A murky day in Camden.
I was with HTA Sketch Club but left early so missed the review of what we’d done, over a pint. The other drawings should be on our website.
I caught the plane home in time to spend some time discussing how Accident & Emergency works with some of the staff, a result of the sketches I’d done a month or so ago. I sat next to the guy above on the plane home. It was the plane, not the train, so we didn’t speak.
Lysistrata is good festival stuff: an audience of thirty, a cast of four, a tiny venue and art with ambition. Maybe this was the Fringe before the stand-ups came to dominate.
Most of the energy comes from Louisa Hollway, who covers the small stage in a few short strides.
The characters are less energetic on the sleeper to Edinburgh. There’s wi-fi in the bar, so you can catch up on the day, but I think mostly people are just trying to avoid going to bed. Earlier I sat outside the kind of independent café I love and admired the flamboyant gables on some Victorian housing in Finchley. I like the fun in this that’s missing from most contemporary brick built London housing.
Watching street performers with HTA Edinburgh’s Sketchclub.
This is “Affordable Chocolate” getting the early evening crowd dancing in the Royal Mile.
Earlier, I’d been in HTA London watching a lively, if complex, presentation from Julie Futcher of urban-generation.
The data behind why the form of cities has a huge effect on the climate they are in, and designing buildings on their own doesn’t really work.
A week in London, and 3 nice places to spend some time
1. London’s public space has had a makeover since I lived there.
The focus is kids and the device that gets them active is fountains you can play in. People used to point to Spain to show how kids playing could be a welcome part of civic space, but London does it too now. This one is Princess Diana’s memorial, swishest of the five we came across on our travels.
2. Ben’s shed. I spent some time looking at it and thinking about spaces to be creative in (with some help from the White Stripes*).
This might be what Ben would describes as ‘rus in urbe’
3. Eames lounge chair 670. You need somewhere cosy to relax after a day in central London with three under fives.
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the human race” said HG Wells. This is the first step on my post surgery recovery: learning how to get around when you aren’t allowed to cycle. Everything takes ages.
Also I’m not allowed to travel. In Edinburgh in August that’s not a problem as the world comes to you. This year, alongside the festival, it’s the Commonwealth Games. The divers are in Edinburgh, staying at the hotel by our office and surrounded by a surprising number of policemen. Where there are crowds there are people pretending to be statues and, oddly, other people filming them. This is a real statue of Kirkcaldy hero Adam Smith, in the Royal Mile. Smith was famously odd looking but Sandy Stoddart, the sculptor, has sorted that out.
I don’t know what this self determining free marketeer might have thought about independence.
After a couple of weeks I was back to working and travelling, chatting to artist Chris Jones:
Recovered, we went to Liz & Simon’s and then to London, which is rapidly, and pleasantly, becoming the home of the cyclist.
HG Wells would be pleased.
4.00am on a sunny Monday morning and, guided by NHS 24, I’m off to hospital to be examined by a friendly old GP in an empty Outpatients Department. He reckons my appendix should come out so takes me through to Accident & Emergency.I knew what to expect from Accident and Emergency because I sometimes forget to switch Channel 4 off after the news and see documentaries either about it, or about the folk who most often end up there. The confused, the drunk, the unruly and the angry. If you’ve simply had an accident or encountered an unexpected emergency, you stand out.In my experience the NHS deals with acute distress brilliantly. People turned up, apparently out of nowhere, and raced me through the scans and tests I needed. Within a couple of hours they knew what they wanted to do with me. I just wasn’t sure I wanted them to do it.
They moved me to a ward to have a think. A few years ago I spent a couple of weeks in an emergency surgery ward. They’re emotional places, people doing better than they look, people doing a lot worse, it’s not remotely relaxing.
I’d come in to sort out my appendix but was being given scenarios that included far more significant surgery. You don’t want your appendix bursting though so after some discussion with communicative Registrar Alastair I went ahead.
He’s a smart guy Alastair, and managed the least invasive of the three options we’d discussed. 12 hours from walking into the hospital to waking up in the recovery room. Free at the point of delivery. (Is this principle safer in Scotland’s hands, or the UK’s?)After that, recovery. Nothing left to do but recover in the care of a cracking team in Ward 106, led by Mr Ravindran.
It takes a lot of people to make a hospital work and I was impressed by how well they all worked together. I thought I’d try to identify the ‘characters’ and whether they were doing it for the love of it or not. My concentration wasn’t up to it, so I went home, a little bit lighter than when I’d gone in.
Footnote: I’ve wasted the NHS’s time on my appendix in the past, so it’s little wonder they wanted it, and me, out. Here’s the team that looked after me in the Western General for two weeks in March 2011. Mr Potter, on the right, taught me enough about how my insides worked that three years later I could ask some worthwhile questions whilst in a bit of pain and under a bit of pressure. It’s always worth paying attention.
A brilliant experience of the NHS: good health care available to rich and poor alike.
My pastime cropped up in a Taiwanese illustration magazine called DPI.
They asked me to check it before it went to print, but I’ve no idea what it says, so wasn’t a lot of help.Still, I love nicely printed magazines so I’m delighted to have been featured.There are more than 500 drawings describing the last two and a half years of family life so when they asked for twenty it was easy. Some travel, some buildings, some family and the inside of some busy cafes: they picked a fair sample.
These are the people who turned up and made it a memorable week. With the usual apologies for unintended insults!
Why we are all here: Seoc’s grandson, Peter Keith Morrison, my dad.
Ruari and Mary Morrison, my mum.
Jane & Julie
Catriona (sort of)
Flora and Alastair
Marc and David
Jennifer and Calum
Douglas and Elizabeth
Andreas and Innes.
As it happens, my kids got them all, except Elizabeth (Rachel) and Catriona (confused looks, no guesses).
This is what I think I know about how my part of the Morrison family left North Uist and ended up in Edinburgh.
My dad can recite his patronymic back 13 generations to a Murdo the miller in Tarbert Harris. I don’t know when my family moved to Uist, but by the time my great grandfather Seoc (Jock) was born in 1840 North Uist was a place in decline. The population had been reduced by the clearances: people were initially moved off the land by force, then left through choice as stories came back of better lives elsewhere. Seoc left for a life at sea.
Seoc, the story goes, survived a shipwreck off South Africa. He crawled through hot, barren lands close to death. Coming across a shack, he decided that he could go no further and this is where he would die. On entering, he found a prayer pinned to the wall in Gaelic. Seoc took this as a sign and gained the strength to push on. He survived.
Seoc later arrived in the South African diamond mines. At that time the miner’s damaged ropes were being sent back to the UK for repair. He realised he could use the rope splicing skills he’d learned on SS Great Eastern and set up a lucrative rope repair business.
After a while, he returned to Scotland and became a farmer in Oban, at Torinturk. With Marion MacVicar he had seven surviving sons. The boys all spent some time at school in North Uist. The language in the home was Gaelic. They moved to Edinburgh, to Caanan Grove in Morningside.
The fifth son was DJ, my grandfather. He became a GP and met Particia Keith, also one of seven. In her marriage lines Patricia is described as a portrait painter, and the watercolours I’ve painted these with were hers. So apologies for the next drawing of Ruaridh and his family, who happened to be staying in North Uist at the same time as us, popped round for a cup of tea, and ended up being badly drawn by someone they’d never met! Ruaridh is the chief of the clan Morrison and we share the same great grandfather, Seoc. Ruaridh’s grandfather was John, the eldest son.
DJ and Patricia had a son called Peter Keith, my dad.That’s how we got from North Uist to Edinburgh, and why we are all here this holiday.