‘That summer the toymaker arrived on the island with the little clockwork models he had created in his shop. There was a dog that barked and wagged its tail; a soldier set to march, present arms and salute; some puffins that squawked and flapped their wings. They whirled, whirred and raced their way around Village Bay, rolling about from home to home until eventually, they stilled, their springs becoming broken, overwound, perhaps, by a child. When the last one halted, they thought that would be the end of the matter.
Until they arrived in August on the cliffs.
When they clambered down the slope, they discovered there were clockwork fulmars nesting on the crags there. They clicked their necks up and down, making loud, grumbling noises in their throats. One or two could even spit, gobbing out beakfuls of oil that had been used to lubricate their machinery.
Iain tried to eat one, but the tiny motor in the bird’s belly, the broken spring below its wing, got stuck in his throat.’
Extract from Triptych