Monday, May 25, 2020

Sympathy for The Dominic

I imagine a really unhappy, difficult few years at school for Dominic Cummings.

A sportless nerd with no social skills, bad clothes, poor taste in music. A narrow, unshared range of interests which he gradually, over university and beyond, developed both an encyclopaedic knowledge of and brutal passion for. Pilloried and bullied by the cool kids. Privileged, unpopular family. Odd accent he veered between defiantly maintaining and desperately gentrifying. A carapace of contempt growing as his highly focussed intelligence was brought to bear on issues which suddenly, in the socially mediated age, became politically crucial.

Not so much tough as beyond caring: Here I am. This is my bus. Get on board, pay the fare or get out of my way. And once you're on, you obey my rules. Listen to my choice of Abba tunes. These are my skills. This is my price.

Do you know what? I bet he's a really kind dad. A loving husband. And I bet he panicked, completely, when Mary Wakefield phoned to to tell him she thought she had the virus.

And I bet they had no friends in London they could ask for help.

Now, well, he has the Tory party in the palm of his hand. They are a useless conglomerate of the inept, the corrupt, the weak and the slavishly compromised. He's not that clever, but he's committed. He's certain. He's in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition and he is Hubertus Bigend. And his agenda fits with the bad billionaires, though he thinks he's way above and beyond these grasping cretins. Money doesn't interest him. It's all about being right. It's all about vengeance. There's a kind of febrile purity there.

The London media are hopeless. They have nothing but ambition to fuel them, nothing but a really horrible vanity. Even those without need of his patronage, who clearly dislike him, fire their weapons like empty tins of Harp against a a Saracen armoured car (copyright Lionel Shriver, sorry. Currently reading the marvellous Ordinary Decent Criminals).

His weakness? Love for family. It could have undone someone with less of a brass neck, more sensitivity to the opinions of others. But not now. Not with this bunch of buffoons in Government. Dominic Cummings is their only hope. And what they don't realise is that he has as much hatred for them as he does the press. You can see it in every choice of Decathlon trackie bottoms, every used Discovery Sport.

Every trip to Durham.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The end of indiscriminate hugging

The end of indiscriminate hugging

The casual hug? That French embrace?
I’m keener now on track and trace
Luvvies! Please do not peck my cheek
The elastic on my mask is weak
I’m listening for that twanging sound
Protection can quickly rebound
While droplets fill our mutual air
Some things we do not need to share
Handshakes performed in rubber gloves
Are sticky when push comes to shove
My Marigolds conjoined with yours
I’m sure the sentiment is pure
But frankly a brisk, manly bow
Is quite enough, I think, for now
Please, no caress. That would be a blunder
Six feet apart or six feet under
Intimidating intimacy
Is no longer a curse for me
No stranger’s touch, that’s my belief

And frankly, it comes as a relief.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Good Omens (Neil's a Runrig Guy)

Good Omens (He's a Runrig Guy)

She captured his soul, she captured his heart
With some very strange performance art
Eventually the light of love grew dim
She was thirty years younger than him
He knew he had to get away
Couldn't stand the tantric yoga one more day
He had a place, and no-one would know
In the mystic realm of Donnie Munro

Over the sea, over the sea
Over the sea to Skye
I’m sure there’s a Waitrose in Kyle of Lochalsh
I should be all right for supplies
Over the sea, over the sea 
Over the sea to Skye
I do the like the view
Of a Cuillin or two
If you want to know why
I'm a Runrig  guy

I flew  out from New Zealand, but I wore a mask
The seats fully recline if you upgrade to first class
And it's 12000 miles from Auckland to Portree
I drove up from London listening to Dougie's CDs
The Big Wheel, Searchlight, The Cutter and the Clan
Play Gaelic, the Highland Connection, Heartland
I am filled with longing for my fourth or fifth home
And the plaintive guitar playing of Malcolm Jones

Copyright Tom Morton 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Beatcroft Social, Saturday 16 May

As broadcast from Shetland on 60 North Radio. Hosted by me, with guests Drew Ratter, Clive Munro and Davie Gardner.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Mavis Grind and the Fitful Heads - This Is Not A Motorhome

No need to  stay inside any more
That Nigel Farage he knows the score
After all, he fought in the Second World War
Says the Mail on Sunday
Thought I’d drive up to Scotland to go for a walk
Employ my mum as a nanny just so we can talk
Try and stop her drinking so much Aftershock
At least on a Monday

Now I'm staying alert on the M6 Motorway
I know Scotland won't turn me away
I can't leave the old dear to suffer alone
Don't tell me I'm driving a motorhome
This is a campervan

Well I phoned my mother in Milngavie
She said she was OK for supplies
She was quite prepared to die
With deliveries from Waitrose
She was having no bother filling her time
Sewing masks from old bras and selling them 
And Zoom parties nightly with jagermeister red wine 
A few proseccos


I might sneak up Loch Lomondside
Down to Argyll
Jump on a ferry to one of the isles
I've had some masks made in an artisan style
They give immunity
I'm sure the locals will welcome us there
Just  up from London to get some fresh air
I was born Bearsden where people really care
About community


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Tuesday night Lockdown Beatcroft Social, 12 May

The Beatcroft Social Lockdown Special from Shetland, broadcast on Tuesday 12 May.

Drew remembers Little Richard, Davie goes back to 1989, and Clive starts with Fairport Convention and ends with the Flatlanders. Tom, meanwhile, plays everything from Family to Everything But The Girl, the Roches to Molly Tuttle, the Big Dish to Cherry Ghost.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Sjusamillabakka, ebb and shoormal. Dawn pictures, 4 May 2020

I came across the word 'sjusamillabakka' through one of Robert MacFarlane's regular posts about language. It means the area of the foreshore between low and high tide, and he referred to it, intriguingly, as 'Shetland, archaic'. The everyday  Shetland word for the area between high and low tides is 'ebb', with the lovely term 'shoormal' (the name of both several houses and a well-known local band) being applied to where the tide reaches at its highest point.

No-one uses 'sjusamillabakka' today and few ever did. Those who did were fishermen, and it was one of the taboo words used at sea to avoid saying anything which could bring bad luck.

Anyway we live, arguably, in the ebb, in the sjusamillabakka. In the 1970s, at the freakiest of high tides, with a big swell and an easterly wind, out house flooded to a depth of almost a metre in the kitchen. Shoormal reached the top of the Rayburn.

Ours is a very old house, most of it being 18th Century. It's built on a spit of shingle, literally on the beach, Today, massive rock armouring protects us from another flood, along with a series of walls insisted upon by our insurance company. But the vulnerability, the sense of living on the edge of the land, remains. Always, we watch the weather. We listen for the sea.

I thought it might be an idea to document this borderline between water and island, seeing as I live right on it. Oddly, several years ago, I began making mixed media artwork and paintings under the name 'Ebb'. Some are for sale over on Etsy and more will be soon. I've recently started making more of these, and taking photographs (old Pentax K5, Samsung GX20 and an assortment of lenses, if anyone cares).

Which brings me to this morning, at 5.30am. The three pictures in this post were taken then.