Everything is Going to be Alright

P1020901.JPG That’s the message writ large in blue neon lights above the entrance to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art. We had lunch there yesterday, sitting in the car with our picnic and flask looking out at the splendid grassed hill and water feature to the front of the gallery. There’s a new installation there – two aircraft engines that apparently saw service over Afghanistan, allegedly with some crushed anti-depressant tablets hidden in the engine spaces. Gallery information indicates that the installation represents different facets of human depression. For both Dee and me, and I suspect for quite a lot of the visitors to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, aeroplane wreckage strewn across a field evokes only one very specific memory P1020899.JPG (Lockerbie, December 1988).

We have also in recent weeks visited the newly refurbished Scottish Portrait Gallery in Queen Street. The building itself is a work of art – fantastic ceilings and friezes, woodwork and columns. Sculpted heads of benign politicians and cultural icons on the stairs and landings appear like old friends coming round the corners. I loved the phrenology heads and face masks in the library, and the contemporary ‘Hot Scots’. It was also very useful background for my forthcoming talk to the Lit (season 2012/13) on German views of Scotland.

P1020895.JPG We’ve even been to the Scottish Parliament, at last! We had a guided tour led by a young Spanish woman whose pride in the building extended beyond a shared country of origin with the architect to a real enthusiasm for the history, context and working practices of the Parliament. Our own reactions were mixed. I liked the light and airiness of the debating hall, but the corridors and meeting spaces seemed cramped and dull, while many of the architectural features and symbols seemed flippant, gratuitous and fundamentally un-Scottish. In essence, I’m pleased we have an iconic building, but I wanted to love it more than I did.

P1020881.JPG By the way, we were having lunch outside the Gallery of Modern Art on our way to a meeting with my lovely oncologist, who, lovely as he is, is not able to offer a ready solution to my current problem. The tumour is too large, and too widespread, for surgery to be an option (certainly not at present, and probably not at all). Additional chemotherapy is unlikely to have any positive effect on the malignancy at present either. P1020907.JPG Charlie is investigating whether my tumour might respond toTamoxifen, which is used primarily to treat breast cancer, and also my eligibility (in pathological terms) for a new gene-based drug trial. In the meantime, we have lots of trips and treats planned. We’re getting through the initial list of ‘things to do in Edinburgh’, but there are plenty more to keep us amused.

Family and friends in the West continue to offer love and support (Super Sunday last weekend included lunch with Jean, coffee with Helen chez Mum, and dinner with the Loudons – exhausting and restorative in equal measure). Team Canada is onside, and reconciled (we hope) to a continuing schedule of away-only fixtures. We’ll get cycling in the bulbfields this Spring. Everything is going to be alright.

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