All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Ten things that never fail to perk me up…

Well, the journey has come to an end. Today marks the final installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge and, truth be told, I’m a little sad. I’ve enjoyed sharing my happiness over the last ten days, and hope that you’ve enjoyed joining me on my journey. Today is all about things that cheer us up, as I share ten things guaranteed to brighten my mood on even the darkest day.

~1~
Literature

Books

My first memory of being on this earth was walking to the library alone. My parents, in their infinite awesomeness, would watch from the front door of our house as I walked the two hundred yards to the local library. Once there, I would fill my satchel with books and then rush home to begin devouring them.

In the intervening years I have developed a passionate love of both libraries and the books contained within them. I cherish good literature above all else. It fills me with joy. Reinforces my hope for a better, more kinder world. And fills me with happiness like nothing else can.

“She would have liked to sit upon a rock and listen to words, not of any man, but detached, mysterious, poetic words that she alone would interpret through some sense inherited from sleep.”
~ Patrick White, Voss ~

~2~
Serena Ryder

serena19

With a tremendous vocal range, intelligent lyrics and a knack for getting the best out of the guitar, how could you not fall for this Canadian singer-songwriter? Her music has been the source of tremendous solace throughout my life, scoring several pertinent moments (e.g. my breakdown, my homelessness) and filling me with joy on even the darkest, most brutal of days.

Would you mind if I pretended we were somewhere else
Doin’ something we wanted to?
‘Cause all this livin’ makes me wanna do
Is die ’cause I can’t live with you
And you don’t even care.

Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else
With courage in love and war?
I used to think that’s what I was
But now this lyin’ hurts too much
And I don’t know what for.

I’m weak in the knees for you
But I’ll stand if you want me to
My legs are strong and I move on
But honey I’m weak in the knees…

Would you mind if I walked over and I kissed your face
In front of all of your friends?
Would you mind if I got drunk and said
I wanna take you home to bed
Oh, would you change your mind?

~ from ‘Weak in the Knees’ ~

~3~
Scotland

Skye

The heart stopping landscape of the Isle of Skye.

When I was a child, growing up in the small village of Portlethen, on the eastern coast of Scotland, I was more concerned with being a brattish schoolboy – playing practical jokes on my family and getting into as much mischief as I could – than being aware of the country I was living in. But all that changed when my parents took us on a day trip to Loch Ness, a couple of hundred miles west, in the heart of the Highlands. I can vividly remember gazing through the car window at the luscious landscape all around me, feeling a pull on my heartstrings that indicated all was well in my world.

After moving to Wales when I was eleven, I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped out. I missed Scotland with an intense passion, and couldn’t wait to return. Several years and one hypomanic episode later, I did, returning to my childhood love of the Highlands with a twenty-six mile hike down the shores of Loch Ness. From there I went to Fort William, where I experienced the grandeur of Glen Nevis and breathtaking Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel.

Every day I spent in Scotland made me feel complete. The country fills me with a passion unlike anything else on this earth. I feel connected to Scotland. I experience physical pain when I am away from it. It is, without question, my home on this earth. Living in Australia, being so far from my home, fills me with sadness. But I have made my home a shrine to this magical, mysterious country. Maps of Skye, of Loch Ness, of Torridon adorn my walls. Photographs of the Highlands, of the islands, of the cities, decorate every nook and cranny.

Scotland, its people, its culture, its folklore, fills me with a happiness unlike anything else on this world. It soothes my soul. It completes me.

Caledonia
by James Hogg

Caledonia! thou land of the mountain and rock,
Of the ocean, the mist, and the wind-
Thou land of the torrent, the pine, and the oak,
Of the roebuck, the hart, and the hind;
Though bare are thy cliffs, and though barren thy glens,
Though bleak thy dun islands appear,
Yet kind are the hearts, and undaunted the clans,
That roam on these mountains so drear!

A foe from abroad, or a tyrant at home,
Could never thy ardour restrain;
The marshall’d array of imperial Rome
Essay’d thy proud spirit in vain!
Firm seat of religion, of valour, of truth,
Of genius unshackled and free,
The muses have left all the vales of the south,
My loved Caledonia, for thee!

Sweet land of the bay and wild-winding deeps
Where loveliness slumbers at even,
While far in the depth of the blue water sleeps
A calm little motionless heaven!
Thou land of the valley, the moor, and the hill,
Of the storm and the proud rolling wave-
Yes, thou art the land of fair liberty still,
And the land of my forefathers’ grave!

~4~
Doctor Who

doctorwhoowls

Even owls like Doctor Who! :)

My favourite television series – bar none! It has been part of my life since 1988, cheering me up and filling me with confidence for over twenty-five years. The good Doctor never fails to lift my spirits and his confidence in the face of danger pushes me to victory against whatever demon has decided to raise its ugly head.

My top five NuWho stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Utopia
2. Vincent and the Doctor
3. Partners in Crime
4. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
5. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

“I am and always will be the optimist.
The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams”
~Eleventh Doctor~

My top five Classic Who stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Remembrance of the Daleks
2. City of Death
3. Doctor Who and the Silurians
4. Inferno
5. The Evil of the Daleks

~5~
Blog Comments

comments

It’s funny how such a simple thing can fill me with happiness and perk me up on overcast, depression filled days. Just the sight of that orange notification button causes my heart to flutter. I hover the cursor upon it, overflowing with curiosity for what post has inspired some beautiful soul to share their thoughts with me. And then smile sweetly as their words stoke my heart, filling me with joy and contentment.

“In the midst of feeling completely desperate and totally compelled to hurt myself, I came across a picture of your safe box then followed the link to your blog. Just reading the facts about you has calmed me down enough to not. Thank you.”
~ from Anna, on About Me ~

~6~
Smoking

roll-your-own-cigarette

Rolling your own cigarette. One of the most gloriously relaxing pastimes imaginable! :)

I don’t know whether it’s because it’s on my mind at the moment, given we’re in day two of my quit smoking campaign, but smoking a cigarette is one of life’s only joys. I don’t know whether it was simply the inhalation of relaxing chemicals or the glorious routine of making the cigarette, but smoking never failed to lift my spirits and put a smile on my face. But that’s all in the past now. I’m not allowed to smoke again. I’m determined this time!

“After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit ~

~7~
Binge watching television series!

24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Cast L-R:  Michael Wincott, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Giles Matthey, Benjamin Bratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Gbenge Akinnagbe, Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Kim Raver and Tate Donovan.  24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY is set to premiere Monday, May 5 with a special season premiere, two-hour episode (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Greg Williams/FOX

Binge watching 24 is one of my favourite, most cherished pastimes!

I’ve been doing this long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the day I used to binge watch Alias, 24 and all manner of British dramas and situation comedies. On my days off work I would settle in with whatever show had taken my fancy and, for several hours, immerse myself in the fictional world. But now everyone does it, and they think they invented it. But they didn’t. I did! :p

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
~ Mae West ~

~8~
Runrig

Runrig

I first discovered Runrig when I purchased the album The Stamping Ground. It was one of those on-a-whim purchases that we all make from time to time. I don’t know what drew me to the CD. Perhaps the colourful artwork. Perhaps the fact it was filed in Scottish Folk/Rock. Perhaps it was just a moment of destiny; one of those instances of happenstance that change your world. From the very first listen of the CD I was hooked. The music spoke to me like no other musician had ever done. It touched my heart, filled me with hope and soothed my troubled soul.

Runrig are my favourite musicians. They have been producing heartfelt folk/rock music for over forty years. Their music features heavily on the soundtrack to my life and it never fails to lift my mood during moments of darkness and depression.

There’s thunder clouds
Round the hometown bay
As I walk out in the rain
Through the sepia showers
And the photoflood days

I caught a fleeting glimpse of life
And though the water’s black as night
The colours of Scotland
Leave you young inside

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

There’s a vision coming soon
Through the faith that cleans your wound
Hearts of olden glory
Will be renewed

Down the glens where the headlands stand
I feel a healing through this land
A cross for a people
Like wind through your hands

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

 ~ from ‘Hearts of Olden Glory’ ~

~9~
Friendship

friendship

I miss my friends. I miss spending my afternoon sharing a jug of beer with Grace. I miss playing pool with Kathy, hiking the Canadian wilderness with Annie and indulging in kinky, slightly perverted, acts with Samantha. I miss how my friends made me feel; happy, contented, invincible. Being alone is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Not even giving up cigarettes comes close to the pain and distress one feels when they know they are spending their life alone; unloved, uncared for, forgotten.

Although I have several online friendships, all of which I am thankful for, it isn’t the same as having people you can spend time with in real life. There isn’t the camaraderie, the instantaneous gratification or sharing of wit that is part and parcel of real life conversation.

If I had three wishes granted to me, my first wish would be to have friends. Not many. Just one or two. That would make me happy. It always did.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
~ Elbert Hubbard ~

and

~10~
Spanking!

HNI_0035lp

A picture Meadhbh (and I) drew. It apparently depicts us being soundly spanked! :p

Hey! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. A good spanking has the power to lift anyone out of the deepest, darkest quagmire. Don’t believe me? Then toddle off to your significant other (or BFF or bestest, most nonjudgmental friend) and request they put you over their knee for a sound spanking. Done? Your bottom’s all nice and toasty now? See. Your spirits have lifted, haven’t they? Told you they would! :p

“Of course it hurts, it’s a spanking. How else would it work?”
~ Breanna Hayse ~


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Ten historical moments of epic magnificence…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge I’ve been tasked to pick ten of my favourite historical moments. For a history nerd, the difficulty isn’t thinking of historical moments, it’s in picking just ten from the millions of possibilities. But let’s see how we get on!

~1~
Callanish Standing Stones
2900 – 2600BC

The Callanish Stones (or Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age.

Callanish

~2~
“I have a dream”
28 August 1963

I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

~3~
The Beaumont Children
26 January 1966

Jane Nartare Beaumont (aged 9; born 10 September 1956), Arnna Kathleen Beaumont (aged 7; born 11 November 1958), and Grant Ellis Beaumont (aged 4; born 12 July 1961) were three siblings collectively known as the Beaumont children who disappeared from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, South Australia, on Australia Day, 26 January 1966.

Their case resulted in one of the largest police investigations in Australian criminal history and remains one of Australia’s most infamous cold cases. The huge attention given to this case, its significance in Australian criminal history, and the fact that the mystery of their disappearance has never been explained, has led to the story being revisited by the press on a regular basis. It is also viewed by many social commentators as a significant event in the evolution of Australian society, with a large number of people changing the way they supervised their children on a daily basis.

beaumont children

For baby boomers growing up in the late 1960s, and for those who came after, the subsequent police investigation into the abduction and probable murder of the Beaumont children has been both repelling and haunting. On the fortieth anniversary of the children’s disappearance, many questions still remain: What happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont at Glenelg on the day they disappeared? Who was the man last seen with the children that day? Why has there never been a public inquest into the children’s disappearance? What links are there to the abduction of two young girls from Adelaide Oval in 1973 and the infamous Family Murders in the early 1980s? Are the Beaumont children still alive, as many still believe, or buried in some unmarked spot?

The mere mention of the words ‘the Beaumont children’ brings so many memories of that time flooding back. For those who have come after, and know only the half-truths and the urban myths, there is a yearning to know more – to understand the unimaginable and try to answer questions that may never be answered.

For over four decades now, we have all been searching for the Beaumont children.

from ‘Searching for the Beaumont Children’
by Alan J. Whiticker

~4~
Feminism
1837-Present

Charles Fourier, a Utopian Socialist and French philosopher, is credited with having coined the word “féminisme” in 1837. The words “féminisme” (“feminisme”) and “féminist” (“feminist”) first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872, Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1910, and the Oxford English Dictionary lists 1852 as the year of the first appearance of “feminist” and 1895 for “feminism”. Depending on historical moment, culture and country, feminists around the world have had different causes and goals. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women’s rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants. Those historians use the label “protofeminist” to describe earlier movements.

The history of the modern western feminist movements is divided into three “waves”. Each wave dealt with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave comprised women’s suffrage movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, promoting women’s right to vote. The second wave was associated with the ideas and actions of the women’s liberation movement beginning in the 1960s. The second wave campaigned for legal and social equality for women. The third wave is a continuation of, and a reaction to, the perceived failures of second-wave feminism, beginning in the 1990s.

feminism

“I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
~Anaïs Nin~

~5~
The Battle of Bannockburn
24 June 1314

The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress, occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. The English king, Edward II, assembled a formidable force to relieve it. This attempt failed, and his army was defeated in a pitched battle by a smaller army commanded by the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce.

bannockburn

Scots Wha Hae
By Robert Burns

‘Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.

‘Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power –
Chains and Slaverie.

‘Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee.

‘Wha, for Scotland’s king and law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.

‘By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.

‘Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty’s in every blow! –
Let us do or dee.

~6~
The Glencoe Massacre
13 February 1692

Early in the morning, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by John Graham of Claverhouse, a massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident is referred to as the massacre of Glencoe, or in Scottish Gaelic Mort Ghlinne Comhann or murder of Glen Coe. The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen—Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achnacon—although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued. Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

~7~
The 1745 Uprising
1745

The Jacobite rising of 1745 was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. The rising occurred during the War of the Austrian Succession when most of the British Army was on the European continent. Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “the Young Pretender”, sailed to Scotland and raised the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, where he was supported by a gathering of Highland clansmen. The march south began with an initial victory at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. The Jacobite army, now in bold spirits, marched onwards to Carlisle, over the border in England. When it reached Derby, some British divisions were recalled from the Continent and the Jacobite army retreated north to Inverness.

1745uprising

which culminated at

~8~
The Battle of Culloden
16 April 1746

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

culloden

Culloden
by Andrew Lang

Dark, dark was the day when we looked on Culloden
And chill was the mist drop that clung to the tree,
The oats of the harvest hung heavy and sodden,
No light on the land and no wind on the sea.

There was wind, there was rain, there was fire on their faces,
When the clans broke the bayonets and died on the guns,
And ’tis Honour that watches the desolate places
Where they sleep through the change of the snows and the suns.

Unfed and unmarshalled, outworn and outnumbered,
All hopeless and fearless, as fiercely they fought,
As when Falkirk with heaps of the fallen was cumbered,
As when Gledsmuir was red with the havoc they wrought.

Ah, woe worth you, Sleat, and the faith that you vowed,
Ah, woe worth you, Lovat, Traquair, and Mackay;
And woe on the false fairy flag of Macleod,
And the fat squires who drank, but who dared not to die!

Where the graves of Clan Chattan are clustered together,
Where Macgillavray died by the Well of the Dead,
We stooped to the moorland and plucked the pale heather
That blooms where the hope of the Stuart was sped.

And a whisper awoke on the wilderness, sighing,
Like the voice of the heroes who battled in vain,
“Not for Tearlach alone the red claymore was plying,
But to bring back the old life that comes not again.”

~9~
Sabina Spielrein
1885-1942

Sabina Spielrein was a Russian physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts. She was in succession the patient, then student, then colleague of Carl Gustav Jung, with whom she had an erotic relationship during 1908-1910, closely documented in their correspondence from the time and her diaries. She also met, corresponded, and had a collegial relationship with Sigmund Freud. One of her more famous analysands was the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. She worked as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher and paediatrician in Switzerland and Russia.

In a thirty-year professional career, she published over 35 papers in three languages (German, French and Russian), covering psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics and educational psychology. Her best known and perhaps most influential published work in the field of psychoanalysis is the essay titled “Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being”, written in German in 1912. Although Spielrein has been mainly remembered on account of her relationship with Jung, she is now increasingly recognized as an important and innovative thinker who was marginalized in history because of her unusual eclecticism, refusal to join factions, feminist approach to psychology, and her death in the Holocaust.

Sabina Spielrein’s relationship with Carl Jung was explored in the motion picture ‘A Dangerous Method’:

and

~10~
An Unearthly Child
5:16pm, 23 November 1963

Doctor Who first appeared on BBC TV at 17:16:20 GMT, eighty seconds after the scheduled programme time, 5:15 pm.

And now it’s over to you. What are some of your favourite historical moments?


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Twenty of the Best: George Mackay Brown, A Poet’s Magic

Recently I began a series looking at the three authors who, no matter what my mood, can stir my soul to song. Last week saw me reflect on the magnificent Roald Dahl. This week, we have an author and poet many may not have heard of; George Mackay Brown.

My introduction to George Mackay Brown came when I visited the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh during the early days of my backpacking odyssey. Although primarily featuring the work of famous authors from Scotland’s capital (such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) there was a special section set up to commemorate the life of Mackay Brown, who had died a few years earlier in 1996.

Commonly referred to as the Bard of Orkney, Mackay Brown wrote extensively of the islands and the Orcadian way of life. A poet, novelist and columnist his work has been described as categorized by “the absence of frills and decoration;the lean simplicity of description, colour shape and action reduced to essentials, which heightens the reality of the thing observed”, while his poetry “became informed by a unique voice that was his alone, controlled and dispassionate, which allowed every word to play its part in the narrative scheme of the unfolding poem”

My introduction to his work was Beside the Ocean of Time, for which he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and although my initial reaction was that of ‘meh’ by the time I reached the final chapter I was completely and utterly hooked; a chapter that has become one of my favourite closing chapters of all time! After reading this book I dipped into Mackay Brown’s work whenever I could, eventually collecting a near-complete collection of his bibliography (I was missing only three titles!)

During the dark days of depression I turned to his poetry for inspiration and hope. I succumbed to the beauty of his prose for comfort and rejuvenation. I relished in the stark, simplistic beauty of his life, thoughts and talent. Always reminded of my love for the isles that sung in his heart.

In a time when we seem to have forgotten the power of poetry and literature (thanks EL James) perhaps the world needs to rediscover the magic of George Mackay Brown.

“Here is a work for poets-
Carve the runes
Then be content with silence”
(from Work for Poets)



~ 8 ~
Following a Lark

Until this book I had only ever invested in poetry collections (usually involving titles along the lines of A Compendium of Scottish Poetry) featuring work from a number of different writers. Following a Lark was the first poetry book from a single author I’d ever purchased, and I never once regretted it. No matter how hard I’ve tried in my life I’ve never been able to write poetry, ever, so there is always an element of jealously when I read poems as I wish I was able to summon such lyricism and rhythm in my own writing.

Wait a while, small voyager
On the shore, with seapinks and shells.
The boat
Will take a few summers to build
That you must make your voyage in.

You will learn the names.
That golden light is ‘sun ~ ‘moon’
The silver light
That grows and dwindles.
And the beautiful small splinters
That wet the stones, ‘rain’.
(from New Child)

~ 7 ~
Magnus

This was the fourth novel I read from George Mackay Brown after finding an ancient hardback edition on eBay in 2002. Originally written in 1973 it is a fictional account of the life and execution of the twelfth century Saint, Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney. Although at times a little too religious for my taste, it is hard to get past the meditative nature of Mackay Brown’s writing.

~ 6 ~
The Island of Woman and Other Stories

Between Scotland and Canada I spent an ill-fated period working as a waiter on the Isle of Mull. On one of the rare occasions I took a ferry to the mainland I found a dog-eared copy of this collection in a charity shop. Whilst reading it on the ferry back I lowered the book for a moment to allow my soul to breathe and right in front of me couldn’t believe my eyes; a school of dolphins was merrily frolicking before me. Although not the first time I’d seen dolphins in this stretch of water, seeing such a sight whilst spellbound by Mackay Brown’s words is a moment I have never forgotten, and doubtful ever will.

~ 5 ~
Six Lives of Fankle the Cat

Beautiful. Wonderful. Amazing.
I have read this book so many times I’ve lost count. I will tell you nothing about it other than it is about a cat called Fankle and the amazing lives he’s lived (pirates, ancient Egypt, China!) So get ye to a bookstore and grab yourself a copy of this magnificent children’s book.

~ 4 ~
Greenvoe

A love letter to his home of Stromness and a magnificent novel. It is best approached cold, so shall refrain from spoiling it’s beauty.

~ 3 ~
Beside the Ocean of Time

This was the first George Mackay Brown book I read and as such will forever live in my heart. Based in the 1930s, it follows the life of Thorfinn Ragnarson from Norday as he regularly daydreams about key moments in Scottish history, eventually beginning to see a correlation between his daydreaming, history and his own future.

This book, quite rightly, won the Saltire Society award for Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Unfortunately, I can’t complain too much about Mackay Brown’s loss as he missed out to James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late – an exceptional book.

~ 2 ~
An Orkney Tapestry

Forget the Lonely Planet, forget Rough Guides, should you ever visit the Orkney Isles this is the book to take as your guide. Mingling folklore, legend, poetry and prose, Mackay Brown weaves a spellbinding tapestry of the life and history of these great Islands. Perfectly illustrated by Sylvia Wishart An Orkney Tapestry captures a sense of place better than any book I’ve ever encountered.

If you’ve never wanted to visit the Orkney Islands, I guarantee you will after reading this definitive work.

~ 1 ~
Northern Lights: A Poet’s Sources

For many, many years this book was nestled in my top five books of all time. Published posthumously this is a collection of previously published and unseen material ranging from poetry, diary extracts, short fiction, observation and folklore. It is one of the finest collections of writing I have ever encountered and gives a unique insight into the mind and inspiration of this literary genius.

~All quotes © George Mackay Brown~

My Life in Books
Twenty of the Best: Roald Dahl, Champion of the World
The unnoticed bias of the Booker prize (guardian.co.uk)
Exploring Orkney: Scotland’s Rugged Northern Isles (gadling.com)