Sunday, September 30, 2018

Westering Home

Well, what a weekend we had at the wonderful Islay Book Festival 2018.  Oh, the sight of those big red Cal Mac funnels! By the time the Paps of Jura popped up, I was excitable as a puppy.

Big 'hats off' to all the organisers and volunteers who couldn't have done any more to help or make us all feel welcome. We stayed in the cracking Bowmore House B&B, all tasteful fabrics and fluffy  white bath robes. Never mind the free whisky, they must have known about my cereal weakness.

I met new friends as well as old ones. I talked love, life and all sorts with Gaelic author, Donald S Murray while we wandered Portnahaven as  moonlight fell on sugar-cube houses, and seals coughed and cavorted in the velvet dark of the bay.

I still get excited about chubby, speckled seals, their tails aloft on the rocks, but Donald said he sees them all the time in Shetland, so he couldn't get too excited. 'Like getting excited about cows?' I asked. Yeah, like that...

It was great to read in Laphroaig Distillery with acclaimed poets, Brian Johnstone, Chyrs Salt, Ian Stephen and Donald S Murray. A wee photo courtesy of Richard McFarlane -

Great too, to go back to Islay High School  to do a workshop with the kids, thanks to the brilliant Scottish Book Trust .

As far as venues go, the Round Church in Bowmore will take some beating. It was heart-warming to see so many old friends turn up to see me interview my Dad about his writing career and our years growing up on Islay. I look like I'm channeling Kirsty Wark here, but hey ho.

Afterwards we went to The Bowmore Hotel, which was jumping with locals, young and old. I was dying to leap up and join the karaoke, but since I can't hold a tune in a bucket, I had to make do with singing my 80's power ballads on the inside. 

The hotel owner, Peter, recognised Dad from way back and poured him an expensive dram. Later, he insisted on showing us many of the be-spoke hotel rooms, turning on and off power showers as we made appropriate approval noises. This is bonkers, I thought, but in a good way; in a wholesome nonsense way. 

I went back to the bar and thought, I love these friendly, partying Ileachs (the name for people from Islay). I want to stay up all night and dance and talk uninhibited gibber about anything. Just because it takes me back. Just for old time's sake.

But I peeled myself away and walked with my sister back through the peat-scented, blowy night to our B&B, to coorie doon beneath tartan duvet and remember the best of it from way back. What luck and fun we had growing up. What delicious freedom. 

Thanks Islay Book Fest, for bringing it back. Slainte and here's to you and All Your Pretty Horses. Until next time...

Saturday, July 21, 2018

'Summer's in the City, do what you gotta do,'

But seriously. Summer holidays and life's paradoxes, huh?

The holidays feel like they go on forever, but they're hurtling to an end. They are baggy and loose, yet distilled and intense. Crowded and claustrophobic yet sometimes lonely. 

Cue: Mum? Mum! Muum!?

Francis took the kids out to the cinema today. The first thing I did (after the washing-up, of course) was to sit down cross-legged and attempt to meditate. I don't normally meditate. I've never been able to get it to work for me. But I had summer-holiday-clutter-stress-head, so I gave it a go.

And relax, and breath and centre. First thought to float in? Ahem. That's me half way through my life and one day we're all gonna die. Is there an emoji for that one?  The strange thing is - it felt okay once I'd sat with it and let it melt through me. It got me here to write to you, out there in Bloggo Land.

In other news, we've been to Ibiza and back. (Top Tip: Don't book a Thursday afternoon flight unless you want to get trapped in a tin tube with every hen and stag weekend from central Scotland, yelling like they're drunk in a club at 4am). Apart from that, it was worth it. 

Unlike Brexit. Clearly not worth it. I still can't take in what a mistake it seems to be. What they're doing to this country. I'm embarrassed  and exasperated about it. 

Humanity, man? It's a mass of contradictions. 

My pal, Stuart once said to me -

We're all flawed, Ciara. That's the beauty of it. 

He probably doesn't remember. But occasionally I think about that phrase when life tries to get the better of me. Summer holidays - salute you we must, with all your snakes and ladders. 

Here's a wee clip of Teenage Fanclub (with a different drummer, before Francis rejoined). But, hey ho - it's a summer song and it was a hit when I fell for Francis over 20 years ago. Maybe they'll play it next month at Electric Fields. 

I'll be there too, readíng in the spoken word tent with the great Neu Reekie.  Rock on with your inflatable guitars, good people! 

Baguettes ya Bawbags! as a Glaswegian street philosopher once yelled outside Greggs. Yours to Enjoy.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Readings, One Weekend. Who am I, Pam Ayres?

Well, whoop de doop. 

Not often I can say I have three poetry readings in one sunny weekend, but I say it now, good people. I shout it from the roof tops! 

That's not me, by the way, that's just some Glasgow radj's trying to get a tan. But you know what I mean. I'll shout it from the blog tops. 

Numero Uno - I'm excited to be part of the fabulous Edinburgh Book Festival Outreach in Glenrothes - It's a free lunch. Pass they sausage rolls, Mag'ret! I'll be reading poems that aren't too scary. 

Then it's back to Glasgow on a Stagecoach bus and off to Tell it Slant at the lovely Project Cafe. I can never be too far from general scone-age. Friends tell me I am like a squirrel. I carry croissants in side-pockets, just in case. Half woman, half choux pastry. 

On Saturday/Sunday, I am pure gagging to get to the dynamic Coastword Festival,  in Dunbar, where I'm humbled to be reading with the mighty William Letford and talking about all the good that flows from the Scottish Book Trust. Come on down to the seaside. 

Can we buy a Family Ticket?

Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Been Ages / Yogurts and Shyness

Bloggo Pals! Yes, I'm still here.

My mum used to have a theory about storing yogurt in the fridge. If the yogurt was one day past use by or sell by date, you just kept it on the shelf in a prominent position. I'll probably eat that tomorrow, you'd say. 

Two day, three days, you move it around a bit, to reach things at the back of the fridge. Four days, you say, I really better throw that yogurt out. But you can't quite bring yourself to. 

You feel ashamed of your food and plastic waste! You wager that you could eat it, even now and still be okay. But you don't. It becomes harder and harder to throw it out, until one day, a month later, you say, now is the time for action, for fridge clear-out!

And so it is with blogging. If I don't blog for months, I go all shy and yogurt-limbo, and can't think what to say. Daft, I know. 

I've built a new fish pond in my garden.  I'm waiting for goldfish poems to strike me. Today, a pigeon took a drink and fell in. It had to flap its wings in ungainly fashion to get out again. I need a Ducks Welcome sign. An old guy in the pet shop said, you better watch out for the Herons. He was a bit 'Royston Vasey' in a nice way.

Remember kids: Be the Strange You Want to See. Moustaches are okay on a Monday.

More Poetry News soon, good people.

Monday, January 29, 2018

An Interview and Three Poems at The New Writers Awards

Check me getting over-excited on the live stream. I thought I was on the Wogan Show, circa 1981. If you like the poems, Past Love in the Museum of Transport is available from Tapsalteerie Press and a few Glasgow bookshops soon!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Half a Century (No Fakers)

Well, Amigos....what a week to turn 50.

My poetry launch doubled up as a wee 50th birthday bash and delightful it was too. The house band were: my own Francis Macdonald, Sophie Pragnell Bell from Sister John and pal, Alex MacLean, who sang beautifully. 

Poetry Superstar Liz Lochhead joined in with aplomb. I would call her the icing on the cake, but she might tell me not to use cliches. 

Thursday was the New Writers Awards Showcase in Edinburgh. We all had a great night - here with fellow writers, Anna Stewart, Christine Laurenson and Julie Rea.

If you want to read Past Love in the Museum of Transport, you can buy it here at Tapsalteerie Press.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Past Love in The Museum of Transport

You heard it here first, blog pals! I have a poetry book coming out soon (January 2018), published by the lovely Tapsalteerie Press.  

I hope these are accessible poems, poems that won't scare people who don't usually 'do' poetry. Poems about the places love takes us. Poems about different kinds of love - teenage crushes, female friendship, parental devotion, past love, present love. 

Thanks go out to the wonderful Scottish Book Trust,   Creative Scotland and fellow poets for these great quotes -

Liz Lochhead says, “These poems - in the voice of a woman, a mother, a good neighbour of the here-and-now - are light-but-deep, often funny, always generous, accessible, inclusive, deeply humane, celebrating small things that can say some very big things indeed.”

“Ciara MacLaverty takes the everyday and passes it through a prism. How wonderful to see the hidden colours of the ordinary. Bright, beautiful, familiar, magical. Language that's honed, 'to the point where - almost imperceptibly - it reflects more light.” (William Letford)

“There is wisdom in her pen, aspiration in her heart, and a lightly crumbed fruit scone on her plate. Eat of the goodness in this book!”

(Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian)

I'll keep you posted, poets and pals. Feel the love!