Over to Glasgow, this time to meet up with my friend the artist Robert Powell, before heading on to Edwin Morgan’s 90th birthday party at the Mitchell Library. Robert took me to see a giant head, which we think might be Beethoven, in Garnethill, and we had a long chat about various Scottish eccentrics: Gregorio McGregor, John Hunter, the Sobieski Stuarts, Thomas Urquhart, as part of an ongoing work he’ll be unveiling in August. Morgan’s birthday party was also the launch of a new pamphlet of poems and a festschrift, Morgan at Ninety, compiled by Hamish Whyte and Robyn Marsack. It was the kind of event that mixed veneration and melancholy in a wholly unMorganesque manner. I chatted to the poets David Kinloch and Jim Carruth, as well as the novelist Zoe Strachan and Morgan’s biographer James McGonigal. There was a moment of ebullience when Alasdair Gray – who else? – shouted “Use the knife, man!”, in reference one hopes to cutting the cake rather than chibbing an Edinburgh poet. The yesterday I was in the office (writing this week’s review: Andrew O’Hagan’s The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his friend Marilyn Monroe – Morgan, of course, wrote a poem on Monroe as well) and off to see my publishers, clutching the marked up proofs of Lost Books 2.0. I also saw the hopefully final choice of cover for Scottland. Covers are a ticklish subject. Writers can’t but help to imagine the finished book, but our job is to provide the filling, not the wrapping. I spent ages imagining Lost Books with a faux-Penguin Classics cover, and Scottland had, in my mind, a weird frontispiece from Illustrations of the Author of Waverley which showed Scott almost wholly obscured by a curtain. It’s a great image, but not a great image for a jacket. Anyway, ta-da – here it is!
Final thought: if David Cameron says “do the right thing” one more freaking time in the course of this election, can we please get Spike Lee to sue him into tiny pieces?