Not to boast, but to reveal this beautiful certificate – check those Pictish fishes!
Seriously, though, I had a wonderful day in Inverness yesterday at the Award Ceremony for the Neil Gunn Writing Competition. It was held in the Town House, a stone building of such grace and friendliness it puts the average council offices to shame, and was a joy from start to finish. There were several categories to the competition, and special mention should go to Thurso High School which provided an impressive proportion of the secondary school winners. Then we got to the poetry. I can’t recommend highly enough James Knox Whittet’s overall winning poem Cuttings, but the others were excellent also.
There was an excellent lunch after that, when I was able to talk to two of the other winners,Great guys, both, in very different ways) and to Jon Miller, who turned out to be the person who accepted the poems for last year’s Northwords Now.
And then I met Katharine Stewart! I’ll write more about her on Lúcháir, I think, but she has been a favourite writer of mine for about twenty years. She is coming up to ninety-five now, and was so kind to me when Paul asked if I could be introduced, though a little bemused, I think by my enthusiasm.
It was perfect weather, and Inverness was green and peaceful under the sun and wind. Three of us later bumped into each other at Leakey’s, The justifiably famous second-hand bookshop – how could we be in Inverness and not go to Leakey’s?
Thanks should go to the Neil Gunn Trust for setting up the competition and to all the funders, but especially to the organiser, Area Libraries Officer Charlotte Macarthur, who was responsible for looking after everyone, making sure that the day went without a hitch, and was so helpful to everyone throughout the whole competition.