I was lucky enough this month to spend a long weekend in Edinburgh with some friends. It's the time of year for cold walks followed by warm pubs, and despite the odd torrential downpour, and some hailstones, we managed plenty of both.
I'm a big fan of choosing reading material based on location - I find it very hard to read a gritty city crime novel if I'm in the countryside, for example. So revisiting one of my favourite poets, Norman MacCaig, while in the city which inspired so much of his poetry, made perfect sense.
November night, Edinburgh
The night tinkles like ice in glasses.
Leaves are glued to the pavement with frost.
The brown air fumes at the shop windows,
Tries the doors, and sidles past.
I gulp down winter raw. The heady
Darkness swirls with tenements.
In a brown fuzz of cottonwool
Lamps fade up crags, die into pits.
Frost in my lungs is harsh as leaves
Scraped up on paths. – I look up, there,
A high roof sails, at the mast-head
Fluttering a grey and ragged star.
The world’s a bear shrugged in his den.
It’s snug and close in the snoring night.
And outside like chrysanthemums
The fog unfolds its bitter scent.