With the launch of Re-Soundings at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway came the chance to catch up with old friends like Malkie MacLean, and also to appreciate how the music went with the exhibition. I think it goes well, and the handsome brochure has a CD with it.
Return to Skye to greet our cousins with whom we went to Kilda. Low mist obscured much of the island, and the military presence is all too obvious: but the houses and cleats and dry-stone enclosures in the higher corrie are immensely impressive, as was the sense of the void when we reached the cliff edge and could see nothing but mist and hovering fulmars and the sound of the sea infinitely far below.
Our return was excitingly rough and took us close up to the stacks with their thousands of gannets and impossible human achievements - men surviving marooned for seven winter months on one of them. Wild Soay sheep are still breeding on the largest.
We took particular pleasure in Rodel Church and its stone carvings, and a visit to Donald Alick MacKinnon, our neighbour Katie's brother, at Scadabay. Old times fondly remembered.
Since then there was the Jon Schueler Symposium at Sabhal Mor Ostaig. One of the most inspiring and friendly of such events ever. I spoke about my own music and how it relates to the land- sea- and sky-scapes here, and married much of it up with Schueler's paintings. People liked the music and bought all the CDs I had with me. Quite remarkable. Magda Salvesen - Schueler's lover for many years, and Ricky Demarco undiminished in energy in his mid-eighties, were there, and members of the Mallaig fishing community who had known Schueler and taken him with them and who remembered him with love. All the presentations were good and the atmosphere a real tribute to a man whose paintings I have come deeply to respect and who I wish I had known.
Astonishingly lovely warm sunny weather has dried all our peats and ours are now safely in the shed, as our most of our neighbours' all thanks to "Kay" the brilliant Polaris Ranger ATV.
Meanwhile the house is being painted white by Graham and Kevin and the new raised beds being made by John and Merry and the post holes for the deer fence by Ruairidh - but we are working hard too, not just at the peats: Bar with many gardening ploys, I planting the potatoes (Golden Wonders and Blue Danube), and occasionally thrusting Big Bertha (our massive pinch-bar) into solid basalt to the general and simultaneous destruction of man and rock.
Meanwhile, the first of three long essays I have written on MacKenzie, MacCunn and McEwen respectively has come out in last Friday's National. The series got a plug on the front page. Cool or what? These guys get so little attention and deserve so much and it is great to have a national newspaper give them this sort of coverage - a double-page spread with excellent images.
Stornoway next week for a workshop to go with Re-Soundings and then work with Meg Bateman on finalising Window to the West, now in its eighth year and teetering on the edge of completion. It has been an amazing and happy adventure and Meg and I have never once fallen out over it. What is it? Everything . . . . of which two little bits will be my and Meg's papers: hers on colour (she gave a great one at the Schueler symposium which really did open people's eyes to how differently colour was understood in the Gaelic-speaking world. Mine will be on ogam.
John Purser is widely known as a composer, musicologist, poet, playwright, and broadcaster.