Writing 101 Day 17: Mine your own material.

Dear H,

Thanks for your letter glad to hear things are so much better.

Yes, I remember the venue but I don’t think you saw that show with me. The show we saw was “It was John Moran and his neighbour Saori” but she was missing. John told us that she had broken her foot and had been unable to take part. I remember is was a late show and thinking how a two man show could be presented as a one man show. Do you remember he had help with a during a couple of sketches? from a member of stage crew or production team. I got the feeling that we saw a significantly different show but it was good. I came out thinking that if I ever got the chance to see the show again with the missing Saori I would definitely try to go.

I don’t think I ever told you but the show toured again a few years ago. When I first moved to west I lived a short 5 minute walk away from Glasgow’s Arches Arts Venue. Walking past one day I picked up a program and I found out it was on. So I got to see finally see the full show with both John Moran and Saori. Saori’s presence definitely added a different dimension to the show.  It was still a refreshingly different performance, playing with sound and repetition. I found a film on you tube about John Moran, artist and composer you should check it out. Some of the scenes like the McDonald sketch are one it too.The film provides a lot of answers to some of the questions I had after watching the show.

The Arches is no more sadly it went into administration over the summer. My first visit was on a mini Ocean City (Work America) reunion before living in Glasgow or Scotland had been a consideration. I remember bongo band, night time haircuts on offer, the toilets that first visit were an unexpected long line of toilet white cubicles under the exposed brickwork of a railway arch. A reminder of the size of the venue. There’s a song on Bjork’s Debut album recorded in a toilet for acoustic effect that I always associated with these toilets in particular. The long line to use them on a busy night would years later be the place to catch up with people I knew, random acquaintances or old friends.

I am not sure what will happen to it now it’s a great space, I have happy memories of seeing and taking part in a wide range of arts events there.

Look at the time! This was just a quick hello

We must catch up soon.



Writing 101 Day 16: Search your Stats for a post idea

The sea eats the land at home” by Kofi Awoonor, a look at my stats reveals that this poem is a very popular post. From the information on searches I can see that the title of the poem is a common search term, I first noticed this earlier in the year.

The following is a list of thoughts and ideas that come to mind when rereading the poem.

Strong images of a coastal town in Ghana devastated by flooding.

In general the sea is a friendly neighbour washing in and out, keeping to the natural boundaries of dry land and sea, a change in season always brings the risk of a stronger current, a sea with more energy, higher waves, more volume.

I think of what is missing, a flood defence, physical and structural.

I am reminded of a school trip to the Thames barrier.

I first came across the this poem in the Penguin book of Modern African Poetry published in 1963.

In the UK currently there is the Floodline, each local authority has a flood map, areas are assigned with risk levels from floods.

I type “flooding in Ghana” into the Google search engine and find out – Flooding is still is a major problem in Ghana, the most recent floods occurred in June 2015.

Another search reveals the poet who unfortunately is no longer with us was killed during the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi. He was in Kenya to perform at the Storymoja festival.

What comes to mind when you read this poem?

Writing 101 Day 18: A map as a muse

View of island in the Outer Firth of Fife

View of island in the Outer Firth of Fife

As the boat is rocked by the sea and a few waves come to close for comfort over the edge of our small chartered fishing boat I am glad I am wearing my waterproof trousers. Although it’s early June I am glad I’ve brought my hat as it keeps the cold morning sea air at bay. We being followed very closely once we near the island by an array of seabirds. As we got closer we see very clearly that on one side of the Island is a cliff face home to what seemed like thousands of gannet nests. The journey takes about 45 minutes, Ailsa Craig is an island formed from a granite volcanic plug in the Outer Firth of Fife, 16 Km from the mainland and covering an area of 99 hectares.
I first came a cross Ailsa Craig watching the National Theatre of Scotland production of Be near me in 2009. An adaptation for the stage of the book by Andrew O`Hagan. Ailsa Craig was an Island that that was visit several times in the play at least in the first half. In my mind then I pictured it as rocky cold, desolate but with a decent beach for the characters to walk on.
A few months ago the opportunity to visit Ailsa Craig came up on a list of walks organised by a walking group I belong to. A difficult place to get to the group had charted two return trips to the island. It was a location that sparked the interest of many in the group. I joined the waiting list in case of any drop outs. 2 cancelled dates later due to unsuitable sailing conditions and a few days ago according to the weather forecast Saturday morning’s trip looked very likely and I potentially had a spot on the first boat leaving Girvan harbour.
This morning was a very early start a train from Glasgow to Ayr were I got a bus to Girvan harbour but I am very happy to be on the boat with a few familiar faces.
On arrival we disembark from the fishing boat glad again we had all worn our water proof trousers! We have a few hours to enjoy the bright blue sky, the peace of the island and enjoy the views from the islands peak and explore….

Writing 101 Day 15: Take a cue from your readers

Memories of New York (BUNAC Orientation, Part 4 )

Next was the empire state building, we continued to talk about our plans for the next 3 months as we queued to get in to the building past security then in to the special  lift that takes you straight up to the  observatory on the 86th floor.  My hearing was still a bit muffled from the flight less than 48 hours ago and it wasn’t until we got into the lift that my hearing returned to normal.  At the top we could survey the city we had on just got acquainted with Andy our guide pointed out parts of the city Soho a really cool and Trendy part of town and we zoomed in onto areas with the fixed binoculars that were dotted around the observatory deck.

Afterwards we walked through the city soaking in the atmosphere we went past The Trump towers plaza of trump towers and then on through Central park. It appeared like an oasis in this modern city quiet, green, water flowing and lush trees muffling the streets sound. Did I mention that is was a glorious day too? The sun was shining we all had our shades and summer clothes on. I think the luck we had in finding someone who knew the city so well and the way we all got on because we were all starting new adventures was a great start to my 3 months in the USA.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Writing 101 Day 14: Recreate a single day


After Tony’s dad speech it’s hard to imagine how anyone could top his welcome. Clare however, is something else, she introduces a short film she directed of all our friends who couldn’t make.

The first few bars of “Save tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry begin to play and the clip of us behind the bar in our “Rock on the Green” t-shirts flashes on the screen. At that moment I am taken back to those carefree days when the future felt really unknown. The tight corset of my dress begins to feel less than comfortable and brought back to the present day for a moment. I’ll have to remember to get someone help loosen it before the evening session. A picture of Clare and me on the “Maid of the mist” wearing those plastic ponchos they give out.

This day is about new beginnings but it’s impossible not to look back and assign meaning to the events in the past that brought me here. Clare tells a funny anecdote about the trip mentioning Chris. Tony squeezes my hand for support, it is a happy day and it’s natural for me to think of Chris and I am glad Clare hasn’t left him out of her speech. She catches my eye I smile but feel my eyes water. Towards the end of the table I can see Jack he looks sleepy but Ronnie, my sister is taking care of him.

Marcia is on screen, she, Tom and Alex begin to sing a song that they had written about Tony, Jack and me. It’s very funny, Tom and Marcia have written warm, funny, witty and intelligent lyrics.

Clare is reading one of my poems, it’s the one I wrote for her and Simon, it’s about finding love ad moving on with your life. Tony grabs my hand, we smile. On the screen is a picture of Tony, Jack and me taken last summer we are sitting on the veranda of my uncle’s place taking refuge from the mid afternoon sun. Clare’s speech is the final one of the day, after making sure everybody’s glass is full, Tony’s dad stands to make a toast. As Jack sleepily comes to stand between me and Tony the toasts begin and I realise I am looking forward to the future, fitting in, standing out we will be on this adventure called life together no matter where we live.

Writing 101 Day 13: Compose a series of vignettes

He would often say, “My life was never difficult from the start, I had two loving parents, three siblings and an extended family who gathered together often”

This style of living wasn’t something he recreated in our family.

I was taught the lessons of life from an early age, hard work, respect and patience were my fathers watchwords.


He never had the time.

His business took off  early, he was still in his 20’s and although he found time to get married twice and father 4 children his focus was on the business. All that stuff about lifestyle balance was never really talked about in those days. Work hard, play hard was a mantra that he followed feeling it was a natural progression from his parents ethos of hard work, the respect and patience fell to the wayside.


The wives he chose had completely different family experiences from him which at one time he said was intriguing. He thought he could reel off the formula to a happy family life and it would be so. There was never the right mix.

Occasionally there seemed to be a lot of effort but little reward.

A week from now I’ll be in Buenos Aires he will be surrounded by his children, grandchildren and ex-wives, He’ll be 67. Five months ago he had a heart bypass operation. Three months ago I dropped by his house and suggested we make plans for his birthday. I had been reading horoscopes the day before, if I read them I have to read them all. As a list of ideas they are useful insights regardless of your star sign and it’s always possible to pick one that you can work with. I told him I had been inspired by what I had read. He was happy to see me, to talk, it took his mind off things.


The evening began with a tango dance in the city square as the sun began to set he was surrounded by family and friends.

Writing 101 Day 12: Play with word count.

New York was good for Clare but before I had time to book that road trip, she was back.  Clare said “It was nice to for a few years”. She came back more confident. Over there she spent most of her time working, hardly getting to see much of the American landscape she had originally hoped to discover. It couldn’t have been all work as Saj came over within six months, he had missed her too much. A picture of Clare and me on the “Maid of the mist” wearing those plastic ponchos they give out. Last year ago we finally ticked the American road trip of our list, we spent three weeks travelling around the east coast, squeezing a quick visit to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. Chris and Saj were on that trip too somehow she managed to get the one picture of us without the boys. (150)