As I always carry a notebook and pen with me I often capture my thoughts when they amount to something. Yesterday I sat at the harbour in North Berwick and looked across the Firth of Forth to the massive slab of rock that is the Bass Rock. It’s an uninhabited volcanic island that is home to thousands of seabirds and was an inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson. It featured in his 1893 novel, Catriona, which he wrote as a sequel to the more famous Kidnapped.
Yesterday, this sombre edifice three miles away inspired me, too.
The sun shone on the green-swathed headland to the east, it bathed the northern coastline of the Firth of Forth in golden light. Even the harbour wall at North Berwick gleamed on this bright February afternoon.
But Bass Rock was brooding. Solemn and grey against the blue of the winter sky it lay in the shadow of a single blanket of darkness, the only cloud in sight. It was as if the rock was sulking, waiting for someone to switch the light on.
And then a shaft of light trickled over the top of the tiny island, sneaked down the vertical cliffs to the sea and the rock smiled. Warm at last. Gloom dissipating.