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Sunday, 4 January 2009


Brin Rock beyond Loch Farr in Strathnairn
Yesterday as I strolled above Loch Farr the ice had started to murmur - low sounds that stopped when I did, so that until it began again I wondered if I was imagining it. Enjoying the solitariness I thought of some fantasy I'd have been begged by children to invent, of skeletal hands pressing up on the ice; of the dogs back hairs raised by the scent of frost ferrets, small but vicious when cornered. I've scared myself embellishing such tales, glad one of them was holding my hand, blithely confident I was making it up, just as I was beginning, in the gathering gloom, to believe my own invention; the words of the lurking killer in the woods 'now spurs the lated traveller apace to gain the timely inn' and, better, 'like one that on a lonesome road doth walk in fear and dread, and having once turned round walks on, and turns no more his head; because he knows a frightful fiend doth close behind him tread.' But I can't scare myself with monsters any more. The best spectres are interior; apparitions that come not from the woods, nor another phone inside the house, but from inside the head. By morning the thaw was set in, ice clacking along the Farnack, rime dissolving off trees and fences. Rain falling steadily. "I prefer it like this" said my mum, asking me to drive her down to the Eden Court Theatre where she bought tickets for several events into April - Buddy Holly, Turandot, the Scottish Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat and the Benjamin Britten Symphonia. "I'll give Aida a miss. I just can't imagine how they'll fit it onto that stage." My £8 brogues having lasted so well are coming apart. For Christmas my mother bought me a nice discounted Cambodian made pair from Clarks for £25 - light brown, wide and comfortable with grippier soles. I lolled before the wood fire, mum reading articles about recession in the Sundays, the dogs asleep making small yaps, toes twitching with dreams of chasing blue hares off the Garbol.

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Simon Baddeley