Posted in Dumbarton FC at 17:46 on 4 September 2016
Sandstone, 2006, 74 p. (Sandstone vista 8.)
This novella is one I missed when it first came out and so have only just caught up with. It is set in a near future after a Chinese guy gasping for a cigarette lost his rag on an aeroplane coming in to Edinburgh, the resulting fracas and panicked phone calls interfering with the plane’s controls so that it crashed into an aircraft-carrier in Rosyth, hence precipitating war with China. The highway men of the title, deemed not tech-savvy enough for the army have instead been drafted to work on the roads. When this was written Osama Bin Laden had not been killed and so appears in this future. Consequently the novella now has to be read as an altered history.
The action takes place in Scotland’s Western Highlands. En route to a job our highway men come across an abandoned village where all the glass has been removed from the windows. At their destination of Strathcarron narrator Jase (Jason Mason) realises a group of people estranged from society is living up in the hills. His going to see them there has unfortunate consequences.
An interesting scenario with believable well-drawn characters – even at such short length.
Pedant’s corner:- smoothes (smooths,) gulley (gully.)
The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in the City was the second song I featured in my Friday on my Mind spot. This song could hardly be more different, wistful rather than joyful, restrained as opposed to exuberant.
Whether the story is apocryphal or not I recall reading that guitarist Zal Yanovsky didn’t like the direction the group was taking hence his hamming up on TV appearances such as this one.
Hamish Hamilton, 2015, 228 p
Borrowed from a doomed library.
The book cover and spine have “Public library” as the title but the colophon shows “
Public library ” (actually struck through several times.) As is usual in Smith’s output the left hand margin is justified but the right hand one is not – curiously, though, the acknowledgements page has the reverse. The prefatory “Library” is an apparently true story about Smith and her publisher coming across a building emblazoned Library; but it’s an exclusive club instead. Smith’s stories are interleaved with Smith and her correspondents’ memories of libraries and their importance to civilised life. These interludes are entitled “that beautiful new build”, “opened by Mark Twain”, “ a clean, well-lighted place”, “the ideal model of society”, “soon to be sold”, “put a price on that”, “on bleak house road”, “curve tracing”, “the library sunlight”, “the making of me” and “the infinite possibilities”.
As in Smith’s previous collections the short stories included here tend to have similar structures whereby the narrator will start off on one course and then veer onto another, and on occasion a return to the first topic will occur.
In Last the narrator sees a wheelchair-bound woman has been left behind on a train. While she tries to effect a rescue she muses on the changing meanings of various words.
Good voice is narrated by a woman who speaks to her dead father and ruminates on the First World War.
In The beholder a woman who has suffered a series of life altering events finds a growth on her chest. It seems to be a rose.
The poet relates the life story of the poet Olive Fraser whom Smith imagines being inspired by finding printed music on the binding (made from recycled old paper stock) of one of Walter Scott’s Waverley novels.
The human claim dwells on the unlikely connection between an unauthorised credit card transaction and the fate of D H Lawrence’s ashes.
The ex-wife has a woman trying to come to terms with breaking up from her ex-wife because she was so obsessed with Katharine Mansfield. In it Smith says, “What the writer does is not so much to solve the question but to put the question.” She also utilises the word pompazoon; as Mansfield did.
In The art of elsewhere the narrator tells of her desire to come upon some kinder, better, less constrained existence.
After life. A man is twice reported dead; both times falsely. The second time no-one cares. This leads him to muse on the vitality shown in the Mitchell and Kenyon films of turn of the twentieth century life.
In The definite article the narrator has an epiphany after lingering in Regent’s Park on the way to an important meeting.
Grass A book of Robert Herrick poems brings to the narrator’s mind an incident which occurred when she was minding her father’s shop during an Easter break in her finals year.
In Say I won’t be there the narrator has an ongoing discussion with her partner about not revealing the contents of her recurring dream which features Dusty Springfield (about whom her partner knows a lot more than her.) She tells us the dream instead.
And so on’s narrator ruminates on a friend who died young and her illness-induced imaginings that she was a work of art in the process of being abducted.
Pedant’s corner:- to not sway (not to sway,) ones bones (one’s bones,) H G Wells dream (H G Wells’s,) ‘We bought the book in Habitat, before Habitat became defunct.’ (Habitat isn’t quite yet defunct. It still has some outlets in a few Homebase stores.)
19th century industrialist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Fife.
His birthplace is now a museum:-
As the plaque on the cottage indicates, Carnegie became a noted philanthropist, endowing Dunfermline with a swinmming pool and over 3,000 towns worldwide with libraries. One of these was Dunfermline Library whose later extension I posted about yesterday.
In the museum I came across a drawing of another of these, Coldside Library in Dundee, and recognised it immediately:-
I have previously mentioned this fine building but at the time did not know it had anything to do with Carnegie, nor indeed its name.
SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 27/8/16.
Since I made my way up from Dumfries and Galloway where we’ve been for the past couple of days (yes, photos of deco buildings and of War Memorials were taken) I got held up at the roadworks on the M74 and as a result missed baout fifteen minutes of this. It seems we had a chance or two in that time but all I witnessed was Falkirk dominating possession – due mainly to our giving it away – for the rest of the first half. Alan Martin had two magnificent reaction saves in that time or else we’d have been right out of it.
The second half meandered along and we only really looked under threat when a header from a corner hit the bar and went over. Nevertheless we were defending for the most part, again losing the ball too easily or giving it away but a great passing move between Ryan Stevenson, Robert Thomson and Josh Todd carved out a chance which Todd couldn’t get past Danny Rogers in the home goal.
Sub Andy Stirling put in a great cross which Robert Thomson couldn’t quite get on the end of (and a later one which someone ought to have anticipated falling at the back post but no one did.)
We might have held out for the draw but the replacement of Stevenson by Darren Barr seemed to disrupt our organisation temporarily and they managed to get a man over in the box with only four minutes to go. Cruel.
I suppose Falkirk deserved the points on pressure and possession but our defence, where Mark Docherty was outstanding at centre-half,* didn’t deserve that.
Three of the five teams we’ve yet to play are at the top of the league, and unbeaten. It’s going to be tough again.
*Edited to add. Having looked at Sons TV’s footage of the game unfortunately he was the one playing their scorer onside for the goal.