In Search of the Lost Domain

Published: July 19th, 2010
Le Grand Meaulnes: by Alain-Fournier It was thinking about Le Grand Meaulnes that first led me to the idea of Common Ground. I’d read it in my early 20s, about the same age at which Alain-Fournier had written it just before the First World War. A feeling for the book had then lingered in my […]

  • Cromarty and the Black Isle
    Hugh Miller’s voices
    by Ali Smith

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    It is 1969. I’m about seven years old. I am sitting in my parents’ bedroom on the ottoman at the end of their bed, upstairs in our house in St Valery Avenue in Inverness. We live in the capital of the Highlands, I know, because my mother told me. My mother says we are descended […]

  • Kidnapped:
    Stevenson, the Highlands and a story under every stone
    by Jamie Jauncey

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    The first edition of Kidnapped sits on my desk. It’s slightly shabby now, but when it was published in 1886, its dark green cloth cover and gold lettering would have glowed with the promise of what lay inside. The first surprise would have been its folding map, titled: SKETCH of the CRUISE of the BRIG […]

  • Wet Sand and Gasoline
    Beachcombing in Fife with John Burnside
    by Richard Clayton

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    On a bright midwinter morning, the Fife coast gleams. Calling this corner of the ancient kingdom “a fringe of gold on a beggar’s mantle”,1 James II of Scotland clearly knew his real estate. The “East Neuk” is a beautiful sleeve of farmland – hemmed to the south by the Firth of Forth – with fishing […]

  • The Rules of Modernity
    Glasgow, Stuart Murdoch and me
    by Neil Taylor

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    Books were never my friends. Records were. Are. Not actual records, you understand; not big vinyl things. I’ve never had that nostalgia for the physical – I’m a child of Thatcher, I can’t remember an industry that made things, so I don’t need to have them in my hands. Much better, in the case of […]

  • I’m Grim Up North
    Lying reminiscences with Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar
    by Roger Horberry

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    You know when people say it’s grim up north? They’re right. My advice to anxious urbanites thinking of relocation is think carefully. What do you value? Where will you find it? My problem is the people – tattooed, moustachioed nosebiters choking the Saturday streets and drinking themselves rabid on two for the price of one […]

  • How to Find Your Voice in Burnley
    Raising a glass to Paul Abbott
    by Rob Williams

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    [Ext. Burnley Town Centre. Day] A rusty white Cortina moves slowly out of town, steering through police horses and football fans heading to Turf Moor for the match. Inside the car, the DRIVER, a tired-looking middle-aged Asian man, and his passenger, an inebriated younger man – a STRANGER to the area – are thrown around […]

  • Your Time Starts Now:
    Questioning what’s real in David Lodge’s Birmingham
    by Lorelei Mathias

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    QUESTION 3.b): “Rummidge is not Birmingham, though it owes something to popular prejudices about that city”,1 David Lodge. Discuss. Seven years ago, almost to the day. It was the middle of the afternoon, and the sun was just poking its head out over the green campus quadrangle. Inside Avanti, the half-empty campus diner, two people […]

  • Ecstatic Boredom
    Will Self and the Great British Motorway (with special reference to the M40)
    by Justina Hart

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    “Once you’ve acquired the habit of motorway driving, it’s damned hard to kick it. You may set out on com-pletely innocuous excursions, fully intending to take the scenic route, but yet again the slip-road will suck you in, a lobster-pot ingress to the virtual reality of motorway driving.”1 Slip road In 1996, Will Self described […]

  • The Essex Factor
    Rocking in Colchester with Giles Smith
    by Tom Wilcox

    Published: March 23rd, 2010
    “Once upon a time, I don’t remember when. Caught in the vacuum between now and then. Out on the road, phantom light lights to the East. The forgotten land where no roads lead. This is the Land That Time Forgot. This is the Land That Time Forgot. Call it Nowhere.” (Keith Godman, “The Land That […]