I’ve found so much in the Pentlands since moving to Edinburgh. Beauty and calm, mostly. Birds. Space to walk and run out problems, too. Places to be with the kids, to eat and talk. The city’s wonderful but if I didn’t have something opposite to frame it, I’d appreciate it much less.
One 2016 day I found the remnants of a Nazi Training Camp in the Pentlands. My intuition had told me something wasn’t right, I didn’t realise exactly what till I saw this, two weeks later.
Take nothing for granted, I guess.
I’ve been working on a new project called The Grantidote. Last week it took me west, to where I come from.
The Grantidote’s centering women, pausing to understand how a woman’s wholeness is made up of fragments big and small, some chosen, others delivered by circumstance.
The Grantidote’s about acknowledging the marks women leave on our world. I believe by fully registering women’s impact we begin to rectify an error that’s made how we organise, experience and understand humanity feel ill-fitting and wrong.
Toxic masculinity needn’t control the whole narrative, after all.
Hop on my hashtags too, won’t you? #52and40, Instagram and #TheGrantidote
A friend died recently. She was my writing teacher first (and my first writing teacher).
I can trace roads from everything I’ve had published in the last two years to Helen, her guidance at every way-marker. Even with this map I’m disorientated; floundering in comprehending such a special woman being gone.
In grief, all roads lead inevitably to my Mum. Every funeral a little her funeral, too. Profound losses only comforted by the extreme gratitude for having shared some of the world with extraordinary people’s smiles and stories.
Joy and sorrow, innit?
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A friend took me to The Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh recently. As an art academic and fellow ardent avoider of bullshit, she’s a joy to exhibition with; nips off at speed, buzzing back intermittently with jewels of information about whatever’s caught my eye; non-plussed about my mistaking statues of all short-haired blokes holding scrolls for another Burns.
As well as my pal, my favourites on the day were Jessica Harrison’s Painted Ladies; the movement in those skirts whisked me back to making an ornament of my Granny’s dance on a windowsill.
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I’ve wondered who this guy is a lot.
Turns out he’s Everyman. He’s Joe Public, apparently, the work of German artist Stephan Balkenhol.
There are more women than men in Edinburgh (and Scotland). How about a sculpture of the city’s Everywoman, instead? Or perhaps alongside?
According to population data, she’d be between 16 and 29, living in a flat with a council-tax banding between A and C and as likely to be single as she would to be married. Her life expectancy would be longer than Joe’s, too.
So where is she?
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Things I didn’t know last month;
- There are jellyfish all round the coast of Denmark – my husband got stung every other summer as a kid playing in the viking sea.
- The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art was originally built as a mansion for William Cunninghame in 1778, for £10,000. Cunninghame was a Tobacco Lord who benefited hugely from trade winds, the hideousness of the triangular slave trade and the connections of his prosperous merchant family.
- For the worse or better, it only takes two people to start a movement.
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We saw Collateral Beauty. The film whisked me back ten years to a hell of a week. Mum had been admitted to hospital in Aberdeen with a DVT. My son had his sixth birthday party. I hadn’t organised a thing for Halloween.
The morning after cobbled together trick or treating, Mum called from hospital and gently explained she had terminal cancer.
The world stopped as grief started.
Who I’d been until then died with her and (slowly, painfully) a new gratitude for life was born. Heather 2.0. An unwanted, bittersweet fresh start.
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