Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Yesterday I was at the hut, waiting for the white van to arrive full of the discarded wood from a stage set. It came and was carried to the side of the hut to be examined at a later date.
Some of it can be taken apart and used for building purposes - rebuilding, adding to, substituting - this is the unfinished hut.

The rain poured down, we made muddy tracks everywhere, but so hard was the rain that it immediately pounded the tracks flat. The most of the wood was left under a blue tarpaulin (I no longer have any idea where it came from - it's been around for years) while the choicest bits - unused offcuts - were stored inside the hut.

This happens most years.  Not the rain (which is everyday stuff), but the end-of-tour stage-set delivery. One year, after my play Mouth of Silence, the delivery also had in it a full-size skeleton. That went to the folk who organise the Hallowe'en walk at Carbeth. Another year saw a huge quantity of ready-made flat walls. A hutter friend took these and made them the basis for a (sort of) brand new hut.

The spirit of recycling has never not been known at Carbeth: if something's not here now, we wait - and it will turn up.
It's patience and that sure knowledge (together with a little healthy idleness) that make this the unfinished hut.
There are others like it - and always have been.

straight lines

From where I'm sitting on the boat, the hut is only a few miles over the hill as the Coastguard helicopter flies.
The walk I just took to the island down at the Basin reminded me of the absence here of the wilding quinces - grubbed up by British Waterways - that in years gone by I would pick and take back to make my rooms fragrant then turn into a preserve.

I had however collected seeds one season, and when they germinated, I'd planted these at the hut as the foundation of a jaggy deer-proof hedge. Last year gave us their first hedge fruits at the hut.

On the way between squalls round the wee island  - only accessible across the sea-lock - are some remaining straggly, contorted, aged, lichen-clad, unruly elders. On one of these I found my crop of the day - Judas ears. I filled my hat full of them.
They really do resemble the folds and fleshiness of ears. In China they are devoured: known as Mu-erh, they are used in many dishes; I'll dry these and use them as flavouring.

Though it's a straight line from here to the hut, if you care to draw such a thing, the linking is far more contorted and dependent on state of mind - wild goes to wild - as the trail of quince and mushroom links hut and boat today, so tomorrow the wild mind will find yet another meshing in that net of interpenetration - even only in another story of food.

Friday, 1 April 2011


In 1980 John Cage wrote:

"I don't understand any of it. Nor do I understand the night sky with the stars and moon in it. The fact we travel to the moon has given me no explanation of it. I would be delighted to retrace Basho's steps in Japan where as an old man he made a special tour on foot to enjoy particular views of the moon."

Some twenty years later, I did exactly that. Already older than Basho when he died, I set out to walk in Japan, visiting Basho's stopping points, moon-viewing all the way.

Of course, in the intervening years - since Basho, I mean, not since Cage's words - the world had moved on. We've covered the hills & valleys with railtracks, with motorways and with cities. These cannot be crossed nor gone through on foot.
Instead, I watched the moon & walked those parts of Basho's journey that I could; spending time instead sitting at huts that he had lived in - basho huts - named (him and huts) after the Japanese bananas (Musa Basjoo).

One of my favourites is the Hut of the Fallen Persimmons. This hut got somehow tangled up into my walks, which became in turn nuclear walks - walks in places affected by nuclear bombs - in desert USA where they were tested and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Nagasaki, I met the farmer and tree-surgeon Mr Ebinuma, who had grown from seed some persimmon trees which had survived the atomic bomb blast in 1945. One of these trees I planted in Glasgow Botanic Gardens: the picture of a walking/modernity/landscape destruction becomes complicated at that point of my basho-hut visits.

Many things become simpler in huts.At the garden of the unfinished hut - Larach Beag to give it the official name - at Carbeth, is a yet-unfinished star viewing seat. Inscribed in a never-ending circle round the outside edge of this circular seat will be the words seeing stars seeing ourselves. There are more urgent priorities than finishing that seat, especially when, with no effort at all, I can walk through the hut door, crane my neck and see Orion. And Ursus. And the milliard stars that light the sky there. When the moon's out, then I gaze at that. I have no more purpose in mind than Basho had. Lightness, like him, maybe.

The nuclear walks are the reason for my last book, that person himself - and for the forthcoming book fault line which is in, on or about the premises of Faslane, our own sets of bunkers and submarines for nuclear missiles. But the moon viewing journeys are awaiting the pen, mostly.

One of the simplifications that hut life brings is the joy of not travelling. Of being in place. Being in place means that I'm free to travel inward. The moon comes to me, wherever I am, but at the hut it not only visits, but belongs; hangs in the sky until I next sight it and my own stillness.

This year, I'll be at the hut each full moon, to honour Basho's moon viewing by not travelling but still watching the moon. He knew it's the same moon wherever, then as now. I'll start with April's Waking Moon on the 18th  and go outside each month until October's Harvest Moon which this year will be seen at the hut on the 12th: the day Basho died in Osaka in 1694.

There is no cage for the moon.

Reforesting Scotland

The current (spring / summer 2011) issue of Reforesting Scotland (www.reforestingscotland.org) has a photograph of the cludgie at my hut on its front cover. The same photograph appears inside (next to a small article by me on Carbeth) with the caption "Gerry Loose's beautiful outhouse . . ."
The outhouse / cludgie is a place I visit on a daily basis when at the hut. I don't want to get  . . . well, anal . . . about it, but it's a serious topic, cutting straight into the debate about water (& therefore water closets): the pollution of ground water, rivers, the water table. The RS front-cover-outhouse runs on ash from the hut stove. No smell; no pollution, quietly buried once in a while.
Yes, I realise it's not possible for everyone, but it works fine at the hut, has done for more than a dozen years.
It keeps the rain off, provides a view of the birds flitting (with the door left open); but also is cold & drafty in the winter. I recommend an outhouse; when inside toilets were first introduced into country areas (& probably cities) it was considered an unhygienic notion).
Maybe that's a point worth remaking and considering.