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Ironstone 3, a collection of writing from West Lothian, has hit the shelves.  The production is professional.  The art work is a pleasure itself.  Much of the writing is excellent.
Unfortunately the distribution was less effective.  Two of the identified local retail points were without copies for sale.  Local publications need every sale they can get.  That needs fixed.
It’s an exciting mixture of poetry, short stories and excerpts from longer prose pieces.  This edition is dedicated to Donnie McNeill.  Donnie, who died earlier this year, had been a stalwart in local writing groups.  He brought pleasure and inspiration to many people and his posthumously published poem, Elegy in an Island Churchyard does exactly that.  Standing in the graveyard on Gigha, Donnie thinks on the past, on those now buried and of the kirk and its stones.  It may be a sombre end to a collection that is well sprinkled with humour but a fine tribute to the man.
Anne McIntyre’s two poems, Afterwards and Eyes Tight Shut both reflect a determination to move on, even after loss.  Lorna Whyte describes herself as ‘having an affinity with alcoholics’. She writes a painful description of a middle-aged alcoholic’s obsessive behaviour and sad, shabby circumstances.
There is a lighter side to Ironstone 3.  Ian Comrie, is a horseman and local worthy at Houston Farm.  He brings dry wit and neat observation to his poem  Auld Conman.  Driving into the village, he has to brake hard ‘no tae skelp intae an auld man’ hobbling across the street.  Not much later however, he saw the same old boy ‘zoom alang the pavement like a poacher’s whippet’.  After a few minutes he realised that the first race was about to start and the bookie had to be reached quickly.
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spy, Norman Geddes’s short story, captures glimpses of three generations, each caught in their own activities and the child being the sharpest observer and if Donnie McNeill’s finale lent a serious note, Alastair McNeill’s My Father’s Thistle, offers a son’s proud tribute.
The quality of the writing in Ironstone 3 is a credit to the writers but also its supporters, including West Lothian Council. If it tends to the dark side of life, that’s perhaps a reflection of reality in Scotland today. There’s a wealth of writing talent in West Lothian.  More power to their hands.
The above review appeared on the Ironstone website:

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