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Letters from a Friend


Friday 16th September 1988

Dear John

Great to hear from you after such a long time and to know that you are doing OK.

By now you will be at your new address, so I will send this to you there. I suppose I must start by answering some of your interminable questions, so here goes:

1. How's the cottage season, answer, Ok. Still have some people in who come every year. When they leave, the young guy who was in all last winter goes back in again--you know, the one who was a bit weird, but who pays his rent on time.

2. Jack Russells (Tormenting) Yes, from time to time they do torment me for which they get a severe kick up the arse which seems to simmer them down a trifle. I reccommend this remedy for humans too.

3. Hen house and run are completed, and in fact are inhabited by thirty black hens which were delivered at dead of night by Mrs. Clement. "This is the best time to transport hens" apparently. Louis and I had been busy for a week putting up an escape proof fence (we hope) and turning one end of the play hut into a replica Hilton Hotel, roosts, nest boxes etc. So now we have the gentle chucking of hens and the occasional cackle when one or the other manages to lay an egg (eight today).

4. Gaye's caravan: She had to give it a good clean out as we had a party of divers a couple of weeks ago so some of them stayed in it. As yet, she hasn't been home much as she is looking after Rona's bairns (Rona was accepted for art college) and so has a year to do at a college in Glenrothes.

5. Your caravan. No one in it, we are undecided whether or not to make it a shrine, but if the truth were known, we are all scared to go in it as one never knows what malignant monster may have hatched in some of your crap you left behind, so it still lies there unoccuied with the door flapping in the moonlight and the ghosts of bygone americans (Small A) either reading or copulating noisily as the case may be...   Oct 3rd 1988

Dear John

Many thanks for your wonderful letter which gave me great heart just when I was needing it; sometimes John as you know I am cast in the pit of despair, wondering what I am meant to do and if I am doing the right thing--should I sell the damn place and solve all my problems, but some stubborn streak makes me keep holding on. Man I owe thousands of pounds, about sixteen thousand in all. How the hell do I get out of this mess tell me, please do, and yet I still nurture a dream to make this place into somewhere the jobless and homeless wandering about the place could come and get back on their feet. There is some big plan John which, whether I want to or not, will move me in the direction that Power greater than myself wants me to go. I will enclose some information for your perusal, ie Granary Trust layouts etc.

I am going to start things moving now John I feel I have waited long enough. If I keep on waiting for other people to do things for me nothing will ever be achieved. There's the bunk house lying empty; incidentally Louis and I have put a kind of breakfast bar in that rather dark corner, you know, where we used to stow all the rubbish etc. We panelled it in with some wood panel board and boxed in the wee window...It certainly gives a lot more room in the place; we had a party of divers up over the past week-end, and they were delighted. They say they are coming back next year for a week. Place might be something else by then who knows????.   Dec 24 1988

Dear John

Having just received your letter dated Nov 25th 1988 I can only assume it has lain in your hip pocket for nearly a month or that it has come by clipper ship. Never mind, it was good to hear from you again, and to hear of your latest in loves (or lust as the case may be.)

I'm not curious about her for to tell you the truth I do not recollect even hearing of her before, but no doubt I will. I wish tho you would stop all this crap talking of pain of separation etc etc; you are like a spoilt child wanting them all and pouting away if it doesn't all turn out the way you want. You are only a young man sowing his oats, and all this shit and romanticism doesn't wash with me

So spare me, a man who has travelled the world three times over all these ridiculous sentiments, get on with the humping, you will eventually come to a stage when you fill like reproducing (if you are able) and settling down perhaps with one woman, altho these days that seems a rarity amongst the younger set...

It is now a grey dull Christmas Eve day; the lights are showing on the cars so it will soon be dark. It's light enough for me to see the wee birds in the garden devouring bread. I've given the dogs, goats and hens their din-dins so they are all replete. Frances and I went X-mas shoppping in Kirkcaldy yesterday, not without its being fraught with danger and adrenalin inducing moments.

On the way there the car engine began making weird sounds as of tin cans rattling around under the bonnet and a very pungent odour assailed our nostrils. On arrival at our destination, ASDAS "shopping mall" as you so quaintly call them, I ups bonnet, the battery is exuding an acrid smoke which almost chokes me. Nothing to see though which could explain the rattling noise, so in we went to the "Shaaping maall" (American Idiom). Hustling around all the glitz and shit on sale to the idiots like us who come every year under the spell of the commercialism of it all. Bought a few things for the kids etc and made it back to the rust wreck in pissing rain. Fortunately it started, and we managed to get home leaving behind a trail of blue air and strewn swearwords lying on the wet road...   April 19 1989

6 oclock Wed Dawning

Dr John

Thanks for the letter albeit short and full of moaning shit. My advice to you regarding college etc is this: 1. You might as well finish the "course" having come this far; you never can tell what the future holds and any degree you accrue there may come in useful in later life. 2. If it really is bugging you to the point of distraction, get the hell out and fuck the degree. Only you can decide; remember, as we used to say in the navy, there is no barbed wire round the place keeping you in (or is there)? The barbed wire of indecision? Mix in different company if present company is giving you the shits, but John lad, no environment is perfect...   Oct 3 1988 [cont.]

...Well John the harvest is all in; the granary is knee deep in dust and chaff. Will have to something about that problem before we can house people up there. As you say John, there is plenty for folk to do here. We could almost be self-supporting with all the garden we have back and front. I would dearly love to see it happen and be able to hand it over to younger people, eventually, of like mind, who would keep the place operating. It will happen John, God Willing. Well, old son I'm going to make this short and sweet so I can get this off tomorrow. I'm going to have to get another machine as this bloody thing keeps leaping ahead and leaving great spaces. Anyway old son, all the best. Let's hear from you pretty soon. All the best from Pitkierie,

P.S. As you know John, the Granary Trust pamphlet was written as if the trust had been formalized already, to give us some idea of how to go about it.

The Granary Trust still faces financial difficulties, and is short on working volunteers. Les has a long history of providing shelter for the lost, and hopes to make Pitkierie a fully operating center for the jobless and homeless youth of Fife; he is able to offer free room in the bunk house in return for help with the project. For more information on the Trust, contact the photocopied address above, or call John Thompson at 493-2301.

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