Saturday Saunter: Books, poetry and lighthouses

Good morning,

This Saturday Saunter comes early because of work and being written a couple of weeks in advance for much the same reason. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon with highlights of the weekend’s football on in the background. It’s a cloudy and wet afternoon here in south west Glasgow and it’s just as well I didn’t plan to go far today anyway.

The other day I was reading Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, a memoir of how reading had shaped her life. I was struck by how she would read everywhere and anywhere, which I did, up to and including cereal boxes, though I had only read a few of the books important to her growing up. I was trying to think of those books I cared about as a kid, including Roald Dahl’s oeuvre. I did read CS Lewis, as she did, though not many impressions linger. Harry Potter, of course. I read a fair bit of non-fiction, as I still do, mainly about football and history, indeed as I still do. Horrible Histories and encyclopaedias. I remember getting a book out of the library about London and being particularly fascinated by Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment, which had a time capsule buried underneath it. Strange the random things that stick in your mind.

I’ve been reading about the US Presidential election. I’m writing after the Democratic National Convention has finished but before the Republicans do their stuff. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, quoted Seamus Heaney in his speech the other night, a passage from The Cure at Troy about hope and history rhyming. Heaney is also a favourite of Bill Clinton, who quotes it occasionally in his speeches, as he did most notably, as the Guardian writes, in the wake of the Good Friday agreement. RF Foster is quoted in the Guardian article and says that Biden read Yeats and Heaney to overcome a speech impediment, which is interesting. Poetry is often used to underline political points, to make the prosaic seem beautiful, and sometimes it feels like an add-on rather than benefiting the speech being made. Judging by Biden’s history with Heaney, I would like to think this quote comes from him and his wider reading.

Lighthouses conjure up images of far-off, lonely places, tall towers spreading light in a storm. There was an interesting article in the Herald about the relevance of lighthouses in the modern world and undoubtedly they are relevant, aiding safe navigation even in these technological times. Some time I will need to go lighthouse bagging – I don’t think I’ve been to very many. One I have been to is Kinnaird Head, part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which recently reopened. For its reopening, the Museum published autism friendly visiting guidance, which is deeply commendable.

I’ve read quite a bit in recent weeks, including Miracle Workers by Simon Rich, an increasingly rare foray into fiction, which was hilarious. As I mentioned last week, I’ve also read the memoir of Clyde Best, The Acid Test, about his footballing career at a time when there weren’t a lot of other black footballers in England. I also finally finished Alphabetical by Michael Rosen, which I will write about in next week’s Saunter.

That is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 5th September 2020. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. Wednesday will see the return of Streets of Glasgow, my psychogeographical series wandering around Glasgow’s streets. Another Saunter will be back here next week. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Books, poetry and lighthouses

  1. Alli Templeton

    Enjoyed this, Kev. I’m with you on Horrible Histories. It’s one of the best things that’s happened to history in recent decades. I must tell you, as well, that one of my ancestors was the captain of the ship that towed Cleopatra’s Needle back to England after its disastrous journey from Egypt. With a pirate ancestor on the other side of the family, I guess it’s hardly surprising that the love of tall ships and sailing has popped up in my daughter! I love lighthouses too, and all the imagery they conjure. That’s a beautiful picture that heads up your post. Did you take it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have so many beloved childhood books, most of which I’ve bought for myself as an adult so I can enjoy them anytime I like without getting funny looks from library staff, especially the Little House series and all the spooky John Bellairs books. I was also a cereal box reader – I particularly liked the ones that had recipes on them, which I think is why I now sometimes read cookbooks whilst I’m eating.

    Liked by 1 person

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