First things first, my big brother invited to Turkmenistan, it was back in 1996. However it wasn’t the Portobello Ceilidh Band, but Burach. So apologies to them. And still on Ak Welsapar, you can watch edited highlights of his engaging talk here.
Today, I woke up feeling as though I needed a project to start, or take a step forward, anything to pull my brain out of the hamster wheel race it was running around inside my head. And to my great pleasure, the universe delivered.
Or to be more precise, the Royal Mail delivered. I was actually doing the first yoga I’d managed to do for over a week, due to a combination of lurgy, sweirty and drunkenness, when I heard a knock at the door.
MBH obligingly allowed me to remain indisposed, and declared there was something from Mam and Dad, and something else. I got as far as saying it was probably…, and had it confirmed to me that it was indeed “the Happenstance thing”.
Neither was a great surprise, as I’d had warning that both were on their way, however as I twisted my limbs and stretched my spine my mind was racing to ascertain exactly what was in both.
Da pock fae nort contained some things I’ve seen very recently, and something I haven’t seen for a long, long time. The former, a packet of Jelly Babies and a packet of pink wafers (you know the ones, half an inch think by about three inches – three layers of wafer with two layers of very pink icing sandwiched between them). They’re standard fare in these missives.
The latter, something I used to get all the time as a boy at Christmases and birthdays, but haven’t seen for years, and was utterly thrilled to receive. It was a book token. To be fair, it wasn’t the wee vouchers you used to get. It’s a swipe card you can top up if you wish. But what a brilliant gift! Thank you so much! Now I have to visit a real physical bookshop (probably Hyndland Books), buy “books or maps” and enjoy.
So it was a very literary post. My pamphlets for review from Sphinx were also a combination of new and old. When I started reading and writing poetry both Kettilonia and Aonghas MacNeacail opened my eyes to the worlds of possibility poetry could offer. When Aonghas won the McCash poetry prize under his moniker “Innes Dow”, eyebrows were raised. “Ayont the Dyke” was a real thrill to pull out of the envelope. I’ve started. I’ll finish. He does that thing that’s a benchmark for someone’s poetry. He inspires my envy.
And with him, I receive Jessica Mayhew. The name rings a bell, and I’m not sure why. But in a few years time, I get the impression a whole lot more of us will know her. I’ve hardly scratched the surface, but already I’m grateful to receive an allocation from what is clearly at least near the very top of the pile.