Ana (baby) and Sam (her best pal) cooling down in the paddling pool…
Baby Giant enjoying the sun…
The Row is wreathed in the smoke of BBQs. The communal back green is hotching with sun reddening white skinned Scots (and many honorary Scots – cos this Row is a safe haven for English immigrants escaping their barbarous heathen right wing regions). Sausages, burgers, steaks, chicken wings – they are adopting their customary charcoal coats to hide their under-cooked middles. Someone will suffer a dose of the trots tonight.
We have new neighbours. A wee tribe of ex-pat angles renting number 7. Another family occupying that space. And seeing them I thought of those who were gone.
Today has been a day of looking back. Realising that I am at the age when the bulk of life is behind me. Days like this join a lengthening vista of similar days now past. And I feel the shadowy presence of friends and neighbours lost and moved on. Do you remember when…? That is the motif of a glitteringly sunny day like today.
As I type I can hear the laughter of my own two wee ones. Racing after footballs. The baby high and squealing as she thunders the ball past her leaden footed brother into the make shift goal mouth.
R is stripping the garden back. Peeling away the winter layers of dead vegetation. Scything the wild dog roses which are already half way to rosehip fecundity. The badger sett has been left – a dirt-dust mound, scat-trailed – for this years inhabitants to rest and live in peace.
Salad day. I am going to snip the wild leaves and sit in the sun amongst the buzz of insects.
Tomorrow is the first day of a busy stressing work week. But for today there shall be this little oasis.
The Row before the descent of the hoards of sun-worshipping BBQ-ers….
Wonderful day for me today… with a “first” to be chalked up to experience…
Not that the cramped conditions of the rear of a police car are much to write about…
My speed-freak ways caught up with me as I managed a monstrous 64mph through a sleepy 3 house 30mph hamlet just outside Biggar – and all whilst answering my mobile phone.
Yes, yes dear reader. I am ashamed. I am a BAD driver. A terrible selfish Crown subject.
I am all of the above and also £60 lighter and 3 penalty points closer to non-driving hell.
(the beast that caught me – or its twin…)
I’ve been an employee of some organisation or another for the biggest part of my life. And there are times when the workplace more closely resembles the school playground than I feel it rightfully should.
Am I being naive?
Is it really an inevitable outcome that when adults, with varying degrees of power (both the innate, personal power which is generated by particular personalities and the formal power conferred by position, role and rank) and with disparate personalities and needs, are brought together under intense work pressure and within the auspices of one office or department or project – that their behaviour begins to regress?
Intense pressure shines a spotlight on individual vulnerabilities. The fissures begin to appear. The bad behaviour begins to surface…
Personally, I am ill-suited to this type of environment. I become ill when I feel I cannot be sure of those around me. Where you never quite know who is talking to whom. Where rumours and whispers abound. Where punishment is meted in a poisonous but subtle exclusion.
But others appear to thrive.
I’ve tried to simply “get on with the tasks in hand”. Tried to ignore the rumours and the whispers and the malcontents spreading poison and the people who befriend simply for the information you can impart (why do you (me!) aways find these folk out too late?).
Surely one of the saddest biblical lines is “Trust no-one. Not even thine own Father”… Why am I reminded of this line?
Surely the workplace does not need to be like this? And surely it is a sick workplace that is like this?
Unfortunately, it all reminds me of school. Of when I was a frightened too-clever outsider child in a small school with a small and particular pool of children. Of a time when peace of mind was predicated on whether you were “accepted” by the “in” girl and her gang. On whether you would give “in” girl your answers in class – or risk her “telling everyone not to speak to you”. And on the horrible knowledge that such acceptance could and would be suddenly and arbitrarily withdrawn. That it was built on sand. And that sand is forever shifting.
I welcomed adulthood as a relief from all of that. And then I discovered that the world of work could be that playground, but with added bells.
Anyway. All that is just so much shit.
The fact is, I am not too happy today – so maybe my views are a bit jaundiced and uncharitable. My Mum is ill and will need surgery. I’ve watched my Dad nurse his fears. I am frightened myself.
I am a worrier. By nature, I fret. And this latest installment in the family saga is a worrying one.
The Mission was full. Stuffy hall throbbing with distinct and Scottish fervour – unseemly to put on too great a display – but the bible surely said God deserved our worshipful respect. And it was respect indeed to come with a fine hat and buttoned gloves and patent heels. A coat that you really needed – just then, before the Preacher visited. A little lipstick. Rouge. Foundation. The powdered curious scentlessness of middle-aged women who had turned their faces against their marital beds. And the desiccated men.
And then the teenagers. Eyes shining. Filled with the vision of entangled Saltire and Stars and Stripes. Eating up the drum-kit and cymbals and tambourine and that mirrored sheen of red and blue and white guitar. They were glazy for the Preacher.
Old Mrs Wilson, helped to her seat by the Pastors smooth-tongued son, mouth pursed in a cats-arse “o”. This was no good day. Before her were the instruments of the strumpet. The temple was to be defiled. She was drafting the letter to the brethren in her mind. Hot with anger. There – she could feel that feeble heartbeat quicken, strong with a sudden imagined righteous and bloody vengeance.
This is what happened, Molly thought, when you were too weak to say “no” to your best pal. Your only pal. A pal who was newly born-again. Following daily praying-over by that plain faced lassie in the 5th year. A pal who masturbated to thoughts of the Pastors blonde son and who knew, knew mind, that he wanted to take her to the loch, out in the car, out in the dark, to sample her flesh…
Molly was here out of duty, she told herself. She was watching over Fi-the-flirt. She was also tired from a night spent worrying that she would be struck down by God and then stagger to her feet from the hall floor, testifying she had heard the word and was born again…
She had been here before. That night plain-face had talked gibberish and been joined by swaying gibbering adults who had plainly lost their minds. That was the night Fi had slumped in her seat and slithered to the floor and arose, crucified between a brethren-watcher and the blonde son, crying and shaking and praising the lord in a voice Molly thought was high on Carlsberg. Had Fi winked at her before she had succumbed to the pressure of the lords voice? Molly had been certain she had. But Fi said “I did not. God spoke” in that final petulant way of hers and Molly had decided it wasn’t worth pursuing.
So, she sat in the hall. Clutching her offering in one hand and a bag of bonbons in the other. Fi was sticky with excitement and stinking of YSL Opium. Her bright blue eyelids fluttered and twitched every time blonde boy came near. As far as Molly could see, he was unaware of the trembling Fi. No sign of life there. He hadn’t looked Fi‘s way. At all. Not once. Molly had been studying him and there had been no sign of reciprocal love (lust as Molly well knew).
Molly found his smooth bland beige appearance unpleasant. He had put his hand on hers as they had left that night of Fi‘s conversion. It was oily. He was oily. He was two years older than her and he had patted her hand. Uncle George did that – and he was repulsive. Not only had bland boy patted her hand, he had held her shoulder as he said “and I will be praying that it is you the night the Preacher arrives to spread the lords word”.
Ugh. There it was again. That same creeping tingle of repulsion. She shivered and looked up, just at the moment bland was looking over. He winked. Deliberately. A loaded, conspiratorial wink, heavy with presumption.
(this is from the beginning of Wife, Mother, lover. Molly, the central character, is she of the love affair below)
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