I returned to the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year, reading from my first book of short stories – Its Colours They Are Fine. The book was originally published over 40 years ago, in 1977, and has just been reissued by Canongate in a lovely new paperback edition as part of their Canons series of classics. I was due to read with former Makar Ron Butlin but he had to pull out due to ill health. I wish him a speedy recovery. (Ron was also due to read from his first novel, The Sound of My Voice, also recently reissued). In the end I read on my own in a session ably chaired by Brian Taylor, weel-kent political commentator for the BBC. It was intriguing for me to revisit my earliest work and re-establish contact with a younger self. For the most part, I felt it still held up, and here is a passage from one story (Auld Lang Syne) which might still serve s a kind of literary credo:
To walk along these streets is to stir so many memories.
A streetcorner. A shopfront. The texture of a stone wall. The way a girl’s hair hangs. The pattern on a dress. Everything brings back moments, trivial in themselves, beautiful and funny and sad. Bits and pieces. Fragments in a dream.
Sometimes I feel I know everything that has ever been, and will one day remember it all. All the fragments will make one great timeless whole. Then these moments remembered, this restless deja vu, seem part of an endless awakening, to something more.
Sometimes it seems the fragments contain the whole; and every moment is eternity, every little thing is infinite. And the moment itself is its own significance, its own meaning.