Sunday, 20 February 2011
It is my 67th birthday! I am sharing the day in bed with Flo my cairn terrier-in-law (well, she's actually beside the bed) and Geoff Dyer's new collection of essays Working the Room. I met Geoff Dyer several years ago at a writers' workshop. I had never heard of him, but his book about (and not about) D H Lawrence Out of Sheer Rage is a rare, clever, comic masterpiece. He likes book titles with puns: Jeff in Venice for example, or Paris Trance. I am proud to have suggested that he write the essay accompanying my sister Jenny's collection of photographs A Propos Rodin published a year or so ago by Thames and Hudson. So this is my big idea for our MBE followup event in Moffat in Oct: family history. Jenny is compiling ours. Alistair Moffat has done one, in a sense, for the whole people of Scotland, in his The Scots: A Genetic Journey (Birlinn out March 1st). There are organisations out there which specialise in helping us find our roots. Mine are strongly Scottish but I was born and grew up in Kent, the daughter of economic immigrants you might say. I will be crawling up to Elvanfoot tomorrow with a sick note to be photographed by the Lanark Gazette as a participant in World Book Night, Edinburgh-based publisher Jamie Byng's million-book giveaway. I personally am giving away (courtesy of WBN) 48 copies of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to long distance lorry drivers at the Heatherghyll hotel in Crawford - the nearest village to my forestry business. Next up on my reading list: The Lighthouse Stevensons by local author Bella Bathurst. Our MBE April 16 event features author D E Stevenson who was a direct descendant, casting a different sort of light on her surroundings.