Thursday, 7 July 2011

(53) the hidden gardens

So leben wir, und nehmen immer Abschied.
(So too our life, an ongoing goodbye.) 

– Rilke, Eighth Duino Elegy

Our Joko’s house, the demesne of Ogaki is the hidden gardens, back of tramway

Bashoing the hidden gardens

Luke had come to tramway to meet us. Reached the seclusion of the familiar brick and raised beds of the hidden gardens by Scotrail, Irfan having also come in from London and Angus came speeding in with the kids on the mainline, got together at the Yurt. Larry, Colin, Margaret, Morven & Gerry, as well as other friends, day and night, kindly called, as if encountering someone restored to life, showing their pleasure and warm affection. Before fully recovering from the exhaustion and exertion of the long journey, on the final day of the season, decided to visit the old woodland platform. With the wooden books sheltering under the big oak, back on the train again
pulling mussels 
from a shell  

parting the paired 
tea cups  

May leaves
lead this journey 
back into memory

(May 15, 2011)

53 the road north  
Alec Finlay, 2011


53 Tomohiko Ogawa
An e-mail arrives on the 11th from Tomohiko.

Today I sent you a package of green tea for the Matsuri Festival in Glasgow. It will be arrive hopefully 14th, it might be 15th. If you have it in 14th, please bring it and serve it at Glasgow. If it's not in the date, please take it to the road north trip.

The tea is taken in Yame (Yame is written with eight women in chinese chracter), and the place is well known as good quality tea and also it was well known as great early exporter of tea for Europe. Yame is not so far from where now I live.

The place is very far from Fukushima (probably Fukushima has been known as same as Hiroshima and Nagasaki now), so you don't have to worry about nuclear.

53 Tomohiko's tea
Ken Cockburn, 2011

the way west

On the 11.00 train Waverley–Queen Street, over a thermos of puerh, we adapt station (53). It goes fine until that dense closing hokku, which we puzzle over between Linlithgow and Falkirk.

the hamaguri  
shell and innards parting 
departing fall

Eck puns on the Squeeze song 'Pulling Mussels from a Shell', and finds the line, ‘parting the paired cups’, referring to the two tea-bowls Lorna gave us before the first road trip a May ago. They’ve come on our journeys, and then sat together on the shelf in Ken’s new flat, until Eck, who stayed there last night, brought ‘his’ bowl with him today, leaving the other behind.

53 Eck's tea-bowl
Luke Allan 2011

The train is busy. Before we pull out, a young policeman walks through the carriage, disembarks. There are two football matches taking place in the west today, with the championship at stake, though you’d be hard pressed to make either the kick-off from this train. Shoppers, more likely, though we can’t imagine they’re the policeman’s concern.

As we walk down Buchanan Street towards Central Station, Eck talks about his first football match, the infamous 1980 Celtic-Rangers cup final, won by a sclaffed deflected Danny McGrain 'shot', which he remembers more for being hit in the face by a can of tennants flung from a Rangers bus that took the wrong road in to the game, and the riot afterwards, sparked when a wee Celtic fan ran onto the pitch, kicked a ball into the goal at the Rangers’ end, and flicked them the Vs.


Ken’s glad his own memories of Starks Park can’t compare. The first game saw go Raith went 2-0 down to Falkirk, before winning 4-2, which he found excitingly satisfactory.


53 the hidden gardens  
Luke Allan, 2011

Luke & Colin are already at the hidden gardens when we arrive. Colin, just back from a week in North Uist, shows us photos of Langais Wood – new display boards, letterboxes among the trees, stamps in his notebook.

53 Langais  
Colin Will, 2011

Eck and Andy are in constant discussion about how to stop the boxes from flooding in horizontal Uist rain: option (A) alter the lid, option (B) alter the rain.

53 Bharpa Langais  
photograph by Dana Macphee, 2010

Colin still couldn’t bring himself to crawl into that ancient hillside chamber.

53 Irfan 
David Williams, 2001

Next to arrive is Irfan, up from London, after getting in touch via the blog and sending some haiku we’ll read today. We haven’t seen him since the pocketbooks days, ten years ago. He was our poster-boy, the wonderful David Williams’ shot of him in turban and grandpa shirt gracing the cover of Wish I was here.

53 Morven 
Luke Allan, 2011

53 Gerry 
Luke Allan, 2011 

In the café Morven and Gerry arrive as we’re finishing, so we leave them the table. At the yurt the first tea-flasks are set up, Granny’s Green Cherry Tea (as Eck calls it) and a rich Black Gabalong.
We scan the clouds for any sign of a helicopter, its direction of travel an oracle for the way the championship’s headed. The shouts from a nearby block of flats suggest someone’s scored, but who?

We say hello to as many of the guests as we can, some of whom we met on the road. It’s disorientating and delightful to find them all here in one place on one day. Emma (Loch Insh), Ella (Falkland), Pat & Andy (Luing), Margaret (Dunira), Colin (Langais), Gerry & Morven (Carbeth, Glen Fruin), Isobel, Lorna and Holly (Kilmartin), Angus, Mark and Tana (Edo), Maris (Kinloch Rannoch), a This-Is-Your-Life moment, with the wooden books of the Xylotheque as The Big Red Leather Book.

53 Gathering, Woodland Platform  
Luke Allan, 2011

We’d planned to read with our backs to the Woodland Platform but the crowd beat us to the only shelter available. While they huddle against the drizzle we each take our turn on the gravel stage. A glance back, no sign yet of Mr Tarahara, the Japanese Consul.

53 Maris & Angus  
Andy Law, 2011


53 Colin's ceremony
Luke Allan, 2011

Colin begins with drum and chimes. Margaret sings our pair for the women's rice-harvest song of Shirakawa, ‘Gradh geal mo chridh’ (I would plough with you and reap'). We read the poem's prologue. 

when was it I first had that dream of roving the glens up and down guided by Basho’s oku? leaving behind the pink lanes of gean blossoming in The Meadows heading off to look for Shirakawa...
Taking us back a year to setting-out at Bonnington Road, the Pilrig Park cherry-blossom, and stops along the way.

53 wish, cherry blossom, Pilrig Park  
Paul Edgerley, 2011

ten years on this old house 260 is our degree zero not all the vista but still a start gean pink again in Pilrig Park and a flitting in the offing

swopping one hill view for another familiar streets Pilrig, Rosslyn, Bonnington exchanged for hills Tinto, The Buchaille, Roshven

Names that touch us more than we knew they ever would.


53 reading, Angus Reid
Luke Allan, 2011

53 reading, Larry Butler
Luke Allan, 2011

53 reading, Ken & Alec
Luke Allan, 2011

53 Margaret
Luke Allan, 2011

The centrepiece of the day is a word-map of Scotland. Of course, we haven't covered the whole country, still it's a start. 9 readers read 100 place-name hokku, which we've gathered from a range of contributors, listed on the website. To read the word-map, or to download the complete reading, click here.

***the road north: an audio word-map of Scotland

***Track 1. Margaret Bennett's 'Gradh geal mo chridh'
***Track 2. Basho & Sora's introduction
***Track 3. Alec Finlay (1 - 11) *** 
      Track 4. Morven Gregor (12-22) ***
      Track 5. Irfan Marchant (23-33) *** 
      Track 6. Larry Butler (34-44) ***
      Track 7. Margaret Bennett (45-55) *** 
      Track 8. Gerry Loose (56-66) *** 
      Track 9. Colin Will (67-77) ***
      Track 10. Angus Reid (78-88) ***
      Track 11. Ken Cockburn (89-100)
***Track 12. Rewriting Basho's last station *** 
      Track 13. Margaret Bennett's 'Grioal cridhe' (Glen Lyon's Lament)*** 
      Track 14. Mr Tarahara's Kojo no tsuki (ruined castle)
   *(Recording by Alexander Maris, 2011)

53 Mr Tarahara  
Luke Allan, 2011

Mr & Mrs Tarahara have arrived and we agree what he’ll do and when. Eck and Ken read the Basho adaptation for this station. Margaret sings the great lament of Glen Lyon, which we last listened to after our swim on that scorchio day June 21, 2010. To close Mr Tarahara speaks of how we shall all someday ruin. We couldn't agree more. And sings ‘Kojo no tsuki’ (ruined castle).

53 the road north 
Luke Allan, 2011
Eck says: I’m sure it was on Neil Young's jukebox, that bluesy classic of the road: 'We are all gonna be a ruined castle someday’.

Tomohiko adds: 'Kojo no Tsuki' is the song for ruined castle and moon. It’s a interesting coincidence that I am living in Oita prefecture now where there is the ruin of the castle in that song. I haven't visit there yet but I will visit someday not for far future.

the hidden gardens

It's always a pleasure to wander in the hidden gardens, and from what people tell us after, the quiet performance has a calm that fits. Jim McGonigall writes to say it was 'absolutely memorable, strange, human and spiritual.' Our minds go back to the twenty-four hour renga we composed here a few years ago, moon rising over a sleeping city, the first train at dawn and a bow to Peter Manson's marathon contribution.

53 Nest-box, The Parliament of the Birds (Alec Finlay, 2004) 
Luke Allan, 2011

The nest-boxes have been redone. The wooden books have survived well, the oak's girth's expanded, and Angus, the gardens' founder, is here – Angus who whose trail we've followed from Achnabrek, through Glen Lyon to The Quiraing – with his 2 girls bonny and growing.
  53 Xylotheque (Alec Finlay, 2004)
Luke Allan, 2011  

coda: The Mainline To The Shallow South

as if the endless sari 
of Draupadi  
unravelled at the matsuri

born this way – 
ballet dancers  
in the Tramway

rereading Calvino  
Why Read The Classics? 
on the Virgin Pendolino

last night in Carlisle  
Lady Gaga  
was all about style 

the craving's begun – 
no cigarette 
till London

counting every sacred cow  
to be here now

coda: gallery 

53 woodland platform
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label
('now the poem's over / it's able / to begin again', KC)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label
('I kept seeing the birds / flying in and out / of the boxes / during the reading', KC)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label
('May leaves / lead this journey / back into memory', KC)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label
('as it should / the last tea / has a tang / of seaweed', KC)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label
('pulling mussels / from a shell // parting the / paired cups', AF)
Luke Allan, 2011 

53 hokku-label
('one helicopter / doesn't make / a summer', AF)
Luke Allan, 2011 

53 hokku-label
('silver birches / green city shade / reclaimed ground', anon)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label (Irfan Merchant)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 hokku-label (Irfan Merchant)
Luke Allan, 2011

53 wish
Luke Allan, 2011

53 wish
Luke Allan, 2011 

53 yurt gathering (L-R: Angus, Alec, Ken, Larry, Morven, Gerry)
Luke Allan, 2011


Kojo no tsuki was composed in 1901 by Japanese pianist and composer Rentarō Taki. The music of the song was inspired by the ruins of Oka Castle. You can view the arrangement here, and the Japanese lyrics and their English translation here.

the hidden gardens are situated on what was once a debris field of bricks and rubble harking back to the partial demolition of the building in 1987-88.

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