My Gordon family came from remote and lost parts of Aberdeenshire. For some reason I keep returning to the now ruinous homesteads of my forebears where only wild kailyards continue to thrive.

A kailyard was a small cabbage patch usually found adjacent to the hoose.

The Kailyard school of Scottish fiction was developed in the last decades of the 19th century as a reaction against what was seen as increasingly coarse writing representing Scottish life complete with all its blemishes. It has been considered to be an overly sentimental representation of rural life, cleansed of real problems and issues that affected the people, but proved for a time extremely popular.

The poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay considered kailyards in his artistic work. A kailyard still grows at Little Sparta.

Little Sparta stamp

It seems to me that Ian Hamilton Finlay understood remoteness. His letters to Stephen Bann also reveal that he was willing to grasp nettles.

I have perhaps become another ‘P O O R – O L D – T I R E D – H O R S E’.

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