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Beside Loch Iffrin

Robin Robertson, 23 October 2014

... morning. A woman’s curse will grave you to hell. By the well-spring on the high moor I saw the day change colour: watched lightning root in the far woods; the sky blink. Fire-shocks, then a scour of rain, a skail-wind nagging in through the mirk, scuddering, dishing it down, rain turning to sleet, to hail, to snow. And then               the ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 20 July 2000

... skull of my father, dispersed. Waking up the next morning into a wet brightness and hugeness of day, the miniature figures going to work, and the world around them, carrying on. I can hardly walk, I am so frightened. These days are scored through, one by one. The ward-plan wiped clean for another name; another man lies in the bed behind the glass. My mother ...

At Roane Head

Robin Robertson, 14 August 2008

... was an otter worrying in the leaves, a heron loping slow over the water when I came at scraich of day, back to her door. She’d hung four stones in a necklace, wore four rings on the hand that led me past the room with four small candles burning which she called ‘the room of rain’. Milky smoke poured up from the grate like a waterfall in reverse and she ...

Help Yourself

R.W. Johnson: The other crooked Reggie, 21 April 2005

Reggie: The Life of Reginald Maudling 
by Lewis Baston.
Sutton, 604 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7509 2924 3
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... member. But being who he was, Maudling didn’t stick long with this vision. Once Heath won the day he quickly rallied to a less sophisticated Europeanism. Politically, he is best remembered now for the somewhat suspect boom he unleashed as chancellor in 1962-64. Harold Wilson, worried that the Tories led by Maudling might be unbeatable, always claimed that ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 17 February 2011

... is seen. Here Rumour lives, making her home on a mountain-top. This house stands open night and day: a dome of apertures and windows set like a million eyes at gaze, steady, unblinking, no doors or shutters anywhere. Her walls have ears. They are ears. The whole house made from thinly beaten, resonating bronze, hums constantly with words repeating back to ...

Inside Tobar na Marbh

Robin Robertson, 5 December 2019

... lost.All I see, now, is everything that’s lost.At the kirk last Sabbath: three gone in one day. Old Jeaniesitting there in the family pew, there but not there.We looked at each other, but her seat was empty.Iain, the lobsterman, at the back of the chapel, his headglowing with the waterburn, the sea-light, that flareof phosphorescence; jacket ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media, 22 April 2010

Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... mistress’. I am not sure whether this was better or worse than Campbell’s ultimatum to Robin Cook that he must choose between his wife and his mistress. In any event, Clark resigned soon afterwards, complaining that ‘news management’ had become ‘news invention’. Even the young Queen Elizabeth was moved to remark to her press secretary: ‘I ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 6 October 2005

... pruk pruk pruk. Above them, through the ribs of rain, triangulating gulls monitor the turn in the day, inclining into the gale’s brunt, the coming storm. Grass struggles in its thin veneer of earth, among this embattled work of stone: granite crenellated by wind, imbedded with feldspar, mica, quartz, and the thin black crystal threads of tourmaline. I carry ...

Near Gleann nam Fiadh

Robin Robertson, 30 July 2020

... cloud-shadows, or fleet-water.And now I’m awake, and running again. Trying to remember home.One day I came upon the road to my village. The village was gone.The stone walls overthrown and blackened, open to the sky,the grass mound at the endwhere they played, where the women dried the washing,now a sea of crosses.A man came out of the trees, looking just ...


Robin Robertson, 14 November 2002

... a grief in the hearts of her parents which time alone can assuage, but can never efface. 18th day of March, 1856. * The chantry’s rose-window sights east along the barrel of the rusted six-inch gun. By the remains of the lighthouse and the battery observation post, the Benedictine well: the cover of the well the iris shutter, the well-water its ...

Strindberg in Skovlyst

Robin Robertson, 18 November 2010

... I gave them three months’ rent after that, up front. II The Countess is mad – today and every day – quite mad, and this is her menagerie; the cattle and horses stay outside, eating thatch, but the rest are residents: cats, poultry, eight huge dogs. She carries a white lamb, sometimes, but her favourite is Sky-Leaper, the blind, ancient cockerel she ...

Wayne on a Warm Day

Duncan Campbell, 20 June 1996

Bad Business 
by Dick Hobbs.
Oxford, 140 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 0 19 825848 8
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... without anyone having to leave town. Hobbs has been speaking to some of the people who may one day end up incarcerated there: bad businessmen, dope-dealers and racketeers and thieves and threateners, many of them just the kind of people whose misbehaviour could also have led them to a messy end in that icy country lane. One of Hobbs’s previous ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC, 10 July 2003

Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... Monday night fixture for between six and eight million people … The current muster has Robin Day, tenacious as a badger; Ludovic Kennedy, whose line is artistic, faintly raffish melancholy; James Mossman, the ardent Galahad who will never take for granted that men are sometimes wicked on purpose; Robert Kee, the hot-eyed public prosecutor ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... and an old sideboard hand-decorated by my mother. The animal was killed by my great-uncle, Robin Meek, and a local huntsman, Belli, in the Nilgiri hills in southern India in 1931. Originally – that is, when I was a child – the leopard was in two parts, the skin and the head. The skin was backed with felt, the legs splayed out, the claws still ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... In the 1964 film Robin and the Seven Hoods, when someone compares ‘Robbo’ (Frank Sinatra) to Robin Hood, one of the gangsters asks: ‘Who’s Robin Hood?’ And another replies: ‘Well, he was a hood, some Englishman who lived long ago and had an operation going for him in the forest ...

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