Sunday, 23 February 2014


The great tour of Wigtownshire designed to inform an eager public about the MacTaggart project gets off to an inauspicious start in Wigtown Library where the staff are shocked to see me, there is no audience, and I retire into the local collection to research furiously to overcome my humiliation. I look in a mirror and am shocked to see myself to tell you the truth: it's been a long bus journey without a toilet stop and a large man bound for the Stranraer boat has spent the whole journey telling me how desperate he is to get out of Scotland because it's destroying his liver.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. I was once invited to a reading in Wick when only the janitor came, and, unlike these discreetly embarrassed librarians, he insisted on making things worse by telling me Edwin Morgan had been the the fortnight before and they had been "queued round the block." Worse I suppose, is a story that Tom Pow once told me about a reading in The Edinburgh Festival at the Art College, entitled 'Bards o Gallowa' featuring himself and the great Willie Neill. In spite of extensive publicity no-one turned up at all and the poets were about to leave quietly and in a dignified way, when the organiser said "wait a minute" and pointing to the door of the bar from where extravagant noise and laughter issued, said " I'll see if anyone wants to come for free." After what seemed an eternity he emerged furiously shaking his head, muttering "no, no-one".

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