Leader: Poet’s love-life worth a dram or three

FREEDOM and whisky gang thegither, wrote Robert Burns. Now George Mackay Brown appears to have rewritten the Bard’s dictum: writing, love and whisky gang thegither.

No doubt campaigners against alcoholism will disapprove, but it appears inescapable that whisky played a large part in the creativity of Mackay Brown, an Orcadian who is a major figure in 20th century Scottish writing.

A new book about the poet and author has revealed that he had a tempestuous affair with artist Sylvia Wishart, something long denied by those who were close to them both.

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Now it appears that their creativity prospered under the influence of whisky, acknowledged by the discovery of an unknown play by Mackay Brown. Appropriately, given the context, it is a comedy written for Ms Wishart about the progress, or lack of it, of a drink-fuelled funeral where the minister is the chief drink-bearer. Now, of course, we are not advising young writers and artists to take to the hills with a flagon of drink to ignite their creativity, not in this weather at least. And of course we must stick to the rules and advise abstinence on two days a week and adherence to medical advice about the number of units to be consumed in the remaining five days.

But hey doc, is this the way to come up with original creative artistry?

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