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Thursday, 1 January 2009

By the river Farnack

The Farnack runs below my mother's home in Strathnairn, between the leafless elder and birch which hides it from her house in summer. A neighbour's made a path that runs a mile beside the stream with two bridges allowing an hour's circuit that suits me and the dogs who tear happily up and down the banks and over the frosted fields below Meall Beage, strewn with frozen mole hills. The sounds of the river are changed by the cold - vibrant ripples going abruptly silent as the water flows under sheets of ice, small pockets of air expanding and contracting beneath it, reflected in the winter light.
I collected Sharon  - my mother's carer from the station - after lunch. She'd flown from summer in Durban to Paris in winter - "bumpy all the way" - then Paris to Aberdeen, then train to Inverness. After chatting to mum about her holiday she went to bed. Christine and James and their daughter and son-in-law and new son came round with two bottles of champagne. Happiness emanated from them, infectiously. Two hours before our midnight Mark and Sally texted me 'Happy Greek New Year' from Ano Korakiana and I texted back 'Same to you from both of us' tho' I'm hesitant about chasing Lin at Jill's - she being so uninterested in ceremonies. I phoned Richard; heard the sounds of a party - "Happy New Year to you Dad, must go." Amy phones just after midnight from the cottage in Gloucester, sending love and greetings from Guy, Liz and Matt -= and the cats they've taken down with them. "We found a pipistrelle. What should we do with it?" "You must have woken it from hibernation when you warmed the place up. Put it back in the roof and hope for the best. It won't survive outside." "I think it ate the big spider" she says.
Brin Croft
* * * I caught a bus to New Street Station on Monday afternoon and caught the Edinburgh train with minutes to spare. On the long journey north from Birmingham Oscar behaved impeccably - meeting and greeting fellow passengers including dogs on the same route. I read my Obama biography and watched the DVD of Beowulf - quite fun, though, as ever, seeing an image of monsters detracts from rather than adds to the terror evoked by Grendel and his mother when I first read and imagined the epic. Isn't that one of the reasons for art? Trying to get a hold on horror. At Edinburgh, where we had an hour to our connection, the dog and I climbed Waverley Steps to Princes Street, where a torch-lit parade with drums and pipes was passing; then back to our platform to join the 1933 to Inverness, where we'd arrive just after 11pm and I'd be met by Petra, standing in for Sharon as my mother's carer, and driven out to Inverarnie. * * * To JD:
I saw the Schatz piece in the LRBI think we are all looking for 'the story' - an intuition that this is  something our assumptions about the world might prevent us seeing, or because there is a missing piece in a composite hiding the picture. Iason wants it to be something more than adolescent frustration vented against modernisation and globalisation. I'm not sure what I want but that I want to see a light at the end of the tunnel for a country I love. I want the centre to hold - but I'm not sure what constitutes a centre at the moment. Happy New Year. Simon
From JD:
Well, I'd like to think it is about the fight for an alternative modernity/ modernisation to the dominant one, which is about the commodification of everything and the insistence that people behave 'responsibly' and 'respectfully' in spite of casino capitalism and the havoc it causes. In my view we are still closer to the beginning of the crisis than the end, so there may be a possibility for real alternatives to emerge here, in Greece and elsewhere. My Marxist instincts tell me that new worlds are only ever forged in struggle and can never be delivered on a plate fresh from a philosopher's mind. So, for all the teargas and smoke we should hope that the turmoil in Greece is a nursery for something vibrant and new. Time will tell, but my Greek friends, mainly academics and government advisers, all know that something needs to change there. Best JD

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Simon Baddeley