ten years ago I did that thing where you read a newspaper outside with only the glow of
the midnight sky for illumination).
The next day, before we leave, we meet up with Andrew Greig and Lesley Glaister; they
have a house in Stromness too. Andrew and I met through Ken, when Andrew had a place
in South Queensferry. We used to get together in the Ferry Tap and drink pints of Dark
Island beer, brewed - appropriately enough - in Orkney. Andrew and Lesley married last
year and have just returned from Borneo where Andrew's been researching his latest nov-
el. Lesley's still recovering from having come back with a nasty-sounding bug, but she's
working on the production of a play and at the planning stage of a new novel too. Scrib-
blers three and one civilian, we spend a happy couple of hours exploring an old farm track
or two in their car and walking along a beach near the airport in what feels like Mediter-
ranean weather. Ann and Andrew both go paddling.
Being Orkney, littered with the detritus of wars as well as 8000 years of occupation
from the neolithic onwards, the quiet bay cupped by the beach holds not just the slim
white shape of an anchored yacht but the picturesquely corroding remains of what looks
like an old destroyer, mouldering away to rust and nothing under the high ubiquitous
searchlight of the sun.