The Things Around Me – Malachy Tallack


Wounded Man by Malachy Tallack with Steven Laurenson, from the album from the thorn (buy here)

I discovered the music of Malachy Tallack through another project, The Things Around Me. Last year Malachy moved to a house in the village of Vidlin, on the north east coast of the Shetland mainland. After six months, and still feeling like a stranger, he began to write a series of essays in an attempt to come to some understanding with his surroundings, and these essays are wonderfully evocative of the animals, birds and plants all around him. They are also beautifully illustrated by Will Miles, and artist and ornithologist who lives and works in Fair Isle.

From 15th December:

This morning, looking northeast to where the loch slips under the bridge and into the sea, a mirror calm wedge of water was broken by swirls and splashes. My view was obscured from the bedroom window by tall bushes in the garden, so I moved to where the binoculars were sat on the sill in the dining room and looked again.

The swirls were still there, and in that uncertain movement the disturbance became a black shape, which became, in turn, an otter.

I saw the head first, then as it rolled to dive the arc of its back lifted, followed by the tail, like a thick eel protruding momentarily from the water.

It was hardly gone ten seconds before it returned, swirling again, swimming in the direction of the house. Slipping just beneath the surface, it careered sideways, dragging a shallow bow wave behind it. For a moment I couldn’t see the animal, only the wake it left as it swam. And then it was up again, spilling broad circles of light over the loch.

Read More – the things around me

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