Loose Ends: Wild West

The last Loose Ends adventure took me to Makar’s Court by the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh. A very loose link from John Muir, who settled in the west of the United States, led to a little piece of the Wild West tucked behind the prim and proper streets of Morningside. It was built in the mid 1990s to complement a furniture showroom that operated out of there, though it is a wee bit sorry for itself now. I had known about it for years though it was only when I had business in the area that I finally managed to get there. The street featured a Cantina, jail and assortment of suitably Western-looking businesses, though up the road was a very much 21st century Edinburgh garage with cars instead of horses and John Wayne cutting about. I hung around for a few minutes, looking in slight disbelief at the quirky signs, my favourite being the Western font used to ask folk not to block Morningside Library’s fire door. It felt like being on a film set and I could imagine cameras, actors and directors around instead of the blare of a radio and the very familiar local accents. It was a bit otherworldly but I was glad to get there, very much a hidden gem and much more worthy of a visit than the obvious tourist places uptown.

The next connection was set by this point though I may have considered a wee look at the Buffalo Bill statue that graces a quiet bit of Dennistoun or indeed the Bud Neill cartoon characters with monuments at Partick railway station and Woodlands Road back in Glasgow, all a testament to the lingering impact of the Wild West on these shores far off.

Thank you for reading. The final (for now) instalment of Loose Ends follows next week.

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Saturday morning thoughts, again

Happy Saturday! As this is posted I will hopefully still be in bed. The Hibs are playing today but in Paisley, a mere 15 minutes door-to-door from my home to the Simple Digital Arena, home to St. Mirren FC. That means there won’t be a travelling book today since surely to goodness I can just scroll on my phone for the 11 minutes the train journey will take. Most of my books are in boxes after a house move but I can talk about what I read last weekend. On the way to and from Dundee, I read The Life and Death of St. Kilda by Tom Steel, a refreshing and unsentimental insight into the life of the people of St. Kilda before and after their evacuation in 1930. It was a sober and serious book but eminently readable, not flinching from discussing the difficulties of life 100 miles out into the Atlantic for the islanders, missionaries, nurses and people who sought to supply or govern them, with an interesting aside about the role of the archipelago as a missile testing range.

Last Friday I went to Tantallon Castle near North Berwick. On the way I managed to finish two books that were sitting in my bag waiting to be finished, The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat and Call Them By Their True Names, a book of essays by Rebecca Solnit about Trump, America and the relationship between truth and authority. Alistair Moffat’s book was good too, a selection of walking routes across Scotland, including the Herring Road between Dunbar and Lauder. It was an interesting contrast between those two, one more serious than the other while both are relevant to these times. We need to know about our past but also to walk and be in the landscape from time to time lest we get too far up our backsides. In a brief sojourn in Edinburgh, I ended up with a football magazine called Glory which had a special about Irish football. It is more of a coffee table thing but I look forward to reading it eventually. Also coming home with me was We Only Want The Earth by Sandy Macnair, a telling of the first season with Hibs back in the Premiership. A lot of it is very recent in my brain but reading about it is no great hardship, especially since I haven’t yet reached the gubbing by Aberdeen just before Christmas.

I am writing this a bit ahead of time so I will also say that as part of the house move, I came across a few books I bought ages ago but haven’t yet read. That’s why my travelling book for the football on Tuesday was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It seems a seminal book in the canon but I haven’t read it so it came with me to Easter Road on Tuesday. Some time soon I will let you all know what I thought of it.

Tantallon Castle was great, one of my favourite places anyway. I had left Glasgow late so my time there was curtailed a bit. Plus I walked the three miles to and from North Berwick, the return leg at full speed to catch the train back to Edinburgh. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and the East Lothian countryside was looking braw. I spent most of my time just gawping at the Bass Rock and down to the Lammermuirs, Doon Hill and St. Abbs Head, a pleasure to be in a dear, familiar place, however briefly. Randomly the HS steward was someone I used to work with in Dunbar years ago, which was a nice surprise.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday morning post. Tomorrow is Loose Ends and it will be in Edinburgh again. A post will also appear on Easter Road West this morning too. Have a nice Saturday. Cheers.

New museum

On Saturday I managed a wee peek into the brand new Victoria and Albert Museum outpost up in Dundee. It being the second weekend of opening meant everybody and their granny had the same idea, with a big queue just to get in the door let alone to get into the permanent galleries. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny Saturday by the Tay and getting to stand and stare at the fine Kengo Kuma design was absolutely no hardship. Eventually we got into the foyer and it was beautiful, all wooden boards with portholes giving views over the Tay. That was worth the queuing alone, as was the staircase with yet more porthole windows and the fine display of contemporary Scottish design including pencil and pen grips produced by the Galgael Trust not so far from here in Govan. Wee bit of civic pride there. The queue for the Scottish Design galleries showed no sign of dissipating and we resolved to come back in a few weeks once the novelty had worn off. Before heading off, we headed out to the terrace for a very fine view across the Tay Road Bridge and down the river towards Broughty Ferry.

We came back later as the sun was setting and managed to look at the building for a bit longer. The moon peeked between the arches of the building but eluded the perfect photograph. A photo is but a pale imitation at the best of times and it couldn’t have been truer at that moment. The building was enough that day, the architecture the main attraction since I couldn’t get near the actual exhibits but that was no problem whatsoever. I have the feeling I’ll be back regardless, to see the exhibits and do the cultural thing but I was really in Dundee that for the football so the V and A was a bonus, the stunning building good enough for me.

Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns next week.

Loose Ends: Makar’s Court

Makar’s Court was an easy choice for Loose Ends, a place right in the heart of Edinburgh but not on the tourist trail, or at least not as much as the well-trodden Royal Mile. It came about through a link with John Muir, whose writings from Bonaventure in Georgia during his Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf often come to mind whenever I’m in a cemetery. A quote from Muir appears on the ground in Makar’s Court, a selection of literary quotes outside the Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s Close, just off the High Street. The Muir quote is a nice one, from a selection of his writings called John of the Mountains:

‘I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness’.

Nearby were two other quotes that I liked, one from Perth poet William Soutar, and the other from Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, who I had never heard of. I’m sure that’s my loss. A quick Google search has provided the very interesting distinction that Elizabeth Melville is the earliest known Scottish writer to be published. More research will follow into that, definitely.

I like wandering in Makar’s Court so know some of the quotes well. Possible links came thick and fast, John Galt and Burns to Ayrshire, Hugh MacDiarmid leading through the SNP which he helped to found to Charlotte Square where a First Minister of that party is resident. There were a few folk dotting around, some looking at the quotes, others marching towards the Royal Mile, one or two even wandering in to the Writers’ Museum. I haven’t been in years so will need to go soon. The words outside on the pavement usually do fine for me, an interesting mix of Scottish writers, some very famous ones not included while some others are highlighted and their best words out for all to read and hopefully seek out more.


Thank you for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week. As mentioned last week, Loose Ends goes on hiatus after the 21st post. Still a few more to go, though.

Weekend update

It’s Saturday and once more I am on the move. This post is actually being written on Wednesday since when this is posted I will be on the way to Dundee for football and culture, quite firmly in that order. My book for the journey is The Life and Death of St. Kilda by Tom Steel, bought a couple of weeks ago in a secondhand bookshop in the West End, a place further from St. Kilda one cannot possibly imagine. I would love to go to St. Kilda at some point, not because of any romantic notions of its past but because it is almost as far as you can go and still be in Scotland. The history would be an undoubted bonus. So, the St. Kilda book comes with me to the land of pehs, circles and clubbies.

Antonine Wall section of the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

It is the September weekend so I am currently in the midst of four days off, my day off coinciding with public holidays, a convenient turn of events. Today I am off to Dundee and tomorrow I will be about Glasgow, not sure what I’ll be doing yet. Doors Open was happening in Glasgow last weekend but football and a quiet day in the hoose precluded me from seeing anything, unfortunately. There’s always next year. For tomorrow, I fancy a wee trip to the Hunterian. The last time I was in the Hunterian Museum was as the staff were setting up for an evening event and mildly irritating indie music was playing over the speakers, a peculiar sound to accompany the medical specimens and anthropological artefacts that line that particular museum. Whether we’ll get there or not, who can say?

As I write this, Malcolm Middleton’s Red Travelling Socks is playing, one of the jauntier songs in his repertoire. Quite a few years ago, there was an attempt to get ‘We’re All Going To Die’ to Christmas number one, to combat the insidious spread of manufactured pop shite from Simon Cowell. It only got to number 31, unfortunately, though the message of laughing into the dark was spread to the masses nevertheless. I didn’t download music at the time but still bought a copy on vinyl, just to do my bit. I might still have it somewhere.

My travelling music will probably be a bit cheerier though. The journey up to Dundee will be by bus, through some quite decent countryside, certainly once Cumbernauld is comfortably bodyswerved. An undoubted highlight is passing Stirling with the Castle and the Wallace Monument behind on the Abbey Craig. Stirling Castle just looks the part with the right setting and thousands of years of history having taken place all around. I was there earlier in the year as part of the Loose Ends series and passing by on the bus always makes me want to go back. The journey up to Dundee takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes, usually a bit held up by traffic coming into Dundee itself, though the bus goes right by the Tay, past the Rail Bridge and Magdalen Green, the Discovery and the new V and A museum into the bus station, one of the nicest entries into a city I’ve encountered, Dublin excepted. I’ll have my earphones in, glancing out the window between pages of my book.

The way back will be dark, unfortunately, as the nights are fair drawing in. It’s one of the things I hate about this time of year, though the autumn colours and the leaves falling compensate more than a little bit. I would be happy if it got dark about 8pm all year round but sadly I live too far north of the equator. What will be nice tonight will be the run back along the side of the Tay, the lights of Fife hopefully twinkling on the river as the bus moves steadily back home. As much as I’m looking forward to today, the journey home shouldn’t be bad either.

Have a good Saturday! Thanks for reading, cheers for now.

There’s also a post today on my football blog, Easter Road West, about away trips like today’s. Walking Talking returns tomorrow with another Loose Ends post, not this time to a cemetery. Sorry.

Streets of Glasgow: Otago Street

I was in the West End on a book hunt and while I was there, I decided to do a bit of blog business. Otago Street was on my radar mainly because of a big ghost sign that can be seen from Gibson Street though as ever it took quite a few months to get back to explore properly. I started from the end nearest Hillhead Primary School, a nicely modern affair, and was immediately struck by some of the ironwork on the railings leading up to some of the tenements, wheels within wheels. The street was classically Glaswegian leading past Otago Lane, a nice Georgian house on the corner a firm but splendid exception. All up Otago Street there were nice architectural touches, a fine gatepost as well as a few coats of arms, even the English royal arms, an unusual sight north of the border. The ghost sign for Red Hackle Whisky dominates the walk up from Gibson Street, even though it is cracking and fading, and it still attracts attention. After I finished this walk and was heading to Thistle Books, I spotted another guy taking photos up the street. I wondered if he was on a psychogeographical mission too.

The street dipped and split just under the sign, Otago Lane North to the right, Glasgow Street to the left. Parked in front of the lane was a rather nice old Chevrolet car, blue, if memory serves, and for a few moments I had Don Maclean in my head. It was soon supplanted by bagpipes emanating from the Piping Centre up the road, not altogether unpleasant as it went.

All too soon, Otago Street ended and met Great Western Road. The red sandstone building on the corner was topped with a pleasant tower with a point. It was an interesting blend nearer Great Western Road, a Piping Centre across the road from a Sikh Gurdwara and music shop with flats all around, a reminder of the variety of life to be found in a city and particularly in Glasgow. Otago Street itself has a multicultural name, coming from the Maoris in New Zealand, it seems. It is a very fine street and one I was glad to finally traverse in this series.

Thank you for reading. This is the forty fifth Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series include University Avenue, Kelvin Way and Glasgow Street which appears here next week.

Loose Ends: Ramshorn

The last Loose Ends took me to the Necropolis, Glasgow’s city of the dead. I had been thinking about various next steps in the intervening fortnight, all restricted by time and geography. I was in the Merchant City on other blog business and decided that the next strand of the series, on account of also being a cemetery in Glasgow, would be the Ramshorn Cemetery, which I had never been in before. The Ramshorn Theatre used to be a church and is now a theatre owned by Strathclyde University. It was firmly locked up when I passed late one Friday afternoon though thankfully the graveyard wasn’t.

The graveyard was beautiful. It was a little strange, as all graveyards should be, empty feeling but slightly claustrophobic too, tall city buildings surrounding on all four sides. As I walked the graves I passed were scattered with leaves, some of the stones with lettering faded and stories untold. Most held the remains of merchants, others fleshers, pocket book manufacturers and writers. It didn’t seem to have had a new interment in a couple of centuries, though this may have been why the Necropolis was built since the graveyard was pretty full, stones and lairs arranged close together throughout. I walked around, up the middle then the sides, looking at the graves and doing so entirely alone, not at all bothered by that.

To the connections and once more I thought of John Muir, even more acutely as this very urban cemetery was being reclaimed by nature. Dunbar might be my next trip or to the Broomielaw where the Warren left for the New World. A family many of whose members died in Leith might take me east too. Provands might take me up the road to Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow. Overlooking the graveyard is the former home of the Glasgow Herald and that might lead to the Lighthouse, housed in another old office for that venerable institution.

When I went to the Necropolis a few weeks ago, there were loads of folk dotting about, exploring and taking photographs. Don’t get me wrong, the Necropolis is a fine place with incredible views over the city and some remarkable people buried there. The Ramshorn being lovely but also deserted seems a little unfair, a corner of the city yet to hit the tourist trail. That might not be a bad thing, our secret for a little while longer.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends post follows next week.

The series takes a pause in a few weeks, in three weeks time, to be precise. Watch this space for what comes next.

Saturday morning thoughts

It’s Saturday morning and I feel like writing. Not sure about what yet, I’ve got a few thoughts swirling around. Today I’ve got a couple of bits to do in town then I’m off to Edinburgh to see the Hibees play. Thankfully I’ve got a few hours before I have to leave.

I just spent a few minutes picking my travelling book for today’s escapades. I travel light for the football, generally clutching just a book. My to-read pile never really changes. It just grows exponentially though I am currently in the midst of a clear-out of those many books that I bought with good intentions and either managed to read or never quite ended up opening. To make matters worse, I was on a bit of a mission last week, trying to track down a very particular book secondhand, touring many shops in Paisley, Glasgow and Edinburgh without success, ending up ordering it on Amazon with a tap of my iPhone. It wasn’t for me, I hasten to add. As part of the process, I ended up with a few books for me. I’ve got a new book of essays by Rebecca Solnit that I picked up in Stockbridge that currently sits in my backpack. A John Muir book, a couple by Dervla Murphy and a biography of Lyndon Johnson were bought in Paisley, a story of St. Kilda in the West End. At some point I sincerely hope they all get read. The LBJ one has been skimmed already, thankfully. Anyway, today’s book is The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat, a look at some of the lesser-spotted paths scattered across Scotland, including the Herring Road that runs between Dunbar and Lauder.

This week I have also been re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling. I re-read Harry Potter every so often, though not for a year or two in this case, and this is on a screen this time, a few pages chanced during breaks and breakfast. Harry is just about to fly for the first time. I had to give up a book recently as it was too heavy in content, not something I do very often, and a combination of Harry Potter and a re-read of a Bill Bryson seems to be getting me back on track.

On a Saturday morning I make a point of reading the Lifestyle articles from the Guardian and Aidan Smith’s interview in the Scotsman. I usually read the Blind date bit and then whatever features are there. It’s my guilty pleasure or one of them, an idle fascination in whether these two people will have anything in common. Some do, others are better as friends, as today’s couple. Aidan Smith writes about football and usually a retired sportsperson of some renown gets interviewed on a Saturday in the Scotsman. Today’s is Andy Webster, formerly of Hearts, and he talks about the Romanov era at Tynecastle as well as about his current work coaching at St. Mirren. He puts to bed the ‘thick footballer’ trope, in the final stages of a masters degree as well as possessing six Highers, even studying psychology through the Open University at the height of the Romanov revolution down Gorgie way.

I haven’t sat down and written like this in a while. For a little while I was following one of those blogs that try to teach you to blog properly (I don’t any more) and it suggested picking a blog topic and sticking with it. Bollocks to that. I’ve also been busy so Loose Ends and Streets of Glasgow, conducted in bursts, have been what’s appeared here. The gallimaufry angle, which Natalie over at Wednesday’s Child explored very well last week, is something I will try to get back to. Today might be a start.

Next weekend is the September weekend. While I have a lot of domestic things to do, I will also be out and about too. Hibs are playing in Dundee and I hope to sneak a wee peek at the brand new outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which opens this weekend. The press pictures make it look stunning and I can already testify to how fine it looks from the outside. I follow the journalist Ruth Wishart on Twitter and she noted how poignant it is to see a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style room in the new V and A given the fire a few months ago at the School of Art here in Glasgow. I will let you know the results.

My soundtrack to this post this morning has been the Scotland Outdoors podcast from BBC Radio Scotland, more specifically the edition from 22nd August featuring a visit to Siccar Point, Hutton’s Unconformity down near Cockburnspath, as well as a walk at Pitlochry which is unfolding now. I am not usually awake to hear the programme live at an agriculturally early hour on a Saturday morning so a podcast is ideal. I very rarely catch a TV or radio programme when it’s broadcast any more, catching up around life.

Anyway, it’s Saturday and I’m ready for breakfast now. For anyone keeping score, I’m thinking Frosties. Thanks for reading, a Loose Ends post follows tomorrow. I think it’s the one about the Ramhorn Cemetery. I have a new Easter Road West post out later this morning, a feature bit about my little superstitions going to the football, so have a read at that.

Cheers for now.

Streets of Glasgow: Albion Street

Albion Street is in the Merchant City, leading from George Street to the Trongate. Albion is, I gather, a literary term to describe Britain or England, a reminder that Glasgow sprung up at the height of the British Empire and indeed was regarded as the Second City of that same Empire. All I knew was that I fancied writing about it because of its significance to journalism. At the northern end of Albion Street was where the Scottish Daily Express and then the Herald were produced. The building is still there, now offices and houses, a glass-fronted affair with smokey glass at various points. It felt ironic to be there when a newspaper founded there, the Sunday Herald, is no more, replaced by a Sunday version of its larger daily stablemate and the National. I always think a weekend paper is better than a daily one and in Scotland the Sunday Herald and the Scotland on Sunday give a much better perspective on the week and current issues than their daily equivalents. Anyway, at least the Press Bar was still going, a gaggle of guys sitting out on a pleasant August afternoon.

Albion Street is quite sleek and modern at this point, all university offices and flats, though there is a gap across from the old Herald building that gives a great view to an older building that wouldn’t be out of place on the side of the Mersey in Liverpool. white and quietly grand. As I walked down to Ingram Street, I made sure I looked up to another grand bit of cornicing on one of the corner buildings.

I had just been to one of Snug’s new Glasgow murals, up on George Street, and I stopped by another, the one by the Ingram Street car park, with someone walking in nature. Albion Street became decidedly cosmopolitan at this point with Italian food smells and folk in nice clothes around the nice eateries and pubs of the Merchant City. On the pavement outside the City Halls were two suitably apposite quotes from Robert Burns. As fine as those words were, I couldn’t help thinking after how it would have been good to have a female poet’s words there, like Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay or Violet Jacob. Anyway, some graffiti penned by someone calling themselves ‘Seeker’ with suitably worked-out lettering brought me back to my psychogeographic purpose. Across the way the Cafe Gandolfi featured a bit of the Gaelic in the window, ‘Deagh Bhiadh, Deagh Bheannachd’, which translates roughly to ‘well fed, well blessed’. The stained glass in the window was nice too. Another eaterie had the names of various Tobacco Lords and eminent Victorian personages in the window, including quite a few with streets named after them in the hereabouts.

Across the next road I found an example of a ghost sign but a relatively new one since the faded letters included a web address. I soon passed Commonwealth House, home of the city’s various sporting competitions over the last few years, most recently the European Championships, and there were a few workers finishing for the day and filing out bound for their weekend. Opposite was the side of a building that strikes me as being in the wrong city, mock-Baronial like the court in Aberdeen. Fine though it is, it’s very grey and not really right for Glasgow.

Another walk done and definitely one in two parts, all modern but lighter at the top, more in shadow towards the Trongate as the buildings grow taller. As representations of our islands go, people can do worse than go to Albion Street.

Thanks for reading. This is the forty fourth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other streets featured nearby include Ingram Street, George Street and Trongate.

Another Streets of Glasgow walk follows next week.

Loose Ends: The Necropolis

I was in Glasgow for a course. As I left the mighty Mitchell Library, I had a spur of the moment thought to go to the Necropolis. It was a sunny afternoon and I fancied being outside in the city for a bit. Along the way I tried to think of a possible connection between Cathkin Park and the Necropolis but struggled, eventually coming up with the fact both are owned and managed by Glasgow City Council. I reached the Cathedral and dodged lots of phone cameras pointing in its direction to turn over the bridge into the Necropolis.

The Necropolis is a cemetery, the City of the Dead, sitting right behind Glasgow Cathedral on the eastern edge of the city centre. I’ve been there twice before, since I’m not normally a huge fan of cemeteries. I’m a firm believer that we can remember those we’ve lost anywhere and we don’t necessarily need to be morbid when we do it. As I walked into the Necropolis, I thought about the last cemetery I was in, Deer Park, near Dunbar, a place where I knew not a few folk buried there, some of them relatives of mine. Deer Park is a community cemetery and I shouldn’t think many tourists go there, as a general rule. The Necropolis was busy with people from all sorts of places, some wandering amidst the stones like I was, others enjoying the cityscape below. What I like about the Necropolis is not only its fine views across the city but also the diverse architecture and stories contained therein. One of the first graves I came to was that of William Miller, the writer of the Scots lullaby Wee Willie Winkie and ‘Laureate of the Nursery’, the second best turn of phrase I had encountered that day besides ‘supersonic austerity’, which was in quite a different context. Throughout the Necropolis there were graves talking of infant mortality, service in foreign wars, work as merchants, writers and tradespeople, quotations from scripture or poetry, some of which I read aloud. Cemeteries often provide valuable insights into social history and the Necropolis was certainly no exception.

After paying my respects at the graves of John and Isabella Elder, I walked a little further, thinking of one of my favourite passages from John Muir, the naturalist and explorer who also came from Dunbar. After being injured in an industrial accident in Indianapolis, Muir walked one thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico in the earliest part of a lifelong effort to study and appreciate nature. At one point he stopped off in Georgia, camping in a cemetery for five days as he waited for money to be wired from his family. As I stood under a tree, I read from Muir:

‘On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. Instead of the sympathy, the friendly union, of life and death so apparent in Nature, we are taught that death is an accident, a deplorable punishment for the oldest sin, the arch-enemy of life, etc…But let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights.’

I was now in a quieter part of the Necropolis, with fewer graves and more trees. The view of the city was still impressive there and I felt a moment of affection for this city I called home, a Dear Green Place indeed. A few minutes before I looked across and a hill loomed above Celtic Park, almost fooling me that it was Arthur’s Seat, way across in Edinburgh. It wasn’t but it had me for a second.

As I walked alone in the lower part of the Necropolis, I thought about the book I was reading, Silverland by Dervla Murphy. Dervla Murphy was travelling across Russia through the winter and as ever her writing was as varied and interesting as the many people she met along the way. At one point she talked about the environmental impact of death, the polluting effects of embalming fluid as well as fumes from crematoria. All round, she said being allowed to gradually decompose in the earth would probably be best for the planet. The walk in the Necropolis brought up lots of thoughts, from books to a story I heard recently about someone who made a point every day they were in Paris to go to the grave of Jim Morrison. Even as I walked up to the John Knox monument, I had a line from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, that he was an embittered man, that ‘he could never be at ease with the gay French Queen’. John Knox also gave his name to the street below the Necropolis, which I covered for Streets of Glasgow not long after.

To the connections and of course John Knox could take me to many places across this country, Haddington where he was born or St. Giles Cathedral where Knox was minister. His grave sits under the car park just across Parliament Square. John Muir was born in Dunbar and I did think briefly about going to the Broomielaw from where Muir’s ship the Warren left for New York in 1849. The graves of John and Isabella Elder could lead to a visit to Elder Park in Govan. Since I thought I saw Arthur’s Seat in the distance, it might be worth going up that hill, though not until after the Edinburgh Festival finished. The Celtic crosses with traces of Pictish style might lead to somewhere in Dalriada, like Kilmartin, or indeed somewhere related to the Picts. A stone marking the remains of University of Glasgow professors formerly interred in Blackfriars Cemetery may be the link to a trip to Gilmorehill.

The clouds had darkened. I had circled the cemetery a couple of times and seen a lot more of it than ever before. For most of the time I had been alone, only at its summit coming across other living mortals. It had been a good walk, to think, to look across the city and get a little more perspective on it, even if Arthur’s Seat wasn’t really in sight.

Thank you for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

Just a wee heads-up that Loose Ends will pause after the 21st link post, scheduled to appear in about four weeks’ time. I thought it would be the 20th but I managed to miscount. As ever I hope to have something interesting to replace it though at the moment I’m not sure what that will be. Fear not, though, there are four of the current batch left to go, beginning next week not so far from the Necropolis.