Pick Your No’s

So, this past week, the weather here has been dire. Headlights on at three o’clock. All sorts of shit plummeting from skies the colour of mink. Kids in all day in the classroom in case they keel over from water exposure. Add in a full moon. High winds. Mental. Truly, it’s a thing. Kids and weather. And full moons.

My own youngest came into my sanctuary a few minutes ago – now gone 8p.m.- begging to go outside with the girl across the road. To play! Ffs!

I said yes.

It’s dark o’clock, thunder just rumbled, I can hear them squealing. Having a ball, apparently.

Nope. I don’t get it either.

But kids and weather. It’s really a thing.

I know. Been teaching for nigh on thirty years. Seven of my own. And, guaranteed, if it’s a sunny day, they want to shelter from the heat, play Minecraft and get on your mammaries. Underfoot for the hell of it.

Snow. Wind. Rain. Let me at it!

She’s just come back in – this second – ruddy-cheeked, happy as a pig in the proverbial, high as a kite. But not nearly as high as if I’d said no.

Sometimes no is the wrong word. I know. Take it from me. Pick your no moments.




Household Tips #4

Child labour.

It’s important as a parent to teach your children self-sufficiency. No one wants them returning, after they’ve flown the coop, with a pile of washing and a petted lip. No one wants to see them starving or malnourished for want of being able to rustle something wholesome up in the kitchen.

It’s vitally important to get the balance just right. The schools here actually issue the wee sods with ChildLine’s number. It hangs on the kitchen noticeboard. ParentLine’s number is pinned beside it, is slightly bigger in red type and is not a random phone number.

Neither number has ever been used yet.

As I said, vitally important to get the balance just right.

With that in mind, honestly, no other reason, I’ve attempted to ensure that my brood can cope for themselves.

My own parents did this for me so it was not quite such a shock to my system when I learned that toilets were not self-cleaning. That flushing in and of itself, while effective for elimination, did not clean the toilet. Who knew?

By the time I was in my teens I could pretty much make a meal for eight while reading a book. Burnt a few, right enough, if I was at a really exciting chapter. Tip:- place burnt side face down on plate and don’t cry or take a strop when your brother calls you on it. Just tell him to cook the feckin’ sausages himself next time.

I was definitely more of a Mary to my sister’s Martha but she never learned how to hang wallpaper and cut into corners first with your paintbrush before tackling the walls. I like all that shit. That and learning to use a jig-saw and various other power tools that were way more fun than a washing machine.

I don’t think my parents used me at all. I think they let me have a go. Some bits I let go. Like ironing. It was shite. Still is. Hate that odd-shaped appliance although it’s not unlike a sander and I’m quite fond of that.

Now, none of my kids have shown any penchant for power tools and they’re not too keen on household ones either. But I feel obliged to force them to at least become acquainted with which end’s up.

This is particularly important when using pots. How humiliated would they be if, when having their own guests round to their immaculate homes, they didn’t know their erse from their elbow or a saucepan from a frying pan?

I was horrified, as were each of my kids, when, in their first year of high school, they were taught how to make Empire biscuits during obligatory Home Economics. Quite impressive, till you learn that they opened a packet of digestive biscuits, spread some jam on one, iced its partner and topped it with a jelly tot.

Meanwhile my crew were all, ‘Can I make spag bol, Miss?’

No, that’s a lie. Most of them were. One, in particular, whose sole purpose in the kitchen, despite my best efforts, was to find out where I was currently planking the goodies, (never hide chocolate biscuits in the tumble dryer), came late to the cooking experience when he started a high protein stint that involved scrambling only the whites of eggs. Flinging six egg yolks at a time in the bin I discovered. Smacked him one on the arse for that. ChildLine was not involved.

Balance, you see. ParentLine was keen to learn about children’s worst excesses at that time. He was very gullible. Once argued with his teacher that the singular of sheep was shoop. Had to be right. His dad had told him. Goose, geese. Shoop, sheep. Oh, how we laughed! He did too. Years later right enough.

So, child labour. Raising weans. Got to get it just right. At least until the schools stop issuing ChildLine’s number. Or ParentLine is invented.


Some child labour, unlike this image, is actually education.

No Shirking

Speaking in comments to Mark about work got me thinking about all the jobs I’ve had. I started writing about them and realised, with anecdotes, it would be a book if I kept on.  So this is the abridged resume. Well, kind of abridged. 😉


First the cafe tables with a spot of cook and clean,

50 pence an hour, child labour, boss was mean


Food store next, a small one, boss here was a prat

Started work in Woolie’s, ^^^^ sacked for doing that!


Office job for summer, pre to college term,

Boring after first week, job was way too tame

But stuck it for the lucre, had to earn some brass,

Education one thing but still a working lass.


College and a pub job, function suite, was great,

Illegal age, they never asked, silver-service wait.


Off to island, out in Greece, disco work, what fun!

Only paid if patrons in but drinks free, coke and rum,

Disco dancing with myself, easy-peasy groove,

Hangovers wild, not much cash, taking rough with smooth.


Hellas again for three months, chambermaid that trap,

Picking up for others, cleaning loads of crap.

(Have you seen those toilets!)

Restaurant next, souvlaki skewered, peeling spuds for chips,

Smiled and served, practised Greek, spouting from my lips.

Off to Athens for a spell, biscuit factory,

Women watching while I worked, too quick, apparently.

Back to college, different pub, smartarsed alecs joked,

Learned to smart them back, I did, the cheek of some young blokes.


Off to Greece to teach a year, English, yes, and Scots

Slightly different sometimes, ‘specially spelling of the US folks.

Term time finished, had to find other means of keep,

Watched a dog, a doberman, scared the shit out me.

Had to stay in penthouse and cook and sew and clean

And shop and serve and fuck knows else for bitch, (not dog), it seemed.

Took a pub job, served some pints, ouzo and the rest,

Met some fab peeps on their travels, that place was the best.

Watched a baby for three weeks, mum was on the prowl,

Hubs was on the game, she said, I gave her space to howl.


Back to home for nursing, no teaching jobs to pin,

Six months later, offered one, temping, but foot in,

Still some serving of some food, bar work, hotel near,

Two years teaching temporary, contract distant, dear.

First full-time in teaching! Tough place but a blast,

Two years there then moved on, still not near my last!

Fourteen years I laboured next in one place, not so swell,

Weans were fine, staff politics, ’nuff said, bleeding hell!

Had to leave, just had to breathe, off to pastures where

One year later and saddest kids, I resigned in great despair.

Took three years with my own kids, then youngest only born,

Supply work next, just filling in, liked it but it didn’t last long.

Six months in, head office, offered full-time plan

Cover schools in long-term posts, each different, every one.

This is best, I get to go in and out and round,

Here and there and everywhere, look and I’ll be found.

I don’t get bored. And politics? I speak and say my piece,

Mouths agape at cheek of me, can’t stand little cliques.

So, yeah, locations, odds and sods, jobs and places I have worked

Forty maybe, more or less, but, rest assured, I’ve never shirked.

Coming To Terms

From beginning to the ending

Though the time may be but brief

There is wonder in connection

In the parting no small grief

From the union tightly bonded

To the severing of ways

Histories that live on still

Though memories will fade

From moments of first meeting

To shy smiles fully shown

Through jokes and lessons jointly learned

Time has swiftly flown

And touched by one year’s loving

Their knowing in my heart

I’ll shed a tear one week today

When they and I must part

I’ll see them though in passing

And sometimes fully grown

The kids I’ve taught have taught me too

Offspring like my own

Families formed in term time

Terms have come and gone

Fostered for such little whiles

All children I have known

Simplicity and trusting

Their mischief and their smiles

From little lives the largest love

Greatest love by miles


That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to the end of the school year. I’m sad, not daft!

Back And Back Again

Travelled back in time today,

Journey of five miles,

DeLorean was absent

But present other thrills.

Contemporaries of Glasgow Girls,

Rennie Mackintosh,

Sarcophagus, a spitfire,

Hanging Heads, good gosh!

Fossils ancient, curios,

Windows In The West,

Clock stood still at different points,

Fast-forwarded the rest.

So back in time again I went

Swung through air, limbs stretched,

Head thrown back last century,

Not terribly far-fetched.

Then back to future for some hours,

Three or four at best,

And off again to eighties,

Saw that as a test.

Guess the songs, the words, the acts,

What was that name once when,

Their singing, dance, endeavour

Transported back again

To sleep, to sleep, perchance to stay

Present for a while,

Travelled back three times today,

Total journey of twelve miles.

Depends On Your Butter

Depends what you want, I suppose,

Doesn’t it,

Kids with a conscience

Or count,

Counting the pennies,

Own fortune,

Or cognisant of those

Doing without.

Depends where your

Bread has been buttered,

If jam was an option or not,

If pieces fae windaes was favoured

As three square or four with the drop.

Depends on so many factors,

Depends on memory, I guess,

Depends on whether

You’re fortuned

And want for others no less.

Depends on trying and failing,

On seeing failure as lessons well learned,

Depends on hope, love and sharing,

So dependent on how your butter was churned.

Have No Fear, Wild And Free

I’ve given up for the night on attempting to write any more school reports. I have weans on the brain. Those I’ve been writing about, my own, my nieces and nephews, friends of my kids, you name it, I’m surrounded!

And they amaze me. They fill me. They are up to the mark on so many things I wasn’t even thinking about at their age. They’re so on the ball. Sharing their thoughts and feelings with a passion that leaves me speechless. OK, nearly. I have to have my say. And they come back at me, and they listen and they question and they share.

Gawd, how they share! Do weans these days have no embarrassment?!

Seriously, I won’t tell you what ‘inappropriate’ stuff filters through my poor lugs. I’m scandalised half the time and, fortunately, honest enough to acknowledge that the only thing that stopped me from sharing so much for so long was fear. They don’t seem to have that. Well, they do, in some ways, for things I can’t believe they fear. Then they go and say or do something that leaves me gasping WTF!

They are tremendous. Truly tremendous.

Young minds engaging in absolutely everything and with passion and a sense of truth and justice I am proud to say must have had something to do with their parenting. Even a little.

As for the rest, the times they live in, we live in, guarantee easy engagement.

I could go on forever as to why this matters to me, to us, but I won’t, hoping instead that my poem says it more succinctly. If it doesn’t, I have a cohort of youth at your disposal to enlighten you to their feelings and thoughts.

You’ll find them near an almost empty fridge. Do they ever stop eating? No wonder they’re all towering above me. In more ways than one.

We’d better laugh just now,

The kids are crying,

They’ve taken all they’re gonna

And that’s sad,

Sad they ever had to

Deal with lying,

Keep on trying

To oppress,

The kids are mad,

Mad as hell,

Just like their mental mothers,

Sanity in fathers

Gone for good,

Pressure boils the cauldron,

Can’t contain it,

Watch out folks,

For kids misunderstood,

Understanding new,

Where once was absence,

Absent fathers,

Mothers gone to pot,

Bubble, bubble,

Here comes trouble,


Raised without

Deserved, so

They’ve got

Passion in their veins,

The kids can’t help it,

Fires in bellies

Where there should be food,

Listen to their grumbles

And you’ll see it,

Won’t take much more,

The kids don’t need the ‘hood.

Courage on their foreheads

Like a tattoo,

Raising merry hell in politics,

Ask them,

Go on, ask them

Can you take it,

Up to all the spin

And dirty tricks.

Child from streets

Not talkin’ ’bout the ghettoes,

Kids like yours,

Like mine,

They see it all,

Festering, they burst it

Then anoint it,

Blessed be,

The kids won’t take the fall.

Savvy on the streets

And in the parlours,

Talkin’ jigsaws,

Piecing all the bits,


Some arse is due for whipping,

Generation 20′ need their fix.

Rocking chairs we ride on

Are now seizing

Little bits of pasture gone if dealt

On the pain of children,

That’s called justice,

Not too late yet

If we feel what’s felt.

Riding with the kids,

No need for Harley,

Hair to air on horsepower from inside,

Comin’ at you,

Watch the film now screening,

No place to run to,

Braves are running wild.

Wild and free,

We know that we were there once,

Difference being,

Not a bit afraid,

Everything’s been shared on social media,

Not got a secret left,

They’ve all been played.

Free from fear,

The kids are on the rampage,

Some misdirected,

That’s just par for course,

But watch the wonders,

Surging all around us,

Youth with yearning,

Action and discourse.

Gawd, excited! Can’t you feel their movement!

Battalions brave, bevy beautiful,

Lads and lassies,

More than hopeful, fired up,

Subtled to astute

‘Tween ruled and rule.