Small Delights

The morning brought a bright and unseasonably warm sunshine so Anna and I set out on our walk at 11.00am. With the younger members of the population back at work and school, the world was quieter and I could enjoy my mental accompaniment of the Louis Jordan number, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” Continue reading


‘Shovelling white steam over her shoulder’

If you recognise the title quote you may well be interested in an event planned for Pitlochry at the end of July.

W H Auden’s 1936 poem, Night Mail, celebrated the sorting and delivery office that travelled each night on the train from London to Glasgow. Its description of the speeding train contains the couplet: “Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder / Shovelling white steam over her shoulder.” Continue reading

Chubby sentences

His sentences are chubby with the lard of his self regard.

From a review by Craig Brown of “Distilling the Frenzy” by (Lord) Peter Hennessy in which he castigates Hennessy, one of Britain’s best-selling historians, on the number of times he reminds his readers that he is now a member of the House of Lords and accuses him of padding out his book with sloppy writing.

I gasped when I read the sentence. What a put-down. Is it possible that there is bad blood between Brown and Hennessy?

School Sports Day

Now that it’s the season of school sports days, I thought I’d include the above photo which is in my book ‘Mr. Mackay’s Legacy’. There is very little I know about it, except that it was taken at a sports day at St. John’s School, Perth, Scotland in 1968 or 1969 nor do I know the name of the photographer. Continue reading

Pitlochry views, a century apart

The top photograph shows Atholl Road, Pitlochry’s main street, as it looked in 1912. The photo was also issued as a postcard. One hundred years later, I photographed Atholl Road from the same position.

Apart from the mode of transport and people’s dress, little has changed over the century, which surprised me. I even resorted to counting chimney pots to find differences. The photos certainly back up Pitlochry’s claim to be a Victorian/Edwardian town.

At present there is controversy about a proposal to build  a Travelodge in Pitlochry but surely this photo supports the opposition.

I have one regret about the modern photo – I didn’t find three boys to occupy centre stage and stand on the road amongst modern traffic.

The carved heads of Cairn o’ Mohr

Cairn o’ mohr heads

Yesterday, while driving along the A90 Perth to Dundee road we stopped at a favourite place, the Cairn o’ Mohr winery near Errol. Superb coffee and scones, friendly and attentive staff and a highly quirky and attractive atmosphere. Best of all, the ever changing display of carved tree-trunk heads.

The story of ‘Windows in the West’

Windows in the West’ is a painting by Scottish artist Avril Paton. It depicts the people and activities behind the windows of a Glasgow tenement (apartment) block after a winter snowfall.

The work is regularly voted at or near the top in polls of Scotland‘s favourite paintings. It attracts many visitors to its site in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum where it is the second most visited exhibit after Salvador Dali‘s “Christ of St. John of the Cross.” Even the print which hangs in our living room attracts my attention more than any other in the house. There’s so much going on throughout the building and outside, the snow cover and late afternoon sky suggest warmth and cosiness. It’s a happy world.

Recently, I stumbled upon this video of Avril Paton explaining to a group of schoolchildren how she came to paint ‘Windows in the West’. Look at it yourself. It will repay a few minutes of your time and you will find the answer to questions such as: Does the building actually exist? How long did the painting take? Was there an easel large enough for it and what’s the story of the cat?

There’s also an interview with Avril Paton conducted by an unknown writer on the website West End People.

Best of all, go and see the original.