Yesterday, Lieutenant Wunderkind and I hit the August Edinburgh Frenzy, and finding it too noisy, escaped down the Canongate for a bit of contemplation. En route we visited Scotland’s Map Heritage Centre which was a wonderful discovery, and I made a modest purchase – but more of that anon as it’s a present which hasn’t been given yet!
The Scottish Parliament building is at the foot of the Royal Mile, of course, just opposite Holyrood Palace. We had thought we might visit the palace, never having called in before. However, call us true Scots if you like, at £16.50 for entry there was no way! We’ll just have to hope for a personal invitation some time. So instead we crossed back over and queued through the security system for a wee stroll around the Parliament building.
There was of course huge controversy about this building a few years back, to do with the length of time it took to complete; the escalating costs; and indeed its design which is far from Scottish Vernacular. But actually, I love it. Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘Open the Doors’ says it well:
‘Did you want classic columns and predictable pediments? A
growl of old Gothic grandeur? A blissfully boring box?
Not here, no thanks! No icon, no IKEA, no iceberg, but
curves and caverns, nooks and niches, huddles and
heavens, syncopations and surprises.
I love the ‘syncopations and surprises’. If a government can also be open to syncopations and surprises from its people, that’s a good thing. LW and I had a wee seat in the debating chamber, which was empty at the time, and enjoyed the light spikes and whorls of its architecture. Yes, on a cynical day we all know that public chambers are full of posturing and grandstanding and enough hot air to fuel the national grid. But hey! I’m proud that Scotland has created for herself such an assertively original and modern parliamentary home.
The title of this blog, incidentally, is courtesy of Hugh Macdiarmid and his brilliant poem, ‘Nothing but Heather’:
‘ Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?/ Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner/ To a fool who cries “Nothing but heather!
…How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!’