Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being yourself, knocking down walls and the whole universe

Readers, I am still going grey. I am growing slowly into it. The kids keep inspecting my head in a running commentary and saying, yes, there is a little bit more grey! Indoors in dim light it looks fine, I think...

Outdoors, in bright sunlight I may look as if seagulls have poo-ed on my head, or as if I have been painting the ceiling - I don't know - but I was thinking today: is self-acceptance really such a radical act? Because that's all it is, this letting-your-hair-be-as-nature-intended. I threw out my old hair-dye towels today. They looked like they were used to dry rusty railings. And tea bags.

Meanwhile, we have knocked a wall down. I'll say that again, shall I? We have knocked a wall down and we are not wall-knocking-down people! 

It's great though. Instead of a dining room and a teensy kitchen, we have a big kitchen-diner thingy. It only took us five years. Photos to follow, if you are lucky...

And finally, I asked Tess why she wouldn't go and play with Hugh today. She shrugged and replied, oh, he is just wrecking the whole universe, as if that was standard for 6 year old boys. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Head for the edge, keep walking




I just finished this book by Kate Tough, whom I met on the Orkney Writers' Course. Gee, I was impressed, mainly because I enjoyed it so much.

It was so accessible, readable, arch and true, yet I could relax because it was well-written, well-crafted and swept me along. Lots of great and subtle Glasgow references too. 

Just as well I met Kate before I had read her book, or I'd have been writer-struck. The new short stories from Janice Galloway are what I fancy next -


When she's good, she's damn good. You know you want to.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I need Minnie Mouse ears to keep me sane



I can explain. It's been one of those days. A day of first-world problems. A day when I keep telling myself, some people have got real problems, but okay,  I'll admit it, mothering drove me nuts today.

Poor Hugh has now had a bug for over a week and just wants to fight his sister, me and every gargantuan injustice he can. You should'a let me use the red crayon! 

Earlier, I had to collect the Dyson from the repair shop (why do they deodorize it with essence of car wash?) and the mission led to scuffles with his sister, wailing in the street, vacuum-packed misery.

Later, when he was calmer, we saw a woman about my age with greying hair (no dye) and I mumbled in my self-soothing way, see her hair looks nice enough...good on her; he said, Well, mummy, I don't think you should grow your hair grey. 

Aww. I said, Why not? Daddy's is grey. He said, well, it only looks okay for a man...

Sadly, I know what he means. And yet, I'm still trying to resist the pressure to be a slave to putting chemicals in my hair every 4 weeks for the next fifteen years at great effort, time and expense. Other people might enjoy it, not me.

I came home and stuck on a Minnie Mouse hairband to do the Dyson-ing, through wails of protest that it was too noisy and getting in the way of the TV. 

They are asleep at last and I am gazing peacefully on the pristine red rug and the soft-plum sunset over the west hills of Glasgow. I will fall into bed with mattress-all-mine delight, as Nice Man is drumming in Spain, but of course I look forward to his return, free hotel soaps and otherwise. 



Monday, July 06, 2015

Getting Doon with the Mamas.

Did I tell you how much I am enjoying the Coorie Doon Project? 

What is the Coorie Doon Project? you all cry in harmonious unison.

It's a lovely idea funded by Enterprise Music Scotland where I have been invited  (as a writer-y / poet person) together with Rachel Drury (warm, talented musician person) to work with pregnant and/or new mums in Edinburgh to help them write and record a personal song for their new baby.

It's named after this lovely miners' lullaby, by the way.

The mums have been great, opening up to us, sharing their experiences. I've been telling them that their babies will be their biggest fans - whatever they come up with. Here's a portrait that our Tess painted of me. I love it, as it's filled with happy acceptance and blind adoration.


(I will have to covet this drawing when she turns 14 and everything I do will be wrong, embarrassing or both).

Anyway, I'm loving it so far and want to contribute and facilitate as much as I can. We've had influences from Opera to AC/DC.

Here's one of my favourite poems about childhood: - Small Boy by Norman MacCaig.  It's all that Having and Losing, Losing and Having. It gets me every time.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Yesnaby, Oh Yes.

Yessnaby, Orkney.
So, Orkney was quite a ride. 

I loved walking up this cliff at 10pm at night (still light) with Michael Hough and Kate Tough. ( A bit of Huff and puff with Tough and Hough?) We lay on our backs, like teenagers, and looked at the sky. 

Lots of things reminded me of being young: the smell of the sea and farmland on the wind. The way the peaty ground has a small bounce under your feet. The squeal and squawk of sea birds. Those pinky clover flowers near the shore, beating the odds: wee bobbing balls of fluffy triumph.

The Writers' Course was good, even if I didn't get as much written as I had hoped for. Mea Culpa. Perhaps I am distilling it for later. 

Our course tutors, Pamela Beasant and Jen Hadfield were supportive poetry Maters, always packing a Writing Exercise and a well-targeted Sandwich Selection. 

We saw Damien Hirst's suspended sheep at the gorgeous Pier Arts Centre (apparently local farmers wholly disapproved and, yup, I get that...). 

We loved poet, Stewart Conn. What's not to love? Is it wrong to want to hug the man?

We watched the brilliant James Runcie give a spell-binding talk on Music, Poetry and Silence, elaborating on the power of all three to guide us through this random, turbulent miraculous thing called life. 

Job done, Orkney. Oh, Orkney of Standing Stones, Gore-tex and women who decide not to colour their hair any more (my people!?)

Stromness Hairdressers, Orcadia Cuts had photos of many's a lavish 'Up Do' in the window. Never mind the Bridal Hair, I just loved the phrase Orcadia Cuts (it for me).

I will look out for my fellow course mates in future years. I'm sure they'll have more to say.

PS I'd also like to thank Creative Scotland for their help with a travel grant, greatly appreciated.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

First World Dilemmas - is there any way to go gracefully grey?

Indulge me,  dear readers, with my first-world preoccupation -  my 'problem' grey-area.

I am 47 now and have been sticking 'a wee semi permanent' in my hair for about 5 years to cover emerging grey. (By the way - there is no such thing as grey hair - only white hair mixed with dark, giving the impression of grey). But I am weary of it. It is faff and a kerfuffle and the roots come through so quickly. I forget which colour I bought and get piebald 'brassy' tones. I wreck the towels and the bathroom lino.

Most of all, it does not feel authentic. It feels like a cheat - pretending to look younger than you are.

It's gender biased too. Men look fine with grey hair and silly with dyed hair. How did they escape? I am toying with getting it coloured regularly at the hairdresser but it costs a fortune, takes hours at a time, and guess what - 6 weeks later you have a big white/grey line where everyone knows you need to get your roots done. Again.

But it's amazing how many woman gasp and say. 'Oooh , nooo, don't go grey! It' so aging!  You can't!'   Hairdressers tend to just shake their heads in silent horror. Lots of my pals colour their own hair in the bathroom, and seem to be much better at it than I am, (as they are better at baking and similar things for which I have no ambition).

I am swithering and swithering, preoccupied with the vain trivia of it all - yet still lacking in my conviction to 'go for it'. I just found this online and felt like I had found a support group. 


If I'm going to 'go for it' I have to get through the awkward 'growing out' phase, knowing that the playground mums are thinking - isn't it time you had your roots done?

Will a splash of red lipstick distract from follicular hara kiri?  I doubt it. Time will tell which way I jump.