilites..



Eriskay & Skye




Two mornings ago, & eighteen years to the day since I set off from Leyton on my first poetic tour, I completed the pen & ink version of Axis & Allies. No more shall I find myself in wonderful scenic spots, converting my research into rhyme & knitting together my vasty poem.  It was our last morning in Skye, & waking before dawn I walked the short distance from Seaview Cottage, a charming cottage on the slopes over Dunvegan, NW Skye, to the Pictish stone erected above the old Colomban church at the Millennium by the locals. With me was Bridei, a mad spaniel & companion to many of my walks in East Lothian – 13 years old but still going strong. Once at the stone I watched the sun tumble up into the Skye & completed my last three tryptychs:- two on the ascent & descent of Mount Olympus & the very last being a stanza on the escape from Treblinka.




Before then, clearly, was that wonderful week in Skye. After the motown night in Haddington – which was rather sparsely attended, but good fun all the same – we set off on the great drive North. After the unfortunate business of the Green Welly stop-off, I took the wheel & drove practically the rest of the way – through Glencoe, Fort William & on through a wild storm across the Kyle of Localsh to Skye. Not bad for someone who hasn’t even got a provisional. Emily took over once more 20 miles short of Dunvegan – the endlessly winding roads & growing darkness had tired me out – & we arrived at our cottage in Dunvegan just as night was closing in. Unfortunately the estate agent had got the dates mixed up & we were unable to get in – cue mad dash to the hotel for food & a few frantic calls, before not too long after we were in our lovely, warm cottage.




440_1613682118956738_8202965278448732262_nSo began a great week, our party consisting of 4 kids (Roxy 6, Ivy 8, fergus 10, Eliza 12) – 2 mothers (Emily & Carol), 2 spaniels Bridei & the newly revitalized Larch)  & a poet.  We all got on rather famously, wandering about the island in a jolly old fashion. On the Monday I took Fergus walking up the great table-topped hill that overlooked Dunvegan Bay, on the Tuesday we checked out the old lighthouse near Glendale, while on the Wednesday Emily & I escaped the circus & took a ferry from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist. Arriving late at night, we slept in the car by the Atlantic, then took a curious drive round the islands as far as Eriskay in the south. The latter is a charming wee island bejewelling those dazzling azure waters that fill the soul with joy & hope. South Uits is also a great spot – full of history & lovely views. but further north the feeling of visiting the Outer Hebrides is less pleasurable – a number of charmless pre-fab houses built by workers of the oil industry, while flat tepid peat-bogs roll out to the unassuming hills.


Coral Beach – wrote the penultimate bunch of tryptychs here





I am now back in Dalmeny, catching up with things & beginning to edit Axis & Allies. I have read through about 50 stanzas of the poem’s final total of 765. I am also engaged to be married, the circumstances of which engagement are rather amusing indeed. Of course Emily & I have fallen massively in love, & have thought of double-barreling our names & inventing a suitable crest, & all that. Anyway, a lass I know who knows very well I’m seeing Emily sends me the following Facebook messages;

SAT 8:13

Damo lost your number. Are u in Edinburgh? Need a chat friend
Call me 07723408***

“How I do love to go up in a swing, up in a swing so high, over the fields and the valleys below, over the fields so high”

SAT 12:45
I’m near loch Ness heading back to Edinburgh – what’s up?

SAT 14:39
My babies have gone to Thailand for 3 weeks. A bit wobbly but out with wee sis tonight. So all ok. Stay good bro x

Where is our haven
Let’s have a larf
2000, 2100, 2010? Forgot
where is the purpose
I got stuck
little scarecrow person
Straw for a heart

SAT 18:04
Happy holidays

So I showed these to Emily, & a few minutes later I’m checking FB & see people congratulating us on our engagement…  plus the following message from the FB girl only 3 minutes after Emily put the announcement up;

Congratulations! Super happy for you both c

Total mental & proof of how women communicate on an astral level. Anyhow, we got over a hundred likes & loads of congrats, plus an engagement party offer in Duval, so I guess its official. Funny as well, I finished my poem in the morning in Skye, drove down the majestic Great Glen of Scotland to get home, then found myself engaged by the evening. Yeah – that’s the way to finish an epic poem.