Friday, September 26, 2008


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


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


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:

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!
Until next time ... Happy blogging!
Darren & Chris


Monday, September 15, 2008


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


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


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


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


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


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!