Monday, October 23, 2017

What Cats Can Teach You about Parenting

Okay, the kids are back at school and I thought I'd try to write a poem about the first thing I saw.





The Visiting Cat

We don’t know who owns
the black and white cat
that comes to our back door
but my girl named her Mischief
and now it feels like she couldn't
be called anything else.

That’s the way it is with children
making their mark on the world -
there’s no going back
and life feels as irrefutable
as this damp cat, tail aloft,
bumping her head off my shins
not in or out, always close
to the open door.

She sniffs the empty air
where, minutes before, 
the kids bustled out to school,
all lunch boxes and late protests,
their faces lit with purpose.  


Monday, September 25, 2017

National Poetry Day? Oh, go on then...

It's a Scottish thing, I know - this fear of 'blowing your own trumpet.' Hence, when this poster describes me as, 'poet, Ciara MacLaverty,' I still think, who me? Surely, you mean some one else like Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead or Wendy Cope? 

But Readers, I gotta grab the wheel and own it! Drive it like I stole it! (Sing Street, by the way).

So, I'm doing my bit for NPD and sharing some poems with a P7 class in Knightswood library. If I can get a few weans enthused, I'll be doing something right. Better than my own kids shouting 
Bo-ring! at me, which wouldn't be unheard of. Maybe Seamus Heaney's kids told him to pipe down...



'There better be banana poetry or I'm not going.'

I'll also be at Hillhead library on this Friday 28th for poetry and cake at the Macmillan charity coffee morning. Don't be shy.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Nicola Says....






It's not every day the First Minister recommends your Dad's new book. Our Dad used to be an English teacher on the Isle of Islay. He gave that up to become a writer and has written five books of short stories and five novels. We're all proud of him, so I had to share this Nicola tweet.



Goo Goo even got the Tuxedo on.....

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'Is that Mummy? No, that's Guitar George.'



Guitar George is the guitar tech for Teenage Fanclub. He used to work for Dire Straits, and Mark Knopfler wrote, Check out Guitar George, he knows all the fancy chords. 

So, there we all were at the wonderful Deer Shed Festival. Except I got left out of the drawing, in favour of lovely George (artist's Impression by Tess, 7). Fair do. Can you believe 45% percent of the crowd were kids? Heck yeah... Let the kids rock!

It was quite a sight to behold all the parents pulling their babes round in prairie wagons like this one; sleeping cherubs bedecked with blankets, ear protectors and fairy lights. Really.


Tess was madly envious and wanted one too, but had to make do with standing at the side of the stage, cheering for her father drumming, and developing a kid-crush on lovely Norman Blake. What an adventure for all. 

Thanks to the Deer Shed staff for being so kind. If you like festivals and you have small kids, saddle up the horses for this one next year.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

22 Minutes to School Summer Holidays!

Parents everywhere: we are holding hands in a circle, like we do before The Bells at New Year - waiting for the surge of energy - the big change - the starting anew. Six Weeks Without School !?!

Way back in the 80's, I ran out of  Islay High School in elation. I was a Red Arrow jet, trailing vapours of delight, freedom and release.

Why now, do I feel like I' m shouting through a hatch that's about to close? I'm about to be subsumed into Children First Land. It's my choice, of course. I'm glad I can do it, but  if you're looking for me, I'll be waving from the deck of a ship, with my telescope extended, looking for wee islands where I can do scraps of writing, scraps of thinking. 

I've had my hair cut again. My hairdresser used to call it, 'more Sharleen Spiteri than Sharleen Spiteri.' Aye. My rejection of the hassle and cost of hair dye is still going, so I'm feeling a bit more Emily Thornbury (MP). But she's got sass, right? 



Sassy Emily said today....

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Robot and The Humble Man

We are finally getting our attic converted. Hoorah. 

It will be a 'lofty' office for Francis's  music making, and the kids will get a bedroom each. They are now 8 and 7, so it will be good to give them their own space to colonise with Lego and Monkeys, before they turn into teenagers and hide away for years at a time.

One of the builders was asking Hugh what he might be when he grows up.

Maybe a doctor or a lawyer?

Hugh shrugged his shoulders and said sincerely -

Eh, no. Maybe just a humble man...


Here's a 7 second video of The Humble Man trying to communicate with a robot. One day this particular robot will be the equivalent of that first computer game kids used to play: one blip of a 'tennis ball' and two scroll bar rectangles, pinging it back and forth. 

One day we won't be able to tell who's a robot and who's just a humble man, or humble woman.


Monday, June 05, 2017

Where am I?

You may well ask. 

On Twitter is the short answer. When I started Twitter, I didn't like it. It was like a cockpit dashboard, all flashing and busy and I didn't know which buttons to press, where to look first.

Now, I find I'm slightly addicted to it. It's so instant, so real time. I 'meet' new people and writers, I find new poems/books/articles to read and appreciate. I laugh out loud at the Twitter feed while watching Question Time. 

Have I posted this before? I'm getting deja vu. Lost in a twitter vortex.  @CiaraMacLaverty is where you'll find me.

Meantime, here's a picture I tweeted of our kitchen window seat. Life may have small regrets, but the window seat is usually not one of them.  Trees help everything, I find.



Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Down The Mineshaft

Every evening I tell myself I will watch TV or read a book. Every evening I end up on the web, searching for any crumbs of political hope.


I will admit, I'm out of my comfort zone trying to write about politics - I've no real history of it, and who wants to invite a fierce trolling? 

But the older I get, the more I see that the wee wife-y (or old man) in the supermarket who says, 'I'm not really political' is wrong. We are all political by action or inaction. So we might as well stand by our views as bury them.

Readers, I have never in my whole life felt more on the losing side of politics. Daily I am aghast by the world's march to the right in Tory 'UK' and Trump's America.

I don't know what I am going to do on June 9th if we have another Tory 'death' sentence - for that is what it feels like to me, politically.

Nicola has a mandate for a second Indy Ref and Theresa says no. Not now, you pesky kids! Never mind that the majority of Scots are appalled at being dragged out of Europe against our will.

I even feel deserted by the BBC. Nowhere are the news reports capturing my deep political frustrations, or those of thousands of other Scots.  

I read Bella Caledonia  and The National and George Monbiot at the Guardian  and Lesley Riddoch but these feel like the margins. The mainstream has changed so much, it can make me feel physically drained and utterly despondent. 

Meanwhile, I've been reading The Secret Seven stories to the kids. I feel like I'm trapped down an old mine shaft with Scamper the Dog. We are powerlessly waiting on a goodie to come by with a rope. I keep looking round, bewildered, thinking - there must be some escape from this darkness. There just must. 




Vote Monkey and be Scottish, European and Funky 



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Right, Politics Then.

Oh, Blogger - you have me on my knees. 

I just spent an hour trying to write a blog about politics - on the importance of standing up for your beliefs and being true to yourself, even at the risk of being trolled or judged; about my despair at what Tyrant Theresa is doing to Scotland and Europe.

Guess what? I managed to delete it with one random click and can't retrieve it. Readers, you will have to wait.

Women Tell Each Other They are Gorgeous at Moniack Mhor


It’s like we have been starved of each other,
though we have only just met
and we are keen to make up for lost time,
leaning our stripy-topped bosoms on the table,
slapping our hands on its long wooden expanse
and agreeing with each other in shrieks
(Lana laughed enough to pish her breeks).

You’re gorgeous though!
No, you’re feckin gorgeous!

We can’t talk enough
about family, sex and death,
breach labour, Nicola Sturgeon and the NHS.
It’s not every day you wait a decade or two
for a faux medieval candelabra
to shine down on your face
and make you feel like, at last,
you’ve found your rhythm,
your got-it-now place.








Monday, April 03, 2017

Best Scottish Poems 2016 - What Corkers!

I was lucky enough to be included in Best Scottish Poems in 2006 (eek) and I love to read them every year.

It's exciting to see so many poems from new friends and poetic heroes this year. Click here to enjoy.

I am spoiling you. x


Friday, March 31, 2017

Writers Go Crazy in the Highlands



You know that thing, when a photo of a sunset, is only 1% as good as being in the actual sunset? And even a good photo can't convey the whole ravishing shebang of it?

That's what being at Moniack Mhor is like. It's been a wham-bam treat of a week, whooping and laughing with new friends; cutting to the chase in every chat. 

And the countryside! God-dang, I hadn't realised I missed it so much. How calming it is. It's grassy smells and fresh breaths. Highland coos chewing and the rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker.

The cottage itself has a farmhouse 'hug' - slate floors,  heavy wooden tables, fresh herbs, wood burners, sofas to sink into.

I have read plenty and written some. I will share in later posts. Big 'shout out' to the Scottish Book Trust. Meantime, here's a couple of iphone snaps that won't do it justice.





Saturday, February 18, 2017

Watch out Dunoon.



Kids who don't want to go to bed will spin out any story or excuse to lengthen the goodnight chit-chat. Tonight Tess was asking to go on holiday and I reminded her of the time we went to Dunoon. 

The weather could not have been more face-slapping-ly horrible (bitter wind and rain - it was February; I was deluded). At the time, aged 3, she declared that she never wanted to go to Dunoon again.

As I tucked her in tonight (aged nearly 7) to stall me, she rambled on that she had a very important job to do:  shutting down Dunoon forever. (Sorry Dunoon, it's not personal). Right Mummy, she said - these are the things I will need to do this job. Can you write them down?

A motorbike that shoots out fire
A gorilla and two monkeys
Chopsticks (for poking people)...and
Donald Trump.

Dunoon, I will defend you.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Tour Bus, Homework and People Going to Aviemore

I tell the kids that Daddy has to sleep on the tour bus. Naturally there are queries.




Tess: I know this sounds silly, (coy giggle) but how can the driver drive if daddy is snoring in the night? 

(Probably a disingenuous question to work her way in. I explain that the bus engine is usually louder than any random snorer within said bus).

Tess: (sudden righteousness) But what about the other people? Like the people going to Aviemore?! 


(I see a clutch of outdoor fanatics in North Face jackets and woolly hats sitting bolt upright on the Teenage Fanclub tour bus as the band snore peacefully in trademark harmonies. The bus hurtles on through various European cities where the band wake and can't escape the desire to apologise for Brexit, either verbally or with resigned shrugs).

Me: (attempting the parental 'kind' laugh) It's in Europe...

Tess: Well, maybe the people going to Russia?!

I explain further about the bunk beds with curtains. I'm glad I'm not in the bunk beds with curtains.

Tess: So is the bus, like, the size of this room?

Me: No, it's....bus-shaped.  A cuboid. 

(I'm pleased I have crow-barred in the word cuboid, as homework this week is the difference between a cube and a cuboid).

Ah well, back to the ol' poetry lark. The metaphorical bus tour of the mind. Where to next?



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scottish Book Trust, I praise ye!

What a fantastic day I had last week, visiting the Scottish Book Trust and receiving one of their annual New Writers Awards. 

I loved meeting the other New Writers and getting our photos taken in Edinburgh - which never fails to dazzle with architectural splendour. You can read all about it here