A Guest post for elsewhere…

Thought you might enjoy reading a guest post I authored for the MumsandDadsnet.com site…

You can find it here: http://mumsanddadsnet.com/2014/03/24/family-care-grandad-delivers-baby-dad-calls-midwife-older-brother-sister-watch/

Big thanks to my talented friend Jamie Marzella for the accompanying photo (gable-end and communal garden of my house/Row)


This Quiet House

This house is quiet tonight. I’m tucked into an ill-lit corner on the 4th floor and I feel its size – all of its large dark emptiness lying heavy on my mind. 

The clumsy stairwell is shrouded. I heard a cat jump onto a wooden floor. But it was muffled in this dark silence. The blackness of the tiny-paned windows reflect a fractured pale glow from the old table lamp.
The kids are asleep on the floor above. Evan is shattered and grumpy after shifting loaded pallets at Homebase all night – and he’s still got school in the morning. Ana went off in a rage after I said her hair was greasy (but I washed it last night wailed she). I heard her sobbing with anger for a while but it’s stopped now. Jamie is quiet in his self-contained usual-ness. I hear nothing from his corner of the 5th floor. 
I think Robert is working on the 2nd floor. Sifting through policy documents and mission statements and audit results and improvement plans. He’ll be there til the wee sma’ hours. At least until 2am.
Meg phoned when it was light to say she’ll be back tomorrow and that the flat-share viewing in Glasgow went well, she’ll decide on a rental by the end of the week. As she described the room she’d rent and the furniture she’d need and the diy repairs and paint required, my vision wandered out over the valley across the rooftops of Long Row and Double Row to the woods and fields of the other side.
My Row – New Lanark – though my house is at the very bottom of this photo
and because of the slope, benefits from an additional floor.
 I let myself imagine I was that crow circling effortless on the currents above the river. I love Meg. She was so full of excitement about this room and this flat. She was so sure it would be big – high ceilings, big rooms. I started to say that I knew that street, that I had friends who lived that end when I was at Uni, that my brother had stayed in the Street adjoining, that the flats were all ex-Corporation flats and modestly sized. But I stopped myself. I understand – it’s a sore realisation – that I make myself unpopular with my own children. I know this as a baleful but permanent reality. So full I am, with all this experience and unwelcome knowledge  that bursts bubbles and dreams. Better that I haud ma wheesht from time to time.
Long Row on the lhs of the photo with the gable end of my home in the top rhs
Louis will be navigating the velvet darkness of Ayrshire, probably passing the Louden Hill as I type. It’s a dangerous road he travels and when all’s said and done, he’s a 19 yr old lad behind the wheel of a ton of speeding metal. He hit a deer last month. Well – technically the deer hit him, running splat into the side of his car. But I worry. Like every parent, I know.   
So the house is quiet. And I see this silent empty darkness of it as the beginning of a different time in this house that has been all noise and happening. All things pass.

This is what the sun brings…

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….