Household Tips #1

What to do when you have a tube of lipstick stuck in your hoover.

Right inside it. Inside the bit you can’t get at even when you remove the hose.

The bit where all the crap gets vacuumed up making its way to the collection point. But not the hose itself.

Hose itself is easy. Drop something heavyish into the hose and give it a good shake. Or stuff a wire curtain holder down its length. Always keep one handy, me.

But not the hose. The other bit leading from where the hose joins the body into all the invisble bits where the fairy dust suckers live. The bit with nine million screws holding it together. Know that bit?

The bit where your thirteen year old daughter in her laziness  wisdom decided to just go for it and sucked everything up. Keep the auld dear happy.

Not.

After figuring something wasn’t working, when I would have been better on my hands and knees with a straw between my teeth, I investigated and saw the culprit. Lovely shade of pale pink lippy. Could see the end label but couldn’t catch the bugger.

Caught my daughter though. She wasn’t much help. Except to bring me all sorts of bits and pieces from around the house to attempt its extraction.

Pliers – grip kept slipping. Toffee hammer – don’t ask. Plastic ladle – it has a long handle. It was a long shot. But it didn’t work.

Guess what did? A paper scraper. I think that’s what it’s known as in the trade. Mibbe not. Looks a bit like a palette knife. I’ve been known to use one to scrape wall paper and plaster small holes. Not brilliantly, I have to admit. But sometimes when you’re waiting for a man to get round to that wee five minute job you’re better making an arse of it first so he can show you how it should be done.

Not that I deliberately make an arse of things. Just turns out that way sometimes. I know my limitations but it doesn’t stop me having a go. Once built a set of wardrobes from scratch as a twenty-something. Apparently six-inch nails into plaster isn’t a great idea. I hadn’t heard of rawl plugs and drills at that point. Nor spirit levels. But the design of the wardrobes was fab. They stood for years. I never did get round to putting doors on them. Which was actually quite handy. I could choose my outfit for the day while lying in bed. So could my sister. Lay there across the room from each other discussing whose clothes we’d wear that day. Saves loads of time.

Anyway, about that lipstick. Fingers into orifice. Hoover’s. Not daughter’s. Grab with fingers of one hand wedged in the opening (this is beginning to sound obscene), edge the paper scraper in. Lever. Voila!

No one gets near my hoover again.

Wait a minute, I might have been had here.

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!

Affirmation

I know it can be a real pain in the posterior to listen to someone else’s music choice. Time. Always time.

Today I took time, had time, enjoyed time, rediscovered time , passed time, had a lovely time.

Doing?

Hanging out in the garden with my kids. Twenty-two year old and I connecting. Doing shoulder stands on the grass with my eight year old. I was better at it. Just sayin’.  Thirteen year old ‘posing like a haddie’, being a thirteen year old with charm and exuberance. The rest of my crew were elsewhere.

We nibbled, sipped, giggled, talked about everything under the sun.

Mostly, it’s down to sunshine. It’s here! 24° ‘s worth. All bloody day. Right up until it started to cool but was still pleasant enough to sit out and enjoy. And when over? Well, the mood was already established. Move into the kitchen. Big kitchen. Sip, chat, music. Dance. Yoga moves. Hands down, I can do more than my kids. Any idea how life-affirming that can be to a 54 year old? Exactly!

I had to chase them from the kitchen to bed. I asked, ‘What song would you say captures this evening?’

Mary-Kate’s answer surprised me. All the moreso because I’ve been meaning to post this song for a few weeks.

It takes me back to a holiday when my eldest (one of the absent) introduced me to this duo. Maybe about ten/twelve years ago. Thereabouts. 

The duo didn’t hang about long. Difference of artistic direction, apparently.

I could yak on about the ins and outs of this evening but I won’t. Instead you might want to replace the details with details of your own. Those times when somehow – without apparent effort – everything about family just comes together.

The dou are Savage Garden.

The song ‘Affirmation’.

The words – probably the nearest thing I have to saying what I -and maybe many of us – feel about so many things.

And it’s pretty good for dancing to. Bendy yoga moves optional. But most enjoyable.

Today love and life and family is affirmed.

May you find affirmation in the words. And in your family. In your life.

If you have the time it’s worth a listen. The song is catchy. The lyrics – on screen – would be well worth adhering to as a credo.

 

Man-child

By habit and repute and daring cunning

By never minding who or what was hurt,

By creeping, checking, doing worst and running,

Never caught though, always after, cursed.

By being stealth and venom in one moulding,

By wrapping it with subterfuge and sly,

By revelations, once perceived, revolting,

Never sought and always wond’ring why.

By hands that first turned fists to malice mischief,

By feet that rarely led but to astray,

By numbing all the sense he once was born with,

Never cared and always went own way.

Antithesis to good, I knew the boy then,

No one could get round or through or near,

Sixteen years have flown, I still recall him,

Man-child nurtured, natured in all fear.

 

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,

Children,

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,

Whoopdedoo,

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.

You Need Us – Stop Abusing Us, Mister

What do you call it when someone says mean things about you?

What do you call it when someone says mean things about you that aren’t true?

What do you call it when someone takes from you but tries to make you feel bad about it?

What do you call it when someone tries to get others on side by lying about you?

There might be many alternative names for each of the questions.

Or one word that sums the whole lot up.

Abuse.

Look up the definition.

Noun or verb. Take your pick.

Scotland is NOT subsidised by the rest of the UK.

Yet again this morning I’ve heard that from another politician.

In fact, the records for the last 30 years tell the complete opposite.

Scotland’s Balance Sheet

Labour forced to admit Scotland isn’t subsidised.

The figures used are provided by GERS  – the same figures the UK government uses but manipulates to tell one side of a story.

The information is there. It has been there for years. Try the sixties – pre-oil boom. It is known by those who slander our name. It is known here. It needs to be known elsewhere. And widely.

One sure way to irrevocably break the union that the political mainsteam and media are so fond of is to continue to perpetuate the myth that we here in Scotland are the ‘subsidy junkies’, so earnestly spouted by every politician with a vested interest in maintaining the staus quo.

I am sick of listening to the lies.

I wanted independence so that we could manage our own affairs and not be dependent on the UK government allocating us a share that is less than what we contribute. Not because I don’t want to share. But because Scotland needs to run its own affairs completely to effect real change for the future of our children. Waiting for English controlled government via a bi-party monopoly to do so we will wait forever. Based on population size that’s a fact.

Do you think it was for love of union that the politicians fought the No campaign with promises of devomax? No way. The thought of losing Scotland’s taxes was more to the point.

Do you think the reason they are running scared of any deal with SNP is for fear of breaking up the union? No. They are afraid to be held account to promises made and run the risk of losing much needed revenue to prevent a much greater UK deficit than if Scotland were not contributing to the coffers.

But will they admit that? No chance. That the UK government should be dependent on a paltry nation of just over five million. In a pig’s eye will they admit it.

So let’s divide and conquer. Bite the hand that feeds. Vilify. Abuse. Negate any right to a voice.

In the absence of independence at this stage I want full fiscal autonomy. Keep the Barnett Formula. Keep English votes for English laws. I have no problem with that AS LONG AS we keep what we raise here. Being dependent on a proportionate share via policies decided elsewhere is not my idea of autonomy of any kind.

And yes there will be ups and downs. We know that. The UK government knows that. Ask them. Selective representaion of numbers evades the fact that the UK proportion of deficit exceeds that of Scotland. It evades the fact that the proportionate UK contribution to GDP is less than Scotland’s contribution. But waxes lyrical about the Barnett Formula.

The fact that politicians and media are still purveying the lie that Scotland takes more than it gives leads to the divisiveness being created NOT by SNP or any other Scot but by those who should know better and do better. Or maybe they don’t read their own statements. I doubt it. Read, masticated, spat out. Nasty taste.

At the point of no return from such divisiveness is the scenario where the union will end. Not by referendum. But in any spirit still hanging by a thread. And by the hands of the ones who claim to support and defend it.

Get the facts on the table.

You need us.

If you don’t want us, fine. I’m good with that. We can go. And take with us what is ours. Our national pride and right to autonomy. But you can’t have it both ways. Abuse will be answered one way or another.

It is no accident that SNP has grown in stature and volume here. They represent us, our voices, our needs.

The mistake the government is making is in believing or suggesting that SNP are the bogeyman.

We are the bogeymen. People informed. Because we made ourselves be. We needed to be. There is no going back from what has been put into public domain. Economics is one factor.

But just one.

The right to fair representation is the force.

I’m not even an SNP member but I will vote for them until the time comes that I can vote Green.

In my ideal UK right now there would be a force for change wrought by the voices of those from the Green party and other parties/independents who have real social justice and environment on their mind. There would be enough representation the length and breadth of the four countries to take every seat in parliament, rid ourselves of eltist, self-servers and work for the good of the whole nation and the rest of the world.

I know I’m a dreamer.

But I’m not the only one.

It’s time to give politics back to the people. Or take it.

But I will take no more abuse.

And neither will my children.

Not from anyone.

Would any mother or father do less?

That’s all we’re doing.

Defending ourselves and kids from abusive power

Her Gift

I had the privilege, 26 years ago, almost to the minute, of giving birth to my first child. I had the privilege today to spend all day with her sharing a wonderful gift given by her fiance who, in his love for her, chose to share the gift with me. It was a special day, luxurious and relaxing. In her company it was a perfect day. Her presence, from that first 14th April has been a gift that keeps on giving. My daughter, Claire-Frances. An angel. With a wicked sense of humour. We had the best day. Almost as good as 26 years ago for me. And much less pain!

I did not know,

Could not have known,

This day repeated long ago

Would come like this,

Would see the cherub,

Woman grown.

 

Angelic then,

Still angel now,

That pure of heart, retained,

With humour’s spark

A flash of time,

And how

 

Embraces love,

My girl, this friend,

Is love embraced,

Surrounds her as a halo,

Delighted then, in giving gift,

Delighting without end.

Virtual Conversations

Too little time to gather each memento,

Tokens only, second best, it’s true,

Each a valued part of all our yesterdays,

Virtual realities of you.

Here’s the service, china that you cherished,

Inside the case of glass so worldly old,

Incongruous among the modern,

Patina still polished, burnished gold.

There’s blue Willow Pattern, studied paintwork,

Aladdin’s lamp that took your fancy too,

Books on every subject that you purchased,

Read, shared, discussed, in nights where me and you

Sat up in the small hours drinking whisky,

Passion flying in between debate,

Nothing ever vetoed in discussion,

We didn’t know then time was running late.

Time, the bastard child of loving parents,

Belonging nowhere, orphaned while we muse

Each and every small memento looked on,

I’d swap them all for one more night with you.

My mother died five years ago, it’s not the anniversary of her death but she’s been in my mind a lot this while back. Dreams of her, conversations in the dreams, looks I know so well. Whenever this occurs I know there’s something I need to listen to, something I would have discussed with her, something that’s eluding my full understanding or something I’m ignoring. She was good on the somethings and the everythings. Nothing ever vetoed. Need to listen now. Or she’ll skelp my arse! And I’d welcome it for one more real conversation.

 

Tending The Future

The future steps in, wide gait mesmerizing

Will our people be met with grace

The starving tide of the greedy hand

Or a safe-house, built-in love to give

 

If it be that greed does seed upon our dreams,

Make no mistake, swords in hand we will stand

A love can enfold to have and to hold or even yet

A rage can wash away every slave owner’s wish

 

We can be one power, standing against a past

The one of shackles and locks to be bound

Every penny aside, embracing life’s bliss

Starving the governors, ignore their duress

Stating the clue, saving grace to the elite

The last time we sit, watching it go down

Our work far from the politics obscene

Artisans who know the difference between

 

Puppet masters may dance on man-made strings

Strings that will be cut with a slash and a ring

Hear the next generation’s warnings true

Embrace our open arms or be cut down, no remorse

– Johnny and Lisa Ojanpera