Silent as light

The Antiquary: “is preoccupied on every level by the relation between past and present.”

Mary Midgley: “These doctrines are often bizarrely over-confident and over-simple”

George Orwell in Why I Write: “… one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality”

Raymond Tallis in Summers of Discontent “There are several things to be noted about emotions. The first is they fill the world with meaning”

Kenneth Calman in Makars and Mediciners:  “It is perhaps here that the role of literature and the arts generally can have an advantage, by the author exposing poor health choices and behaviour patterns, in ways which are more powerful and effective than that of the medical teacher or professor. The writer’s imagination and expression can change things. The word can be powerful.”

Nathan Filer in The Shock of the Fall: “I think that’s what I am doing now. I am writing myself into my own story and I am telling it from within”

Andrew Greig: “He knows fankle from bourach.”

Raymond Tallis in Defence of Wonder “When we are in love we see the ordinary things about another person for what they are: not in the slightest bit ordinary.”

Gilbert K. Chesterton: “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder

“She makes sunlight dim” (Sian)

Thomas Tranströmer to his lifelong friend Robert Bly: “In this climate it`s all or nothing. Anybody not 100% for is “self-evidently” 100% against. Have I given you a little picture of the climate? All you can do is Follow your own crooked conscience, wait for the moment of truth and hope you won’t need to be ashamed one day of how you lived through these years.”

Raymond Tallis: [Philosophy is a return] into that nearest, which we invariably rush past, which surprises us anew each time we get sight of it”

Tomas Tranströmer: “Balansnummer is ‘balancing act.’ The poem is partly a protest-poem against the prevailing mood in Swedish intellectual life. What I say is that finding the truth, being honest etc. is a difficult individualistic act of balance, you have to put off the rhetoric, all slogans and moustaches and prejudices and . . .”

Stephen Bann, MIDWAY: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay: “I recall saying once to Finlay that the special feature of the letter as a literary genre was that one never went back on the first draft to produce a fair copy.”

Nathan Filer in The shock of the Fall: “I have approximately 7.4 x 1027 atoms in my body”

Ian Hamilton Finlay: “Sometimes my wee best seems just not good enough”

Richard Holloway in Leaving Alexandria: “The toughest lesson life teaches is the difference between who you wanted to be and who you actually are. And it can take a whole life to teach it”

Robert Louis Stevenson: “Letter to a young gentleman who proposes to embrace the career of Art”

A. S. Byatt in Possession: “He put little slips of paper in the entries that made up his fragile narrative or non-narrative”

Adam Nicolson in Sea Room: “I’m wedded to this plunging-off form of thought, and to the acceptance of muddle which it implies”

Mukul Kesavan in Looking Through Glass: “Like all chroniclers of the relatively recent past, history ran out against the present”

Julian Barnes in The Noise of Time: “He bought a large scrapbook and pasted ‘Muddle Instead of Music’ onto the first page.”

Ronald Ross: “Science is the differential calculus of the mind, Art is the integral calculus; they may be beautiful apart, but are great only when combined.”

Walter Scott in The Antiquary (in Oldbuck’s room) “Amid this medley, it was no easier to find one’s way”

Margaret McCartney in The Patient Paradox: “The conclusion that variability is bad is distant from the much simpler observation that patients are all different.”

Robert Crawford in Young Eliot: “Leafiness suited him”

Alexander McCall Smith in Chance Developments: “His one and only book, ‘The Future Lies in the Past’, eventually published”

Patrick Deeley in The Hurley Maker’s Son: “I sensed the sun, beaming from a place that was higher than the world”

Penelope Fitzgerald in The Bookshop: “The sky brightened from one horizon to the other”

Hanya Yanagihara in A Little Life: “You made art because it was the only thing you’d ever been good at, the only thing, really, you thought about between shorter bursts of thinking about the things everyone thought about.”

John Berger in Here is where we meet: “To find any sense in life it was pointless to search in the places where people were instructed to look.”

Edmund De Waal in The White Road: “He writes a letter about how things are made, but it is actually about compassion.”

Alice Hoffman in Faithful: “No one could count all the stars. There are far too many.”

Madeleine Thien in Do Not Say We Have Nothing: “So familiar to me, like an entire language, a world, I had forgotten”

John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men: “Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off”

‘And in his needy shop a tortoise hung’

Hale Bopp teddy has travelled wide. Occasionally he sees his reflection in Brass plates. In this case the Royal College of Physicians, Queen Street Edinburgh.

The first series of quotes are by Gabriel García Marquez:

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The second series of quotes are from "A Doctor's Line" 
by Sir Kenneth C Calman:

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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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Glared like an irritated owl

Glared like an irritated owl from omphalos on Vimeo.

This is a film about lost Argaty.

This film attempts to ask:

(1) How old is old, and how new is new?

(2) Is new or old better? Or is this a nonsense question?

(3) “Improvement science”… this is term of today in Peter’s work as a doctor. Where might the spirit of enquiry and free speech fit into this “improvement culture”?

Sometimes history takes things into its own hands

This is a film about historic Bannockburn House.

It may leave you in tears.

I dedicate this film to Mick Collinson and feel fortunate that I was one of the last people to hold his hands in mine.

Terri Collinson, devoted wife of Mick, somehow sensed that I was no threat and nothing more than a lad of pairts.

Sometimes history takes things into its own hands from omphalos on Vimeo.

Not fitting the pattern

This is a post about the mental health debate held at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 6th January 2015. Alexander McCall Smith wrote to me recently recommending this book (appreciating that I had graduated in Landscape Architecture):051 My recent posts have, as a result, been based on patterns. 053This is the pattern of my Tuesday in Edinburgh. It is however not just a recent pattern but an old one too:Waverley-(6) Waverley: I arrived in the toon of my birth 200 years since Walter Scott wrote his novel.Waverley-(8) At the station, this was one of several Walter Scott quotes that I noticed: 058 But before the parliamentary debate, I had arranged to meet a dear friend: 049 My friend “dares to know” like no other I know. 048 We met for a bowl of soup at the storytelling centre on the Royal Mile. Here I was lucky to meet my friend’s son. Who I found to be a very fine young man. 044 The following quote was displayed at the storytelling centre: 045 The soup was good. The company and shared stories even better. 027 Our conversation over soup reminded me of Aesculapius. Edinburgh doctors, of enlightenment days, formed the “Aesculapian club”.

I need no “club”: I need only soup and good company.017 On the way to the parliament we passed by the Poetry library.016 This statue of Robert Fergusson lies opposite to the poetry vennel. 014 This was Fergusson’s 18th century view of medical language,’authority’ and learning. 052 Just before entering Scotland’s parliament one is met by the poetry wall. 038 The Scottish parliament is a most wonderful building. Rich in pattern and in materials.

It has no simple pattern.It is too much drinkThe Presiding Officer started proceedings [given her confusion, thank goodness there was no “routine” cognitive screening as mandated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland!] Jamie-Hepburn The Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn, MSP, led off the debate on mental health: we can kick offThe debate began. 18 MSPs in a mostly empty parliamentary chamber.020 My mind turned to a visit to the parliament five years before with my daughter’s primary school class. That was a day of lots of lively minds.006Jamie Hepburn’s address was followed by much parliamentary comment about stigma. 011 Stigma is a subject that I have written about and made films. My understanding is that stigma is experienced by the person. It is not a simply entity. 061 I read all the time. 021 My reading reminds me of how little I know. 059 I share C. P. Snow’s concern. As a graduate in both Arts and Sciences I have experienced very different cultures. I am not sure how healthy such separation is.023As a critical mind I sometimes feel alone. However I do feel reassured that I seem to be on the same page as Kenneth Calman and Sir Harry Burns. 010 I agree with Kenneth Calman. Though I would insist that experience also matters. 025 We are perhaps taught from an early age to appreciate arts and sciences as entirely separate. 022 History is also taught in separation. 039The “pattern” that I am attempting to present has strayed from the parliamentary debate. 041 Dr Richard Simpson, in his reply to the Cabinet Minister, outlined his concern about the “divide” between body and mind. 062The above was written by John Logie Baird in his diary at the time that he demonstrated television. CropperCapture[1] I welcomed Dr Simpson’s speech:004 Dr Simpson is aware of my view that I feel that informed consent to cognitive assessment is important [the above written by an elderly patient recently] . Dr Simpson said to parliament:CropperCapture[2] My concern here is that our elders will find that they have no choice in such assessments.  I am interested in ethics. For me this means listening to experience. CropperCapture[4] The above was part of the contribution by John Mason, MSP, to the mental health debate. A contribution that I welcomed.034 Whilst I do worry about “target” dominated healthcare, the following findings did concern me: CropperCapture[5]Over regulation is a worry for me.  We may find a day when professionalism is out-weighted by regulation.031   Below is an imbalance that I find concerning. Is this the real basis of loss of parity?039My closing thought on the mental health debate: I am of the view that Scotland, in its approach to mental wellbeing, needs to embrace a more pluralistic outlook: an outlook that includes those with lived experience, critical minds and the medical humanities.035END [with a young doctor] and “patients who don’t quite fit the patterns”