The Dog Days refer to the sultry, tumultous period where Sirius, the dog star (and the brightest in the sky), rises at the same time as the sun. Here on Constitution Street, like the rest of Scotland, it’s been the hottest June for over a hundred years.
It’s felt a very up and down, heated sort of time for the book project too. Back and forth edits to a prospective publisher distracted me from finishing the final two remaining chapters and I have excelled at procrastination recently- the houseplants have never been more watered, my wardroabe is cleared and I have a better suntan than most office-workers.
The two chapters that have been a block for far too long are the conclusion Amendments, at the end of the road (this is not such a block as I’ve known how to conclude the book for sometime- just need to knuckle down and get on with it!) and The Right to Self-Determination, the Commons. Self-Determination is messy because to consider questions of local and national identity in context, I had to travel further from the street to learn more about global movements like the Commons and democratic confederalism. It is messier still because I want to balance my own views on Scots indy in the wider world with the mix of views shared by neighbours during interviews.
At the Democracy 21 conference in Glasgow, I joined five hundred other people from across Scotland on a sunny Saturday to mobilise in support of a different way of doing politics. I was particularly inspired by the work of the Gal Gael Trust and it was good to reconnect with Barcelona En Comu activists.
The pubs have overflowed with World Cup fans, including Icelandic and Everton striker, Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, spotted inside the Port O’ Leith.
Leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, visited Leith Walk with friend Gordon Munro and signed the Save Leith Walk Petition against redevelopment plans that will exaserbate housing inequality in the area.
I chatted to mechanic Donald in the old coopers yard where Kate Winslet starred in the film Jude. Donald knows a lot and I’m looking forward to sitting down for a longer talk soon. By telephone, I interviewed former resident, Matt, who had responsibility for keeping time on the external clock of the Exchange Buildings. Now electrified, the clock is set by a timer inside Matt’s flat. He told me about the ocassions when his flat cleaner plugged a vacuum cleaner into the socket by mistake and time stood still in Leith.
The sun shone for the annual Leith Festival Gala Day and down at the Croft, I sweated and swore digging up waist-high thistles in preparation for the laying of a water trench. Neighbour Andy told me that the thistles need re-dug every year and that they always grow back taller and tougher. It seems a fitting metaphor for our collective persevering.
And I went gambling at the casino on a Monday night. The Genting Casino blocks any view of the sea from the street so I arrived to interview the Manager, Lynne, expecting to really dislike her. Not for the first time, I had my prejudices challenged.
I have been reading:
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
So, it’s not been an entirely unproductive month. When temperatures soared to 30 degrees, I stayed grounded walking and paddling in the north sea after work with Bon, my dog star. She always points in the right direction.