Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Neil Gunn Competion

Not to boast, but to reveal this beautiful certificate - check those Pictish fishes!
Seriously, though, I had a wonderful day in Inverness yesterday at the Award Ceremony for the Neil Gunn Writing Competition. It was held in the Town House, a stone building of such grace and friendliness it puts the average council offices to shame, and was a joy from start to finish. There were several categories to the competition, and special mention should go to Thurso High School which provided an impressive proportion of the secondary school winners. Then we got to the poetry. I can't recommend highly enough James Knox Whittet's overall winning poem Cuttings, but the others were excellent also.

There was an excellent lunch after that, when I was able to talk to two of the other winners,Great guys, both, in very different ways) and to Jon Miller, who turned out to be the person who accepted the poems for last year's Northwords Now.

And then I met Katharine Stewart! I'll write more about her on Lúcháir, I think, but she has been a favourite writer of mine for about twenty years. She is coming up to ninety-five now, and was so kind to me when Paul asked if I could be introduced, though a little bemused, I think by my enthusiasm.

It was perfect weather, and Inverness was green and peaceful under the sun and wind. Three of us later bumped into each other at Leakey's, The justifiably famous second-hand bookshop - how could we be in Inverness and not go to Leakey's?

Thanks should go to the Neil Gunn Trust for setting up the competition and to all the funders, but especially to the organiser, Area Libraries Officer Charlotte Macarthur, who was responsible for looking after everyone, making sure that the day went without a hitch, and was so helpful to everyone throughout the whole competition.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

website down

The company hosting my website, seems to have gone bust, taking the website with it. There will be a new one up shortly, as soon as my consultant (i.e. daughter Naomi) gets over the horrible flu she's had.
In the meantime, I'm preparing for a reading I'll be giving on Sunday 5th July at the Atlantic Islands Festival . This looks like being a fabulous event - Naomi described it as 'fantasy poets' camp' which is about right. The most especially interesting thing turns out to be a presentation from Jacqui McDonald about her life in folk music. Jacqui turns out to be half of the legendary folk group Jacqui and Bridie who were big in Liverpool in the early days of the folk revival, alongside the Spinners, Pete MCGovern (who wrote the Liverpool Lullaby that Cilla Black sang) and Brian Jacques who later went on to write the Redwall series of children's books.
Back in the day when I had delusions that I would be a folk singer, I sang in Jacqui and Bridie's club. Can't remember what we did for the life of me. I Once Loved a Lad, and Lizzie Lindsay, probably, or Ewan McColl and Irish rebel songs (gave up on them later when things got too serious) or drinking songs or sea shanties - couldn't get away from them in Liverpool then. I think I played tin whistle then too. Now I only play for my grand-daughter!