Guest Page

An occasional page where guest writers join us for a story or two.

The following is from Jane Cook, who is originally from Kirkcaldy, but has lived away from Fife all her working life, and now based in Cumbria. She and her husband have a flat in Kirkcaldy and return as often as possible – though that has been thwarted in the last year’s lockdowns.

‘I’ve always liked writing, but never really took myself seriously until I did a year’s course at Newcastle Uni a couple of years ago, and since then I have been working on a novel and also enjoy writing poems. Now that I’ve retired, I’ve got more time for writing, and am keen to have a network of other writers with whom I might share and critique work. I’m looking more in Fife, as I feel my writing is grounded in my Scottish heritage’, she explains.

Below is a wonderful poem, written a few years ago, about a train journey I’m sure many of us know very well.

Waverley to Kirkcaldy

Waverley, stately station beneath the heart of Edinburgh.
The old North British clock above, keeping us right
(always a minute ahead of time lest we slip).

Waverley, formal as Scott’s novels of that name,
leatherbound on my father’s father’s shelf.

Bustling, busy, city station. City gents,
Glamorous girls, students, the avant-garde;
ladies who lunch in tweeds, the down-and-outs.

Haymarket – draughty, cold and grey. Don’t linger.
Slip in from the West End and be on your way.

The Gyle crept slyly in. We hardly noticed
The fields give way to urban sprawl.

Dalmeny’s beeches, oaks and primroses
Still hold me in thrall. But most people
Alight for urban bliss, detached and harled.

The land is falling away now
And we are looking down on
South Queensferry:
stone houses
huddled by the sea,
the long, stone pier
where the ferry used to be
then scalloped coastline
fringed with autumn trees.

The Forth Rail Bridge –
rackety-rack rackety-rack rackety-rack.
We are flying now
on the Forth Rail Bridge
high above the firth.
Rackety-rack rackety-rack rackety-rack.
The islands, ships and rigs
are like toys below in the dreaming, sparkling sea,
all framed at forty-five degrees
by rust red girders.

North Queensferry,
perched above the Forth like an eyrie.

In – ver – kei – thing Junction.
Alight for stations to Dunfermline.

Then Aberdour,
With floodlit castle and Silver Sands
and the track between the shoreline and the land
all the way to

Burntisland –
black, scorched outcrop in the dark water,
though others say – a Royal Burgh, once
Bruntes’ Land, a thriving town with docks,
Now quiet. We cut our way between the Links –
its summer funfair birling – and the sea.
Climbing above Petticur Bay
With its wide petticoat of rippling sands
And gently foaming wavelets

Till we reach Kinghorn
where once I stood beneath the gaslight lamp
at four o’clock as snowflakes fell against a vast slate sky,
waiting for the train home

to Kirkcaldy.

Jane Cook
October 2016