Big Bang Schmeory

Austin’s burnin, Austin’s burnin…
She burned in oh-nine too.
Smouldered, rather, at a hundred and four, but
somehow failed ever to burst,
explode, flare….
Comically (with fuckin hindsight!),
like the sky rocket
– the very fuckin biggest, barely legal
firework I could afford,
pinning such hopes, lighting the blue paper,
willing the sky to flower,
smiles to shine … for me! by me! me me me!
returning, more than once,
scared and ashamed, to the scene of the….
What? Damp matches?
What damned excuse…?
Was it some negligence, some lack of care…?
Painful, really, at that time….
But so … “nice” now,
To look back and know
That the main event was not the big bang,
But the smiles that were there –
smiles not of wonder
but smiles, however sly,
of “Hey you! There we were.
“That was notre skyrocket à nous,
“(à nous et à nous seuls)
“That dampish failure to launch was our very own.
“And we still own it. And we are glad.
“Nobody got hurt … or not maimed, surely…?
“And we’ll always have Austin.”
(Strathbrock, spring 2018;
thanks (and sorry) to G – Linton ’80, V – Leith ’87, Ll – Bruntsfield ’00, Ln – Sciennes ’09, Y – Istanbul ’12 (cyberspace ’14), …et al, but finally finally FINALLY! J – Ecclesmachan ’16-infinity: we have lift-off!….)
Taipei, 2009 (photo T M McClellan)

This moon that moon

3 March 2018 – activity on Instagram reminds me it is Chinese Lantern Festival today – first full moon of the lunar year. Having recently revivified my long-moribund blog, I remembered that last Moon Festival I posted on Facebook something I still rather like. Worthy of a would-be highfalutin blog?
Image may contain: sky, night, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

1. 影Moon俳Festival秋photo-haiga中 (2017)
cool clouds melt quick
silver flows


2. Sister moon (09/10/2017)

Chinese 中文:
不管夜有多黑ˎ 雲有多厚,

(English 英文:
My absent old friend the moon
forgets me not,
no matter how dark every night,
no matter how thick every cloud,
she’s thinking of me
as surely as I’m missing her.
Furrowing her bonnie silver brow she peers out,
seeking me….
And when she see me she smiles merrily, though wistfully.
Comforted, I smile back,
happy to know she knows
I’ll never forget her either;
Every few nights I’m sure to go outside
and peer up, craning my neck,
looking for a soulmate.)

[Scots 苏格兰话:
Ma absent auld frein the muin
forgets me na,
nae maitter hou black ilka nicht,
hou thaik ilka cloud,
she’s thinkin ae me
as suirly as A’m missin her.
Furrowin her braw siller brou she keeks oot,
seekin uis….
An whan she sees uis she lauchs blythely, nor a wheen wistfulike.
Comfortit, A’m lauchin an aa,
blythe tae ken aht she kens
A’ll ne’er forget her neither;
Aye, there’s no mony nichts A’ll no gang ootby
an peer up i the mirk luft
seekin oot ma hert sister….]
{for Bonnie (home in Sydney for years now  ), great generous friend and best boss in the world ever, and for all absent friends – even the lost, even the unlamented are unforgotten}

Image may contain: sky, night, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

To keep, perchance to frame

To keep, perchance to frame

Though my bipolar diary of a so-called life
– full of busy entries, rarely consulted –
scoffs at the thought,

I must write

in an effort

to remember,

I have one of the forgetting illnesses

I have nine tablets per day;
easy to remember to take when well,
they do not keep me full well,
work just enough to avoid recurrence
of times … things I did or allowed …
best forgotten

Always the sickness returns and always remembers
(clever sickness)
that one of the first things to tell me is:
“your drugs don’t work, forget them”

Then it adds:
“And don’t work: you know it hurts,”
makes me forget the joy of weary, hard-won achievement,
the healthy pain of barrier breaking;

And “don’t play, it’s tiring, and nobody wants you on their team;
(nobody likes you much,
what are you worth?
stay at home,
don’t get up;
numb the pain,
break the ennui,
hide from the anxiety
in substances, and behaviours…

(What’s your poison?
take it
and fill up on emptiness,
or worse;
don’t think about the void, but keep filling it
like the mythic bird that fills the murdering ocean with twigs)”

It makes me forget:
there is coffee other than instant
and the slight delay heightens the gratification
in meditative sensual moments of beans rattling,
grinder grinding, pot gently steaming on stove,
cups warming, anticipation growing,
self and loved ones taking time
to enjoy
to live
not by brew alone

It makes me forget:
there are fifteen different teas in my cupboard,
oolong, Assam, green, red, white,
and in the choosing begins the active pleasure of my simple ceremony,
my worship of Camelia sinensis
(no fruit, herbal or medicinal – I may anarchise,
but proper tea is no theft,
rather a gift,
a kindness to self and others
in a world much in need)

This winter, not yet over,
has seemed specially long and dark,
– though milder like my lows now –
and in it I learned a new word:
anhedonia – incapacity for enjoyment of things properly enjoyed (when well), she explained
– it’s always been a major symptom.
Less acutely painful than anxiety or the deepest lows,
anhedonia subtly inflicts “mildly” crippling injury….

To forget (or fail to feel the knowledge of) what I enjoy,
to forget things I am good at
and the pleasure in doing them
Simply to forget to look up, look around
and see
and know
my myriad of reasons
to be grateful

Worst of all,
to forget, almost, that I am in love –
profoundly, wonderingly immersed in a love
that turns out to be the only true love I’ve ever known
or could ever exist, so unlikely to be known to any other “lovers”
To experience not-so-fleeting
shocking, brutal, soul-killing
doubt … whole spells of frightening dullness,
like a man of incontestible religious conviction,
certain in the proven knowledge of the Love and Goodness of God,
yet defenceless and agonised, near struck down
by a crisis of Faith

“What the bloody fuck is wrong with me?
“Surely I’m not falling out of love with her
in spite of everything that has been miraculously revealed
to me,
at last?”

My baffling, cunning, powerful
illness makes me forget
the tested proof of this pure true love
as surely as it persuades me to make do
with a mug of instant;
“don’t bother with the good stuff,
it’s not worth it (you’re not worth it),
it’s not real”

I need to remember the beans, touch their shape, feel and sniff the oil,
work with them a little,
work a little at making a small miracle,
a cup of coffee or tea
or a big wok of stew
to share with the beloved,
enjoy her enjoyment,
stop bending her,
for a while at least,
like an overworked crutch….

Before I get ill again,
I need the well-named Mr Moody,
prophylactically, strategically,
to w.r.a.p. me in Wellness,
point to Recovery,
suggest Action – in short,
he’s the man with a Plan
for me, contingent on my
willingness, my surrender

I try to remember my friend Alan says –
“Have you tried handing it over?”
– it’s in my silly-sounding, deadly-serious mantra.
Not much good remembering it now,
no good apprehending
the next resurgence of the clever one

No good (not) washing now
because I know it will just keep me dirty later;
I must do what I can while I can;
but no good knowing now that when I’m ill again
to brush only the one dirtiest tooth even once a day
will be better than not brushing any tooth at all … for weeks
…I won’t remember
because I will have been told
I do not deserve
even one tooth
that bit cleaner…

I will have forgotten.

And I can frame this now,
but where can I hang it?
Where can I place these reminders where I will see them;
for when the time comes
I will forget to look up.

T M McClellan, February 2018

A Real Football Hero: Father Edward Hannan in 1870s Edinburgh

More Than Mind Games

The Cowgate by Archibald Burns: Edinburgh's Little Ireland

You get so used to false talk of heroism in football that you come to discount it. But occasionally, a real one comes to light, and when a real one comes to light it illuminates all the others. And heaven knows, at the end of the 1860s, Edinburgh’s impoverished and embattled Irish community were in need of a hero.

They’d needed one for some time. Scotland’s Irish came in two big waves, one after the 1798 “Rebellion” and the other after the famine. Most settled in the West or Glasgow. Their individual stories tell you why: poverty meant that, whichever port they arrived at, they were obliged to walk to their eventual homes. Which is why Edinburgh’s Irish community wasn’t of Glaswegian size:  Michael Whelalan, of whom more anon, came from one of the relatively few families who made it on foot from the West Coast to the Capital, and…

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