The Week the Roof Came Off

This is not a re-run of Hurricane Bawbag. After thirty years, the slates are breaking up, every wind lifts a few more, and rain and condensation is getting into the upstairs rooms, so we are having the front of our house re-roofed. There is noise and dust everywhere and I’m camping out in the kitchen (nice and warm, though but) writing reviews and correcting the proofs for the new print run of Wherever We Live Now.

The picture, however, is not of our house but of the dig at the Abbey. This wall, they think, is what is left of the old watergate. There isn’t too much to see, because a lot of the good stone was robbed out to make fancy buildings up beside the Castle. But there’s enough to encourage the archaeologists to come back in the spring, and when they do, I hope I’ll have the first draft of a bunch of poems about it.

On the Great Road of the Four Abbots
two monks come ghost-walking
from St Ninians to Cambuskenneth.

This is a reference to some friends of mine, American Benedictines, who came to visit the Abbey and pray there,so that there would be monks there again. And after that there was a story going round the village about ghosts haunting the place!

The thing that intrigues me most is the continuity. People have been here since Pictish times. The first Abbot may not have been the Augustinian Canon whoename is in the histories, but Cainneach, a friend of Columba, whose family, like mine, came from Waterford. And the last, one Alexander Mylne, renewed the connection between our abbey and the Abbey of St Victor, which later became the sorbonne. This is a connection for me too, as the author of The Cloud of Unknowing which is one of the key texts in my life, was heavily influenced by Richard of St Victor – who turns out to have been Scottish.

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