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This report is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

Report from Edinburgh
Connexion and Shredding
Vahni Capildeo
Edinburgh is a city of many levels. If you dip down to the level of disused rail tracks, you access a network of paths and junctions with names that seem ancient (Fiveways, Goldenacre) but may date back only a couple of hundred years, or as recently as the 1980s, when the local trains went out of use. Bluebells (pinkbells, whitebells) linger on the cool and shady slopes weeks after their kindred have gone to earth in the south. Under one of the dripping bridges, graffiti, and installations memorialised Sarah Everard’s tragic death. There is no mention of the neighbourhood murder, fourteen years ago, which saw another woman dismembered, left in bags (not all of which have been recovered) along these stretches that invite us to walk their invention of pastoral. I wonder if one name – a new name every few years – can stand in for all of them; all of us. High up between the young mixed trees, a string sculpture stretches airily across the pathway, creating a sense of a threshold. Bat enthusiasts have signposted a bat trail. Good dogs bound and abound. Some walkers litter-pick as they go along, proud to maintain their environment. Viewing the green ways from above, would you see connexion or shredding?

Litter picking, like foraging, is a mild form of the greater housework that we undertake as inhabitants of (or passengers through) a place. Gathering is something else again. Edinburgh writer Alice Tarbuck, in A Spell in the Wild (Two Roads, 2020), a book organised month by month, from September to September, ...

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