Saturday Saunter: Poetry, statues and lighthouses


Now and then, I like to clear my inbox and share some ideas which I might have written about but haven’t bothered with. One line that tickled me was in an interview with Simon Armitage, the new UK poet laureate (the equally wonderful Jackie Kay is the Makar here in Scotland, incidentally). On the morning of the interview, Armitage had been able to walk over London ‘”utterly incognito”. There’s something about poetry “which is about leading from the back”, he says’. The leading from the back is an amazing notion. I think that’s a pretty good summary of what a writer does, to be fair. Certainly it would be how I would try and lead anything.

The complete opposite of leading from the back is being very forward. Antony Gormley is an artist who has his fans and detractors. The Angel of the North is a cracking piece of sculpture. He created six human figures which were installed in the Water of Leith in Edinburgh in 2010. They were put there by the National Galleries of Scotland at various points along the Water of Leith heading out to sea. Apparently the intention was for them to be gauges of the river level. They were howked out in 2012 due to issues with their tilting mechanism, according to the Herald, and have just been put back. Personally, I don’t like them. I like sculpture but I don’t think they should be in rivers. The Water of Leith is beautiful enough and it is a living habitat. We impose too much on the landscape as it is. It’s also my argument against padlocks on bridges, cairns on mountains and just generally adding to the landscape as you go. Bringing art into the wider community is the National Galleries’ argument, maybe, but not in the bloody river.

Eilean Glas lighthouse lamp, from the Science Museum, London

In a nicer vein, BBC News featured some incredible photographs from Scott Tacchi of lighthouses captured in his work as a lighthouse technician. My favourite is an image from the Lizard lighthouse of the inside of an optic. It looks incredible. A few years ago, I went to the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in Fraserburgh, which includes a trip into the old Kinnaird Head lighthouse. Being in the light room is slightly disorientating but wonderful. This picture reminded me of that. Lighthouses are great, feeling very far away from the city suburb I live in but very close to where I grew up and vital to mariners and seafarers everywhere.

The train company GWR, which runs from London to south western England, has done a lot of work recently developing autism awareness training for its staff, I read recently. I am very fortunate that I have fairly few issues travelling, beyond sometimes getting a bit flustered and an occasional overload. Anything helps and I personally like that some of the intercity train companies, like Virgin, LNER and CrossCountry provide maps of their trains, which is useful for planning a journey.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 15th June 2019. Tomorrow will be a post about my recent trip to Milngavie. Wednesday will be Streets of Glasgow. Thursday, who knows? Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a nice weekend.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Poetry, statues and lighthouses

  1. Alli Templeton

    I fell in love with the Angel of the North when we stood at it’s feet last year. It made a huge impact. But I didn’t know about the river figures. Each to their own, I guess.
    And I love lighthouses, so the museum looks a must. Thanks for sharing, Kev.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Digest: June 2019 – Walking Talking

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