Robert Dawson Scott gives timely consideration to another form of
( 'omefill the ('up,‘ — what boots it to repeat
How time is slipping underneath our feet.
Which was ()mar Khayyam‘s posh way ofsaying ‘Eat. drink and be tnerry. for tomorrow we die'. But at the turning ofthe year that's what people do; we fill the Cup. alright. but we are also full of time passing. another year over. a new one just begttn. Have you ever noticed how. just as these intimations of mortality are at their strongest. the dead hand ofwinter takes its tightest grip‘.’ The colour is washed out ofour world: in the city streets even the brightly painted buses take on a dull grey
Far be it from tne to be chttrlish. but am I the only member of the public who has noticed the tatne efforts at (‘hristmas lighting in Edinburgh? What has happened to good old fashioned fairy lights‘.’ George Street put up a jolly good show and the innovative laser lighting effects were quite modern. bttt Princes Street's showing was. frankly. tacky. and the naked light bulbs in Victoria Street almost unseemly.
My suspicions were only confirmed by a trip to (ilasgow. where the display was at least enthusiastic. (‘ome on Edinburgh — pttt a bit of dazzle in your razzle.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
\Vho or what is this latter-day Billy Bttnter. RDS'.’ 'l‘lte (‘itizens‘ has tl/lt'tl_\'.\' been the (‘itz-.
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uniform of spray and salt. Beyond, in the country. the shivering trees and the bare brown furrows watch and wait for the first signs oflifc returning. Only the siren beauty ofa fall of snow gives a temporary respite until the days start to lengthen, the crocuses repeat their annual magic trick and off we go again. It’s a tough time for looking forward. But it‘s also a time for looking back; things we have done, things we have left undone. things we now have one year less for doing; people we have loved or lost. people we have shunned or who have shunned us. decisions made. opportunities lost. However carefully we may try to
consider a year‘s passing at this arbitrary division ofone year from another (why isn‘t it on the shortest day ofthe year. for example. or come to that why not the longest?) the fact remains that only distance allows us to see clearly what things mattered and what were just momentary interruptions. I used to keep a journal — rather irregularly. admittedly — but I have long since given up. It was full of people and places which seemed at the time to be profoundly important. the fight
THE LIST: NOTHING TO SAY FOR ITSELF
I have no wish to give yourself or your readers an inferiority complex. however I feel obliged to draw your attention to the following.
I happened to spend (‘hristmas in New York. so naturally traded in my double issue of The List for an edition of the New Yorker. Imagine my surprise when opening the New Yorker to find a vodka advertisment that played a selection of (‘hristmas (.‘arols. Unless. carelessly. I haven't been listening. to my knowledge none of the ads in The List have bade me a Good Morning. let alone serenaded me with seasonal greetings.
Are you able to assure rue that advertisments in The List will have more to say for themselves in future‘.’ Yours
PS. I am saving the recent brown paper ads for my laundry parcels — is this the right thing to do‘.’
you had with your best friend at school. the day you graduated. the first time you took a pull on a joint; just names and places on a page now, only meaningful in so far as we are all not much more than the aggregate of what'has happened to us. And yet I can remember in alarming detail other people. other incidents. often trivial in themselves. which I never wrote down. The home-movie of sailing down the west coast of Scotland at distant relation showed me when I was about twelve has a lot to do with why I live here now. Curiously it gets easier as one gets older to identify such moments. For a long time there‘s a whole uncharted swamp ofexperiences. a kind of personal State of Chaos where there is no past or present. only a bright shining future. Memories only begin to get longer as time gets shorter. I don‘t fully understand why it is that a few weeks used to be like a lifetime and summer went on for ever whereas now a whole year whips by without giving you time to draw breath. You start to notice it the first time you hear yourselfsaying "I‘en years ago. . . ‘ and realise that you're recalling not
Publisher Robin I lodge. Editors Nigel Iiillen. Sarah lletntnittg.
Associate Editor Allan Hunter. Design Simon Iisterson. Advertising Steve McCullough. Sheila Mat-lean. Accounts (ieorgette Renwick. Richard (iray. Typesetting Jo Kennedy and l lewer ’l‘ext. Production Editor Paul Keir. Production Assistant Mark l-‘isher. Art Alice Batu. Books Alan Taylor. Classical Music ('arol Main. Dance Alice l Bain. Film Allan I Ittntet'.
only something that happened in your lifetime but something that happened when you were old enough to appreciate fully what was going on. What‘s left of life seems shorter. or at best finite, and suddenly the stakes are higher.
I am encouraged into this ruminative mode by the appointment in the much discussed New Year Honours List ofthe novelist Anthony Powell to be a Companion of Honour. If you don’t know Mr Powell‘s great serial novel A Dance to the Music of Time I commend it to you. As you might expect from the title he has a lot to say about the passing of time and none better than the closing words of the second volume: ‘For reasons not always at the time explicable. there are specific occasions when events begin to take on a significance previously unsuspected. so that. before we really know where we are. life scents to have begun in earnest at last. and we ourselves. scarcely aware that any change has taken place. are careering uncontrollably down the slippery avenues of eternity.‘
Trevor Johnston. Folk/Jazz Normatt Chalmers. Kids Sally Kinnes. Media Nigel Billen. Sally Kitutes. Open Sarah llemmiug. Rock (Edinburgh) Alastair Mabbott. Bock (Glasgow) John Williamson. Sport Kenny .‘ylathieson. Theatre Sarah llemttting. Camera Iidinburgh Make-up Services Cover Design I’aul Keir.
TEN GARDEN FESTIVAL TIOKETS
SEE PAGE 47
Our Christmas Book Competition two issues ago elicited a massive response from List readers. The three prize winners of the General Book quiz were: Andrew Eadie from Glasgow, J. Douglas from Ayrand R. Cunningham from Glasgow. The winners of the Scottish Book quiz were: Donal McLaughlin from Glasgow, Derek Clark from Aberdeen and Robin Connelly
from Edinburgh. And the winners of the Film Book quiz were: Karen Clark from Glasgow, Alison Campbell from Edinburgh and Iain Black from Edinburgh. And in case you’re still wondering, Joseph Brodsky won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987,
Liz Lochhead wrote Mary Queen Of Scots tor Communicado and David Puttnam was the first Briton to head a Hollywood studio.
4 The List 8 — 21 January 1988