Sunday, April 30, 2006


I’ve only got one day to go now then I’ll be off to sunny Spain. I just had an email from  Lulu; that daft Lexy is over there and she’s lost her purse; apparently she and Bitsy were pissed in one – or more probably, a few of the local bars, and someone’s lifted the purse when she wasn’t looking….probably when she was lying in the gutter! She’s too blonde to be sensible.

Still no sign of the bloody hoist and, it’s Gent’s birthday on Wednesday; bank holiday tomorrow so it won’t be arriving then. Joy is very tired; her walking is pretty bad and she’s a lot more breathless when walking than even a few weeks ago. She did the knickers thing again last night. Fi is just going to love this report, and she’ll have to deal with Gent coming out of hospital now. It’s hard to tell just how he is; how long he’ll be around. He usually eats very well when he’s at home, and the one-to-one care really helps him rebuild…but he’s pretty wasted and thin and isn’t weight–bearing; so getting him back on his feet will be a hard job, and it might be that he’ll never get back up there. I hope he gets the summer anyway. And then again, maybe Joy will be the one to slip away first.

My really Scottish friends, Morag and Hamish, have just become grandparents for the first time, and they get a granddaughter right away. Morag has just got out of hospital on Tuesday; she’s got Crohn’s disease, and was in for four months this time. When I first started my travels, she was in a coma; this lasted for four months; it came out of an operation…so then after she woke up so miraculously, she got that flesh-eating bug and MRSA. In the end she was in hospital for about eleven months! I think it’s pretty evident that she is immortal, and cannot be killed. I should create a super hero costume for her.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I walked into my bedroom tonight and heard the little voice on the intercom, ‘Help!’ I dived into Joy’s room; she was lying across the double bed, not hurt, but lost and scared, and wet. When I got to her I gave her a great big hug, and she had a little cry. She didn’t know what had happened, except that she was wet and getting cold. She’d taken off her underwear and pad (which was dry) and wet the Kylie mat on the bed. She said she didn’t remember taking off the underwear and she knew that she wasn’t supposed to get out of the bed. I moved her over to her commode, right beside the bed and changed her nightdress. I was making her laugh now, telling her that everything was alright and that she was a silly old bat. We laughed at that, and I gave her another lovely hug. I got a fresh Kylie mat and tucked her back up again, saying, ‘Keep your knickers on!’ I left her laughing to herself. She is such a sweetie; you just want to wrap her up in cotton wool; she’s like a little precious bundle, so delicate and fragile. I know she’s slipping away now; she is very breathless when she’s walking. Every morning I’m expecting silence to meet me when I go into the room to wake her up.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I finally finished Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and it was definitely not worth the hard slog. I will never read another of his books. I quite enjoyed the Karin Slaughter book. My friend Carrie read her first book, Blindsighted last year in Spain and got caught up; she read the sample chapter of the next book at the end and had to run out and find it….did the same with that one and had to run out again to get the next one! I didn’t love it that much, but it was alright; I mean she’s not Wilbur Smith or Bernice Reubens. I’ve got hold of a novel that was written about the Americans taking over part of South Devon to practise for the invasion, Operation Overlord. The people who really lived there, in five villages; three thousand of them, were unceremoniously, kicked out of their homes and placed elsewhere, while the army used real armaments. I’ve got right into it and will probably finish it in a couple of days, unless the telly gets me.

Musician is still in my flat, stinking it out, according to Amazon. Got to get him on the road to getting another flat. I let him stay in my old flat while I was travelling, before I gave it up; he bought a pellet gun and shot up my clock, photographs, the glass panels above the doors, windows and God knows what else…along with never cleaning it or taking out the rubbish. Just underlining the whys and wherefores of my seemingly cruel&unusual methods of handling my son’s up and coming homelessness.

Have managed not to have any chocolate or biscuits or eaten between meals in the last few days, but now I’m thinking of a cup of tea and a whole pile of bickies! Didn’t get on my bike either.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Well I did get out yesterday, on the 3.30 bus into Honiton. It was a beautiful day; sun shining quite hot…the bus full of school kids, all hustle and bustle. I decided to treat myself to some new clothes; there’s not much in the way of great clobber in Honiton (unless you want to spend a whole lot in the little dress shops) but there is a good cheap shop in the shopping centre. I got 4 tops, 3 skirts and a pair of flip-flops for £35. Some of them I couldn’t get in my size, so had to get the size below and hope for the best. They’re a bit tight but I’m thinking of going on my bike this week and not eating chocolate biscuits or cakes or anything between meals and drinking loads of water. So far so good. If I can keep it up for 2 weeks things won’t seem quite so tight.

I popped into W.H. Smith and found an art portfolio case reduced to £5.99…so I had to buy it at that price. Mine was either lost or stolen during my last house-move…with all my artwork in it! God, how many times in this life do I have to start over?

Very dull day today…so I’ll just get right back to my Karin Slaughter…not that it’s that great, but I want to know what happens next.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Am in the middle of a Karin Slaughter thriller…haven’t gone back to Captain Corelli yet. Got quite a little stack of books here to read, but only a week left now so I won’t begin anything big, like ‘Wild Swans’ or the Umberto Eco. I’ve become a reader of anything in the past couple of years; when you live in a country where books in the English language are a little harder to get you don’t care about genre, practically anything will do to get your fix. One day I arrived in Alicante to find that my flatmate, Lulu, was reading the same novel, Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres…so we kind of raced each other. Actually, if it wasn’t for that I might’ve given up half-way through. I’ve read three of his novels now and every one of them does that; drives you out of it in the middle. I love history, but he’s doing something wrong, and I can’t just put my finger on it. I’ve never come across another novelist who falls into this trap.

I met Lulu on a TEFL course in Barcelona two years ago. I saved up to pay for the course by doing the work I'm doing now; working straight seven and eight weeks at a time, 24/7 with only a couple of hours off a day. I thought that I could work my way around the world teaching English (better than barmaiding it) but I had conveniently forgotten that I hate teaching! Also that I hate kids!

So, sometime in May 2004, I arrived in Barcelona to spend four weeks in really intensive study. Over the four weeks there were tears and tantrums from most students; we had people from, Australia, USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, including: Glaswegian, Mancunian, Barnsley, and God knows what else. The Pheonetic Alphabet class was hysterical; we just couldn't standardise our vowel sounds.

Lulu was the Barnsley Bird. We are exactly the same age, but she's still a party girl, so we didn't see a lot of each other at night; we were in different flats. I shared with Ausie Girl.

After the course ended I went back to work in Devon and began looking for teaching work. I always fancied working in Eastern Europe, so I got a job in Poland, in a little town in the north east called Elk. It was all very interesting, but, the thought of trudging through the snow to the school was not, and I didn't like the teaching methods they were using. Although I had seen a lot of evidence that it worked, it was intensely boring. I almost fell asleep observing my first two classes! I sent an email out to all of the group and told them that I was going to Spain to find a job. I got one back from Lulu, 'Come to Madrid. I've got a car and we can trawl the country looking for work. It'll be fun.' I went straight out and bought a flight to Madrid.

The next day an email arrived from Lulu to say that she'd got a job in Alicante. The strange thing is: I had already chosen Alicante earlier in the year, and had bought a flight which I then cancelled because I got the job in Poland! So, it looks like I'm supposed to be in Alicante.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


This is one of my favoutite photos. It was taken a couple of years ago on the east coast of Devon, maybe Torquay, just can't quite remember. I love the footprints and the uneven line of the cobblestones and the wall.

And on the right is the cropped image of a piece of seaweed. In reality this is a tiny little stub, sticking up from a great pile of the stuff lying across a rock.

This is a view of the sea bottom; an action picture of a mad, bad crab landlord trying to evict the poor old tenant and take over. The water was only about a foot deep and I just held the camera over the top of the water and clicked.

Above right is a close-up crop of mussels; this was my first digital camera and I was amazed at the detail in a photograph. I just kept moving in and in and in.

Another favourite of mine. This is just a piece of wood, lying on a garden path, in all weathers; a garden in Newton Ferrers, near Plymouth. I wanted to use the pattern and colour in this in an arts/craft project...haven't done it yet, but this lovely thing isn't going anywhere.

On the right is a stunning, glowing image of morning dew on the smallest patch of moss on top of a gate post.

I go around this world with my eyes closed half the time; last week I was searching for nail scissors and or clippers and couldn't find any so I went out and bought myself the scissors and borrowed clippers to do Joy n Gent's nails - then I saw both clippers and scissors right in front of my face! But, sometimes I see wonderful and interesting images of the world.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I was reading a blog about secrets and came across one which was a photo of a very fat woman, and written on it was, ‘I am eating myself to death because I don’t have a gun’. It wasn’t till an hour or so later that the whole concept suddenly dawned on me; suicide by overeating. How long would it take and how many diseases and chronic conditions would you pick up along the way? I never thought about eating myself to death; although it might be quite evident to some people that I am on that path whether I’ve planned it or not. On one hand it might seem a good way to go but not if you arrive at the stage that you can’t leave the house because your legs won’t hold you up, and you can’t fit in a car, bus, train, plane without having one specially made for you! And, is it still suicide if it takes 20 years?

Amazon told me that she’d had a strange automated message on my landline in Glasgow saying that someone had incurred a debt from a premium line. That bloody Musician! When I spoke to him before this he said he hadn’t used the phone at all. He was always a great liar; even when caught in the act; I once caught him standing on the landing outside his bedroom screaming that Amazon was hitting him - she was way inside the room! And then there was the time he became the pound-coin thief. One morning I was looking for the school lunch money; I had left them all  in little piles on the mantelpiece - one coin was missing. We looked all over the house. In the end I said that there was nothing left but to call the police because someone must’ve come into the house in the middle of the night and taken it. Musician piped up, ‘ Maybe it’s in my jacket pocket’. I asked him why it would be there and he said he didn’t know, ’Maybe the burglar put it there’. He would've been about six or seven at the time.

I was thinking about Roseanne today, and Louise. They were my two loudest, brashest and raucous friends. It’s hard to believe that they’re dead; something Roseanne’s daughter told me came into my head. Her mother said to her, from her hospital bed, ‘I’m never getting out of here’. And she was right. I’m just wondering if Gent is ever going to get out of that hospital; things keep happening that keep him there. I know that he hasn’t got long but the other day it seemed like he might have the summer at least. The youngest son is here for the weekend and Joy and I took the day off from visiting; she’s tired. So I won’t see him and won’t see how he is after yesterday. In some ways I don’t want anything to happen while I’m here, but Fi is such a softie I don’t want it to happen when she’s here. Well, I’m sure he’s alright.

Friday, April 21, 2006


The sun was flashing on and off today and I tried to get some good photos. The garden is looking good, some red appearing at last; the camellia is out and littering the ground with petals.

This is the Rhododendron Elizabeth, just coming out.

And on the right here, is my bedroom just behind the bush. This is the front of the house, well, a tiny bit of it.

Thought I’d get some daffs captured.

And here we have the lovely garden. The light’s not going to help create stunning photos but will paint a picture of where I spend half my time. I like this garden; it’s so peaceful; the road is on the other side of the house and the only thing you can hear is the birds, or lawnmowers in summer, or now.

These are Wonderful Neighbour’s pansies and orchids. Beautiful. He took me and Joy for a little tour of his garden when we came back from the hospital today.

Gent was rather tired; he told us that he had been stuck in the hoist and it took a few minutes to work out that he’d been left sitting on the commode a little longer than he needed. He said that they didn’t hear his bell and he’d shouted but they didn’t hear that either. Poor thing. Apparently, they had a pretty awful day in the hospital today, must’ve been run off their feet. No sign of the hoist arriving yet.

Amazon has sinus trouble according to the doctor. He gave her an antibiotic which seems to be working, so she’s alright.

Been talking to my sister-in-law, Sid, on the phone; she’s busy setting up her internet connection, so hopefully she’ll be reading this blog soon and discover her new name.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I’ve been busy putting a pile of royal magazines up for sale on ebay. I found them in a little second-hand shop in Honiton the other day; a huge pile, just waiting for me. I’ve been trying to think of something to specialize in; I usually sell first editions but sometimes they are light on the ground. Royal memorabilia would be good. I’ll head for the car-boot sales when I’m back in Glasgow. I want to go to some auctions too – haven’t been to one for years - don’t know where they are in Glasgow now.

Gent is better every day, almost back to his old self – except for all the weight he’s lost. He’ll be coming home as soon as the hoist is delivered, which could be a week or a day. I’ve had such an easy time this work period, just looking after Joy; hardly any night calls and she goes to bed at seven so I have the night to myself. Though she does need constant supervision; she can’t be allowed to walk alone because she tends to topple over now, so I walk behind her with my hands on her hips. She’s really slowing down; when Gent was in hospital last year she could walk out of the house, down the drive to the car, leaning on an arm and with a walking stick, and most of the way through the hospital corridors. But now she’s knackered just walking from her bedside to the breakfast table. I got the district nurse to call this week and take a blood sample from her, just in case she’s anaemic; she eats and sleeps a lot, so she shouldn’t be that tired. Got to call the doctor tomorrow for the results.

Amazon is ill. She was going to the doctor’s this afternoon. She’s got blinding headaches, sore chest and feels more than awful. She had a bad chest infection at xmas…maybe it’s the same thing. I tried to call her a while ago but there was no answer. She might be sleeping, I’ll try again later.

It’s been drizzling all day, damp and dull. I wanted to take a photo of the daffodils under the apple trees the other evening when the light was looking interesting; went in and got the camera only to discover that the battery was flat and needed charging before I can even get the camera to open! That light hasn’t been back since; it’s been dull, dull, dull. The rhododendron out front is flowering; lovely big red trumpets. The daffodils are finishing so I’m thinking that I might not get the photograph I want, I should’ve did it last week, but I’ve been so busy thinking about blogging!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


This was one of the best pizzas i've ever tasted. Lulu, Lexy and I took a run out to the waterfall park, near Benidorm - I can never remember the name of the place;
it's inland, west of Benidorm, maybe Fuerta or something like that. Actually, it's the waterfall where they filmed the old 60s shampoo advert. It's the one where the beautiful young woman washes her hair in the river under the waterfall. Lexy's hair was a right mess; she'd completely killed it with bleaching it blonde for many years. So, because she got it wet she had to wash it and treat it. Sorry I can't publish the photos, but they're really great. Well we had a fab day. I travelled in the back seat, lounging with cushions and taking photos out of the windows. When we stopped for food it was almost sunset and this was the view from where we were sitting. There is a valley, or gorge just in front of the palm tree, and we watched as the sun set and the lights appeared in the little town across the gorge. It was a beautiful day; very hot and the water very cold. Lexy is a friend that Lulu met on a train in the UK a couple of years ago. Just remembered that she'll be in Spain when I get back there in a couple of weeks - I haven't seen her since last summer. The first time she visited us there, we sent her for bread and she came back with a mad old lesbian. She's worse than Lulu for talking to anybody. Bitsy, is a friend now, and so are her friends, our friends: there is Lush, who likes a glass of wine or two and tries flashing her large breasts at anyone at all; and Bunny, Lush's ex, who used to be a real Bunny Girl; all of them predatory pensioners.

This is The Tape Measure Sculpture. One of the sons of the house here broke Gent's tape measure; it exploded into this amazing piece of art. I wouldn't let them throw it away till I had captured it on film. Sorry it's not right-side-up. I forgot to do it before I loaded it on (I don't know how to delete it and begin again!). I have a thing about odd photographic subjects. I have another one of the sculpture in amongst the wild irises but it would be in the same condition.

Our pool in Spain; it's in a complex, and is only open from June to September; but the sea is just across the road so it's no hardship really. I've got another two weeks to work then I'll be shooting off for three weeks rest. My daughter-in-law, Bingo, is bringing my two oldest grandsons over for a week. I'm so looking forward to spending time with them on the beach. They've never been on a plane before. What an exciting time they're going to have in May.

Monday, April 17, 2006


My daughter called me this morning and told me that No2 son was assaulted last night. He’s alright, just a bit battered and bruised, and not robbed. He lives in high block of flats in Glasgow near the Rangers football ground. She said that he was approaching the block when 2 young men and a girl stopped him and asked for cigarettes, then money, then tried to take his bike from him. He’s 25 and usually pretty hyper-sensitive; I am so glad that he dealt with this the way he did - it could’ve been deadly serious. One of them punched him in the face, there was a scuffle, and the girl smashed a bottle and threatened to stick it in him! My son told them he didn’t want to fight them and somehow got away into the concierge’s reception area. It’s all on cctv. The police were called and they were all arrested, but now he doesn’t want to return to the flat; he hated it there anyway. So, now he’s in my new little flat! Him, and his slovenly ways in my nice fresh bed-linen is not a happy image. I’m sending my daughter with him tomorrow to see the housing association and get him sorted out with somewhere else to live. That’s all I need; him and his music blasting the brains and patience out of my new neighbours, getting me evicted before I’ve even properly lived there!

Though, I think he is a little better in the loud music area than he used to be; he has grown-up, ever so slightly. I won’t be back in Glasgow till the end of July but he could make a real mess in that time. He’s definitely not staying there all that time. I know I sound harsh, but I have reason. I’ll feel better if he goes to live nearer his brother, up at Loch Lomond; he spends a lot of time there anyway. He drives my daughter mad most of the time so she’d prefer it if he was over there.

I suppose I should give my children names; this blog is about my life and I don’t want to publish other people’s activities so all living friends have new names. The dead are real.

I hereby name my daughter AMAZON; No1 son will now be known as TOCTOC; and No2 son can only be the MUSICIAN – he plays keyboards.


The last few pages of my Wilbur Smith A Sparrow Falls

Time off - out tomorrow! One of the sons will be here so I can spend a couple of hours in Honiton (one of the nearest small towns) spending some of my hard-earned cash – probably on more books, in my favourite charity shop. By the way, I got £21 for my little book of sea shanties on ebay. It’s on its way to San Francisco.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Gent was quite upset today because he discovered that he couldn’t even prune his fruit bushes. He thought that at least he could do a little of that. Last night he had me reading extracts from a gardening book on pruning red currants and blackberries; something about laterals and leaders. He drags himself about the garden, in terrible pain from arthritis in his hips and knees especially. It’s hard to watch him. Being blind is just an added irritation. He’s 94 now and is aware that every month that passes he will feel more pain and his joints will stiffen so that eventually he won’t be able to get around at all and will be forced to sit in a wheelchair for any movement outside. He just loves to be out in his shorts and sandals, feeling the sun and breeze on his legs,  which are now a nice shade of brown.

Gent did something yesterday that in some ways surprised me but, in others not at all; he is a man after all. He took Joy a walk around the garden, and down the side of the house where the fruit bushes are. I watched them, thinking that they would stay there. I was worried because there is only a narrow strip of lawn there and it slopes down into the path below. They both have walking frames, and Joy is pretty frail and unsteady. I gave them ten minutes and was about to go round and see that they were alright when they suddenly arrived at the front door, which was open. He had taken her around the house, putting her in danger. When I accosted them he laughed and said that he’d gone round with one wheel of his wheelie in the ditch. I was struck dumb at his stupidity. I’m sure he’d have berated and prostrated himself if anything had happened to her. He is usually such a gentleman, and deserves his title of Brigadier. I am, as always, amazed at the stupidity of men.


Gent has turned the corner; on Thursday night we were all on alert, waiting for a call from the hospital. They’d asked me if we wanted a night call. When Joy, Wonderful Neighbour and I walked into his room that afternoon we thought he’d gone. I picked up his hand and called his name, several times, there was no reaction. Then he moved ever so slightly. He is very thin; the skin on his face has nothing beneath it but skull. I hardly slept that night, kept thinking about him and Joy, and in the morning was dreading the phone ringing. It did ring eventually, but the voice of the staff nurse was cheerful; she said that Gent was up and sitting in his chair and calling for new batteries for his shaver. Good Friday was a bit hysterical after that. I was afraid to call the family, didn’t want to scare them. In the end I did call and got my happy voice in quickly to give them the good news. He looked amazing that afternoon. Saturday not so good, and then today, he seems completely different; there is a fundamental change, he is definitely over that imminent-death hurdle, and on the mend…well, as far as he can mend in his condition, at this stage. But it means that he can probably come home soon, and do his fading away there.

There is no knowing how Joy is going to react to his death. The last few days she has been saying that he’d be alright, that he’s always alright in the end. I did have a little talk with her on the Thursday evening when we got back, trying to prepare her for the worst but she was determined that he’d still be there next day. She doesn’t have much left, in the way of sequential thoughts; I worry that she’ll wake up in the mornings after he’s gone and ask where he is…then either Fi or I will have to remind her!


My ex reared his ugly head again yesterday. And for the second time he discarded his children. Suddenly last year there was a silence from him; no reason apparent, just rejection. My sister-in-law, Sid, called to tell me that my daughter was breaking her heart. That’s the only thing in life that can move me to murder; someone upsetting my children…and for it to be that man again! So I called him. He said ‘fuck off’ and hung up. I was stunned; was not aware that we had fallen out - we spoke to each other sometime last year and there had been no argument.

I can only assume that he has gone mad or someone is meddling; telling stories and lies; there is always someone at it in big families. He has a girlfriend, so maybe he is just trying to shrug off his past to please her - he did that before too. In the end I sent him a text message, ‘ur children n I wil never bother u again tho what we did to offend u is a mystery. Ur loss.’

I am so laid back these days that I am almost horizontal. I’ve lost all my passion; I let people argue and debate and don’t feel I have to join in. I let them discover whether they’re right or wrong by themselves. But I come alive when he upsets my kids. I want to kill him, stab him with blunt objects, gouge his eyes out with a spoon, bite off his head and pan his face in with a hot, cast iron skillet!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I can’t get him out of
my mind…is racing

all I can see is vile
vile anger grinding

my teeth, trembling
when I think of

my children in tears
and no explanation

we feel guilty
and innocent

a silent year, then
‘fuck off’.

Like a child
I can’t understand -

not knowing why
is a hard lump

my throat’s
choking back tears

impossible to speak
without screaming

kill him dead

But no…
too expensive;

he must live
with his loss.


This Lilly is a long-boned woman with legs like skewers and empty breasts lying on the furrows of ribs. Her smile comes from an old heart, strong beyond reason. She smiles at laughing visitors who kiss, kiss, kiss, planting babies in her lap and presents on the bed. She tells them that she’s had lunch, but the menu escapes her. Food appears like magic: chicken is fish, porridge is soup and everything is beautiful. I’m her daughter-in-law, ex, yet I’m more present than her oldest son, my ex. There’s a kind of club of us, EXs; they just can’t seem to get rid of us. You see it’s a huge welcoming family, and when there are children to complicate things - the family just gets bigger with every new relationship. The daughters seem to hang on to their men whether they like them or not, but the sons just move along and the ex-wives follow on regardless; children slip and slide through the myriad aunts and uncles

The old Lilly was swamped; a vast, slack-skinned woman, hidden in layers of old muscle and blue-flowered polyester. Fourteen children darted in and out with wives and husbands; grandchildren flapped hands at mince with onion and vegetables, mince without. Boiled potatoes – no potatoes, steak pie, spam. Fat chips – thin chips buttered bread, bare bread, tea, no jam. Liver for William, rabbit for John, licked-clean dishes stacked the sink, smells ran up walls, dripped off stairs and settled when she sank into her broad armchair. She was born to be a mother and besieged by everyone’s children. Now she is surrounded by women and the grandchildren they bore her. She never knew she was the key to all those relationships and now as the last days slip by the space she lives in grows huge.

I am only beginning this trail. I wonder how many friends I will lose when my children fall out of love.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


If I sat on my exercise bike
my view would be
of bold and confident women
soft and rounded but not bearing
great bellies and arses
like mine and my mother’s.

They would walk with long strides
and get where they’re going in a flash;
like I used to…when I were a lass
a woman, a young mother.

My destination would be a future
that was wrapped around my past….
the figure I was then would sail this ship
in style, with panache
and a fabulous wardrobe of smart
smart trousers, and suits
and dresses that would show off
a sharper chin and
my old legs that everyone loved.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Gent is knocking at that door again. Joy was very tired today, and couldn’t go to the hospital to visit him. Word from the staff nurse is that he is, very poorly. I was a bit worried about Joy and that tiredness so I’ve asked the district nurse to call in tomorrow and take a blood sample; maybe she’s anaemic or something.

I’m selling a little book of sea shanties on ebay; it’s at £16 now with almost 4 hours to go. I like this bit, when the bidders come to life. It was at £1.70 yesterday. I haven’t sold anything for a while; mostly because I’ve been travelling, but I used to sell a lot of old books, first editions and collector’s items. Now that I’ll be spending more time in Glasgow I think I’ll take it up again. I just love trawling through old charity shops. Those that have been modernized really annoy me when they charge too much; I talk to myself and gasp at their prices - I’m old enough to get away with spouting my opinions on their pricing policy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I made a falling-apart fruit n carrot cake; it had sweet potato in it instead of carrot – pretty damn nice actually, though the sweet potato seems to have pretty much disappeared.

Last few days Gent has swung from death’s door to coming home to very poorly again. We couldn’t take Joy to see him today because he has some kind of infection and they don’t know what it is yet, and don’t want Joy to catch anything. He’s been put on antibiotics today because of a urine infection, he probably got from the catheter; they think it might be a side effect of the antibiotics. He was so happy yesterday when the doctor said he could go home for Easter. The occupational therapist came today to see what we would need to accommodate this new Gent. We measured their bedroom, and made rearrangement plans, then the cleaner and I emptied chests of drawers and got rid of furniture we don’t really need in the room. And the son tried to get a new bed base to accommodate the hoist, with no luck. I don’t think they’ll let Gent out now anyway.

I’ve been crocheting a blanket for Fi; I make these blankets while I’m working and force them on family - running out of family members so have started on friends and colleagues. Joy and Gent got a rug each for their xmas. This is a photo of one I made earlier for my nephew; he wanted it to be red, white and blue - he's a Glasgow Rangers fan. The colours aren’t right in the photo, the red isn’t that orange, must be the flash.

This is a great job; I get to sit and watch telly, doze in the afternoon, and create rugs, artwork, photographs, write, read and many other things depending on the client. I began crocheting when I was looking after a woman near Plymouth; she spent all day watching telly and wanted me to sit with her. I like being productive so I did the rugs while watching daytime TV and ended up with a Repetitive Strain Injury from pulling at the wool!

Sunday, April 09, 2006


1. Born in Glasgow
2. We moved in with my father’s mother, the TYRANT
3. The TYRANT dies
4. Left school at 15
5. Maternal grandmother dies
6. Worked in a boutique then an electrical engineering factory
7. Met Roseanne
8. When I was 19 my father died
9. Stayed on with my mother for 6 months
10. Worked in Largs, then Manchester
11. Got my first flat in Glasgow, Polokshields
12. Worked in North Berwick, then Manchester again
13. Roseanne and I met our first husbands, in Manchester
14. Got pregnant
15. Hitchhiked up to Glasgow to tell the mothers
16. Went back to Glasgow to have my first son
17. Got married in Glasgow
18. Went back to Manchester with baby and hubby
19. Went to Somerset to visit hubby’s family
20. Went back to Glasgow then split with hubby
21. Got a house of my own when my son was 1yr old
22. Moved back to live with my mother when he was 3
23. Met my new man at Roseanne’s new year party
24. Set up house with him
25. Got pregnant
26. John Lennon died
27. Gave birth to second son
28. Pregnant again
29. Both our divorces came through
30. Decided not to get married again
31. Gave birth to daughter
32. Moved house several times that year
33. Got a job in Grosvner hotel and met Carrie
34. Chucked hubby out
35. Left job
36. Went to live in Newcastle
37. Introduced Carrie to my brother Joop
38. Got a house in St Cuthbert’s village in Gateshead
39. Carrie and Joop got a house there too
40. Joop became a raging alcoholic and violent
41. He beat up Carrie and broke my nose
42. I packed her off to Glasgow
43. Got a flat in Newcastle
44. Carrie and her daughter shared the flat with us for awhile
45. Still working in Swallow hotel in Gateshead
46. Left the hotel and worked in local pub
47. Brother-in-law dies aged 33ish. Brain haemorrhage
48. Went to college and did GCSEs
49. Did Highers and left the pub
50. Discovered creative writing
51. Our boozin’ buddy dies aged 32ish.
52. Had my first poetry published
53. Working with tenants’ association
54. Got paid to set up youth drama group in Benwell
55. Set up my small press
56. No 1 son in a lot of trouble with police
57. No2 son in trouble at school
58. Did A’level theatre studies
59. Someone wants to kill No1 son
60. Flat wrecked
61. Moved into temporary council house
62. Roseanne, my oldest friend, dies at 40
63. Got council house in east end of Newcastle
64. Teach a poetry class at Newcastle Uni
65. Began my degree in drama at Gateshead college
66. Classmate dies after long struggle with cancer
67. Bree and I get acting work
68. My sister-in-law Sid’s new baby dies
69. We move to Glasgow. my mother dies
70. I have to commute to Newcastle to finish my degree
71. Spend 3 days a week in Newcastle, with Bree or Carrie
72. Sid has another baby
73. Carrie moves up to Aberdeen
74. My mother-in-law Lily dies
75. I graduate at Sheffield university, with guests; old school pal, and my daughter
76. Daughter won’t go to school; I get a night in Govan jail
77. I begin working for the Pearce Institute doing care work
78. No1 son living with a girl, they have a son
79. I do some teaching for the WEA
80. The druggies smash up my car
81. Start work at the Glasgow Psychic Centre
82. Meet Herman and Tilly
83. I get done for driving without a full licence
84. Get a nice big flat in Paisley Rd West
85. I have a dinner party to celebrate daughter’s 16th and my freedom from parental responsibility
86. Herman and I set up a postal Psychic business
87. No2 grandson is born
88. No2 son gets us evicted from the flat and I don’t take him to the new flat with us
89. I get him organised with a hostel and lots of food
90. Daughter gets a job at a big hotel in North Devon
91. I take her down there and stay the weekend and see her settled
92. Got a new flat from a housing association, much cheaper
93. Also doing some market research work
94. Carrie’s husband leaves her
95. Took a flat-mate and got her a job with the PI
96. No3 grandson is born
97. Flatmate leaves
98. Start working as an Appropriate Adult for social work dept
99. My daughter and her boyfriend come to live in Glasgow
100. They get a nice little flat in Govan
101. Start HND in Ceramics and Pottery at Cardonald College
102. 9/11 happens
103. My daughter has brain haemorrhage and operation
104. Brother-in-law dies aged 40
105. Daughter-in-law pregnant again!
106. Went to Paris with my friend Herman
107. My daughter gets pregnant
108. No4 grandson arrives
109. No5 grandson is born by caesarean section (because of brain haemorrhage)
110. Passed my driving test
111. Brother-in-law dies aged 38
112. Working on a play with Bree
113. I give myself a date deadline to travel
114. Buy a car, pack it up, take a couple months off work
115. 1st august 2003 I leave Glasgow for Devon
116. I camp in a tent all by myself in a field in North Wales
117. Visit the Spiritual Church in Birmingham and get a message
118. Spend the night in the car in Exmouth in Devon, with a view of the sea
119. Get a job waitressing for a week in a big hotel in Exmouth
120. Start a live-in care job for an agency
121. Run all over Devon working one week here two weeks there
122. Loadsamoney!!!
123. Daughter-in-law is pregnant again
124. Buy my first laptop
125. Buy a TESOL course in Barcelona
126. My first granddaughter arrives, at last
127. Get a teaching job in Poland
128. Leave the job in Poland and go to Madrid
129. Meet up with Lulu from the course and get a teaching job in Alicante
130. We rent a fab 3bed house at the beach
131. Leave teaching and go back to working in Devon
132. Travelling back and forth from Spain and Devon to work
133. Buy a new, lightweight laptop and give the old one to No2 son
134. Go to Budapest for Bree’s hen party
135. Writer friend from Newcastle dies from breast cancer aged 47
136. Bree diagnosed with breast cancer
137. College friend, Louise, dies with breast cancer
138. Newcastle for Bree’s wedding
139. Bree has mastectomy and re-build
140. Several new great nieces and nephews have arrived
141. Don’t know if my brother is dead or alive
142. Newcastle for Bree’s 40th birthday party
143. Daughter's relationship breaks up
144. She takes over my new flat (it was originally hers anyway)
145. My old couple both die and I return to Glasgow
146. Back to work; Torquay
147. Daughter's ex steals their son
148. Court battle begins
149. Daughter's flat goes on fire
150. I return to Glasgow permanently
151. Living with N02 son
152. Return to work at the Psychic Centre
153. Happy Happy Happy

Friday, April 07, 2006


Just finished Harry Potter; pretty good. Read it in three days, not bad for a big book, but then it’s not what you could call deep and meaningful - it’s not going to change my life. Not going back to Captain Corelli yet. Had a nice day out the other day and bought a little pile of books in my favourite charity shop that has 50% off their books. Got an Umberto Eco, an Anita Shreve, Andrea Badenoch’s first novel, and Andre Dubus 111. I remember it was mentioned on Richard and Judy, House of Sand and Fog. I got those 4 books for about £1.60, which is pretty good these days of charity shops pricing themselves out of business….well business from me. I was really happy to find Andrea’s book; I knew her in Newcastle years ago when we used the same writing groups and workshops. She died last year from cancer.

Haven’t done a lot of reading in the past month; when I’m in the UK I end up couched in front of the box; in Spain I’m on 3 books a week. I really should be doing more writing than reading but life is just so fab with your feet up and a good book in your paw.

Gent looked fantastic today - just when I thought he was fading with such genteel elegance. He was alert and looking forward to coming home, eating crackers and cheese I’d brought in, and wine gums, then a bit of chocolate! He just keeps coming back. I’m tempted to say thank goodness, but when you remember all the pain that he experiences every minute of the day, it might be better if he is allowed to slip away; 95 is a good, long life. I’ve heard that if you tell someone who is very ill, that it’s alright for them to go, kind of give them permission, they can slip away peacefully. I think he keeps hanging on for Joy; he doesn’t want to cause her pain.

I’m using my life, making the most out of every breath I take; even when I am being bone idle I’m having the time of my life.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


A noise awoke me in the middle of the night; there is a baby monitor in my room so I can hear if I’m needed; just the tiniest noise, a click that shouldn’t be there. I got up and went in to see if Joy was alright; she was walking towards the door, stark naked, but using her walking frame. I asked her where she was going. ‘Looking for you,’ she said, but really, she’d forgotten why she was out of bed. I was grateful that she was quite awake and hadn’t fallen over. Oh the tales I could tell about this woman and her late-night wanderings.

She hasn’t got out of bed by herself in months, well not since she fell out of it in the middle of the night. Like this time, a noise woke me up; I could hear Joy coughing and choking, gasping for breath. I leapt up and ran into their room; she was hanging off the bed, her feet still tucked in and her head stuck in the metal loop of the safety rail that is an aid to help her get out of the bed. Her chin was right through the loop, her throat pressing into the side. There was blood all over the place because her knees were skimming the carpet and she’d banged her arms and face. Gent was crying from his side, 'Can I help. What can I do?’ I told him to stay in bed; he couldn’t get out of it on his own anyway, and being blind there was nothing he could do.

I got her untangled and sitting on the floor leaning against the bed. Nothing was broken but there were quite a few wounds and a lot of blood over both of us. Joy’s skin is so fragile that even a little box of tissues dropped on her leg causes it to split. I tried to clean up the wounds but the skin had wrinkled back off such big areas; one on each side of her knees and upper arms. It was a hospital job. I called an ambulance and got her comfortable, and reassured Gent. They had her back before dawn, all patched up. Since then she’s stayed in bed all night, well-tucked in, and, the space in the rail has been filled in. Also, she’s gone from one urine infection to another, and they’ve kept her weak in the legs so, her getting up in the night by herself is a sign she's getting better.

One night last year, when Gent was in hospital, something woke me. I got up to check on Joy; she wasn’t there. I looked around but couldn’t see her. I went back to the bedroom and looked on the floor at Gent’s side of the bed, not there either. Back through the silent house again and there she was, sitting in the dining room eating breakfast. I thought, with a start, how did she get the milk? The fridge is in a little back utility room which is a couple of steps down, and also the reason that Gent fell and broke his thigh-bone. When I looked at what she was eating, she had marmalade in the cereal! and banana. I used to set the breakfast table at night. She was amazed when I told her that it was only 3am.

The carer’s bedroom is right next door to them but it used to be upstairs on the other end of the house; this is when they were both a little more mobile, maybe about 9 months ago. We had a bell that Gent could press if they needed anything in the night. Early one morning I heard Gent calling me; it was 5.30am, I jumped up and ran downstairs. He was standing outside their bedroom door, holding on to the wall. Joy had fallen and he had forgotten about the bell in the panic. She’d got up to use the commode, as usual, and fallen. He had been calling me for half an hour and of course I couldn’t hear through all the walls; it’s an old house and well-built. Then he’d got out of bed and felt his way around the bed and over to the door so he could open it and call me. Joy had broken her hip. After that, one of the sons and I changed the rooms over. I’d been saying since I first arrived here, that the carer needs to be next to the client. Then we got the baby monitor. I think that saved Joy’s life the night she nearly strangled; Gent was only aware that something was wrong when I came into the room; he must’ve been in a deep sleep.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


This is Joy and Gent’s back garden

This was in February this year. We woke up one morning to find the place white with snow; it was all gone by lunch-time and there was no snow in the front garden or in the road outside. I went to the local shop and the only snow to be seen was in some of the gardens!

The blackbird in the rhubarb isn’t real.

In three years I’ve only seen snow in Devon twice; it didn’t stay more than a few hours.

In the year I've been here I have to confess that I have never put food on this table for the poor birds; it doesn't cross my mind. I took this photo from the back door, which is in the dining room. I sit there every morning and eat my breakfast, look out at the weather but never think to feed the birds. Shame on me.

Another Devon garden I loved

Two years ago I was working near Plymouth; we had daffodils and wasps in January!
This is the view from a garden down near Plymouth; a little village called Newton Ferrers. River at the bottom of the garden, full of boats and children windsurfing in the summer. Accross the river is Bridgend and Noss Mayo, beautiful places, tiny streets, hardly room to turn your car; quite often you have to reverse for someone coming the other way. I worked here for the first year of my freedom; 4 weeks on and one off; worked like a maniac all year then bought my first laptop, and a 4 week TESOL course in Barcelona. In the second year I ran around Devon with my car piled to the gunnels with all my junk; well not all, 'cause I had put a lot of it in storage in Plymouth.

On the map, this is the little nick to the right of Plymouth.

The view from this side of the garden is of Noss Mayo. these houses on the river are selling for around three-quarters of a million quid. The British go mad for river and sea views. I'd love to have a house with a boat tied up at the bottom of the garden; but I'd love even more to have fairies, and a couple of trees with little doors cut into them, and windows.

THE SHOP at Newton Ferrers sells most things, though there is a separate butchers shop, and the omnipresent estate agents.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Gent has rallied; he looks a whole lot better. We had been thinking, this is it. Wonderful neighbour took me and Joy down to see him today. Ever since I began working with them the ritual has been to take tea-making things in a basket to whichever one of them is incarcerated. Hospital tea is just disgusting, luke-warm brown gunk. He was sitting in his chair at the side of the bed, looking alert and normal; as if he was sitting in his lovely new chair at home. He holds Joy’s hand and she can’t eat her lemon finger because she has her tea in her other hand, so she bends her head down every now and then to take a little bite. We usually only stay half an hour or so, both of them get tired, and find conversation hard - even at home they sit together in a kind of silence. Gent likes to watch the news on TV at 6 o’clock but Joy can’t bear the noise. Last year, when she was better than she is now, she used to storm off and go to bed. I think it’s the case that she just doesn’t like Gent’s attention to be away from her.

I had a phone call from my daughter today. She told me that they were at my great niece’s christening yesterday; during the party afterwards, in a pub function room, a young man ran into the room and attacked one of my nephews with a huge knife! It was 4.30 in the afternoon and the room was full of kids. So uncles and aunties dived in to pull him off and manic mayhem went off like a bomb. The barmaid and my daughter herded the kids, all screaming, behind the bar and pulled down the grill. Apparently it was like a scene from ‘Psycho’ with the knife flashing up in the air and stabbing down into the crowd around him. Amazingly, no-one was seriously hurt; a few cuts spread around. The police charged into the room with batons waving. My son-in-law had grabbed a pair of legs sticking out of the fray and pulled out one of my brothers-in-law…he wanted to go right back in; he was the grandfather of the newly-christened baby. Luckily, the said baby and her grandmother had left the building with a pregnant sister-in-law earlier. I forgot to mention that all this happened in Glasgow, on a Sunday.

The hairdresser came today and I got her to trim my hair as well. She is the cheapest I’ve ever known; I’ve met a lot of travelling hairdressers. Every now and then I get her to cut my hair while Joy is under the drier. I wash and dry it myself so she only charges me 5 quid. I’m growing my hair so I don’t often look in the mirror - it’s a difficult time. I’ve kept it very short while I was in Spain ‘cause I’m basically lazy; all I’ve had to do in the past couple of years is run my fingers through it: now I have to use a hair drier and a brush! I draw the line at fannying about with a mirror and styling, though I did colour it the other weekend. I was going to a party in Newcastle, so thought I’d make some kind of an effort, but I don’t like myself this colour; chestnut brown – too dark for me. The reds are too unnatural and modern and I’m too old for them. I think I might have to go blonde, or maybe kind of strawberry, which is the colour I really am because of all the white hair salting my natural red.


Thinking that I should get some writing back out there in the poetry mags, I wrote a poem for a competition about love; I can’t really remember what it was like, being in love. When I read of all that madness I begin to wonder if I was ever, really in love. Just like my memories of old granny, the tyrant, I only retain the bad stuff. They said they wanted poems on both falling in and out of love…I naturally chose the latter and created this rant below:


My head is full and bursting
with glimpses
of long-sleeved blouses and light-weight
arrayed at eye-level;
a regiment at my right hand.
Any one of them would fit
my situation.

In my line of fire
the back of his head smirks;
it dares me
to reach for blunt objects
poison darts…
carefully planned alibis, and
mysterious gangsters
from a murky past.

I picture rooftop parties
and mountain picnics,
his startled shape, flailing
on the wind, like
an inebriated seagull
tumbling and squawking
at the woman with her hand out…

not saving, but waving.
Cheerio then… bastard.

Captain Correlli’s Mandolin…again am stuck in the middle, and have started reading other books; I always do this with his novels. When you begin them you are captured and charmed by the characters and the settings but soon slowed down by the history lesson. I like history but there seems to be something stilted about the way he uses it in his novels; I’ve read three of his now and this happened in every one. When I turned 40 I stopped reading books if I got bored half-way through; the first book I discarded like that was ‘Oscar and Lucinda’. Again, charmed at first but bored flat eventually. So I’m not going to read him again.

In the last couple of years I’ve got into Wilbour Smith; his books are fantastic. You are getting a history lesson in a novel but it’s well-fictionalized. You just can’t put them down; a great read. Also in this time been through the Jean Auel series, ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’. What an amazing read they are, though the sex gets a bit gratuitous at times; but then again maybe that’s because I’ve completely lost my sex drive and, subconsciously, don’t want to be reminded of it. I was really pleased to hear that ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ won a big prize last week; it's one of the best books I've ever read, though I think it should have ended earlier than it did. I’ve got the last Harry Potter with me, think I’ll dump the captain for now and get into that.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Poor old Gent is stiff with arthritis; the pain must be mind-numbing. Once he’s in bed he can’t get out again, so at night he is supposed to wear a condom catheter; this is the latest thing in bladder technology. When he came out of hospital last year he had a bag of them and the staff nurse showed me how to use it. It looked easy, and was, with the ones I got from the hospital  but, I was presented with what I can only imagine is a cheaper version from the chemist which were nowhere near as pliable. I just couldn’t get this thing on. There is Gent, all padded up in pillows for the night, and me trying to stuff his tackle into this little plastic, corrugated funnel. Then I’m supposed to roll it up the shaft and fiddle with double-sided sticky tape to hold it in place! The one the hospital gave me was much softer and once you began rolling it up there was a sticky substance already there, and it was suddenly on...and a very clever thing it was too. So I ended up using pads. I did complain to the chemist but they sent me the exact same stuff.

I work back to back with another carer; we’ll call her Fi. She can use them and is amazed that I can’t. Because Gent has to sleep in a propped-up position now, he has some little pressure sores on his bottom, which the urine is not helping. The staff nurse called me the other day and asked me to send in the conveens and bags we still had at home. I was happy to hand them over (some people won’t give away medical stuff but I couldn’t use them anyway). I was ecstatic to hear,  from Gent, that three of them couldn’t get the thing on either! I didn’t feel so bad when 3 professional nurses had trouble fitting them. The staff nurse told me yesterday that in the end they put in a real catheter for the duration of his stay with them, or until his bottom clears up. Poor old Gent hasn’t even had a chance to try out his new mattress at home; the family got him one of those with the memory foam. I think his bottom got so bad because he was sitting on a hard mattress for 12 hours. I was sitting on mine last night, setting this new blog up, for just a couple of hours and I was crippled!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


This is the beginning, my first blog entry. I did plan to do this last month…as you can see below, but I didn’t get it started, so I thought I may as well keep the Spanish stuff in, ‘cause it’s all part of the……no, I just want to make everyone who is or was snow-bound, aware that there really is other weather in this world.

I’m back in lovely Devon, looking after my old couple. He is still in hospital; went in last week with a chest infection. The hospital has been closed with that diarrhoea (can’t believe I’ve remembered how to spell that) and vomiting bug, so we haven’t been able to visit him. They’ve been married almost 60 years and call each other ‘My darling’…they are both 95 years old and the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I should give them a name, let’s say that she is a Joy and he is a Gent. So it’s just me and Joy in the house and she goes to bed as early as she can get away with, which gives me the whole night to myself (I can’t go out) to laze about watching telly and hiding from chocolate biscuits. I have an exercise bike in my room but it sits beside the telly with the seat unpolished by my ample bottom…though I am really trying to give it some thought.

Was a little worried yesterday because the hospital called and said that we should come down. He’d seemed a little ethereal and angelic the day before, and they described him as unresponsive. So I woke Joy up from her afternoon nap and stuffed her in a local taxi (our friend and neighbour who usually takes us in on a weekend trip) hoping that Gent wasn’t on his way up the heavenly stairway. He looked flushed, wearing a cardigan over his PJs, and there was a knitted, patchwork rug on the bed (very badly sewn-up). I wondered if he had a temperature, but they said he didn’t. He seemed alright though, voice not wavering or fading and no sign of the chest infection.

It seems as if he might get over this, but the fact that he had a mini-stroke (TIA) the week before just underlines this year as, probably his last. 95 is a great age to achieve, but if he hadn’t had the year he had last year he might’ve made the ton.


I’m sitting in Spain, soaking up the lovely Alicante sun while snow sweeps the UK. I arrived just 2 days ago after working for 3 weeks 24/7….so I deserve it! When I was here last month it was pretty cold and wet; I became a hermit and stayed in bed with the laptop and loads of DVDs only getting out to make tea and food and visit the bathroom. Yesterday wasn’t quite so warm but at least it wasn’t snowing or raining. Today the sun was hot and the sky blue, and I was prostrate on a mat on my terrace, keeping company with some kind of huge insect; maybe an enormous cricket or something like it. But we didn’t bother each other and there’s plenty of room as long as there is no biting or stinging going on.

At the moment I am working in Devon as a live-in carer and living in Spain the rest of the time…kind of 3 weeks on 3 weeks off, or whatever suits my fancy. It’s a great life and I’ve got the best of both worlds, where the weather’s concerned; Devon is usually very mild and summer stretches forever compared with Glasgow summers (if you blink you’ll miss it!). I drag my trusty laptop around with me and write, read, footer about with photos, watch movies, play music, surf (I have an account with AOL so I can plug in anywhere). I have bits of arty stuff, wool and embroidery threads so that when a creative thought or idea hits me I can do anything…except pottery and darkroom developing. But it seems I miss them and my grandchildren so much that I’m in the process of trucking back to Glasgow, for a year or two at least.

I took myself off on a photo shoot down to Santa Pola, a couple of miles from here, Los Arenales, which is just a few miles down the coast from Alicante. Very Spanish; no hotels or football supporters or British drunks. Had a little picnic in the car waiting for the sun to go down; got some fantastic stuff on my new 8 mega pixel Samsung Digimax V800. It’s a nice little camera but in a lot of ways I think I preferred my Kodak; the only thing that bothered me about it was that the lens cover was always slipping off.


I’m a granny who ran away, finally grabbing the freedom I'd always wanted. In the end, when I was approaching 49, I had to give myself a deadline, set a date. I’d been ranting for years about this freedom and what I was going to do with it, so I wrote on the kitchen wall ‘1st August’ and tried to clear out some of my clutter; every time I left the house I took a carrier bag of books and gave them away. These were the very books Herman and I had lugged from the old flat to this new one only a year before, and the bookcases had been weeded out then too.

Preparing to leave was exciting but in the back of my mind there was this feeling that it wouldn’t really happen, that something would drag me kicking and screaming from my plans. My family probably didn’t believe I’d go either but, the great day arrived and I packed up the car, hugged two of my children and a grandson (I’d already said goodbye to my other son and his sons the day before) and suddenly I was driving out of the street, away from sunny Govan and grey Glasgow, down the M8 to the M74, heading south to my future. All I knew was that I was heading for Devon; my daughter had worked there for a year and I’d visited a couple of times, been so impressed with the mild climate and the people that I’d decided that Devon was as good a place to start as any. Exeter seemed to be the point I was aiming for.