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Ailsa Craig

Those of you who have put out to sea aboard ARCHIPELAGO before will know she is powered by an Ailsa Craig. It’s a thing we take comfort in, as she goes plunging after Seeker Reaper  (Skipper Hay at the wheel) dirling: Long is sgioba,  long is sgioba,  gaoth is gillean, gaoth is gillean . . . Now, after so many months at sea I lose count, and down to our last gugha between us, I am pleased to tell you we have glimpsed land. Issue 7 is almost all in the hold, and we’ll be ready in good time for the men in white coats – the fish-market men – as November dawns on the harbour town and the deciduous Atlantic sheds its last leaves before crashing its branches together in earnest, like the spectre of a myriad rutting stags. What the winter seas can do is all nothing new to Ailsa.

Rumour has reached the office that the great dome – aka Paddy’s Milestone – is up for sale. The consortium that is Clutag-Archipelago is reaching into its empty pockets even as I write. I cannot think of a better spot on which to build our new headquarters: I have in mind a green-granite structure with a roof sown with wild grasses and heathers – nothing but native materials and driftwood timbers. ‘Wheelhouse Watchtowers’ of the type shown here – memorials to our shipwrecked fishing industry – will be positioned discreetly at all four main points of the compass round the rock. Once refurbished these will provide en suite accommodation for staff and readers wishing to ‘get away from it all’.

We don’t yet know what the owners are asking for the Craig but will be putting in a bid when the time comes and our hedge fund bears fruit this autumn of our deep content. But I think I have made account of our content and contributors already, last time out. So I’ll keep the rest of my salt dry for the launch.

Clutag Press is beginning to settle with Rody ‘half-bottlespectreoldsealcodboy’ Gorman (see Archipelago 7 – order in advance!) the final arrangement of his ‘inter-tongueing’ versions of the Suibhne (Sweeney) poem, to be published in autumn 2013. So too is Philip Lancaster a short step from recording Ivor Gurney’s songs, poems and poem settings: CD to be available in 2013. Meanwhile Alan Jenkins is at the threshold and nearly done at last with the text of his new book of poems Revenants. Already ahead of him is John Fuller with his pamphlet (in our new pocketable format) Sketches from the Sierra de Tejeda – meditations in a Spanish village ‘where / The mind discovers its reflections and / Decides to forget itself and somehow be them.’  Look out for further updates on these fronts.

The winner of the Clutag-Archipelago Prize will be announced on publication of Archipelago 7 on 8 November.

I am shortly to set off for the stormy Hebrides – to Barra and the Uists, and to Skye and Raasay – solo by ferry, foot, and fate . . . seeking footage for ARCHIPELAGO: THE DOCUMENTARY. I may be gone some time.

3rd September 2012