Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bloomin' January

Good People! Happy 2019! 

The cherry tree in the garden is leading the cheer, if not the cherries. The goldfish are hiding beneath the ice of the pond, like  orange sweets from a box of Quality Street.

Don't forget to spend those January Vouchers...

Doh! It's expired. 

I had a great day yesterday - on the day of my 51st Birthday. 

It was an honour to visit St Ninian's High School to teach and talk poetry with some of the S3 pupils there. We had two sessions and it was great to see their confidence grow by the second session, where they all wrote and read out their work. Bravo!

Big thanks to the wonderful Scottish Book Trust for supporting the visits. Check out how it works on The Live Literature Database.  

Klaxon: Blow My Own Trumpet alert! Did I tell you the Times Literary Supplement reviewed my poems ('striking') and called me 'a born enthusiast'? Well, I have now. End of trumpet-ry.

Past Love Pamphlet is still available here for a 'deep sea diver' at Tapsalteerie Press (shortlisted for a publishers award too).

And, just in case I get 'above myself', I always have my family to tip their buckets of black humour over me. Some might say this was a strange birthday card, but it did make me laugh. And that's the point, surely. Better get shopping for antique brooches.

Be kind to each other while I go for the groceries. Can you manage that? I have faith in you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

'Love's austere and lonely offices'

Have you heard about them? Love's austere and lonely offices? You can read about them here in Robert Hayden's beautiful poem, Those Winter Sundays.

Likewise, this  autumn, I find myself at The Coalface of Motherhood. I do not mind this. This is the place I need to be the most. It's in my bones. When I know this, it it makes it easier.

Drummer/partner/'husband'/The Calm One or Francis, as I sometimes refer to him, was away on tour drumming with Teenage Fanclub, while I 'manned' the coalface - pack lunches, lost gym shoes, asthma attacks (grim), school upsets, and all of the other challenges that bombard the weans. 

And then, they say things like - Mummy, your fashion is quite bad, and why don't you dye your hair? What a boost. And here, praise for my cooking:

My most luxurious point of every day was to fold into bed each night with brushed cotton sheets and a hot water bottle. 

I haven't had time or space to write poetry. There's loads of 'housey' stuff to do, even when they are at school: cooking, cleaning, sorting, food shopping, changing electricity suppliers, trying to sort Netflix glitches (so kids won't erupt!) and all that modern world stuff. 

(A voice in my head says, but I don't want to change electricity suppliers!  while emails pop up to tell me I need to change to save £49 - otherwise I'm daft -  and then, off I go on the capitalist merry-go-round. Remember when electricity was just electricity?)

Frankster is home now, so I can get out to see my Dad reading at the Mitchell Library as part of Book Week Scotland. 

At the weekend, I  am reading a couple of poems at a sold-out gig for a friend who is very bravely trying to raise money to fight her stage 4 cancer.

It puts everything in perspective. Claire is an amazing inspiration to many. 

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!