We go rather uncertainly to celebrate Terminalia, who may or may not be the patron saint of psychogeography, and will certainly be a neuter-gendered Latin dude.
This involves following an invisible line between Edinburgh (Capital City, Athens of the North, Up the Toon, Fur Coat and No Knickers) and East Lothian ( Home of Scotlands Flag, Country Living, Doon the Club and Ah Kent Yer Faither) which seeks edges – a burn mouth, the enclosing boundary wall of a Palladian mansion, a railway line, and then some field boundaries around the back of the village of Newcraighall…
Invisible lines are more agile than psychogeographers, so we have had to deviate from the line to walk through some identical housing schemes ( occupied and hopefully vacant) and along freshly paved roads. At the end of these there is a gap in the line of trees and a desire path crosses the wall which hosts our boundary, and leads into the fallow fields and scrub beyond. This I decide is the place..
My libation is a pack of pilfered seeds ( ‘Wild Bumblebee Mix’ to be specific and ironic). Just beyond the wall someone has flytipped a pile of garden compost, which seems a nice invitation.
I hope to make some small recompense to all of the pollinators for the biodiversity which will be squashed under the tarmac.We bury the seeds and I pour some coolish herb tea ( peppermint and liquorice) onto the pile. I am briefly lost for words.
Then I remember where I am..
Terminalia it seems to me is there to encourage us to explore boundaries, connections and beyond the known.. Newcraighall celebrates the filmmaker Bill Douglas, who grew up here when it was a mining village during the Second World war (there is a featureless street named for him in the labyrinth behind us).
He made three autobiographic films of his early life, set here and roundabouts in the 1970s. Bill’s childhood would best be described as grim, abusive and neglected, and the black and white images of the films add to the starkness. Where things sometimes change are where the child actor, Stephen Archibald, playing Jamie, the Bill Douglas character,, roams from the village onto the spoil heaps and waste ground, fields and bings that we are currently walking over. In this place he escapes to his imagination, and, we might imagine, to the remarkable idea that he might one day become a person who can create for others, takes root…
So here’s to you, Terminalia , god of the Edgelands, god of disorientation , god of possibilities unlooked for..
Photos by Tamsin Grainger and Swithun Crowe
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