Excerpt from "The Mother, Lover, Wife" (working title)

When he fell silent, removing his company and contact, she would twist and turn in a noose made of the shards of remembered words, the barbs of snatched moments, sharp fragments of hopes never realised. She would hold her breath. Put living to one side and the world would contract, diminish, dim. She would be in that state of suspended watchfulness, waiting for his word.


And often then she would reproach herself. How had this thing happened? And then at times she felt the anger rise and she would resolve again to forget him and to shake off the madness of wanting him, wanting to hear his voice and feel his hands, to burnish with her eyes the velvet of his neck and his bitten nails and the creases at his bright eyes.


She would ignore the texts and emails and avoid meetings. She would plunge into a frenzy of outings. Refuse thoughts of him space in the clutter of her mind. She would fill up time with others. Until she would sit one night looking into a mirror, searching her own face for signs of meaning. For without him it was all just nothing. Just so much noise and fury. Without him – the hope of him – she was living and breathing a husk of life.


And then she would succumb and send him a sentence where are you? speak to me. And he would. He would. And it would begin again. 


He would speak of the way in which she called to him out of the silence he had enforced upon them or that she had enforced upon them. He would say it could not be. But would answer Nay to her offer again of total withdrawal. And she would be pained with the relief which his refusal to consider banishing her would ignite.


There was no sense to it. Whilst she hoped, she knew it was hopeless. And he insisted it was hopeless and yet did not want to let go. That their lives were at different stages. That others depended upon them. Either selfishness or, paradoxically, selflessness or even cowardice – the horror of hurting other loved ones, or of being judged and found wanting, or of committing to a different path this late in life – all of these things were the bricks of the wall that surrounded them and kept them from the light of day. And yet it went on.




(excerpt from a longer piece I am working on).











And another week passes….

What a week.

What a week for work. Though a good week for living…

The politicking is just breath-taking. Though of course this is where I come into my own. The black arts. The tight-rope walking. And in amongst it all the mindfulness of principles. The question being – how do I observe principles when walking the tight-rope?

I had a curry with my friends (line-manager ones) on Wednesday night at Dhabba (Glasgow – pictured). North Indian cuisine. Just gorgeous. And such good company.

Troubled about the position of the Chief Exec of a neighbouring public body – in an employment case where it certainly appears natural justice has been brutally decapitated. But unable to do much to assist – aside from talking tactics for a legal case (this is the dirty side – where you advise on the digging of dirt to throw in order to have negotiating power and space, the dishing of dirt on politicians and governments and the use of opposition Parliamentary members to ask planted questions). The sad thing (from a purist ideological point of view) is that I really do enjoy – base me – the tactical positioning. The attempts to outwit. The desire to pull the rug from under powers feet.

Then today I had lunch with a good man. One whom I can trust and who is a guru of “organisational development” (oh f* the highfalutin shit of that monicker). He is a poet too. Funniest thing is – he is a good-looking man whom I am just not attracted to. And he isn’t attracted to me. We have laughed about that – and been thankful because it removes so many barriers. He and I put the world to rights. Such a good feeling that – returning to the office after a bacon sarnie and tea with a friend whom you can trust and who you know supports you completely (anyway, that’s what he said)…

I am now contemplating a night in the local pub. Maisie’s (see photo). Rebel eldest is working there tonight.

All in all when I take stock, not the worst of weeks, really. Work may have been a bit of a maze, but in reality I have had only one disappointment – a friend who is having second thoughts and second (to the power N) discussions regarding a marital volte face. But least said about that….

The shine from the weekend in Yorkshire has not quite dimmed to dull. I have another weekend in Leeds planned for the 17th March. And I am inveigled in the usual intrigue – a rich and fascinating vein…

Jesus Christ was a PINKO…discuss…

Interesting party going on over at my pal e.f. bartlam’s post here

Have a read through those comments. That sweet Southern US of A Dixie boy has triggered a veritable tsunami of PINKO Brit political wetness… and mostly because he indicated a bit of resentment that his tax authorities were taking money from he and his partner – and then using it, for instance, to fund a public school system that he and his wife did not use for their son.

I was struggling with the basis for resentment, but I presume it is founded on the fact that neither e.f. nor Martha were deriving personal benefit from the tax take. (e.f. you are better placed to advise – forgive me the assumption if I am wrong).

I don’t blame e.f. And he doesn’t need my head-shaking bemusement and patronising lefty smiles either. I suspect that what he and I both need is to walk in the other’s shoes for a while.

We are all products of our environments. Our worldviews shaped by the underlying assumptions and prejudices and taken-for-granted “givens” that litter the societies and cultures which we inhabit. We are not even aware of them. These are the culturally relative “facts” which we never question. That in Scotland, Sabbath is a Sunday. The vast majority of education (schools, further and Higher Education) is provided by the State – and that that is a GOOD THING. That the NHS is free at source. That in Scotland all medicines are free. And blah, blah.

e.f. is a product of a different world. With very different underlying assumptions and different “givens”.

One last question for the theologically minded amongst you….

Was Christ (the historical figure, the real man – because he was a real human, honest, that much we can establish) a RED or a BLUE? Was he left-wing or right wing? Was he communist or fascist? A Democrat or a Republican? A Labourite or a Conservative…

(Just by way of a hint….go read:
Leviticus 25:35-38: “If one … becomes poor … help him … so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God … You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” 
and 
Acts 4:32-35: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had … there were no needy persons among them … the money … was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
As well as 
Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching … to the breaking of bread … everyone was filled with awe … all the believers were together and had everything in common … they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they … ate together with glad and sincere hearts … ” 


And remember, this was a man who overturned the tables in the Temple. Who repudiated the economic system operating via the Levites which resulted in oppression and exploitation and poverty and dispossession…)


Anyway, peeps, I’m off to Yorkshire this weekend. For a few days in the freezing rain and the driving snow. If I don’t get bumped off the road in Cumbria (the infamous A66) I will be back Tuesday…

The Holiday – The Road Home

We counted off the junctions to home. There is a point on a familiar road where the car seems to embrace remembered contours. The engine hums a soothing pulsating home-coming. Seems to pull with new determination. Our magnetic North become home.


Motorway parallel with the hills and the West Coast train line.


Gretna, Ecclefechan, Dumfries, Moffat, Beattoc Summit, Drumlanrig, Abington, Douglas, Lanark…


The old water tower appears on the horizon. The church steeple rising above the toothy silhouette of a hill town splayed against a greying sky. Soon we are crossing the elegantly curving, 5 arch, single-track Hyndford Bridge. 1773 carved into its sandstone. Crossing the Clyde at the site of an ancient Ford – the old Ferry Toll House facing up towards Lanark, now blind, shuttered, unused.

Hyndford Bridge

The children are noisy at the sight of the broken racetrack. We are HOME we are home we are HOME…


And I feel that surge of love that HOME releases. Excitement. Strange excitement to be triggered by such a homely familiar, a tugging reminder of the ties that bind – surely natural when given thought now.


Ana begins to sing about Jaspar and Stan, the ginger and white family moggies.


Jamie begins to wonder about his football. Have Evan and Lewis used it and ruined it or lost it amongst the chaos of brambles in the garden…


The car gathers momentum as it swerves down the hill and swoops the 325 degree bend into New Lanark. The village suddenly unfolds. Tinto hill, Hill of Fire, the dense forestry – all framing the perfect sandstone Georgian surprise that is home.

View from the end of my house – need to get rid of that  post!

You turn off the engine after driving long hours in a car and there is instant quiet. Bones fall silent. Relieved. Free from the gentle but omnipresent, humming vibration of engine and road. The kids don’t notice that of course. They are unbuckled and out. Jumping from the rear and tumbling and squalling onto the cobbles and falling through the front door. 




Robert and I look at one another. A look that says Robert is unpacking… I am going to the supermarket… What kind of mess will we find in there?


And then there is Evan. lumbering to the door. Grinning. Awwww Mummm thank God you’re back… I’m starving…


He is pressed into unpacking service. The first bags just being lifted from the boot when we hear a bellow from the house –


Muuuuuuuummmm….Daaaaaddddddd….Theres a pongy smell in here…..
Yeuchhhhhhh…its STINKING…..