Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
'The Perfect Loaf'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_ANGUS_DUNN_02
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Angus Dunn
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1243
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

Get Adobe Flash player

This audio extract is from 'The Perfect Loaf' by Angus Dunn, published in 2008. It is read here by the author.

'There is the doorstep, and there is the butcher's knife.
There is the promise of a book. And the elvers.
These are the landmarks of this place.

First, there is the doorstep, where nothing ever happened, again and again, for year after year.

There was a plant of thyme growing on the edge of that step, growing slowly, an inch in a year. And everything that could be seen from that doorstep took part in the same easy flow of time.

I sit there in the sunshine and the rain. I sit there at five years old and at ten. The concrete of the step has always had that chipped edge and corner: and then one year, and always thereafter, it has always had the thyme covering those wounds.

From that step, the sounds of the house are audible. The new baby is crying as her nappy is changed. She is crawling on the step beside me. She is running on the grass, she is crying from a fall by the fuchsia bush as the wind whips her hair.

Down the hill is another marker of this domain. Behind the general stores lies the butcher's shop. There is sawdust on the floor, renewed every morning, but always with bloody flecks in it and discarded fragments of fat.

There is always another customer in there, and always the butcher leans towards me as I go in. His hand reaches out and his knife flashes towards my crotch. 'Sausages! Sausages!' He beams his red meaty smile for the benefit of the other customer.

If there's no-one else in the shop I'm afraid to go in. I wait, counting the lemonade bottles in the wooden crates.

In the house itself, there are countless eddies where time is locked. At the table, I read the labels of jam jars, the sides of cereal boxes. I know every word. A voice says, 'We really must get him some good books. He's old enough for - ' The titles of the half-promised books change, the pattern is constant. On the sideboard there is a serpentine pattern of veneer that a finger can follow mindlessly, and does follow, mindlessly and endlessly, year after year. The pattern is always complete: later, the broken edges are the way it has always been. Twilight creeps through the house, as a voice says 'This is the BBC Home Service.'

The eels were a part of that small domain too, but almost accidentally. They pass through at their own time, from a secret part of their own world, through the edge of ours, and then into another, hidden part of their own.

Whenever there is a storm in Spring, elvers come out of our cold-water tap. Someone says that there must be a crack in the pipe, and the elvers crawl into it. Someone says that eels can travel a hundred yards over wet ground. Someone tells the story about the six-foot conger that Uncle Colin caught. Someone agrees that they always tangle your fishing line and I always listen, waiting for the six-foot conger to punctuate the pattern.

After a storm, I go down to the stream. Below the bridge, smooth rocks protrude above the water. They are covered with elvers, slithering over the wet stone. There are so many coming upstream that the burn can't hold them.

I sit there, watching the elvers moving over the stones and through the bridge. I can't stop watching, although I almost wish to. I am in the domain still, but it is the very edge of the pattern.'

Angus Dunn was brought up in Aultbea and Cromarty and now lives near Strathpeffer in Ross-shire. He is the author of 'The Perfect Loaf', (2008) a collection of short stories. His novel, 'Writing in the Sand' (2006) was short-listed for the Saltire Society's Scottish Literary Award. Angus's work has been published in many literary magazines including 'New Writing Scotland' and 'Shorts: the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Collection'. His stories have also been broadcast on Radio 4, Radio Scotland and Loch Broom FM.

Angus was awarded the 1995 Robert Louis Stevenson Prize and the 2002 Neil Gunn Short Story Prize. His poetry has been published in many Scottish magazines and anthologies.

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

'The Perfect Loaf'

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Angus Dunn

This audio extract is from 'The Perfect Loaf' by Angus Dunn, published in 2008. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'There is the doorstep, and there is the butcher's knife.<br /> There is the promise of a book. And the elvers.<br /> These are the landmarks of this place.<br /> <br /> First, there is the doorstep, where nothing ever happened, again and again, for year after year.<br /> <br /> There was a plant of thyme growing on the edge of that step, growing slowly, an inch in a year. And everything that could be seen from that doorstep took part in the same easy flow of time.<br /> <br /> I sit there in the sunshine and the rain. I sit there at five years old and at ten. The concrete of the step has always had that chipped edge and corner: and then one year, and always thereafter, it has always had the thyme covering those wounds.<br /> <br /> From that step, the sounds of the house are audible. The new baby is crying as her nappy is changed. She is crawling on the step beside me. She is running on the grass, she is crying from a fall by the fuchsia bush as the wind whips her hair.<br /> <br /> Down the hill is another marker of this domain. Behind the general stores lies the butcher's shop. There is sawdust on the floor, renewed every morning, but always with bloody flecks in it and discarded fragments of fat.<br /> <br /> There is always another customer in there, and always the butcher leans towards me as I go in. His hand reaches out and his knife flashes towards my crotch. 'Sausages! Sausages!' He beams his red meaty smile for the benefit of the other customer.<br /> <br /> If there's no-one else in the shop I'm afraid to go in. I wait, counting the lemonade bottles in the wooden crates.<br /> <br /> In the house itself, there are countless eddies where time is locked. At the table, I read the labels of jam jars, the sides of cereal boxes. I know every word. A voice says, 'We really must get him some good books. He's old enough for - ' The titles of the half-promised books change, the pattern is constant. On the sideboard there is a serpentine pattern of veneer that a finger can follow mindlessly, and does follow, mindlessly and endlessly, year after year. The pattern is always complete: later, the broken edges are the way it has always been. Twilight creeps through the house, as a voice says 'This is the BBC Home Service.'<br /> <br /> The eels were a part of that small domain too, but almost accidentally. They pass through at their own time, from a secret part of their own world, through the edge of ours, and then into another, hidden part of their own.<br /> <br /> Whenever there is a storm in Spring, elvers come out of our cold-water tap. Someone says that there must be a crack in the pipe, and the elvers crawl into it. Someone says that eels can travel a hundred yards over wet ground. Someone tells the story about the six-foot conger that Uncle Colin caught. Someone agrees that they always tangle your fishing line and I always listen, waiting for the six-foot conger to punctuate the pattern.<br /> <br /> After a storm, I go down to the stream. Below the bridge, smooth rocks protrude above the water. They are covered with elvers, slithering over the wet stone. There are so many coming upstream that the burn can't hold them.<br /> <br /> I sit there, watching the elvers moving over the stones and through the bridge. I can't stop watching, although I almost wish to. I am in the domain still, but it is the very edge of the pattern.'<br /> <br /> Angus Dunn was brought up in Aultbea and Cromarty and now lives near Strathpeffer in Ross-shire. He is the author of 'The Perfect Loaf', (2008) a collection of short stories. His novel, 'Writing in the Sand' (2006) was short-listed for the Saltire Society's Scottish Literary Award. Angus's work has been published in many literary magazines including 'New Writing Scotland' and 'Shorts: the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Collection'. His stories have also been broadcast on Radio 4, Radio Scotland and Loch Broom FM. <br /> <br /> Angus was awarded the 1995 Robert Louis Stevenson Prize and the 2002 Neil Gunn Short Story Prize. His poetry has been published in many Scottish magazines and anthologies.