‘Dig the grave and let me lie’

On the early morning of Sunday 7th May 2017, I set off to visit ‘Stank’.

I was looking for the ruined mausoleum to Lord Esher.

The Stank Mausoleum was built in 1925 at the point in this old Roy map where the four sections just happen to meet:

No place could perhaps appear less like it ‘sounds’:

Lord Esher’s Scottish home was at the Roman camp in Callander. Since his death it became a hotel:

It was at this hotel that my grandfather Rab Scott met The Beatles and had a drink with them:

Today, Esher’s Mausoleum is marked this way:

Lord Esher was thought to be the grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte (his mother was thought to be Napoleon’s illegitimate daughter)

Lord Esher was:

Lord Esher was different:

Lord Esher was married with four children but it is considered that he was probably more attracted to his own sex

Lord Esher was respected for the clarity and beauty in his use of language:

Lord Esher’s ruined Mausoleum is on the route to Ben Ledi. Thousands of walkers and mountaineers pass it by each year without knowing.

It was with considerable difficulty that I found it.

Even Hale Bopp found it a struggle to find!

It may be that Lord Esher’s remains, despite his wishes, are not here at Stank?

If that is so, perhaps this is why this mausoleum is sadder than sad.

This was how the Mausoleum appeared at the time of Lord Esher’s death in 1930:

Lord Esher was clearly a great admirer, as I am, of Robert Louis Stevenson.

These inscriptions, of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, survive by the collapsed doorway to Esher’s Mausoleum:

I needed to visit Stank.

‘It was odd being dead’

This is a fictional film. It is about a teddy bear, Dr Hale Bopp and a day of two halves. In the morning Dr Hale Bopp goes exploring in the Scottish Borders and he comes across the ruin of the Monteath mausoleum on Gersit Law. The oak door of the mausoleum has been breached and one can get inside and be with Monteath and the two angels that guard this forgotten statesman. Above him the dome has beautiful window stars to the universe beyond.

Dr Hale Bopp is a well-travelled bear and is constantly exploring, enjoying and reflecting upon the world in which he lives. The guid doctor has come to the view that life is complex, diverse and sometimes “messy”. He leaves the Monteath mausoleum with paws that were muddy and heads for a different afternoon. An afternoon of Appraisal to ensure that as a fictional bear and doctor that he is providing Good Medical Practice.

So that was the day of two halves. This film is about that.

Dr Hale Bopp is getting on a bit now and is at the end of his fictional medical career. One day soon he will retire from being a doctor but meantime he is of the view that his wanderings, philosophical and creative between the arts and sciences, has been nothing but to the benefit of the patients that he cares for.

Important note:
None of the words used in this film are those of the filmmaker. They are “borrowed” from C.P. Snow’s “Corridors of Power”; Evelyn Waugh’s “Decline and Fall”; and Jessie Burton’s novel “The Muse”.

‘It was odd being dead’ from omphalos on Vimeo.

Source material:
(1) Physicians of the future: Renaissance of Polymaths? By B F Piko and W E Stempsey. Published in The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. December 2002, 122(4), pp. 233-237
(2) Time to rethink on appraisal and revalidation for older doctors. By Dr Jonathan D Sleath. Letter published in the BMJ, 30 December 2016, BMJ2016;355:i6749
(3) Career Focus: Appraising Appraisal. Published in the BMJ 21st November 1988, BMJ1988;317:S2-7170
(4) Revalidation: What you need to know. Summary advice for Regulators. General medical Council.
(5) The Good Medical Practice Framework for Appraisal and Revalidation. General medical Council.
(6) Taking Revalidation Forward: Sir Keith Pearson’s Review of Medical Revalidation. January 2017.
(7) GMC response to Sir Keith Pearson’s report on Taking Revalidation Forward.

Music credits (under common license, thank you Dexter Britain):

(1) Perfect I am not – by Dexter Britain
(2) Telling stories – by Dexter Britain


Ursine physiology – may not be mainstream physiology

Filmed on a family picnic to the ruined castle of Arnhall on Sunday 26th March 2017








Lyublyu (revisited)

This is for my mum on Mother’s day 2017. (March 26th). It is a re-working of a film from 2011.

Age ten, Edwin Morgan chose to learn his first Russian word – Lyublyu, which transaltes in English as “I love”.

I love my mum.

My mum trained as a nurse and has those selfless qualities of being that make her a ‘Nightingale’.

My mum’s great-great aunt, Jessie lennox of Bridge of Allan, trained under Florence Nightingale and in later life became a close friend of Florence Nightingale

The man with the child in his eyes

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The author Adam Nicolson in "Sea Room":

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The poet and doctor William Carlos Williams talked of an adventure:

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Mukul Kesavan in "Looking through glass"

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Captain Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited about Sebastian:

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Max Porter in "Grief is the thing with feathers":

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"Dallas", Boat of Garten home of John and Mary Scott:

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'The diary that washed ashore': Alexander MacCallum Scott:

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Peter Davidson in 'Distance and Memory':

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Hale Bopp rescues John and Mary Scott's teddy bears:

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Norman MacCaig, from the poetry wall outside the Scottish Parliament:

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A.L. Kennedy in 'Serious Sweet'

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Richard Holloway in 'Leaving Alexandria'

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Max Porter in "Grief is the thing with feathers":

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'Meet you at the statue in an hour' by Peter for Sian

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Liz Lochhead in "Fugitive Colours"

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'Deeside Tales: the stories of a small glen' by Peter J Gordon

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A timely approach to the diagnosis of dementia championed by Peter

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Candia McWilliams on her father Colin McWilliams:

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Mukul Kesavan in "Looking through glass"

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Margaret Drabble in 'The Pure Gold Baby'

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Liz Lochhead in "Fugitive Colours"

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Kenneth C Calman in "A Doctor's Line"

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Salina and Speedy

A family film about our holiday in Dordogne, France at Village de Constant.

The quotes come from the books I read on holiday:

(1) The leopard – by Tomas Di Lampedusa
(2) Serious Sweet – by A L Kennedy
(3) Ted Hughes, The Unauthorised Life – by Jonathan Bate
(4) Bloody Old Britain – by Kitty Houser
(5) The Night Guest – by Fiona McFarlane
(6) The Little Paris Bookshop – by Nina George

The music, apart from the last track by Dexter Britain, all comes from Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday sessions 2016 (Live)

Salina and Speedy from omphalos on Vimeo.

Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star

This is a poem I wrote just after my son Andrew was born. At the time we were living in remote Aberdeenshire and Hale-Bopp comet was in the night sky:

The March 1997 news reported this comet as follows: “The appearance of comet Hale-Bopp near the Earth in 1997 has generated wide scientific, public, religious and pseudoscientific interest. Scientists are interested in the unusually high intrinsic brightness of the comet. The public expect the comet to be a spectacle sight.”

The day Andrew was born I bought him a teddy-bear: that bear is called ‘Hale Bopp’ and appears in many of my films:

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Frost hit Tillybin and froze the night.
Bitingly cold and startlingly clear.
A night that stirred the soul
A night of Spectacle Sight.

Midnight came rhythmically
Andrew beating his drum:
Sian said ‘time to go!’
The windscreen iced over in anticipant celebration
hands that felt no cold rubbed hurriedly
a telescope to the soul.

The car coughed to life
The farm track bumped and hurdled
– as if urging.
Count the gaps: count the rhythm –
Faster: No time to waste!

Fly the pot-holes
Peer the telescope!
Gosh – what’s that? A jewel. A wonder. A spectacle sight.
Hale-bopp: such Brightness.
SUCH BRIGHTNESS.
Beat the drum, fly the night, catch a star

4.04
and Hale-Bop reigns its brightest!
SUCH BRIGHTNESS.
Peter and Sian
Now ‘mum & dad’

Fingers could not dial
Lips that could not speak
‘we have a boy… a lovely boy’
Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star!

Snowy-Tillybin

Andrew Robert Gordon born at 4.04am on Saturday the 8th March 1997 in Aberdeen

Pictures painted by Dr Peter J Gordon. The farmhouse in the snow is Tillybin in remotest Aberdeenshire.