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23 April 2010

I have a photograph
of the canal in Bath
by the door leading out
of my living room,
taken the day after my husband died.
A house reflected in the canal.
The real house windows are dark…
no lights on…
but the reflection
has windows blazing with light
from the setting sun.
It reminds me
My husband’s earthly life
Was ended, and dark,
But he still lives
in the light of the mansion
in the Otherworld.

I went often to the canal after that.
I did not see the sign again –
the combination of a dark house
and blazing windows in the reflection.
It was a “one-off” symbol
given to me
to teach me
and to comfort me.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • alangilliland July 4, 2011, 10:54 am

    Dear Moyra,
    I feel a little nervous about writing like this out of the blue since your last post was Apr. 2010 and hope you are still well.

    Through my interest in Mervyn Peake as artist and writer I only discovered yesterday from Michael Moorcock’s article that it was your husband, Oliver, who enabled my discovery of Peake’s Gormenghast when I was a student. Not only that, he was instrumental in publishing others that influenced me at the time (and which I still have today): Carlos Castenada, The Tao of Physics and Tao Te Ching (although I have several translations of that).

    I particularly admired Peake because as a writer and artist he embodied the talents that I wished to practice but was heavy discouraged from doing. By a long and circuitous route I have at last reached that goal and now write and illustrate my own fiction, albeit still constrained by having to illustrate for other publishers and architects to keep going. (I have added a brief biog., below).

    In discovering that both you and your husband were artists and writers too, I feel emboldened to ask if might send you my first two books, by way of a long-delayed thank you to a man I never knew but who brought to me such inspiration through his republishing of Gormenghast.

    The first, an illustrated nonsense quest story for children, with 80 illustrations in 160 pages of story, has sold over 7,000 in hardback so far, and was made a Book of the Year by the Lovereading website.
    The second, an adult fantasy some describe as a gothic ghost tale, I would dearly have loved to have published with illustrations, but was unable to through the constraints of time and finance. It has sold around 1,300 to date. Published as a paperback with French flaps, it is a strange story set between Elizabethan times and today in which all the characters have bird-forms whilst being human and has at its core a re-telling of a Greek myth.

    I hope this finds you safely and that you will be kind enough to accept this token.
    Best wishes,

    A Potted History in Sepia – or – Alan Howard Gilliland’s perilous solo journey from the tropical into the publishing jungle.
    Born in Malaya in 1949 and brought up on a garrisoned rubber plantation during the ‘Emergency’, Alan Gilliland’s first, mountaintop, boarding school was reached by means of a 1930’s American armour-plated car, WWII Dakota aeroplane and Saracen armoured personnel carrier. A year later, aged six, he was transferred to a new school, memories of whose white, hot sandy beaches were to remain ingrained upon his psyche long after leaving for this drizzly island we call home. With his departure, Malaysia became independent and its anti-colonialist insurgency lost its rationale.
    Alan quickly learned the uses of the cricket bat, macintosh and other essentials of integration into English society. Performing passably well throughout his boarding-school years, he fell at the final hurdle, being possibly uniquely expelled for revising for his art A-level exam.
    Undeterred by this setback, he did not go to art college, preferring devious paths to the realization of his creative ambitions via film-making, architecture, photo-journalism, newspaper cartooning and news information graphics – culminating in 18 years and a score of international awards as graphics editor of The Daily Telegraph – before finally arriving at the decision to write and illustrate fictions less ordinary than his own life.
    Casting himself adrift with his long-suffering wife upon a tiny barque of talent with its pencil-mast, he draws from the very winds inspiration to fill the sheets and carry them across the ocean of scepticism that lies between hope and fulfillment. On the shoreline his six children and three grandchildren wave their little hankies, littorally wondering if ever he will make it.