Memento Mori


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Time is stretching. It moves differently here in the Hidden valley.

The new house is talking to me. It’s telling me to write. It’s saying, look at my epic pine trees, listen to the bucolic peace, and for fuck’s sake write something. Well I am. About 15K into a novel, which is a thing that is happening, but life is immeasurably different to six months ago, life that is here in abundance. And so is death. Nature is on display and it’s difficult not to let Mr. Horror Writer out to start describing all the crazy shit. It would be easy to give yourself over to a particularly morbid outlook with the preponderance of animal death that has become nearly a weekly occurrence. From the large to the small. From the winged to the furry.

The sheep that visited us to die slowly on the river bank. A pretty place for it to die, amongst the nettles and pine cones, where it was swiftly consumed by a variety of other creatures. From life to death. From functional to food. Until the farmer came and silently removed it.

Or the mental thrush that flew full speed at the gigantic double-glazed window in Alexis’ studio and broke its neck. We watched it gasp its final, desperate, pained few breaths and then die in the grass.

Or the bat on the floor, or the other sheep out in that field, or the Great Tit behind the wood panelling, or the Chaffinch in the flue.

Or the three dead baby blue tits. Barely formed. Stiffened egg yolk with feathers and beaks and vestigial eyes. Cast from their nest in the eaves and dashed apart on the stones beneath. But the parents returned, hatched more and we hope they survived.

Memento fucking Mori.

But nature nurtures in equal measure.

Like the gooseberry bushes growing from the ruins of an old mill building about twenty metres or so from the house. And from the same ruin, the several mature ash trees exploding up to the sky. Or the wild raspberry bushes and brambles dripping from practically every hill-road verge, poking out between hawthorn, gorse and nettle. Or the feverfew pushing up from beneath the gravel in the front garden. Or the water that rises up out of the ancient mineral-rich rock into a tank, then down a steep embankment in a pipe, across a burn, and by the action of gravity up the hill to the house.


And there is life here in abundance. And I’d happily sit and watch it all day.

The Birds.

The leucistic chaffinch. A white chaffinch with black markings. Shorn of its pigment through some genetic process.

The ubiquitous pheasant. Three of them hanging out on the bridge as I pass in the car. A couple having a natter in the middle of the road, only moving at the most leisurely of paces.

The red-legged partridge! Black grouse!

And… robins, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, swallows, swifts, lapwings, siskins, sparrows, goldfinches, blackbirds, wood pigeons, magpies, ravens, crows (The Crow Wood), starlings, treecreepers, wrens, crossbills, merlin, buzzards, red kites, wagtails, thrushes and woodpeckers off the top of my head.

Flocks of thirty-plus small birds, unidentified as yet, but most likely youthful pheasants, or possibly youthful grouse.

Things on four legs.

Pine martens! Big fluffy beasts, roaming the countryside. Cute as hell, but will take your chickens apart if you leave the coop open.

Roe deer. Singly, in pairs or in tiny family groups, springing through the fields, or by the roadside panicked by the hurtling ton of metal that has just roared around the corner towards it.

Field mice, caught in our kitchen trap – a humane trap, I should add. Made of see-through plastic with air holes, catching Mr Mouse in the act of enjoying a pile of peanut butter. They are then repatriated to the field, across both burns and well off the road. No doubt, they just follow us back to the house the next day and have another peanut-butter-feast and imprisonment session. Cute as they are, they shit everywhere.

Bats. Not sure what type. Possibly Pippistrelles… out at deep dusk they come, from their nests under the zinc ridges on the roof, circling and diving for insects.

Foxes. A cub. Sitting in the middle of the road. Running off at the last moment. An adult, bounding long-legged through a field of knee-high grass. Just yards from the oblivious sheep.

Various scurrying smaller rodents, crossing the road. Rabbits. Hares.

Frogs. Toads big enough and horny enough to sit on one of the substantial toadstools that spore from the damp leaf-litter.


In their hordes. Shiny carapaced beetles and multi-limbed winged things. Midgies, but the less psychotic East-coast variety. Wasps, bees and something I can only hope was a hornet, because if it wasn’t then we’re all in deep trouble.  

And the best for last. Spiders. Controversial eight-legged creatures. Feared by many, but gravely misunderstood. Despite their hard work cleaning a house up of mindless little flies, many of you still see fit to expel them in jars and flick them from windowsills. Worse fates await a spider. Flattened beneath a slipper or rolled-up magazine for example.

It’s tough on the small things all round, but to watch them cling on to life through anything, to fight every moment to breathe their last, to live whatever the cost, it’s humbling and terrifying at the same time.

Memento Mori. Remember that you will die.

Just don’t forget to live.


Boris the Cat


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Boris started life in the most desperate of circumstances. Stuffed in a bin bag with his brothers and sisters as a new-born kitten and left by the bins at the bottom of a Glasgow tenement garden.

Thanks to the brother of my then work-colleague, whose garden it was, he was rescued, nursed to health and eventually landed on my doorstep, tiny and black and curious. I knew there was something quite special about him from that first day, when he fell asleep under my bed and snored with that wheezy snort he always had.

He lived with me for the best part of five years in two far-too-small flats, but it wasn’t until I moved into the Stockbridge Colonies in Edinburgh with Alexis that he really was able to be his true, happiest self. We had a little garden, and the street was quiet so he was finally able to enjoy and explore the outdoors, even though the flat was still pretty damn small. He sunned himself on the bench in front of our bay window, sat amongst the daffodil leaves and ferns sniffing the air, watching blue tits and robins, hoverflies and bumblebees. He was a pacifist. He never really hunted, preferring to watch the birds flit from the laburnum tree to the bride tree and back again. He occasionally toyed with a beetle or a cranefly in that cute, slightly obsessive way cats have, but seemed to just enjoy following their crazy progress with his huge expressive eyes.


Everyone thinks their cat is the best in the world, or is the most eccentric character and truly the greatest cat by far. That says so much about the special bond that can exist between a human and a cat. It’s a relationship of mutual benefit. Boris was never shy about expressing his opinions. I’ve never met another cat with such a large vocabulary. From the tiniest little half-meows and throaty grunts and snorts, to his multi-syllabic meow-screams, telling you off for not doing what he wanted you to do, thoroughly putting you in your place. I’ve never known a cat to express indignation quite so pointedly as Boris could when you weren’t quite living up to your part of the bargain as human-owner.

He loved his fuss, his food (particular favourites – olives, cheese, tuna and ham) his catnip mouse, scratching post, sunbeams, eating grass (even though it made him sick nearly every time) and most of all, preening his shiny, immaculate midnight-black fur to perfection. He loved to sleep buried under blankets where he would leave an indentation coated in that fur. His hairs would follow us around the country. It wouldn’t be unusual to be 300 miles away and suddenly find a Boris hair in your eyeball.


He would tap you on the arm if he wanted fuss, or if you stopped with the fuss too soon. It wouldn’t be unusual to be lying in bed and have a paw stretch up from below and touch your arm. He would headbutt you, violently rub his cheek on your laptop screen, knock the book you were reading out of the way so you paid him the attention he deserved. He loved having his belly rubbed, would purr like an engine, loved having the bridge of his nose stroked with the tip of a finger, would get the hiccups when he became too excited and the fuss was just too much.

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He had an uncanny ability to tell the time. His concept of routine was quite something to behold. He knew when I was coming home, would wake from his afternoon slumber about ten minutes or so before I got in and would be sat on the arm of the sofa waiting for me with a feed me meow. Sometimes we were like E.T. and Elliot. If he was feeling a bit under the weather, so would I. If I was nervous or upset, he would always pick up on it.

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Like many cats, he inherited many names. Some cute, some cuddly, some profane, some ridiculous, some whose meaning would take far too long to explain…

He was: Fluffyhead, Fluffmonster, Fuzzyhead, Little Pal, Supercat (because of the way he stretched his front legs straight out past his face when he slept on his stomach). He was: Jobby-ferret, Spunk-badger, Shit-weasel, Captain Dingleberry, Spaghetti-head, Fluffbum, Dude and many many others. But most of all he was my Buddy.


Nearly three months ago we left Edinburgh. Through various miracles we managed to buy a beautiful house surrounded by woodland in a hidden valley, deep in the Ochil Hills. I had hoped it might be a fabulous retirement home for Boris, approaching his 14th birthday.

He enjoyed his time here, while he could: chasing his favourite treats up the long hallway, watching the pheasants and chaffinches from the many large windows, snoozing on the sofa, stretching out in sunbeams on the wood floors, tentatively exploring the garden and a house bigger than he’d ever seen.

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He had been losing weight, and starting to go off his food little by little, electing to sleep under the blanket on the sofa more and more. I thought his poor old teeth were giving him trouble so took him for some dental work at the vet. They found something more troubling, and over the last couple of weeks the liver disease ate away at him, taking away the things that made him Boris.

On Friday 2nd September, one day after his 14th birthday, and after the most difficult and heart-breaking decision I’ve ever had to make, the vet came to the house and helped him find some final peace.

I had hoped he would get to experience life here in the new house for much longer. To enjoy the heat of the wood-burner in winter; to explore the bushes and pine trees and fields of ferns. Still, what a way to come from the bottom of a Glasgow garden, dumped ignominiously by some callous bastard to a home where he was loved and cherished and had all the space in the world to be Boris.

We buried him in a small glade, between two vast old pine trees, with a handsome stone cairn to mark his spot. He can sleep peacefully now in the place he began to love.

Night night, Buddy. X

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Stories Happen


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It’s remarkable, despite my brain desperately not wanting me to write, my writing of old keeps following me around. Even though a small part of me does want to write, and actively craves it. Never the twain shall meet.

The inner critic is fierce. Strict. Relentless.

Yet, in a perfect example of why you should never give up on submissions: two submissions, out for so long I’d forgotten about them are now published.

First was in June last year, after twenty throws of the dice, Far From Regis Station was finally published on the website Read Short Fiction. A 4000 word story I wrote almost seven years ago. Paranoid SF horror with a side of mineralogy.

Second was last month, a reprint of a story I’m still proud of. Unpicking the Stitches was first published in ChiZine in 2011 when they had an online short fiction zine, but they soon shut it down in a familiar story of my adventures in online short fiction. You can listen to the story at Tales to Terrify, a horror podcast. My story starts around 21 minutes in.

Maybe one day I’ll collect some short fiction in a format. Maybe I’ll try to write a novel. Perhaps I might even randomly spew some thoughts onto this blog and try not to care what anyone thinks about it.

If the stars align correctly and certain events take place in the near future that I really don’t want to jinx by talking about in any detail, I may have a new writing space and truckloads of inspiration. Watch this space. Or don’t. Whatever…

Too Much Winter in Winter


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2013-11-22 12.54.58-1As winters go, it has been relatively mild yet stormy. Work has dominated my personal landscape for the last four weeks or so and now comes the usual illness-heavy week between Christmas and New Year. It’s at this time of year I always long the most for the sun and wide open spaces away from the city. Particularly due to the near-perpetual darkness and the long Winter yet to come. As Billy Connolly once said…

There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.

Inspiration has dried up somewhat in the latter half of this year. Difficult to put a finger on why, but I’ve written very little, prose or otherwise. So I intend to try two things to change that. The last story I wrote is still in first draft stage (“The Door Behind The Door” – a ghost story set in the Scottish Highlands) and I was quite pleased with I wrote. There are at least two significant places I’d like to send it imminently, so I will put my mind to a redraft and see if that helps to rekindle the creative spark.

Second thing I need to do is buy a new desk and re-boot my writing space. I haven’t been comfortable there for a long time, and unfortunately our little flat yields very few options for alternatives. There’s nothing like a spring clean, even if it isn’t quite spring yet, but in a Scottish winter, spring needs to be a state of mind.



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See you on the other side.

For a long time now I’ve been wanting to re-title this blog. I first started a website and then this wordpress blog five years ago, and I had no clue about what might look or sound good. Not that I’m claiming that I have any more of a clue now, perhaps I’m just as deluded, only now I’m comfortable in my delusion.

The “Writer of Dark Fiction” title began to strike me as pompous as long as three years ago, but I never had any idea what to do about it. I’ve always wanted some sort of title to sum up the blog, or rather sum up where my writing inspiration comes from. I would say dreams and nightmares have long been the fuel for my creativity. Many of my stories have been inspired by dreams I’ve had. In some cases (Unpicking the Stitches) I’ve lifted entire images from a dream and riffed a complete story around them.

So, I’ve gone with DREAMWEAVING. Yes I know it’s alarmingly close to a Stephen King novel title, but it stuck in my head and there it is. It may even sound ten times as pompous as the previous title, but if that’s case then perhaps pomposity is just where I’m at. I’ve kept my name in the tag line, and what I do (dark fiction).

The new header photo is an instagrammed shot I took from the Glenmore forest park in the Cairngorms National Park. As apocalyptic as it looks, the image of arboreal destruction is actually a careful programme of tree clearing designed to help regenerate the native pinewoods. But, stick a black and white filter on and it looks cool.

Perhaps I may even write some stuff here. You never know.

Dedicated Follower of Fashion


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I’ve been excited to see the recent proliferation of horror/dark/weird fiction magazines and anthologies appearing everywhere. When I started writing in earnest in 2008 (crap, is it that long ago…?) horror markets were either rare, subsumed into fantasy, or just poor quality. I admit I was still green when it came to submitting stories, and there were certainly the likes of Black Static just kicking off, along with a few others.


Now there are many new ventures setting sail across the wide wide internet, and many of them are high profile. Weird fiction is becoming a byword for literary, experimental horror/fantasy (although that is a rather generalised definition of it) and at the time of writing you still have 11 hours left to contribute to the Indiegogo fundraiser for The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, edited by Laird Barron and published by Michael Kelly’s Undertow Books. An anthology I can’t wait to get my hands on. Undertow is also responsible for the rather excellent Shadows and Tall Trees – a classy journal of literary horror containing many writers in common with Black Static, but having its own unique aesthetic and sensibilities. From next year it is changing to a yearly trade paperback, hopefully with more stories (and I must get my arse in gear and submit something).

Other zines I’ve been noticing gaining in profile are John Joseph Adams’ Nightmare Magazine. From the stable that produces Lightspeed, it contains a mixture of new and reprinted horror stories and has a nicely eclectic range of fiction.

Lamplight is a smaller, perhaps lesser-known, zine that has been going for over a year now, but is publishing some interesting names and is building a following.

Launching this autumn is The Dark, published by Jack Fisher, and the first issue contains some very impressive names. I’m glad to see they are seeking more interesting, experimental unique fiction, but still on the darker side of things.

Horror fiction went through a particular period in the 80s when it was so fashionable, with its lurid black and red book covers. And the the bottom fell out of it thanks to the market becoming over-saturated. Now there appears to be a new fashion with genre fiction and perhaps publishers are still a little reticent to call it horror. Hard to shake the negative connotations that the 80s plastered over that word. In its place has come this intelligent, literary fiction of the weird and the dark, and the horrific. It seems to be rising again, and I for one am dedicated to following this particular fashion.

Turn, turn, turn


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Tree in the heatherThe change of seasons always seems to have a profound effect on my mind and mood. Up in spring and down in autumn. Seasonal changes also seem to lead me toward making blog posts. It’s the marking of time; the awareness that change is occurring and suddenly it’s dark at 8.30 and the nights are colder and you know it’s unlikely to be T-shirt weather again for at least seven months. Hard to comprehend that gap of time – the roaring darkness of winter.

We chose to grasp that final burst of summer weather and escaped to the Cairngorm national park for a week, camping in the forest. Drinking in the soothing green.

2013-09-03 14.46.46And the calming blues…

2013-09-03 15.33.37 (2)I didn’t manage to achieve any writing, but plenty of reading was accomplished. I find when confronted by nature that I have to soak it all in – the moss, the mountains, the pine trees, flocks of inquisitive chaffinches, whispering waters, vast lochs, castles, impossible vistas. I hope then it might travel through a process of assimilation and come out the other end as writing. Sort of like a creative process smoothie going through the blender of my imagination. Or something. I don’t know. Shut up.

Perhaps I should have tried eating some of this to help the imagination…

Mushroom!Or this…

2013-09-06 12.45.34 (2)Or this beauty… The fly agaric mushroom seemed to be bursting out of every hummock and mossy hollow in the forest.

2013-09-06 12.46.34No scale on that last shot, but it was about the diameter of a standard dinner plate. Perfect for sitting on whilst smoking a hookah and taking in the incredible scenery. Click on this next one to see the full panoramic shot.

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Recent Films Round-up (Part Two)


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the-masterContinuing the review round-up of recent films watched over the past couple of weeks. The Master has been high up on my list of films to watch ever since I saw the first trailer for it. Paul Thomas Anderson has become one of the most distinctive voices in cinema for a few years now, but for me, There Will Be Blood and The Master are truly visionary films. Epics of the interior and exterior. Despite the luminous cinematography, many of the best scenes in The Master are head-to-head dialogue exchanges between Joaquin Phoenix’s engagingly chaotic drifter and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s egotistic cult-leader.

Supposedly based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard, The Master charts a life of desperate seeking on the part of Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie; a desire to be a part of something, to find a meaning where there is no meaning, and so many of the film’s scenes revolve around that idea – from Freddie’s aimless pursuit of work that he only ends up failing at, or the to-and-fro march from wall to window that Hoffman’s character puts him through, ostensibly to train him, but as it descends into surrealism Freddie hasn’t really found anything of substance, he continues blindly through the world, searching for meaning. This metaphor is also captured so beautifully by his nostalgia and longing for an old affair that represents the only time in his life when there was meaning, but he can never recapture that. There is some sort of structural metaphor at play here as well, of America’s search for identity as a country in the immediate post-war period.

All that said, the film is gorgeous to look at, the performances are astonishingly good, the score is wonderfully unsettling and at times it’s incredibly touching. I can see, however, that the film is a ‘difficult’ film. It intentionally frustrates the viewer looking for a linear story with resolution. The characters are not terribly nice people. Both Freddie and Lancaster Dodd do and say some pretty unpleasant things, but they have such a chemistry on screen, each there to provide the other with the meaning to life that they think they need. Freddie is an animal, sexually motivated, prone to violence, alcoholic, and as such may not be likeable to everyone, but Phoenix injects a vulnerability and world-weariness to him, a questing, forlorn nature that makes it impossible not to find some sympathy with him, even if it’s the sympathy you give to a disease-ridden, broken, savage old dog.

Spectacular film-making. One of my favourites of the year. Lingered long after the final frame. I should have reviewed it sooner after I watched it, which is why it is being lumped in with this round-up.

watch-true-gritNot so much a remake as a revisit to the Charles Portis source novel of True Grit, the Coen Brothers’ gritty western is an elegiac version of a great story. Shot with washed-out filters in a winter country bled dry of colour, Hailee Steinfeld’s precocious Mattie Ross out for revenge grabs our attention from the opening. She more than admirably holds her own when Jeff Bridges’ grungy portrayal of Rooster Cogburn shows up, larger than life, drinking and shooting his way through the rough justice of the old west.

Ably supported by Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger and a typically colourful cast of Coen grotesques, Bridges cuts through the romanticised vision of the gunfighter to bring us this jaded lawman, still good at heart, but with questionable methods. It made me want to rewatch the 1969 film, a film I remember well from my childhood, for the contrast in approaches to the story.

Dark SkiesNot quite sure why I chose to subject myself to Dark Skies. It came with a slew of bad reviews. I suppose it was part of the unending quest to find a properly scary film, and some aspect of this being about aliens just appealed to me.

As is often the case with low expectations, the film rarely turns out to be as bad as you think it’s going to be.  It’s a competently handled chiller, documenting a family breakdown as much as alien abduction. There many levels where Dark Skies could have worked on a much more sophisticated level as metaphor for the breakdown of the family, and I genuinely think the film-makers were striving for something like that. More time is spent developing the characters than creating scares, which can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, those characters are uniformly mundane, dull everyfolk, in yet another white American suburban middle class home of the kind we have seen far FAR too much of. Instead of trying to reference Spielberg, it would have been far more interesting to make the characters stand out as something other than the target demographic.  There are some quite effective scares and one or two in particular lingered with me after the film and gave me nightmares. So, job done. Shame the film doesn’t have the courage of its convictions and the ending is wholly predictable.

Red FilmWith the sequel hitting cinemas currently, it was time to finally see Red. If only because there are so few fun films these days that succeed as multi-purpose vehicles. In this case, action-comedy with an impressive ensemble cast. John Malkovich and Helen Mirren in particular appear to be having a whale of a time.

This is not a film that needs any sort of in-depth critique. It is comic-book cinema and bundles of fun. Cartoonish and ridiculous with some great music. It is still one of the more original and enjoyable action films of recent years. Much needed after the po-faced Bourne films and the various wannabes that followed (Taken etc…).

At the very least, I have to thank Red for introducing me to the incomparable Calibro 35. Italian jazz-funk-rock in the style of 1970s crime movie soundtracks. This is what all my best dreams should sound like.


Recent Films Round-up (Part One)


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Other than the full blog reviews of Man of Steel, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Pacific Rim I’ve seen quite a few films on the small screen and one or two others on the big screen, not all worthy of full page reviews, but here is a general round-up in a couple of parts.

EnglandFirst up, and probably one of the best out of the collection seen in the last couple of weeks is Ben Wheatley’s Civil War-era head-trip, A Field In England. An intense, funny hallucination of a film, filmed in gorgeous black and white cinematography on a shoestring, with some terrific performances.

This is brave, unconventional film-making and I’m so glad we have someone like Ben Wheatley making films like this and Sightseers and Kill List. Savage, weird, wholly unsettling films that make you remember how great cinema can be when boundaries are breached and two fingers are shown to predictability.

Trying to sum this film up is impossible. At it’s most basic, it’s about five men in a field during the English Civil War looking for treasure. Magic mushrooms are consumed. Black magic occurs. Is it a meditation on the British class system? Are they all in purgatory? Is it straight-out fantasy complete with magic? Answering those questions is kind of missing the point. It really has to be seen. If nothing else, it is the closest depiction of the magic mushroom experience committed to film. Not that I would know about such things… ahem…

This is the EndNext is one of a slew of upcoming apocalypse comedies, This Is The End. If you know the players involved, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill etc… then you already know exactly what the film will be like.

It’s a collection of dick jokes, riffs on horror films (The Exorcist being the most obvious one) and general arseing around. Some jokes are funny. Some definitely aren’t. Some outstay their welcome.

There is a modicum of satirical fun being poked in Hollywood’s direction. Michael Cera’s cameo is hysterical. Rihanna is swallowed by a flaming hell-hole. There is one gimp-suit reveal that is cringe-inducingly amusing. Much of it feels like self-indulgence. Best parts of the film are the straight scenes at the beginning between Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel. After that the tonal shifts are jarring and many scenes just feel thrown in for the hell of it. Bring on The World’s End.

Stoker-2013Director Park Chan-Wook’s English language film, Stoker, was a pleasant surprise. I had heard many good things about it, but didn’t quite know what to expect.

Not a single frame is wasted in this hypnotic film. Every image and texture is relevant to the story in some way, be it directly or as a subtle, metaphorical image, all building and layering to create a whole. The foreshadowing is so beautifully done throughout it makes a repeat viewing an absolute must.

India Stoker is left to live with her unstable mother and creepy uncle after her father dies, but what is the uncle’s true purpose? What secrets is he hiding? The answer is more complicated than you might think and the film moves in unexpected directions. Despite India Stoker being a closed character, whose thoughts you aren’t privy to in the way you might be in novel, she still elicits a great deal of sympathy and draws the viewer in.

The film-making here is sensual, creating a complete world, using sound to create texture and music to unsettle; using editing to fracture time and represent mental states. You constantly question what is real as the entire film has a dream-like feel. The acting performances are top-notch and while it might not be for everyone – it does move at a slow pace (albeit full of dread and tension) – I would recommend this thoroughly, if even just to see what cinema is capable of when utilised to the full extent of its capabilities.



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DSC02792The time has passed now, but I’d intended to blog on the anniversary of the flood last year. The contrast between the river now and then is quite ridiculous. Unfortunately I never managed to take a pic of the river when it was at its height last year, but I would estimate it reached close to twelve feet. Might not sound like a lot, but currently it is trickling lazily over the river-bed rocks at a depth of about one inch. Seems impossible that it could ever be so fast-moving, so dangerous.

It happened on July 7th, a notorious date for many reasons. This year it was the day Andy Murray won Wimbledon and as the river dried up under the constant sun, most of Stockbridge was silent in front of TVs willing on Andy to win that trophy.

The culprit for the flood last year was the unfinished flood wall. A work that’s been in progress for a few years now. The small bridge (Bell’s Bridge) over the Water of Leith has now been re-opened at last and I was struck by the changes to the view. I have a photo taken in 2008 before the work started and one taken the other day.

DSC000902013-07-14 18.04.08With sun flattering the scene, the photo is kind to the wall. I like that they have finished the wall with a traditional brick-look, even if I know it’s concrete with massive pile-driven metal foundations inside.  Other than that it seems terribly brutal; a monolithic wall. Hopefully some vegetation will eventually cover up the harder-looking parts of the wall and soften its appearance.

The wall is there to do a job, and if it prevents a future flood then I can make my peace with the destruction that’s been done to the river bank. Wildlife is returning and parts of the bank are growing in this hot summer. It will of course take a few years, but I can’t help feel my heart sink when I see the stumps where great trees once grew, and unending grim concrete where once a characterful Victorian wall stood, and for the most part resisted flood many years later. There is no doubt it needed repairing and strengthening, rebuilding in places, but I wonder how much this major construction project needed to happen. Mixed emotions over it. I certainly don’t want to see a scene outside my door again like the one in the photograph at the top of the post.