Sunday, December 14, 2008

DECOR

My bedroom is painted! I considered a blue ceiling so I could sprinkle it with stars but decided that I couldn’t afford it and would have to make do with white, and with that in mind I pulled out the huge bucket of emulsion I got from Tilly; it was half-full – I figured it would be enough for a couple of ceilings. It turned out to be pink, lilac actually – I should’ve remembered that there was no white in her house. I am sooooo pleased with my lilac room; there was the exact amount I needed for the whole room. Perfect.

I laid the floor tiles I’d got from the pound shop, under the bed and around the edges of the room; I’ve been given off-cuts of cream carpet that will lie very happily in the middle and keep my feet cosy in the cold night air. So, the whole room will have cost me just £10 to decorate, which tickles my sensibilities.

Now all I have to do is find my trinkets and bobbles to round the room off – make it mine. Someone gave me a pack of luminous stars and moon but I have no idea where they are. It’ll be nice to have curtains up at the window – it would’ve been a waste energy putting up temps…and I’m not getting up to anything interesting, though I was scraping walls above the windows in my nightdress.

God I’m knackered and think I’ll slope off to bed now, for a wee read before some lovely sleep in my almost-beautiful bedroom.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

HOME



When I lived in Spain I had my own beach - this is my loch, and it's within walking distance of my new flat...not that I would consider walking. I feel as if the mountain is within grabbing distance, but I would only go up it as far as the highest car-park. Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond all covered in snow, this close, just make life almost perfect.




Saturday, December 06, 2008

BEING A GRANNY FOR 3 HOURS


They use my car as a toy, these boyz from hell!

Off in all directions - which one will hit the sea first?

Out of the car and straight up a wall turning me into a serious complainer!

Jackets off and get stuck in there - where's the nearest dirt?



Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SERENDIPITY

We were rolling along Great Western Road, keeping an eye out for the chairs we’d seen sitting by the roadside on our way out earlier; me and number-one son, Toc-Toc, had gone to pick up a lovely big telly from ZaZa, which sat very nicely in Clio’s boot and would look wonderful in the corner of my living room. So, as I turned from Anniesland Cross I glanced across the road and at the same time we both said,
‘There’s a silver TV stand over there.’

TocToc was out of the car and over the dual carriageway in a flash – I taught him well. As we’d passed through the edge of the city centre we caught sight of a little plastic table and bench, all red and yellow, for a child; it was still there on the way back too and we stopped so he could pick it up. A car full of free stuff just fills my heart with joy!

But the shape of this living room is driving me crazy; I can’t get the furniture to sit right in it at all, and the only whole wall has a radiator in the middle of it! I got TocToc to move the telly into the little nook by the old, previously fireplace wall but I think I’ll have to call him back to move it again – I’ll have one more try tomorrow before I ask him. I enjoyed my day with him; I hardly spend any time with him because he talks like a socially-starved automaton, and he’s a back-seat driver.

Afterwards, he directed me to a country road between Renton and Cardross across a moor, complete with cattle grids, and the views were wonderful. Ben Lomond is topped with snow and what a sight it is. The view of it from my window is obstructed by an ugly block of flats – as I turn into my road, just about thirty yards away, it rears up into the wintry sky like something from a postcard, right in front of me, a mountain all snowy and real almost within grasp of my city-girl eyes. I will take some photos and post them – even the ugly flats.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

RETURN OF THE WOMAN IN WAITING

The fridge is dead! Well that didn’t last long, did it? I expected longer than a month for my fifteen quid. I had a cup of tea and worried about the food that I’d have to re-home for a while; everything in the freezer was soft already so it must have happened last night or could’ve been days ago for all I notice stuff like that. So, I eventually got up and had a look at the plug, thinking that I’d check the fuse – that’s when I realised that I was holding the microwave plug and that the fridge was unplugged.

Now that’s the kind of thing that happens when the assigned electrical sockets don’t work and you have to move stuff around; the fridge plug was stretched across so that I had to keep pulling plugs out whenever I wanted to use the toaster or microwave… and the washing-machine is sticking out so the plug can reach another socket above the counter. I am a woman in waiting, again; waiting for the workmen to come out and plaster, remove gas pipes sticking out of the living room floor from an old fire, and of course the electrical sockets in the kitchen.

But I do love my new wee flat and I apologise for being absent from this blog for so long. As I moved in, I was furiously writing, keeping up with the National Novel Writing Month, and trying to compile the photo album for my sister-in-law’s friend – I fell behind on the Nano but eventually finished the album. I’ve got into the habit of painting a couple of doors while still in my nightdress – there are a lot of doors, seven of them in the hall and previously painted a very dark pink so now need two coats in order to cover it; that makes fourteen doors, just in the hall! I hate painting doors but I’m a quick worker and am half-way there, thank God.

I’m still moving, still picking up bags from Musician’s flat on my way to work and wondering if I’ll get the bookshelves in the lovely wee car – I got my bed in it! Who would ever have thought that you could get a single bed in a Clio?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NANO RULES

Just a little extract from the novel I'm working on for National Novel-writing Month:

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I wish I’d stopped drinking last night when I said I would; working with a hangover would be interminable, especially with Marlow yammering on about the evils of anything other than red wine. Elegance is a bottle of the most expensive red you can afford, according to him. Well, it was beer or nothing last night. I’m fed up being piss-poor.

The shower always made me gasp and moan; the weight of wet hair down my back equalled pure ecstasy. It battered my hangover into submission and I felt more myself as I clambered out of the bath – I’ve never been elegant. An image of Frankie and his pet policeman forced itself into my head; he was driving me mental, this son of Satan – a true teenager, and definitely not my favourite child at the moment. Everyone said he would grow out of it, that he’d be a fine man – yeah right.

My first call was Moaning Millie; she wanted her mother to help her with her new baby – wasn’t that what a mother did? She whined that she was tired and had expected her mother to come clean the house, take over so she could sleep. I didn’t tell her that her mother had probably had enough of her and her sister to last a lifetime and was now in clover with her own little flat and piles of peace, contentment and bloody freedom!

Marlow smirked from his booth. He sat there surrounded by all kinds of balms, stones and healthy spiritual stuff; Dr Witch, I called him – he never moved from his place and we spun around him like the little satellites from his very own solar system.
‘Don’t even think it.’ I said.
‘I would’ve thought you’d have found something more interesting than alcohol by now.’
‘Shut up.’
‘I know what you’re going to say next; It was Jess’ fault. Now isn’t that right?’
‘You said that, not me – and I was not thinking it.’ I couldn’t look at him because he was always right. ‘Bitch.’
‘Patsy you’re a patsy.’
‘Yeah well. Jess is bad; she thinks she’s a terrible mother.’
‘She is.’
‘She is not…and you don’t know her. Well maybe you do, but you weren’t there. It’s too easy for the childless masses to slag single parents off – they haven’t got a clue. We’d be better off in Huxley’s Brave New World; created in test-tubes and grown in jars for nurseries somewhere distant. I don’t think we should be parents at all; we’re all bad, selfish and stupid.’
‘You’re in a lovely mood this hangover, aren’t you?’ he dug into his bag and offered me a French Fancy.

I couldn’t get Frankie out of my mind, wondering if he was smoking wacky-backy or breaking into some empty factory for lead and copper. He was supposed to be in his room studying and watching TV – he was probably talking on my landline but not to mobiles; I’d had them banned, so at least he wasn’t costing me too much money. Bella would keep an eye on him; she was a terrier when she started. That was the only fault with this job; I liked working at night because it stopped me wasting my time in front of the box but it meant that I wasn’t there to supervise my wayward son – but he was sixteen; he should be part-way sensible by now. I prayed he didn’t turn into a Hoodie, and wouldn’t buy him anything with a hood on it – not even a jacket!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

TOO MUCH LIFE

Over the past couple of weeks I've been through a multitude of family gatherings; a birth, a funeral and a wedding - though the wedding was my sister-in-law's friend and I was the photographer. The weather was awful, the worst imaginable; tons of rain, coming in waves and drains blocked with leaves; there were floods everywhere - I was terrified that my wee Clio would just phut-phut out in the middle of one of them, but she's a star.

So now, I have to present myself at a 20s soiree, wearing beads, for a friend's birthday. All this socialization is a bit too much for me...and, tomorrow I have to go meet a pile of writers doing Nano! But that's different, I'll socialise with writers anytime.

My daughter called me last night, just as I arrived back from the wedding, looking forward to my night of CSI stuff. Could I run her over to somewhere on the edge of the planet because she couldn't afford a taxi. So there I was, spending my night in a car, lost, with her on the phone (my phone) to drunk friends who didn't know where they lived or were unable to verbalise it!

This common life is too much for me; I want to be a hermit again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A WOMAN-IN-WAITING

10 days off work, spent away from the television and in front of arty projects I can sell either on ebay or in local shops – that lies ahead of me. But, November is National Novel-writing Month, so I’ll need to do that too. How am I going to get this lazy old body to take part in all these things?

If only I could be dragged through this creative mud, wouldn’t it be fabulous? It might change my life completely and I would be completely delirious – why can’t I set it up? I tell people all the time to make changes in their lives, sometimes five or six times a night; I must take my own advice.

Life with the car is better because I get more things squeezed into the hours in my day, when I can be bothered and if I don’t take any notice of the weather – which is howling behind my head as I type, so I might not go to the garage and have two new back tires. I can’t stay here till it’s time for work because there’s no food; shopping is a necessity.

The fact that I’m living in a junk shop, surrounded by bags and boxes of stuff doesn’t make me get up and tidy it; that would be wasted effort because it’s going to be moved soon enough. My bed is an island in a sea of God-knows-what and I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone call about the keys of my new flat.

The thought of paid holiday is very exciting but I’m pulled down by imagining all the intrusions; if I’m not careful I’ll spend it all doing things for other people and not arty-crafting and writing. I’ll wave my magic wand and forbid myself from running family around; I’ll get up early and have long, long days; I’ll wander around the loch taking pictures, notes and pick up leaves for art.

Only time will tell, but there might be some interesting posts as I beat myself up…and, I think I’m going to take the bluebeard novel to Nano – there’s loads of sex in that, so there might be little clips of that! But now I have to go out in that weather for lovely food.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WOMEN-IN-TRAINING

My dead friend’s daughter has started blogging, and is posting her childhood diaries; she’s just reminded me of a scene between me and Roseanne in Manchester. We were both pregnant; I was six weeks ahead of her, relaxing after a bath one evening, when her husband came panicking at my door.
‘She needs you. You have to come right now.’
‘What’s wrong?’
‘She’s locked herself in the bathroom. I don't know what's wrong with her.’ For all the rush to get me up there he didn't seem really worried. She was standing up, moving around and not in any pain.

So I got dressed and followed him up the road, and it was quite a walk. When I arrived she dragged me into the bathroom and pulled out a breast.
‘Look at this!’ she squeezed the nipple and little white bubbles appeared.
‘Oh, it must be milk,’ I said. We stood there, glued to the spot, wondering at this change – I don’t think she was even showing then, must’ve only been a few months. ‘You’ve dragged me out of the bath for that?’

Innocents abroad didn’t do us justice; we were twenty-two in 1976 and hell-bent on living life. We’d met a pregnant woman and wanted to be just like her – and that was that; we told our men that babies were on the menu and they had no say in the matter. Unfortunately, some months later, I decided I didn’t want to spend my life with this particular man and orchestrated an argument so I could walk out with no comeback.

Stupid, dumb but definitely not blonde, we stumbled through that year; she got married and gave birth, I gave birth and got married (to a different man). We knew nothing about ourselves or our bodies and were disgusted when a midwife suggested we breastfeed – it wasn’t fashionable then and we thought she must be from the 19th century. I don’t know how we survived…how the kids survived us is a miracle!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ANGER V DELIGHT

Angry? Try furious. That was something I never want to repeat; listening to a priest pontificate about religious politics during a funeral service. This doddering old man wandered across the scriptures to give himself a jumping-off place so he could rant about the credit crunch and how greedy people were for wanting more and more money - what did that have to do with Anne's life? I think he mentioned her twice; some of the family missed it!

His actions took all emotion out of the situation - maybe that was the intention; keep everyone from crying and breaking down in his church; make sure they are sufficiently bored, intoxicated, fused into a stupor. I know I'm coming from the Heathen point of view, but I am a connoisseur of funerals and have listened to some wonderful services - I know what I'm talking about.

So, it's best to change the subject - Lily is here! My poor niece struggled to give birth for days and eventually, on Sunday night - 35 minutes from Monday, Lily made her beautiful appearance, and boy is she pretty. Two weeks early and not a wrinkle in sight: smooth and gorgeous she is...and a sleeper! I spent an hour with her yesterday and she didn't open her eyes once. There was a real panic on Sunday night and worry for my niece; the baby was always all right. We've had the bad side of pre-eclampsia before when my sister-in-law, Sid, nearly died and lost her new son in the struggle. So it was a very tense time.

Lily was my mother-in-law's name; it's lovely to see it revived.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

BIRTH V DEATH

Oooh X-factor is back and aren’t they just fabulous? I love Austen, and Laura and Diane, and Alexandria. Me and my sister-in-law watching together in our own homes, texting what we love and hate…we hate Daniel. He seems a nice guy but I don’t know why he’s there; I think there were quite a few would’ve done better in his place. I feel that the judges were diverted by his sob story; I’m surprised at Simon, but then it wasn’t his choice to bring him to the live shows.

And…he made it through, though I knew that the girl groups were the weakest of the bunch; individually they’re good but they’re all over the place. I feel a bit like that. I was driving home from Asda last night and suddenly Anne’s death hit me; we’ve all been a little matter-of-fact about it and haven’t taken the time to really think. I found myself crying in the car as I turned into my street, and it wasn’t the music, it was just time it caught up with me. Oh the weeping and wailing will turn up smack on time tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.

My sister-in-law, Sid, said she can’t drive; she is quite aware of how grief bounces back and back. Her driving test triumph was only a fortnight ago so it wouldn’t be a good idea for her. I bought my son, Musician, a new black jacket. TocToc will be stuck in Loch Lomond, his kids are off this week. Musician came out with age-old complaint, ‘Why is it we only see people at funerals?’ It is an awful truth.

My 19yr old niece is labouring as we speak – one in and one out, isn’t that always the way? And tomorrow is my eldest child’s birthday; that’s another reason why he doesn’t want to come to the funeral; he wants to spend his birthday with his family, and he hasn’t seen Anne for a couple of years. I won’t be able to forget the date of this funeral. Just think of the mixed tears from that birth and death, and Anne’s son left alone in the world – though he’s still got all of us, but is now forced to be a man on his own at twenty-seven. Whoever said life was easy?

UPDATE:

It's a girl - it was difficult - dangerous; pre-eclampsia but i think all is well, for now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

DEATH IS ON THE MOVE

I have moved out of my hermit phase, at last, and am now trawling the roads with Clio, the lovely wee car. I even went visiting the Pollok mob today and turned back into the wonderful sister-in-law I used to be; picking people up, dropping them off, chatting to small great nephews and neices - taking part in this life. A fabulous day wrapped itself around me: we gossipped, laughed, complemented, lied and were forced to keep crying at bay; the crying will have to wait for the funeral.

A sister-in-law died last night. She's been fighting cancer all year but it brought her down in a real hurry. I didn't know she was ill, and we're all feeling guilty because we thought time was infinite and that she'd always be there - no-one had given the cancer any importance. She was only forty-six. Like me, she was an ex-sister-in-law; the family can't get rid of the ex-wives the brothers collect. In this family, you're included from the beginning and you stay as long as you want, but you're always family, and the children multiply like rabbits.

I really hate funerals and am not a death-visitor in general; I've got to be very attached to attend them these days - there have been far too many in my life. So, we're glad of the two extra drivers and cars of the past week; I just got my wee Clio on Wednesday and a sister-in-law, Sid, just passed her driving test, so she's running around in her Micra now, free as a bird - well one with a husband and two kids!

And now we wait. I don't think we're in full-death-throes; the usual search for mass-black-suits for the boys and black ties. One year I had to make a dozen black ties; we were too poor to buy them. I suppose some of them will leak out of cupboards. I think we're saving the hysterics for the day of the service; usually the first sight of a hearse and we're off. God I hate crying in public. I just hate crying; I want to make peace, make everything and everyone better. The years fly by and the deaths pile up; we've had four years free of them, something had to give.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A REVIEW

A lovely thing happened on my way to the blog; someone had been in for a browse and left this comment: ‘Stubblejumpers Cafe said... Hi Irene, Your blog is featured this week at Stubblejumpers. Kate.’ Now, isn’t that nice? So I went along and discovered this wonderful site with an amazing range of stuff:

Tarot readings, with real questions, from real people; reviews of blogs, books; from a Shaman to roast suckling-pig, the mixture is heady and wonderful. I was so enamoured of her site that I popped over and got one of my own; I mean, they offered it free!

It’s different from a blog in that it doesn’t move; it’ll stay exactly where you put it, no matter how much you add to it – you can control that part of your life at least. I’ve been playing and procrastinating over there ever since and now have a lovely new website/showcase for my meanderings which links to all my blogs.

But, How is the novel going? I hear you ask. Well, I saw it last week and it was fine, just kind of hanging out, chillin’, but not allowing stress in the door. It was waiting for a boat trip because Loch Lomond is an adventure that needs to get underway before anything else can be done.

I’m anticipating the arrival of my new wee car (new to me) and the keys to my new flat; I’m suspended, frozen in time, surfing until I’m invisible – just waiting. You could say I’m pregnant and paused.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

HOW IS A JUDGE TO JUDGE?

I treated myself to a writing magazine yesterday on my day in the city, waiting for my new glasses for driving – preparing for my new wee car. So, I settled down to read some of the mag and was horrified by a ghost story in it; a competition winner that would never have got near the final five if I’d been the judge. It wasn’t seriously bad and most of the flaws, well the ones that bothered me, were in the first five paras; I had to do a double-take almost immediately and found myself talking out loud in disbelief:

seven sentences in a row began with ‘The’, and this followed being annoyed at the many short sentences from the first seven-word beginning, the repeat of ‘as’ within seven words. Not a good start, you would think, for a competition entry – but it won!

How could this pass for any kind of excellence? On one hand you might think that it’s good for all of us who work at editing and polishing but not if you get a judge like that who must have disregarded a host of better work for this effort; you can’t rule out subjectivity in creative writing – the judge must’ve liked and got carried away with the story…but he certainly didn’t do his job, in my opinion.

Friday, September 19, 2008

PROBLOGGER TIPS

I've just lifted this from my email box because I think it's an important point.

Hi irene,

We are all basically selfish. I know, I know, you are generous to a fault, but think of how you browse websites. You want to be entertained, informed, and so on. It's all about our needs, wants, interests and desires. Common sense? Why then, knowing this, do so many bloggers make their blogs all about THEM?
=======================
What's in it for ME?
=======================
By all means have a personal blog. It's your choice if you write for yourself and you only. But if you want to have a successful professional blog then you are going to need to do a little extra. To get what YOU want you need to give THEM what THEY want! That means creating value and clearly communicating that benefit. Just take a look at Darren's blog title: "Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging" Obvious what the benefit is, right? Compare that to what you often see, "Jim's Blog about things andstuff". Always always have in mind your reader and what they will gain. Do you ask people to subscribe without saying what that is and why they might bother?Here is what it says on Chris' blog "Receive more free blogging, writing and marketing tips to your email inbox or feed reader, plus a free eBook download." Click the link to see more about the free ebook download:

http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=BXvvC&m=1jREdVaowEnc4H&b=vF0zQmqpQRI3ygxdH97gbw

That free ebook alone has probably brought more subscribers than any other single addition to Chris' blog, because the value of subscribing becomes self-evident. So create value and communicate it. Put yourself in your readers 'shoes and answer WIIFM.
----------------------------------------
Bottom line ... it's about THEM not YOU!
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Until next time ... Happy blogging!
Darren & Chris http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=BXvvC&m=1jREdVaowEnc4H&b=P_H9rA6VfJBPdHFG1xwOmA

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Monday, September 15, 2008

AND IN THE MORNING

Last night in my dreams I found the most wonderful stuff on an indoor market stall; there was a set of dishes that fitted together, some kind of condiment or jam thingy. One of them opened like an oyster and had a kind of pop-up detail inside with little ducks and water lilies. I asked the price and was amazed at the £2.98 tag, so naturally I couldn’t wait to buy it. I’d taken a china teapot with a cane handle to use as a bag and had carefully placed it on the table so that everyone around could see that it was mine, that I’d arrived with it – I didn’t want it to get mixed up with the ornaments and ceramics for sale, but I thought I could always show them my money inside. It was gone.
‘Where’s my bag?’ I looked around at the man behind the table and two women browsing. ‘My teapot is missing.’ I felt ill thinking of the £200 I’d been carrying around since pay-day, but then remembered that I hadn’t brought it, only some cash, in the teapot. ‘How am I going to get home?’ No-one said anything or made any helpful suggestions.

I waited for a bus and jumped on the first one to come along, only just scraping the money for the fare from my pocket. So that was alright, till I thought of asking where exactly the bus went; it wasn’t going anywhere I wanted to go – not even through the city centre. It seemed the longer I stayed on the bus the farther I’d go into nowhere but I didn’t have the money for another bus ticket. I wondered about flashing the ticket I had and saying it was a day-tripper.

There is no satisfying ending to this and I have to inform you of the truth, do the Dallas thing – I woke up.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

MISSING MUM

When I was looking after my mother I didn’t have time to wonder when she would die; a client who calls me for tarot advice often asks me when her mother is going to die. The first few times she asked this I got a perverse pleasure from saying, ‘…not any time soon.’ There is also a man who puts this question to me about his wife; he’s been waiting for her death a long time. This all sounds bad but I really do understand where they’re coming from and just how difficult it can get – and how madly insane you can end up; the day I got my mother into a wheelchair taxi and onto the ward I had my clothes on inside-out and back-to-front, and my hair hadn’t been brushed for days.

I think that one of the hardest things to manage is that decision of just how much you can or should stand in any situation, especially when mental illness is a factor whether we’re talking about plain old senility or something more serious and dangerous – and senility can be full of missiles and snapping teeth! I know, I’ve been there, but it’s the insanity and total confusion of the whole scenario that drives you onward, until there’s no difference between you and the person you’re looking after – I know that I was off my trolly and when a social worker answered my plea for help I fell into her arms in the kitchen. I had a crazy mother on one hand and three teenagers on the other; there was no escape and up until then, no help that really helped.

It makes me sad now, thinking about that time and I thank the gods that it didn’t last long; she went out like a whirling dervish, my mother, and it’s taken years to relegate the memories into something softer. It’s easier to see the real woman she’d been; the mother and wonderful grandmother is now slipping out of the cracks to catch me in tears.

Monday, September 08, 2008

CHARITY SATURDAY

Saturday afternoon in a sunny Glasgow - now this is the September I was dreaming about. I took myself off to the West-end; the poor end, Partick and all its wonderfully cheap charity shops - after only two I was weighed down with bags. So lumbered that I had to find somewhere to relax with coffee; and here we are, well just me because I couldn't get hold of Herman, in a window with sharp shadows and bright sun making it all look very arty.
One of the books I found was I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, the other is a beautifully new hardback collection of Scottish short stories - both of them for £1. So, I settled myself in this wonderful cafe that wasn't there last time I tramped the road; it's called Yasmine's and if you ever visit that part of Glasgow, get yourself in there, it's fab. There are twin sofas, a little bamboo 3-piece suite, two black leather sofas and your ordinary tables and chairs - even those outside for the smokers.
In between the toasted cheese and latte I took some pics but I wish I could've captured the atmosphere, with a mixture of jazz and blues and then a whole album of Madeline Peyroux - I was in heaven, just chilling, reading my new book and being so impressed with the whole day. The thing in the pic is a lamp I got for £2.50; it's made with hand-crafted paper and has sparkly bits sprinkled through it. I finished off my late lunch with a melon, mango and strawberry smoothie. They've got internet access there too. Oh I need to go back soon; I only did two shops.

In the last year that I've been back in Glasgow I haven't spent much time, or money, in cafes - except when on the romp with Tilly and ZaZa. So this was bliss for me. I think I'm going to go back there to write. I found another cafe further along the road, that had a mixture of art and clothes but I couldn't decide if it was a charity shop or a business; the paintings were priced over £200. I didn't ask because they were busy with a couple but I will find out next time. It might be somewhere to sell my arty-farty stuff.

I also got 5 videos for £1 in The Solidarity shop - it took me half an hour to choose them because I don't want to litter the place up with old movies I'll never watch again; I'm only allowing myself reference stuff, like music, dance etc and the very odd old favourite film that I know I'll watch again and again, like Lord of The Rings and Pricilla, Queen of the Desert - which I got too. So I ended up with Riverdance, Celtic Feet, Cher-fitness and Country Line-dancing! Go Irene.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

COUPLING

Ooooo, Harrison Ford or Richard Gere? Well I choose both and add Bruce Willis, James Woods, Rob lowe, Bon Jovi, Tim Mathieson, Bruce Springsteen and of course the beautiful bald black guy from Weeds – not to mention the beautiful bald black guy from Dexter. I didn’t plan on adding younger men but those last two just popped into my old head so it can’t be helped; there are tons of luscious young men out there but I don’t want to be slavering over them – that would be unseemly. I’m happy with the wrinklies, and they are much more interesting to me, what with their malleable and fabulous faces; I don’t want them for sex – I just want to look and admire their regal standing, their greying and white hair…well okay I’d do the sex thing if I had to but these days I really can’t be bothered. It’s enough to look at men and sometimes I like to listen to them but only if they’re lying, playing a part; they’re more reliable that way.

I have always fallen for ugly men, or at least men with interesting faces; my friend Carrie has had to drag me away from some serious mistakes – alcohol had that effect on me, though how do we know that she was right? Just because she judged these men and found them wanting in the attractive department; she was drunk too - I might’ve missed my soul-mate because of her actions! I was drawn towards men with problems; there was a guy in a wheelchair in a Newcastle nightclub, a guy with one arm at Berwick holiday centre, and almost a guy in crutches in the queue for another club until Carrie stepped in.

Now, I’d rather write about sex than actually take part in all that heaving, sweaty exercise – been there, done that loads-a-times, nothing-new-to-be-had. How could I ever be bothered again? I can’t imagine. Maybe I’ll pick up a nice old gent when I’m eighty and he can perambulate me in my wheelchair, lift and lay me in my single bed, bring me my Earl Grey and chocolate biscuits. It won’t matter what he looks like as long as he’s kind and has lost his sex-drive. I don’t want to give up any of my power or precious time to someone else’s pursuits, so that man would have to give his life over to me completely and be my slave, and leave whenever I wanted to be alone. So really, all I'll need is a male live-in carer who also wants to be alone to write his novel or paint his art – what a perfect couple we would make!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

When The Witchcraft Act of 1563 was passed, an estimated 4,000 women were executed in Scotland over a period of approximately 150yrs; chief investigators of the witch-hunts were the clergy acting on a phrase that had appeared in a new version of the bible, Exodus XX11, 18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. At that time 4,000 people was a huge number; the population for Glasgow in 1691 was less than 2,000.

King James V1 thought that women were more susceptible than men to witchcraft mostly because of Eve falling to the serpent’s deception in the Garden of Eden. The last witch-burning in Scotland took place in Dornoch in 1722. Apparently, these epidemics of mass-sanctified murder have never been really explained or analysed to anyone’s satisfaction. That something so nonsensical and plain stupid could be sanctioned by leaders, royalty and church is bizarre. Compare that to how hard it is for the authorities to put mass murderers to death in the US; oh how they wish it was easy - as simple as it was to burn witches.

Monday, September 01, 2008

SUFFER THE WOMEN

God bless the Kirk; I’ve just been reading that the establishment of a theocracy in Scotland followed a peculiarly masculine and mysogynistic theology – John Knox in his ‘First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’ called them, ‘the porte and gate of the devil.’ Imagine that!

I was trawling the bookshelves in a Govan charity shop, and complaining about the price, as usual, when I fell upon this fabulous little local history pamphlet that was compiled and published for an exhibition at The People’s Palace in Glasgow Green. It’s titled, The Scottish Women’s Suffrage Movement, which I think might put people off at first glance unless they were in the mood for a history lesson – but it immediately grabs your attention by the selection of the comments above. Oh, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to live then, and there.

Women found guilty of gossiping or quarrelling were forced to stand in public with a metal brace (branks or jougs) around their head and a mouthpiece to depress the tongue, which when combined with the ducking stool was very unpleasant – to say the least. Also, a pulley was constructed to duck female adulterers in the river Clyde. There is no mention of male adulterers, yet.

Even on the Sabbath, there was no peace or rest for women, not in church - they had to bring their own stools in some places! They were prodded awake if they fell asleep during sermons; Beadles were appointed to poke them and punish any children causing a disturbance. Searchers prowled the streets to ensure the compulsory attendance at church. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Kirk had a lot of influence on the civil law and because of this town midwives were not allowed to give assistance to unmarried and pregnant women unless the father of the child had been named; women had no power to refuse a man anything - if their employer or any man took a fancy to them they were doomed and the only thing to save them would be infertility. What a thing to pray for.

Working-class unmarried women were not allowed to rent rooms or houses and the only work permitted was that of a servant. Doesn’t this just break your heart? I feel myself wanting to go back in time to save these women…and I haven’t got to the witch-burnings yet!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

APOLOGIES

Holy Blog Of Doom, Batman! I just returned from my daily swim on the beautiful Fijian beach and realised I have not updated this since petrol was cheaper than a bottle of Chateau de Neuf! You would not believe that I'd been abducted by aliens, but I'm sorry you'll just have to take my word for it. I am swilling chardonnay, discovering time doesn't stand still, watching Dexter and just generally being an embarrassment to the servants. My day seems to involve the authorities from beach break to running out of alcohol. I am avoiding recapture - can't they see I am blogging? I declare solemnly I will write something that makes sense soon. What? Unless of course the pool with the cocktail bar is heated!

One of the best from the... Lazy Blog Post Generator another pinch from Bettejo.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

POSITIVE THINKING

I’ve been thinking on the positive wavelength for a couple of months now, more fiercely since I watched the movie The Secret – and it’s working; I am attracting all sorts of great stuff to me! People I hardly know are offering me things; two lovely women who have recently started work beside me have offered furniture, a microwave, coffee-maker – one has presented me with beautiful baking trays, signed by Antony Worrall Thompson himself! Before that another workmate brought me in shoes that she couldn’t wear, then a lovely blouse and then a pair of lined curtains for my new flat!

Yes, I’ve even got a flat out of all this positivism, oh The Universe has definitely got me in its sights – I hope I’m not looking too needy. But I do need a lot of stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever remember all I lost in that fire; I had the cupboard packed full of all kinds of arty-farty bits n pieces, photographic equipment and everything that comes out of that. I know that I’ve lost all the black n white negatives along with the enlarger. A few little accoutrements survive for my new darkroom but I’ll need to visit ebay for another bargain enlarger. I can’t wait to have my own kitchen again – so I can black it out and play.

The Artist’s Way is written with The Secret in mind, which was working on me long before I saw the movie, but I stopped doing my morning pages and working on the book when I found the collaborative writing site Protagonise; I always go off on a bender when I find something new. So, I’m heading back The Artist’s Way and will pick up where I left off. I’ve promised myself that I’ll keep the TV turned off this weekend, and hopefully every weekend – with the odd exception of particular programmes. I’ll be good. I’ve given myself a 10,000 word task to be done by Tuesday so let’s see if I can make it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

RECOGNITION

Just wanted to mention that I found the first cat cartoon on this blog, or blogs; bettejo has several blogs here and all worth a browse - she posts a beautiful pic every day on one of them and shows off her wonderful jewellery on another. She's got interesting blogs on her blogroll too. Here's to ya bettejo!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

TWITTERING IN CYBERSPACE

So, where is all this going? Is it because I want to be a legend in my family way down the line? I would be reaching back at them through eons; imagine something from a space movie, kids doing biography projects or some kind of social history through the ages like The Flip-side of Dominic Hide. Actually, I just caught a repeat of that last week…must look for the second part on BBCi before it’s gone, but it might’ve been on another channel, in which case I’ve probably missed it. That character’s reason for going back in time to 70s London is to study bus routes!

All my witterings travelling in time; I can just see future scholars trying to understand my choice of similes in the race to avoid clich├ęs – it’s like a complete second language in idiom. I will not be explained; I want to be different, unusual and absolutely unexplainable; I want to be indecipherable by future literary historians; I want to make them laugh with a quizzical smile on their faces. What would they make of my Ode to Chocolate?

Right now, I’m doing this for me, and just like Everest, it’s there to be climbed; this mountain of Ethernet and the blogging world is the melting pot we were promised in the 60s – pop songs can be prophetic! I must find a YouTube link for that song so you can listen to it here. It’s an added bonus that my heirs will be able to investigate this for whatever reason – I should do a rant about the price of everything then they’d have that information at their fingertips. I remember searching for prices of food and cigarettes in the 70s; it was for a project (probably a novel) I was working on in the late 80s that proved very difficult.

The autobiography is great fun; I love searching for just the right movie clips and music to create the atmosphere of the late 50s; it’s keeping me focussed on one particular time, seeking out the memories, those early and vague glimpses of my life then before I slip back farther to who my parents were and where they came from, though now that everyone is gone my memory is more than a little hazy but I don’t want to dig deeper – someone else can do that. I am forcing myself to stand still in that period until there is nothing left, before I go on to the fun and naughty tales of my older childhood.

And blogging now; all this twittering filling cyberspace can only get better; I have read some younger bloggers and been astonished at their wonderful writing which I’m sure is because blogging exists and is cool in their world. Blogging is doing education a favour in that its encouraging reading and writing, thinking and commenting in many ways and forms that might not have happened.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CONFESSION

My name is Irene and I am a blogaholic! There, I’ve said it. Oh, the loneliness of the serial blogger. I switch on in the mornings, check email, wonder why no-one has left me any comments, then swing right on over there to the blogs; checking stats is also becoming addictive – when I first got a site-counter at Blogger I was all over that map and it was soooo exciting, but I got bored with the non-readers, all those searchers looking for granny-sex.

I set up a new blog with Wordpress last week, BUBBLES IN TIME; working on compiling an autobiography, and it’s great fun – especially the YouTube searching for just the right music and film clips. So, a few days in and I’m twitching, looking at stats, and wondering what to do next – set up another blog! And suddenly the name Fatty McSlob arrives in my head…and within minutes there it is, FATTY McSLOB in the flesh; ten minutes later it has a post and I’m satisfied, for now.

Wordpress is a whole new world of blogs calling to be read; they come to me from tags, I can pop next door, just like at Blogger, and then there is the blog networks in Facebook. OMG I wish I was unemployed or retired or rich – possibly in reverse order! I spent hours in Facebook blog networks yesterday, reading about full-time bloggers and how they make money. I think I want to be a full-time blogger when I grow up. Maybe I’ll just create ebooks and sell them on the blogs! Just think of all those tangents!

So, going off on that tangent, I should do a little ebook research just for the fun of it; I suppose it’s the next step from reading blogs, isn’t it? Mmmmm, and I’d have to blog about the experience and spout opinion, yes, good idea. Maybe I should get a dongle and take the laptop into work – I’ve been thinking of that anyway, taking it with me to work then I can write properly between calls instead of using a pen and notebook. I could stock-pile blog posts instead of the bulk-crocheting I’m doing now; it would be tidier than the craft work; no glitter all over the phone or glue gumming up my desk.

I really want one of those little laptops; it would sit very nicely on the side. This is small but an even smaller one would be much lighter and I’m all about if you don’t need it then get it out of your bag.

Some people can’t read off the screen but I seem perfectly comfortable with it; I know I’d be too miserable to print stuff out. I think the laptop has become my security blanket, and if I got a smaller one I could take it everywhere with me – not that I actually go anywhere these days, but it sounds good. And reading blogs is a bit like having a huge collection of short stories or serials, for free.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SHIFT YOUR AWARENESS

Whatever you're thinking and feeling today is your future!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

BOOKSHELF DETAILS

A PEEK AT MY SHELVES

My excuse for the apparent messy bookshelves is that I am still kindof in transit; I'm camping in my son's flat, but at least some things have a home - you should see the rest of the room. I am definitely not posting that picture!
Some of these books have been saved from the fire and are pretty smoke-damaged; look at the state of Wild Swans, but I haven't read it yet so I wasn't about to throw it out, yet.

This was an idea from Nik's blog, and a good one, in that you can learn a lot about someone from prowling their shelves; one glance at mine tells you that I'm untidy and lazy but eclectic in my interests - the little anonymous blocks under Ann Rice are tarot cards, and my newest, the Klimt set are inside the silky yellow bag.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A LITTLE BIT OF MEMOIR

In my safe childhood I was allowed to play outside, by myself, unsupervised, all day; hours and hours spent catching frogs, climbing monkey-puzzle trees, killing water rats and boiling dead bees.

Life in Carnwadric was quiet but interesting; right across the road from us was an old internment camp that used to house Italian prisoners of war. In it there was a big empty house on the hill, a forest, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, rose bushes and tall daisies, wild onions and, according to my little brother, dead Germans! There was also a row of little brick buildings that we called ‘The Zig-zags’, we thought they were probably dog kennels. We played house in them; they were just the right size for us. We’d sweep them out, and using spare bricks we found lying around, build furniture; little armchairs and sofas, with a table. Suburban Glasgow rocked; I had mystery and adventure inside and outside – the inner provided by Enid Blyton with The Secret Seven, and The Famous Five. I was so envious of the lives dealt out to these characters and always frustrated that I couldn’t re-create them in my own; my mother wouldn’t have a shed built at the bottom of our garden, nor would she buy enough ginger beer to serve to me and my friends; lemonade had to be good enough for us.

I went to stay with a friend in Stirling for a week and returned with the knowledge of how to build a den; so my friends and I began to dig a hole in the back garden, stacking up the clods of earth – they would be the walls, then we would lay a piece of corrugated iron across the top for the roof.

‘GET THAT CONTRAPTION OUT OF HERE!’ old-bag-upstairs shouted.

She always spoilt our fun, or complained whenever we did the slightest little thing. The den was finished and we were just about to have our first meeting of The Secret Four when she screamed. My father rapped on the window for us to come in. So, that was the end of that. Being seven in 1961 was very difficult; adults were the enemy and something to avoid at all costs – or play tricks on to get revenge. We leaned milk bottles full of water against her door, knocked and ran back into our house, back to the jigsaw in the big bedroom table. On Saturdays my father watched horse racing on the TV, with the sound up; he always took our side when Mrs Ratbag came complaining, but he told us off for annoying an old woman, even though she was a pest.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

WHY I WRITE

I have thought about it, a lot, and have probably spouted the age-old answer: ‘I write because I want to.’ But, what does that mean? Scribble? Or do I mean some kind of continuous stream that will eventually attract someone’s attention? Am I really planning to be a novelist? Or do I fancy myself in the trade of public observation, like in a regular column? Yes, I’d like to live in that description. I want to describe, sum-up and comment on people, places & stuff; but I also want to create and lie for a living.

Living to lie; that sounds just the right slant to me – I want to be that! One of the blogs I regularly read, Every Day I Lie a Little is pretty hysterical. Lying is fun. I remember people coming to me for lies in the 70s, when they’d taken time off work or been late; I was a great liar and could come up with the most outrageous stuff that was so out-there that they could only be the truth!

I don’t know why I was drawn into the world of writing but I think it might mostly be the fault of Margaret Atwood; I fell after I’d read her for the first time – The Handmaid’s Tale did me in. That was probably about 1988; I’d spent the years before that at some party or another and seemed to have drank my adult life away – I really don’t remember much about 1985 or 6 or Chernobyl because I was mostly drunk!

I thought I was happy then. We had the time of our lives, Carrie and me: me and Carrie tripping from party to party, men to men – cool was our middle name. When I stopped it all and started college Carrie found it very difficult, propping up bars by herself…and it took me two years to get her to leave me alone; to stop trying to drag me out to pubs. I’d discovered further education and Writing; a new drug – it took me over completely and I haven’t been the same since. Carrie eventually forgave me.

So why do I write? I don’t know; this stuff just falls out of my head and there it is, on the paper, on the screen – it swims around me like a feeding shark, nipping at my heels and sometimes (well mostly) there is so much of it. Then it needs filing and remembered, and then editing begins and never stops, but then a shiny new thing comes in and distracts me and I see the end of the road taking a turn, twisting into all those zed-bends. Navigation is murder.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

CAKE DAY! WAYHAY!



HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
And a fine day for it; summer came back. ZaZa baked again, in honour of my birthday. We began with home-made ice-cream in brandy baskets with strawberries and sauce….mmmmmmmm!



Look at the beautiful china, and real napkins! There was silver sugar tongs too.



Then a gateaux arrived bearing a single candle for me to blow out – I stopped to take a photo first, of course, and they sung happy birthday to you, of course. You don’t really expect stuff like this when you’re 54 do you? I forgot to mention the white wine cocktail we had on arrival, and the beautiful bottle of bubbly blackcurrant & cassis I was presented with. I thought I was just going over for some cake, but I brought ZaZa one of my blankets for her knees in her old age as a thanks-for-feeding-me-gift. Tilly told jokes but I’ve forgotten them now



Sandwiches of home-made bread and salmon just blew me away; this is the most fabulous bread in the world – I think I’m going to move in with ZaZa and May; it’s the only sensible thing to do…and then again, perhaps not; not a cake or biscuit has passed these lips for a fortnight, nor chocolate (except for Aero mouse) and I was well on my way to normal breakfasts that don’t consist of a packet of chocolate-chip cookies. I had cornflakes twice, and Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut for supper once in work. And then came the scones and butter and jam and cream (no I don’t think she milked the cow and churned the butter), and then there was the meringues! Oh dear God, what is this life if not full of cake?


 
So, how does Money Oil fit into all this? An earlier post covers the beginning, but back to the present; ZaZa presents me with a scroll which is a spell to bring your money back to you, and a little bottle of Money Oil in a tiny pink and sparkly bag. Outstanding! Fantabulosa! and Fandabidozi! What a brilliant and wonderful afternoon with beautiful friends (I'm hurrying now to tell you what happens with the money oil).

I went straight to work, loaded down with birthday cake and merringues and of course a couple of sandwiches for my break. I couldn't wait to tell Angel about the money oil - see original and earlier post. We had an hysterical first hour and everyone had a bit of the beautiful gateaux and praised the skills of ZaZa, which I went on and on about. Then when we got our wages (cash) we did as instructed in the scroll; we oiled our fingertips and rubbed our money with the oil, all the while imagining it returning to us! All that was left to do was to put the money in a special little bag and sleep with it under our pillows for it to work. So here's hoping!

And please give a round of applause to the Samsung phone for capturing the lovely pics, though close-ups are not its forte. Today is the actual birthday and summer seems to have gone again; I can hear the wind roaring behind me as I type. Merringues for breakfast then it's off to the bank to lay my magic money down so it can be whipped away and, hopefully, spirited back.

Amazon and PowerRanger just showed up with a bagful of lovely goodies and now I'm sitting (still in my nightdress) stinking of ROUGE by Christian Lacroix - let's face it, I am Ab Fab!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

CHRYSALIS

I’ve found a fantastic site for procrastinating called, Protagonize. Collaborate to your heart’s content. I’ve tried to get my fellow writers at WF in Writewords to play with this kind of thing but they never do, or keep anything up I begin. So I’m in clover; I’ve only been a member there for two days and I’ve got two stories running and have joined in a couple of others – now this could be very addictive but at least it is actual writing!

And the bad news is, I didn’t write my morning pages today! No reason other than I was writing and polishing old stuff for Protagonize. I thought I’d use old bits of work that I know I don’t want to continue; there are loads of scraps filed away, and I was already trying to tidy the fiction file – so this is just perfect, isn’t it?

The thought of other people creating a continued life with my characters is very exciting; I really hope people are stimulated enough to write some of these threads I’ve suggested; they have what they call branches, where you choose titles for three tangents or new chapter beginnings for other writers to investigate. God, the very idea just makes me high as a dragon chasing an addict!

I confess to addiction; I am addicted to new projects – I wonder if there is a name for this. I’m not afraid to finish them: I just kind of slope off in other directions but I do pop back eventually, hopefully to finish. Womag blogged some info that peaked my interest the other day about Woman’s Weekly looking for new submissions; I’m thinking of having a go at short fiction for that market, so have already rescued a few neglected pieces. Let’s all send a prayer up to the universe that I finish something.

The unfinished novels sit in the back of my mind and mock my attempts at forming routines; they know that I’m a lazy bitch and that they could be neglected for years! But, I am a new woman now; I know this – still a baby in this persona, a youngling. I feel a rebellion coming on, so watch out!

Friday, June 27, 2008

BUMBLE BEE & BOY SCOUT



I couldn't resist this when I found it: I am the bee and Carrie is the scout. See my sting! This was probably around 1985/6 when we spent a lot of time on fancy-dress-pub-crawls for charity; this might even have been the one we did three-legged! It was very difficult going to the toilet tied to someone else and hauling a bucket full of money too! Not to mention drunk.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

My God is the universe and all its mystery; its coincidences, synchronicity and magic – I live for happy accidents. I absolutely do not believe that there is a man up there with a great white beard surrounded by blooming cherubs. So what does God look like to me? A ghost of a smile like the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland perhaps; or a wisp of a breeze that flips things into movement in my peripheral vision; or an eternal computer that has every permutation programmed into it…and we live in a world where magical realism is alive and very well.

My God provides beautiful scrambled eggs with cheese, directs me in and out of danger to learn lessons; I am capable of enormous feats of strength and courage because I am open to all eventualities. This world has always been cruel and magical; there are just many more instances displayed in an international arena that make us think it’s escalating – we are myriad and dangerous entities with only self-control to guard against the dark side.

My God plays me like the Greek gods in the movies played with their pet mortals, and I am set on a multitude of paths according to my own choices. We all get to choose: left or right; up or down; in or out; on or off. I am observed and judged – the path I need most in certain times will appear before me, but always with a choice.

My God will eventually lay down the knowledge I need to navigate my way to the success I hope for. All those years ago I chose to go to Manchester – I could have picked three other cities. I also chose to have babies and actively set about making it happen. I selected all the paths that have led me here; one day I will spend time imagining the ones I rejected.

My God does not lay a hand on me, either in anger or love; existence does not mean preponderance in menial and domestic notions – I, and I alone am responsible for my emotions and perceptions, without influence. My lethargy is mine; it comes from my experiences and feelings – I own it. I am to blame for not doing what I really want to do, and I am happy to confess. All the while I am in learning mode I move an inch or two in a positive direction.

My God has a thousand possibilities for my future and has put me in control of my destiny – I accept that and hope that the choices I make take me as far as I am allowed, within the confines of this body. My body is nature and therefore deteriorates in time.

My God spreads a wealth across the universe, where possibilities depend upon imagination and creativity – it is ever-expanding into infinity.

My God does not need: worship; gender assignment; race or creed attached; hymns written or sung; churches built and laid with gold; prayers or punishment; marches or pilgrimages; politics or pontificating. All that is assumed is kindness and generosity; is that too much? For many humans it apparently is!

My God does not have apartments in the name of Heaven and Hell; they were invented by us, men, and humans. Heaven and Hell are a control feature for the invented church to have power over the common masses – to frighten the hell out of them! Heaven and Hell are abominations and absolutely do not exist in my universe.

My God knows the way of the world and the limitations of Earth. There is no use in speculation because that’s all it could ever be; the only good outcome of speculation is education and learning. I am ready to accept my place in the way of things and already have an image in my mind of my end here; I see myself flying into the black universe, back to where I belong – home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

GIVING CREDIT

Thanks must be paid to ebay seller kodi987 for the beautiful photos below, and above; I will be posting more.  I bought two CDs for 99p each, entitled: 1000 Vintage Photochrom Photographs 1& 2 and they are an astounding collection of views from around the world, possibly taken or inked, over a hundred years ago...and there's more than 1000! I can use them to make cards, for scrapbooking and of course, blogging. Enjoy!

SIX RETREATS






Sunday, June 22, 2008

TAKING OVER THE ASYLUM

I’ve just been watching Fight Club again and come to the conclusion that we have to drive into the skid if we ever want to get anywhere. I don’t mean capitulate and fit in with the norm: I think we should run away with the extraordinary. You know the old detective saying, ‘if the only thing left sounds crazy, then that’s probably the truth!’ So, the yellow brick road and the wisdom of the green wizard is the way to go.

Normality has never really existed in my life; I did everything backwards and now I’m coming home to roost, amongst my similar friends – my familiars. One is a witch, one had a sex change including a clitoris on the National Health, and another is a psychic who swallowed Wikipaedia. Walk this way and don’t be afraid.

Fear has no power over me – I swat it like the fly that it is. I made my way to a cemetery 15 years ago, expecting to find a man who had attacked my17yr old son; I was prepared to kill him softly if he wasn’t already dead (from the whack on the head my son had retaliated with) – it was 3am and I was strolling in the moonlight, with the dog while my son (who I’d left behind) babbled his terrible warnings about how dangerous this man was. I told him that Glaswegians run from no-one. The bully had gone; there were a few spots of blood on the pavement. The anti-climax is still with me.

I know I would survive disaster and end up an old warhorse; there would be monuments erected, in time. Quite right too. But I wouldn’t be the one sending soldiers over the top; if anyone had to go I’d be right there with them. Honesty and courage used to be a basic instinct when I was growing up: now it’s missing in action and should be posted MIA all over the bloody place. My son thinks that my kind are mad. When the druggies smashed the windscreen on my car I was out there with a hammer demanding they come out and fight; they thought I was mad too and stayed in their holes.

How are we to live in this increasingly wicked world? By standing up and getting as bold as them; the muggers, rapists, murderers, robbers and violent cowards all have one thing in common – dishonesty; they think they’re hard, but they’re in denial. In Fight Club they’re looking for a way out and start beating themselves to a pulp; there is an energy and honesty there and courage to face pain and the unknown. The scary part is the success of madness, but someone has to push to create change, and often madness is very well disguised.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WILLPOWER

Sylvia and I had a great night in on Sunday; we spent four hours rabbitting on about our school-days and old friends, family and God-knows-what-else. The only strange thing about it (to some people) is that I was in Glasgow, and she, in the vicinity of Chesterfield. Boy, can we talk on the phone; we had toilet and coffee breaks, and she had a bottle of wine and probably about a thousand fags – we broke off before the call reached the hour limits so it cost nothing. The sensible, older woman – that’s us. Yeah right!

In my hermit stage I spend an awwwwwwwful lot of time watching TV. I was conscious the whole time that I was missing my CSIs – isn’t that terrible? I think that this is my worst anti-social period to date. I enjoy being with my friends, talking and relaxing, laughing, looking at the phenomena of fashion on the high street; I love to hear about people I used to know, finding out where they went and what happened to them, but – I seem to be addicted to drama on the box. I don’t watch soaps or reality programmes or most of the fashionable sit-coms or comedies – DRAMA is the thing. I am losing my will to live.

It’s time to turn the telly off and read, and write, and craft, and think, and LEAVE THE HOUSE! Time to go out among the great washed and unwashed, fashionable and downright real people, in the streets, through the parks and art galleries, over bridges with stops for photo-shoots - to listen and learn. I say this from my comfortable position in my bed, with the lovely laptop upon my knee, and all kinds of refreshments at my right hand – even a cat within stroking distance.

This room, prison and necessary evil has everything I need within easy reach, for instance, upon my table: TV with video & DVD player; slow cooker; little grill; kettle; phone x2; coffee & Earl Grey; water; Slimfast; (milk & butter that needs to go back in the fridge – what an effort) bread; scissors and accumulated letters – it’s a big table. There’s also a baking-cooling tray that the laptop sits on. Why do I need anything from the outside world? I can be perfectly sociable from here. Just remembering an EM Forster short story called, I think, The Machine Stops, where life is reduced to an existence in a tiny room. What’s wrong with that?

I’ve been to the doctor and asked for help to lose weight before I kill myself with type 2 diabetes or something and he suggested a SPORT’S CENTRE!!!! My God, the very idea of it! But I suppose I have to force these things on myself; it’s an awful imposition on my horizontally-creative lifestyle, and I resent the time it will take – maybe I should create a whole new character to experience these vile activities…yes, I’ll give her a name and let her get on with it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MOVING PICTURES

My grandmother dreamed of a sailor at the bottom of her bed - he never spoke. She looked forward to his beaming smile during the long sleepless nights, alone in a city centre flat - a daughter for every day of the week to ration sleeping pills and Codeine. She sang about sin and spat at Ian Paisley on TV.

Her grave is a mile from my bed, but she won’t leave me alone. I hear her singing in our spare room flinging up cold cotton sheets, calling for drains to be bleached, complaining about the men on my walls. 'Valentino!’ she’d sigh. ’Now, there was a man.’ She wore black and red to his funeral.  

Religion was an extension of her old age pension. Nuns followed her home. She begged from priests, and charmed local bobbies in the middle of the night, wrapped up tight in flannelette and tweed wandering Glasgow Cross, searching for a sister lost in time.

When she died, my mother found money taped to the wall behind the Pope, enough for a hundred fish-suppers in front of Late Call and a blazing gas fire to tartan her shins.

My grandmother is a frail fairytale, missing from my mirror. I didn’t know her face would disappear - I was young, couldn’t see past my own fifteen years. I remember her buttery hair, tidy, with natural oils, scraped back, pony-tailed. How will I know who I am? There are no pictures, only vague memories, fleeting.

Monday, June 16, 2008

TRAVELLING BLOGGERS

I’ve just found myself getting quite upset at the death of a fellow granny-blogger; I hadn’t been in there for ages and how strange to click over there today to find that she’d died yesterday morning. Funny how you become attached to people through writing; it seems to be an instant connection that blasts away the rubble so that the friendship and bond is almost immediately grasped. I haven’t been back to read as much as I planned but I will. I now have two links to travelling bloggers: Maya’s Granny and Julia Darling.

This reinforces the importance of blogs to me; the family of a blogger will always have an amazing chunk of their loved-one’s spirit; their opinions, ideas, character and personality will shine out so that generations can meet and know who they were. I often wish I had something like it of my parents; they really were strangers to me – I only saw what they wanted to show me…which is what my children experience from me.

Children are always so involved in their own angst and plans for their future and present that the question of who their parents are doesn’t arise until death intervenes. The idea that these blogs will be part of family trees and social history is quite mind-blowing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

THE NONSENSE OF TRAVEL

Next stop is Kilpatrick; it lives under the bridge, huddled and flat beside the river. The next stop Anywhere, anytime; next stop Heartbreak etc, next stop Childhood and my ball stuck behind the railings and I’m going to be late and The Granny will kill me! Change conductors at Dalmuir – scary.

CASH IS SPENT, advert on billboard. What do people do in Singer? Next stop Drumry, and the sun also shines. I’m going straight to work, so I’ll have time to dally on Paisley Rd West, have coffee in Subway, might even buy a sandwich for dinner later. Must get wool for the sunset.

The city is approaching and I remember the photo I took of a rain-splashed bench, all dazzling with colours flashing off the prisms as the sun glared. I do believe in faeries. Westerton brings me nearer to Partick and a subway to Subway. I need an iPod.

Friday, June 06, 2008

TEA PARTY



Tilly and I spent the afternoon at ZaZa’s yesterday: sandwiches, cakes, shortbread and more cakes – all home-made, for breakfast, lunch and I took some away for dinner at work. Howzat for bad habits? Then I began today with two of her rolls and am planning the last of the shortbread for lunch, in a minute! Just as well I’m arranging to begin a new life next week, isn’t it?

We had a great time talking nonsense; of course funerals came up, and the outfits we would wear, and what would or should happen to our bodies. ZaZa said that we should send her ashes off in a little boat onto Loch Lomond, on fire, while we sway and dance to the music she’s chosen - she made us listen to it and Tilly and I had a few practice hand and arm movements, while describing the trailing black lace of our gothic sleeves. I offered to create the little boat and Tilly, of course, will do the herbs and spells.

So there we sat all afternoon, stuffing ourselves…oooh, did I mention the merangues? FAB. And all with French cafe music in the background; there was also a touch of Russian as ZaZa showed us her Russian fox-fur hat. She paraded around, wearing it and a machine-washable afghan coat but wouldn’t allow me to photograph her because she wasn’t made-up. Life doesn’t get much better than this; I’m so glad I came back from my travels.

I can't believe I've managed to do this! How great is this? I have impressed even me.

Monday, June 02, 2008

DEAR TEACHER

Mrs A, Mrs B and Mr C, you won’t remember me, and you’re probably dead by now anyway, but I must inform you that you were in the wrong business; there was no love of children in the ranting and terrifying tirades that you poured over our little primary heads. Somewhere in your lives you all took a wrong turn or were following a path that you should never have been on. I see you raising your hand with a ‘but’, but the fact is you are three out of perhaps six or seven teachers. You are the only stars of this show – none of the others left a mark either physical or mental on me; they are invisible. Almost fifty years ago, Mrs A, you made me stand in the corner of a cold cloakroom, alone, for swapping my blue pencil with the red one given to the boy behind me. I was four years old and you were my first experience of the education establishment; you certainly left an impression on me.

When I was seven, you, Mrs B, dragged me up the dining hall backwards by the ponytail, because I had done something awful, diabolical even; I licked mince gravy off my knife. I was a quiet and tender little thing and you were the monster from the black lagoon. There was no comparison in my reading matter; I don’t remember vile creatures in Enid Blyton tales. While I was asking my mother to serve me and my friends ginger beer and sandwiches at the bottom of the garden, you were the reality that was breaking into my life. Home and literature was a haven from the only school bullies I knew– the kind that didn’t need to wait at the gates; they got you in public, these 007s with a licence to maim.

I haven’t forgotten you Mr C, or the first time I felt your leather strap slap up my tiny wrists; I might’ve been eight or nine, and my crime was eating a banana in the lines. I’d probably been so busy playing that I’d forgotten to eat it at the correct time. You ordered me to come to your classroom which was full of eleven-plus students, all sniggering at me standing there, waiting for my punishment, aware of all my flaws. I had to be brave, ignore them and pay attention to your swaggering thick belt; I stood and took the two great whacks while trying to control my face. I didn’t cry; I stared wide as you verbally justified the beating and sent me back to my own class. I had that few minutes to get myself in order to face my friends, to pretend that it was nothing, that I was tough and cool before cool meant cool.

And then there was the day you belted the whole class, Mr C; I had finally reached the top, was a member of the eleven-plus, and looking forward to leaving for secondary school. We were usually quiet and studious, in your presence – there was no other way to be, and live. It began to snow, huge, soft flakes, and we stood up to see it. Of course you thundered that we should sit down, and we did at first, but when the blizzard really began to swirl we rose up again and were deaf to your threats; it was exciting. You must’ve thrown an enormous tantrum, I don’t quite remember that part but suddenly you had the whole class in a curve around the room, about thirty of us. You calmly walked along the line and belted every one, except for the class favourite who was crying, you told her to sit down; she was the fairy from the top of the tree. We were belting material; she was far too fragile for real life.

The three of you sent me out into the world with a hatred of teachers; a dislike of loud voices and discord – to this day I still have a little of the people-pleaser in me. When my first child was starting school, I walked the corridors, listening for raised voices, for the teachers who couldn’t command respect by just being kind and working at interesting lesson plans. I hope your kind are dead and gone; there is more pain in mental torture than physical – in life I learned to fight back with my tongue rather than my fists…so I did learn something from you after all, but should I thank you for that? Is it you I should thank for my cynicism, my quick wit and acid tongue? You battered a good Scottish education into the bones of me and I do thank you for that – perhaps the madness in your methods was thumped into you.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

LOVIN' IT

Yesterday was a very decadent space in time in that when there were three of us a round of coffees cost over 6 quid! At one point we were four and included crisps; £10 later, we sat in a window in comfortable armchairs, advertising our affluence - even though we're all as poor as honest working folks. If we were more like the general public we would spend our free money on £100 trainers, if we had free money.

So, it was Sea-salt and Balsamic vinnegar crisps for brunch; ZaZa had made beautiful merangues with cream and gave us three each - those I took to work with me and had for dinner, after a first course of chips. Wot a life.

There was a lot of sauntering between cafes; the sun was present; we peered in stylish windows at stuff we could never afford; I took photos but they didn't work out as perfect as I'd hoped. In Royal Exchange Square we fell upon a vintage jewellery shop, only opened three weeks ago; I had to buy myself a little pair of 30s earrings for £10 - I discovered the limitations of the phone camera; it doesn't do macro, so the beautiful jewellery came out blurred.

Tilly and I slagged off the cost of crafty things dangling from strings in a shop on Queen Street, so I've got feathers and sparkly bits on my mind, ideas for future projects; of course mine will be better than theirs and have more value for money - I might ask them to sell them for me.

I had intended on going home to write a little before I went to work but ZaZa was late, of course, and I hadn't seen her for a few years so the afternoon stretched like a cat in the sun, and we were all content with our place in the world, in Glasgow's coffee houses.

A HAIKU AFTERNOON

Trains growl through tunnels;
a promising presence deep
but ordinary.

I cafe-culture
from Nero to Nero, one
solvent afternoon.

I should be sticking
feathers and glitter on things
that dangle from strings.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TRIP TO LOCH LOMOND



This is Balloch, on the River Leven, which flows into Loch Lomond. Yesterday I took myself on a date, my Artist's Date, and bought an all-day bus ticket in Glasgow for £3.20; it took me 90 minutes and three buses but I eventually got there - it's only about 15 miles from where I live and maybe 25 minutes in a car.


Ooooh, lovely fish and chips out of the wrapper, sitting by the river; you can't beat it, especially if there's sun glinting off the water.


There are two dogs here, having a paddle but by the time I got to them with the camera they were leaving.



I just missed the ducks here.