Thursday 22 December 2011

Careful - 22/12/2011

Snowed off, but not snowed in. You grab the chance. You have to. You wrap up and brave it. You know how to get there. It's a ten minute walk. Tonight it's longer. You don't want to break a bone. The cafeneio is warm, smoky. The wine arrives. You're already scribbling, getting it down, this part of it, your limited third person narrative. Jargon. You're wary of it, but you know it's important. So are signposts. This isn't a story about jargon, never mind signposts. Even if it seems to be heading that way.

Saturday 10 December 2011

A Wee Guest Poem: Jim Murdoch

The Things We Knew
He didn’t hide the bottles
it is true but then neither
did he leave them on display.

He drank to help himself sleep;
that is what he told himself
and us, his conscience and God.

God knew different and so
did we. I don’t know what his
conscience knew or thought it did.

I can’t stand the stuff myself,
whisky I mean, although I’m
not fond of the truth either

if I’m totally honest.

*     *     *

Jim Murdoch lives just outside Glasgow. His poetry has appeared in small press magazines on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly forty years and now, of course, his most recent work can be found online. He has recently published a collection of poetry entitled This Is Not About What You Think in addition to two novels. A third, Milligan and Murphy, an expression of his love of the works of Samuel Beckett, has just been published. You can read more about him on his blog and website.

Friday 9 December 2011

A Wee Guest Poem: Brian Hill

Uamh an Oir / Cave of Gold

This is a film of Brian Hill's moving tribute to musician, Martyn Bennet.

Martyn Bennet was a Scottish musician who made music with traditional roots in a very modern idiom. You can hear some and find out more at . Martyn died in 2005 of Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Brian Hill explains:  I'd been listening to Martyn's stuff for some time and I knew he had cancer but his musical drive seemed too strong to be stopped. When he died, I was quite shocked and I wrote the poem used in the video. The title is borrowed from a traditional Gaelic song which was performed by his mother (and, according to her, recorded in a dungeon in Linlithgow Palace). The song is about a piper who enters the Cave of Gold and who says: 'Many a young maid in bloom of youth/Will pass away, will pass away/Ere I come, ere I return'. Margaret Bennet very kindly gave me the words in Gaelic and in translation.

In 2007, I made the video for the FilmG Gaelic film competition. For that I had the poem translated into Gaelic and voiced by a proper Gaelic speaker. The music is Uamh an Oir/Cave of Gold sung by Margaret Bennett, recorded and mixed by Martyn. The film made the short-list in the competitiion, which was nice. The Gaelic version is here, by the way -

A Wee Guest Poem: Marion McCready

The Rest and Be Thankful

On The Rest we lie
back on tarmac eyeing up
the winter sky: Pleiades, Plough, Orion.
Drive. The Milky Way suspends
above the hollow glen, high
high up the Drover’s Road. Bend
into its curves, take no thought for the morrow
just drive. The highway kneels before us,
the windscreen is riddled with galaxies
strewn across the rotunda night.
Tonight there is no loch, no Firth of Clyde
smack into a beach wall, just a pumpkin moon
and the Glasgow road carved from a mountainside.

(First published in Poetry Scotland and The Glasgow Herald)

*     *     *

Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll. Her poems have appeared in a variety of publications including The Edinburgh Review, Northwords Now and The Glasgow Herald. Calder Wood Press published her pamphlet collection Vintage Sea earlier this year. Marion blogs about poetry here -

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Wee Guest Fiction: Alan Crossan

One To Tell The Grandkids
He looked to the window again, saw nothing but ashes gathered. He stubbed out his cigarette then lit another, teasing smoke through his teeth. She remained discreet, concentration drawn behind the cover of a novel. Once this room had echoed with laughter or later at least with arguments; plates smashing on the kitchen tiles, dislodged by the vibrations of a washing machine. Or so he told the neighbours. Now, only the refrigerator buzz and the distant hum of traffic in the streets below.

Photos in silver frames on the table: A young couple gaze into each others eyes unaware of the lens trained upon them. He didn't know who they were, their facial expressions so different from anything he could associate with. They looked complete, stepping out on the floor.

But deceptions spoil the dance. Little white lies, inconsequential, they build up, ready to burst, drowning a person's sense of themselves.

I have to tell her, I owe her that much.

She said she would never trust a man, not after her father. It was a challenge, he'd prove not all men were scumbags, he'd show her if it killed him. But her paranoia had worn him down, chipped away any remaining feeling.

Is that fair? If I'd been a better husband, talked it over, reassured her.

He sighed. Her eyes rose from the page and lowering the book she flashed him a questioning smile. She looked as if she was going to speak but thought better of it and returned to her reading.

Surely she must know, its clearly not working anymore, I have to say something, get it out in the open.

He paced by the window, smoking. He had to say something, the words inside him ready to overflow and dribble down his shirt. He knew the promises he had made but surely in the end it was better for both of them.

It’s not that easy. How do you start a conversation like that? It’s not the sort of thing you just blurt out: "Sorry darling, I don't love you anymore"

Perhaps that was her father's trouble. Easier to lead a double life, leave his wife and kid at home, clamber into his lorry and drive to the other family, explain away absences with the nature of his work. Easier to live that lie than to find the words.

He was better than that. He wouldn’t hold out for this dying relationship. Time to read the last rites; he had to say something.



I can’t do it.

He couldn't bear it. The look whenever she talked about that man. He gulped down his intentions, buried them deep in his chest.

"Fancy a cuppa?"

"I'm good thanks"


He looked to the window again. It had started to rain, puddles forming between the geraniums rotting in the window box. The British summer; something else he was going to have to live with.

*     *     *

Alan Crossan lives in Barrhead near Glasgow. He writes mainly short stories and flash fiction but is currently working on his first novel. He is a member of the Glasgow Writers Group and his work is featured in The McCollection, an anthology from McStorytellers.