Back in November I was taking off from Edinburgh on a sparkly crisp sunny morning. Taking off over the Forth is always a bit specially, and this was a particularly good day which made me feel very positive. Although the industrial dispute at the Grangemouth petrolchemical plant had led to the shutdown of the plant which was tettering on the brink of permanent closure I felt very positive about the future of Scotland, and this future felt intertwined with the land I could see laid out beneath me.
Perhaps I was partly influenced by the book I was reading (James Robertson’s “And the Land Lay Still” – a panoramic novel set in the period leading up to Scotland’s previous independence referendum in 1979), perhaps it was the debate about what Scotland’s future could be which has grown up around the current Independence debate, or maybe it was just the grandeur of the landscape. Anyway I started jotting down some notes on what I could see. These ideas grew a bit and have turned into a poem which I’ve been playing about with on and off for the last couple of months. I’d think it’ll need a few more nips and tucks before its finished, but I thought I’d post it here to keep it safe somewhere before I loose the bits of paper on my desk!
Scotland: Taking Off. Nov 2013.
Runway. Edinburgh. Nine am.
Slowly, slowly pushing back.
Roar of stifled power building.
Faster, faster, whoosh!
Up, up away soaring free.
And below glinting glitter-crisp
This crazy-bright mist shrouded land.
Tangled net-meshed bridge
Red, raw and rusty,
Inch by Inch these sainted isles
Straddling the running tide
Keith, Colm and Mickery : the Vicar.
This land of contrasts, dark corried, clear and brilliant.
Old Scotland: Dalmeny, Roseberry, Dundas, Hopetoun,
Estates: manicured, houses, towers, rides, parks
The Binns, Dalyell, Baronet of Nova Scotia
Estates:industrial; housing towers; car parks.
Five sisters lying together. Shell pink.
Sculpted memorial to our thirst for oil.
Grangemouth flare quenched today,
While power of a different sort is sought.
Questing, searching, turning.
Turbines – the New Generation.
On over Glaswegian sprawl,
Turning in a new direction.
Read! Reid, McDiamid, Burns
An aw that.
A man’s a man an no a rat.
Who pays the piper? Who calls the tune?
Buccleuch and Queensbury rules.
The gloves are off.
We’ll play Chequers for this land of ours.
Over the Solway.
The long view glinting clear.
Haloed Broken at our side..
This Scotland, sleeping thing of power,
Opportunity, hope and need.
We’re taking off!