Comparing existential Berlin and North East Scotland, clearly contrasts would reveal themselves. Aberdeen had a tight knit community of arts and TV. The Aberdonians were inquisitive folk and friendly, eventually, to decent individuals. Now the city is allegedly cosmopolitan. That I was damaged that was fairly certain. I surely identified with Paul Nash. Leaving Earl’s Court with £8 I reached Dumfries by coach. I liked Scotland instantly. But I felt absurd like Black Bob‘s shepherd. The climate was famously milder than North East England. I walked past Muchals, the faded resort. Union Street, tilted and elementary like an airstrip. Pity the trams weren’t still going like in the shop window picture. The rest of the thoroughfares mainly dips to the port and quarters of the city. In a grove a white horse appeared out of the mist, then vanished. I started venturing down to the quayside and the pubs and met a pint-drinking, dart playing gypsy girl called Anna who was known in Ashington, and casually and ongoingly abused by her father who she lived with south of the city.
The Peterculter caravan was situated on a crossroads in the corner of a farmyard, under a cherry tree. And after the Northern Lights birds settled on the telephone wire.
The farmer was easily hurt. The laird, a hippie in his thirties and sympathetic to people like Gavin in his plum vintage Ford. Gavin lived Cammachmore near a disused quarry where I spotted owls on weekday afternoons. I walked over the fields deliberately cutting across miles to the coast at a random place. An outdoor sanatorium. It was, so. A good place to take time and repair. For a short period I lived at Newtonhill garage cottage. How far away I was now from Anders Ufer.
I moved back in to town to the cruelly named Prospect Terrace. Then moved to Sandilands Drive tenement, north of the Swallow Hotel and the cattle market. In Sandilands even the dogs bit. I then stayed in various grim hovels. Then I met people from Grampian TV, but that is outside the scope of this story. The music teacher’s house stood out uncomfortably with the kit estate. When the slump came in 1986 Americans left without selling.
I befriended a Scottish planning engineer and we started going to Gabriel’s, a night-club, converted from a church, laterly the Ministry of Sin. I met a girl there who liked to Hoover, just a little bit, every day. Her father, a pub manager out in Cults, had earlier been murdered.
After painting in WASPS studio, me and portraitist, used to go down to the Prince of Wales where he would meet up with his wife, a librarian from the art school. I talked to artist Rory my tall dark stranger with the Phil Oakey looks.
Above the shop the Italian lived a whacked out couple from Sutton. A haunt of Aussies, and locals after Dizzies. Later thieves and violent blokes started going there. I dragged myself in to WASPS on Sunday, my body drained of power by alcohol
Years later I spotted one of them in Sutton in a gutter outside the bank, and hurried on. When I wrote this down it was in a room in Berlin. Marlene called me. So did Jan. At once, I did not really want to pick up the telephone. I did not want to let go, but enjoyed silences.
FerryhillJanuary 29, 2009