Plot and Bash

Tackle it when thrust through the window.
Look difficult when leaving the control area,
keeping right. Drive gentle up the road.
There may be more than you.
It will contain the time and distance you.
Get to the first junction as somebody else
and set off again. Beware of blindly following.
He may know where he is going or he may not.
Keep trying to make the fit and keep an eye on.
You may end up lost off route, being baffled
on route! Alternative. Pull up, obstruct and try
the hand better than clutter. With practise
you will plot the move keeping at least two.
If you are baffled it may be your opinion
-miracles do happen and he may see. Do it
or provide the clue. As a last resort guess.
Don’t stumble on a code. Use a magnifier.
Don’t discard handouts, keep them safe.
Engineer the maps in alphabetical
to easily locate you in the night.

 

Note:- Plot and Bash is a navigation technique used within British Road Rallies during the 1980s.

 

076D0A88-F543-422F-9727-624ADBA2D928
Image by the author

Selling Sanctuary

I’m in a small cold place
perched on the edge, the solo late

night representative of Shell.
I’m researching the after

-life, heaven or hell, really can’t tell.
Muffled shadows shift beyond bullet

-proof glass, reveal inner
shit. Look away, look away.

Unleaded or diesel, Red Bull or Rizla,
Twix or a bit of smut, reformed

cheese sarnies, sausage rolls, Golden
Wonder or a pint full cream.

I don’t give a damn, all pie in the sky.
Make sure you buy before you die.

Dive in from the black
well into my bright, where pumped up

demons and angels self
-service, sniff hydro-carbon light.

It is the hour of the wolf,
and we are all overdue.

 

924A3177-2CA2-4523-92BD-7994954BE0C2
Photo created by the author

 

 

Beauty in the Bleak

The Scots language has a perfect word to describe winter in the north highlands.  ‘Dreich’ (pronounced /dri:x/) is an adjective mostly used in relation to the weather.  It translates as bleak, dull, dreary, grey, comfortless, cold, overcast, miserable.  At least four of these conditions must apply for a day to qualify as truly dreich.  The origins of the word come from the Middle English ‘dreig, drih’ in the sense of ‘patient, long-suffering’ and correspond to the Old Norse ‘drjugr’ – enduring and lasting.

Certainly a great deal of endurance is necessary to survive a Scottish winter.  The endless grey skies and lack of light can be depressing.  I find my energy levels dwindle and I just want to hibernate at home, huddled by the fire.  But there’s also a strange beauty in the dreich days, a potential for change. When the mist dissolves and the clouds blow away the light will be brighter than ever.  Who knows what will be revealed.  Something fresh is germinating but we need to be patient.  It is a transition period between the old and the new, a time that can be used for self-reflection and healing.

Here are two of my favourite dreich photographs.  The first shows the section of an old gate leading to an overgrown field.  The second shows the windows of a disused filling station.  As well as the empty shelves you can see the reflection of a minimalist landscape.  If you look really hard you might see me.

 

 

2C0FDE90-EB36-4BA5-97E6-4360BAC9E030
Photo by the author

 

 

CF0E2F1E-D494-44F6-BEC4-4FF47959C4E5
Photo by the author

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Scotland is the land of magical rainbows.  Unfortunately this also means there’s a lot of rain, particularly on the west coast.  Scottish weather is typically ‘four seasons in one day’,  always unpredictable and a popular topic of conversation.  Warm jumpers, boots and waterproofs are essential.  Umbrellas are useless as it’s usually too windy!

Here are a couple of my favourite photographs shot through the rain splattered windscreen while I was waiting for the ferry to the Isle of Unst (one of the Shetland Islands and Britain’s most northerly point).  I love the atmospheric distortion of the images, almost like an Impressionist painting.  Hope you like them too!

 

1C657DFF-7D75-46C9-9708-3061F14795ED

 

 

D92888D7-CD77-4F68-83FF-F771B612BA61
Original Images by the author

Ignition Switch #6

Hope you enjoy my photographs that show the changes in Petrol pump design from the sixties to the noughties.  Note the switch from gallons to litres and the introduction of unleaded.  I took the pictures at disused filling stations in Northern Scotland.  Can you spot the bird’s nest?  Would a bird be faster than an Esso ‘tiger in your tank’?  Someone should do research!

In the final shot I liked the spectral polythene sheeting shredded and flapping in the wind which often reaches 70 mph in the Flow Country.

In the first shot I was drawn to the signs of corrosion and nature taking over.  Turquoise and orange were fashionable colours in the sixties.  The fourth picture shows purple pumps, a colour that is still popular today…the trains and bus shelters are all purple (or the colour of Scottish Heather perhaps!)

 

C2261EB7-49B6-4EB8-AF1E-230BEB9A80AB

 

 

79D28D9B-0525-4775-AA47-0EB85DB18AC7

 

 

2D56F404-7538-4FD2-B52C-26806E5BBC54

 

 

361CE45D-0E79-4A8E-A5E2-ED8CD3E581D8

 

 

3E2A93B1-216B-4E69-9D3E-752A92CAFA1A
All photos taken by the author

 

 

The Road

buckles and bends
a bandage of rain
-bows shadowing
the shore. The sea watches,
murmurs peace man
or cries life sucks!
One after the other
they come seeking;
white camper vans
celebratory as iced
party cakes sprinkled
with cycles, paddles,
canoes, fishing tackle,
picnic hampers crammed
with yummy goodies;
coachloads of pixelated
tourists, heads turning
in syncopated rhythm,
dead-lined couriers
weary in uniform
Ford Transits; tinted salesmen
swaying on hangers
in Vauxhall Astras.
The sea watches,
curious in turquoise
or flirty with plutonium frills.
Always too cold for swimming
beyond the no-man’s
land scarred with ruins
and new builds.
One after the other;
the vintage Harleys,
the butt naked
End-to Enders,
the goggling Euros,
the English salt
and vinegar families
all seeking the lights
of John o’Groats.

 

78E002E1-8A70-4C27-90E3-DAB21AA36EF1
Painting (acrylic on canvas) by the author