There's a lovely piece on Radio Scotland's 'Book Cafe' today (and an audio slideshow on the website) featuring James Robertson re-visiting Brownsbank Cottage near Biggar, last home to poet Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Grieve). The two room cottage was preserved after his wife, Valda's death in 1989, and has functioned as a living memorial through a writing fellowship for the last 17 years. James was the first fellow, I was the fifth, and Carl MacDougall is just finishing his tenure as the last. The funding from South Lanarkshire Council has been cut. This is a very sad day.
I found it hugely nostalgic to see the photos of a place where I stayed and wrote and ran writing groups and readings for three years. Its saturation in poetry, pipe smoke, and Valda's feisty Cornish personality has acted as a wonderful literary focus for so many people over so many years. And as James says in the programme, it's certainly not only of local significance, but national. Let's hope we jointly muster the vision to keep the place alive.
Photo above of myself with the portrait of Valda taken by Gerry Cambridge, the Third Brownsbank Writing Fellow.