Just Another Ordinary Day

Novel Number Two will have to wait. I am producing plays (Unveiled Secrets to be performed in the Scottish Borders in September and October 2019) and looking after family. So, short stories it is. Below is one set in Basildon, Essex. It, too, deals with Unveiled Secrets. Hope to see you at the shows if you can manage it!

Just Another Ordinary Day

“I heard it was Thorrington Cross,” Shelley asserted, crossing her black tights which shimmered around a pair of pudgy legs.

“No, it was The Knares,” responded Ella snapping her compact closed and screwing shut her mascara. She turned and inspected her reflection in the long mirror, picking off imaginary fluff from her bottle green jumper and turning this way and that to see if she looked slimmer than yesterday.

“Are you sure? I thought he first spotted her as she passed the Owl and Pussycat. She was eating a bag of chips at the time and he asked her for one. That’s what I heard,” interjected Sophie, dabbing concealer on her acne-prone forehead.

“Does it matter?” Jess was agitated with all this speculation. “The fact is Red Riding Hood almost got herself gobbled up by The Wolf because her mother let her walk to school alone and we have to do something to stop that sort of thing. Start a movement. Get some placards!” Jess’s blood was at boiling point and if a wolf were to pass at that very moment it would have been taking its life in its hands. She’d had enough of this prowling menace picking off innocent teenagers as they made their way to school, stealing their bags and snarling and snapping. He always picked on the shy ones or the arty ones. The ones with chips. The latest, Red Riding Hood, had gone to primary school with Jess. Jess was convinced it was Red Riding Hood’s designer outfit that drew the wolf’s attention in the first place. That red cape was screaming to be hoodwinked, or worse still, deflowered. 

“If we want to identify ourselves as individuals with a sense of style we ought to be allowed to do that, wear what we want, without some pervo sniffing up our hems. I swear it’s old Basildon Bond, the deputy, dressed up as a wolf,” Jess asserted. “He thinks it’ll keep us all in line. Menacing us with his hairy-faced snout and baring those ugly yellow teeth!” She drew a breath through her own long nose. “We need to make a stand. Stand together and protest outside the council offices. Protest that the streets aren’t safe for the under 21s.”

“Yeah! Let’s do it!” Shelley leapt to her feet and punched the air. She stood bold and brave, ready to take on any challenger. Then a moment of hesitation overtook her. “Um, Jess, where exactly are the council offices?” she asked. “It’s just that I’m not allowed Pitsea way, after that incident with the stone and the window, remember? If they’re in Vange then I can’t go.”

Jess flicked her hair. “No idea,” she responded, “but we can find out. I think it’s in the town centre so no worries.” 

“Yeah, somewhere near the Towngate, I think,” added Sophie as she popped a Smint into her coral framed mouth. 

“How comes you know that?” asked Ella suspiciously, stopping the mirror-pout for a hard stare at the new girl. Jess had invited Sophie, a tall blonde whose family had just moved to Basildon, but Ella didn’t feel comfortable with her. She was too smart. And she smiled far too much.

Sophie shrugged. “Lucky guess?” she offered.  “It must be somewhere like that. They’ve got the job centre in there, haven’t they?”

“Job Centre. What you gotta do with the Job Centre? Your mum unemployed, is she?” Ella challenged. There was a moment of silence as the atmosphere froze. Sophie blushed and looked to Jess. Shelley squirmed uncomfortably. Ella stared in challenge. 

The room filled with unspoken questions until Shelley, desperate to move away from this subject, queried, “And what will the council do, like, Jess? You know. About this problem.” 

“Dunno, do I?” replied Jess, sucking her eyes away from Sophie, the unknown among them. “But it’s better than sitting here wondering if we’re next for The Wolf treatment. Better than our mums abandoning us to The Wolves when they decide it’s easier to go to work than to take us to school and make our dinners. I’ve not had proper chips for a month because me mum’s got a new job. She keeps buying ready meals from Asda and I’m sick of it, ain’t I? Them not being here to keep an eye on us is leaving us to be dinner for The Wolves.”

A knock on the bedroom door interrupted the girls mid-glamourising.

Jess rolled her eyes and sighed. “What is it?”  

“It’s Dad, Jess,” Mr Lupus was politely waiting on the other side of the door. “I was wondering if you girls were ready yet.”

“Da-a-ad! Give us a break. We need a bit longer than that to get ready.” Jess, scratched her slender muzzle in irritation. Her father was so impatient. He would rather have had a son he could play video games with than be surrounded by women who he didn’t understand. He was very annoying. 

“We’ll be ready in ten,” Jess called. “Chill. We just want you to drive us to the youth club, Dad. It’s no big deal.” She shook her head and looked at the others in exasperation. “See! If my mum wasn’t working evening shifts, she’d have my Dad whipped into shape.”

Ella nodded. “We’d have had carrot sticks at my house and my mum would have come to the taxi rank with us. Had a laugh. Your mum too, Shelley.” She shook her hair dolefully. “That new factory has a lot to answer for.” Ella fired Sophie an icy glare as she spoke, daring her to reveal her home situation. 

“The only one who’s home is your Mum, Sophie, and that’s only because you’ve just moved here,” intersected Jess, protective of her new find. She patted the new girl’s forearm. “Give her a month or two and you’ll be joining us lot in ready-meal-heaven. Or hell.” Jess fluffed her hair and criticised her reflection, deliberately avoiding Ella and her pursed lips. She was more concerned to know if Paul would be at the youth club. 

“Jess, can you come on? The football’s starting soon and I don’t want to miss it,” called Mr Lupus from the foot of the stairs.

Jess rolled her eyes and the girls gathered their bags and checked themselves in the mirror one last time before following their leader along the landing and down the stairs to the front door. They all bundled into the car. Jess in the front and the other three squashed into the rear. It was only a five minute drive, but walking in heels was out of the question. 

“Thanks, Mr Lupus,” clacked each little chick as she stepped out of the scarlet vehicle. Mr Lupus watched them totter off through the metal gateway before licking his lips and baring his teeth. He parked his car at the local shops and waited. Life had changed since his wife had started work. She’d said they needed the money, that it would make their lives better. But no. It had all gone to pot. There was no decent food in the house. His daughter hardly spoke to him. Even watching the telly was lonely without Doreen. His beautiful Doreen. 

Mr Lupus had taken to “patrolling” the streets when he wasn’t responsible for dropping Jess off anywhere. He was constantly hungry. The money his wife made seemed not to stretch to a proper, filling, meal. Sure, she now had nice clothes, but he never got any time to see her in them or take her anywhere because she was tired all the time. She had her own bank account and he couldn’t access the cash. The poor man felt deprived and very hungry. Oh, so hungry. 

From his seat in the car park, Mr Lupus had a great view of the chip shop. He could see who went in and who came out. He was patient. There was nothing else to do and it was only Scunthorpe versus Leicester on the telly. Hardly worth your while. Better to watch the punters with their vinegar and pickled eggs than watch that drivel. Mr Lupus took a deep breath. Yes. The chips and chicken smelled good. The scent of battered fish floated wispy and faintly golden into his nostrils. It was tempting. Where else could he possibly wish to be?

The light was beginning to fade and so far it had only been young, fit men and couples he’d seen going in and out of Big Ed’s fish shop. There had been a man about his own age, fat and greasy looking, who’d come out carrying a family load of fish and chips. Mr Lupus’s heart fell. If only he’d had more kids. If only his wife was at home right now, waiting for him to bring her chips with brown sauce. If only.

Then his luck changed. A young girl, about Jess’s age, alone, walked into the chip shop. He got out of his shiny car, pinging the lock on his key ring and waited at the corner to see where she might go once she left the shop. He hoped she’d get cod and chips with lots of vinegar, salt and brown sauce. Don’t skimp on the condiments he repeated in his head, hoping that thought would travel along the grubby pavement and up her trouser leg to her head. Salt, vinegar, brown sauce. His mouth began to dribble in anticipation. The soft featured girl reappeared, carrying just a can of coke. Mr Lupus was more than disappointed. He was raging. How dare she tempt him like that! The disappointment! He was torn. Should he wait for another potential chip donor or let this let-down know how he felt? He was so hungry! So hungry his mind had stopped functioning. 

Before, he’d simply given them a scare – enough to get them to flee while leaving whatever they’d been tucking into so he could hoover it up. It had been harmless fun. What all the press were saying was nonsense. Everyone knows they exaggerate. They’re hacks, just after a good headline. But, you know, give a dog a bad name and what do you get? 

Carnage. That’s what the next day’s headline said. Lilly Snope had met her end down a dark alley, explained The Echo. She was such a good girl. Her gran wasn’t well and she’d popped along to the shop to get her some coke because gran couldn’t keep any food down and needed something to give her a little energy. 

“Be a good girl, Lilly, will you? It’s just along the road and your old gran will feel better for it,” Lilly’s mother had pleaded. 

Lilly didn’t deserve this. No-one did. Had she been attacked by a wild dog? The face was torn off her. The police were appealing for anyone who had seen a savage-looking dog to let the force know. They suspected a gang from Braintree who held illegal dog-fights – or that was the rumour, in any case. There was an extended centrespread about what a wonderful girl Lilly had been. She went to the same school as Jess. She was a champion sprinter. If she hadn’t been trapped down an alley she’d probably have got away. 

Mr Lupus read the headlines. Nothing more. He read them over his Asda cornflakes coated with skimmed milk and no sugar. It was never enough to satisfy him. He was still starving. His wife was up and out already – gone running. She’d returned from her evening shift, tired, at eleven. He’d already gone to bed. She watched some TV and went off to bed herself. Jess had found her own way home, along with a young, handsome, slightly dangerous suitor, and she too was tucked up dreaming of Paul and wolves and weddings by the time Mum got home. 

Now, the morning sun was creeping along the grass in the garden, making its way cautiously, carefully, and inevitably up to the window where it could peek in to where Mr Lupus was lifting his mug to his empty, hollow, mouth. 

It was just another ordinary day. Another ordinary temptation in the Lupus household. 


Time for a Taster!

“Packed full of surprises, with a mind-blowing finale that leaves you hungry for more, this is a book which breaks the rules …” Sara Clark (The Eildon Tree Issue 31 Winter/Spring 2019 printed edition only)

While God Was Sleeping, my debut novel, was a steep learning curve and I can see I still have more to learn about the art of writing. But it’s not a bad effort, receiving a dozen five-star reviews on Amazon for the e-book and now a full-length published review for my paperback edition.

Hey! That’s my Mum!

Yes, my son was surprised and delighted with my praise. Writing a novel simply kept me out of his curly hair. He sometimes pats me on the head – a sign of love from my 6′ 3′ grown man.

While God Was Sleeping is about our perceptions of other people and the situations we find ourselves in. It explores how our misunderstandings or misinterpretations can stop us communicating truthfully. The impact of not saying what you think or feel can be significant. The style is both lighthearted and heart-rending. The main character, Meg, isn’t instantly loveable, but take time to know her and you may change your mind.

Here’s a little snippet to warm you up!

An excerpt from this novel first appeared in The Eildon Tree, Issue 29, 2017.

The soft rain pitter-pattered as Meg parked up and Aggie Muirhouse grumped. She would catch a cold if she ventured into that weather. Meg didn’t want to waste any more time on this outing. She stood, brolly up, waiting as her mother fussed. Since Dad died, she’d … well, Mum wasn’t herself.

Shaking off the rain as they entered the shoe shop, Meg inhaled leather and the warm aroma of coffee. The family-run retailer was bent on providing excellent customer service. An assistant asked if he could help. Meg smiled and opened her mouth to speak.

“No, dear,” Mrs Muirhouse interjected, “my daughter, Meg here,” — she indicated her dowdy companion —  “thinks I need new shoes, but I don’t. We’re just going. Thank you.”

Meg gaped, and then met the young man’s eyes in alarm. Her mother turned and began to shuffle in her boat-like pumps back towards the exit.

Meg pursued her mother. “Mum! Mum!”

“No need for new shoes. Time to get home.” Mrs Muirhouse, resolute, was almost out of the door.

“So sorry,” Meg called over her mother’s shoulder to the salesman as she positioned herself between Mrs Muirhouse and the exit.

The women shimmied as Meg blocked any possible retreat. They waltzed, out of tempo, back into the shop.

“Come on, Mother. You need to get a decent pair of shoes now you’ve lost all that weight. What would Dad say if he could see you in those tattered old things?”

“Your father has nothing to do with this. I don’t want you traipsing me around for new footwear when I’m perfectly happy as I am.”

Mrs Muirhouse caught the young man’s eye and saw it sparkle. In other circumstances she might have given him a run for his money, but not today. Today there were phone calls planned. Phone calls Meg knew nothing about. Just a moment earlier she thought the embarrassment of making a fuss would wither Meg’s resolve. But Meg’s coercive dance outsmarted her. Temporarily defeated, Aggie Muirhouse took time to pause and allowed herself to be led to a padded grey seat. Aggie didn’t want Meg’s idea of a sensible shoe, fit for a widowed octogenarian. She wanted dainty red kitten heels.

“Mum, mind, and keep your foot still! The poor man can’t get the shoe on if you keep moving it!” Meg flushed pink. “That foot’s a moving target.”

“But, I can’t see where it’s meant to be, love.”  Mrs Muirhouse feigned innocence.

The young man followed her foot with a shoe in a Cinderella conga.

“What d’you mean? Can’t see?”

Aggie’s shin was beetling to and fro in a wanton ambush, a pendulum swinging dangerously close to the young man’s crotch.

“I’m trying to help. But I can’t see my foot to get it in the shoe.”

“You’ll feel my foot up your bum, mum, if you don’t stop it,” chided Meg. “Now, come on. Give the lad a chance!”  It was worse than dealing with kids at school.

The young man smiled. He caught Meg’s eye and shared a look of good-natured despair. Mrs Muirhouse mumbled and fidgeted.

“What you on about now, mum?”  

“It’s the coat. It’s in the way. I need to get this coat off. All I can see is buttons and folds. Buttons and folds and neither a foot nor a shoe.”

Meg exchanged another what’s-our-next-strategy? look with the assistant. Her mother had, indeed, lost so much weight this last year, she was drowning in her bouclée coat.

“Okey dokey,” Meg sighed, “let’s get the coat off then.” Mother may have lost weight, but she hadn’t lost the dexterity of her fingers. The sales assistant stood back. Meg undid one button as her mother did another up in its place. One woman intent on disrobing; the other intent on disruption.

“Why don’t you keep your coat on?” suggested the sales assistant.

“Thank you, young man,” Mrs Muirhouse replied, before looking to her daughter with dagger-eyes. “Maybe Meg might like a pair of wide-fitting flats to take the weight off her shoulders. She’s the one who does the plodding.

There was a moment’s silence. Then Meg stood up. “Right, come on Mother!” she barked. “I haven’t got time for this.” She thanked the sales assistant in a flurry and took her mother roughly by the elbow to lead her back through the fine drizzle to the waiting car. Meg opened the passenger door wide and left it ajar, not helping her mother as she usually did. Then she climbed into the driver’s seat and gripped the wheel, her knuckles white. Meg sat, damp, tired and very annoyed. She rubbed her forehead in torment. Her mother shuffled in her ill-fitting shoes, into the passenger side and pulled the door closed. Mrs Muirhouse shoogled her bottom into the crease of the seat and clicked her belt decisively. Gripping the wheel, Meg scanned her frustrated thoughts, searching for something positive, something to take the sting out of this failed shopping spree and something to counterbalance her bitter taste of suppressed ire. Nothing. In resignation, she turned the key. A rasping sound but no ignition. Again, she tried. Nothing.

“Bloody! Bloody! Bloody!” she seethed, picturing the smarmy private seller who had sold her this heap. The drizzle on the windscreen was met by a soft steam forming on the inside. A fuzzy rainbow appeared through the late afternoon shower to spite Meg’s gloom. The two women sat motionless. Silent. Meg looked over at her mother. Mrs Muirhouse, soft skinned and pouty-lipped, looked ahead, avoiding her daughter’s black eyes.

While God Was Sleeping is available on Amazon at £5.99 for a limited period – just two weeks – until 23 February 2019, when it reverts to £8.99. Get your copy now and review it on site. https://www.amazon.co.uk/While-God-Was-Sleeping-Knowing/dp/171775337X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1549622866&sr=8-2&keywords=while+god+was+sleeping+kathleen+mansfield

Is the next novel in preparation?

close up the Globe 2018Write it yourself quoteWhile God Was Sleeping

available on Amazon Kindle at £1.99

So, after redrafting, repeating and repeating, I  have published my debut novel, While God Was Sleeping. It’s had 5-star reviews and folk have asked if there is a sequel.

Maybe …

Here’s the synopsis:

Meg Muirhouse, a seemingly quiet spinster teacher, gets a second chance at life. She once avoided risk and conflict through her fear of loving too much. While God Was Sleeping – a tragi-comedy – peeks into three generations, linked through a heart transplant and the machinations of errant Angels. With a light touch, the writer shows how we all shimmy around being honest with one another. Meg’s unrequited love needs justice, is she up to the task? Will her widowed mother give her the space to spread her wings?

Meanwhile, Meg’s mother, Aggie, is trying to find her own space and escape her self-sacrificing daughter, who clucks around her like a mother hen. She is playing with Ned under her daughter’s nose, but her daughter sees nothing, imagining her mother is too old to still love.

Angela wants to escape her relationship and fulfil her potential while Daniel is stifled in a ladies shoe shop. These two are connected in ways nobody would imagine.

It takes a tragic accident to reset all their lives and give them a shared purpose.

If you love Liane Moriarty you will love this novel. It’s humorous and compelling.

Hope that grabs you by the short and curlies …


While God Was SleepingWhile God Was Sleeping

While God Was Sleeping

A big birthday arrived two weeks ago and my birthday wish is for you to write a review of my debut novel. The Eildon Tree, the literary magazine of the Scottish Borders, published on 29 January 2019 will publish a review, but your views count just as much. And Whitie’s, Peebles independent book shop, will stock hard copies!

I started While God Was Sleeping as a personal challenge. It was not an idea which had bubbled slowly away, with a rich aroma, for years. It was a fancy. Can I write a novel? I took a cavalier attitude to early chapters and felt like Verbal, Kevin Spacey’s character, in The Usual Suspects. I made up the story based on things I had just seen or a prompt from a writer’s workshop, regardless of the overall arch of the story. It was only as the tale progressed and unfolded that I found my feet. It began to matter that I made this book complete. It took me an age to mould it, given my cavalier attitude at the outset. But, perhaps because of that, I have a novel which crosses genres and is considered worthy of five stars.

After cancer, you see things differently and you realise you’re only here once and time is precious. Try the things you think you might be good at. Don’t fret that others will judge you negatively. Write, if that’s your thing, for yourself. Bake, if that’s your thing, to please your own taste buds and eyes. Enjoy that others might enjoy your creation too. It’s important to share. We are social creatures and sharing brings joy with its risks.

Reviews help sales. Amazon’s paperback page has none as yet. Reviews do not transfer from the e-book section to the paper copy section (14 reviews for the e-book – take a look).

So, some honest rating would be a great gift if you can find the time. No spoilers, please!

Order now! £8.99 available from Whitie’s, 3 Pennel’s Close, High Street, Peebles, from the end of January or right now, on https://www.amazon.co.uk/While-God-Was-Sleeping-Knowing/dp/171775337X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547151791&sr=8-1&keywords=while+god+was+sleeping

Significant Birthday celebrations! It is the year to push the publishing!

Debut Novel in paperback

Debut novelist happy with her final product!

While God Was Sleeping is now out in paperback and available from Amazon. Price £8.99. It is also available as an e-book for £1.99. 

If you like to delve into relationships and intrigue, then it’s the novel for you. 

A beautifully observed and skilfully written novel about love, loss and longing.
A tale of unfulfilled lives…and the importance of trusting your heart.
It made me both laugh and cry. (Review – L Beattie)

Get your copy today! 

What a difference a year makes


Last year I was heavier with dark, mid-length hair. This year I’m lighter both in weight and hair!

Last year I had embarked on a playwriting course with Jules Horne and the Playwright Studio Scotland, this year I finished my novel, While God Was Sleeping.

Last year I was hectically moving house from Eddleston in the Scottish Borders and buying a dilapidated flat to turn into a home in Peebles.  I was living in a Bed and Breakfast for November and December and feeling unanchored and bewildered by the sudden changes. This year I am staying with my Dad and brother back in Basildon; my box room unchanged from decades ago, except for the clutter I’ve introduced on my recent arrival.

Last year my son left home. This year my daughter bought her first home. They are both still my pride and joy!

Last year I was an aspiring novelist. This year I am a published novelist with ten 5-star reviews.

Last year I was an extra on the advert Check My File.  This year there hasn’t been space for some fun extra work.


Last year I was still in my fifties … this year … I look younger for being fitter and leaner. It’s been a slow process but my body is thanking me. Exercise and weight control are key in the control of cancer. Easier said than done!


It takes time to find your feet


I can remember spouting in school to Sue Williams, my long-term friend, that communication was THE most important thing in the world. I believed it and I still believe it. Yet, it took me decades to realise that communication through imagination is the BEST thing in the world.

I used to work in Public Relations and communication was at its core. I did some really worthwhile things, such as create a model of how landfill sites are designed and how they work for the Science Museum in London and I advised on a GCSE book on waste iwm-with-lord-hesketh-1990. I gave school talks, I ran events, I drafted press releases, won landfill awards and created an award-winning calendar of the wildlife which can flourish on a restored landfill when people let the critters be.

But it was only when, in my forties, I took up drama and began to play at being characters and directing that I started to feel satisfied. Then, in my fifties, recovering from cancer, I allowed myself to write just for me, to fill in the time. I loved it. Then, I challenged myself to a novel. Could I do it? Was I good enough? Did I have the staying power? Would I meet a man on the “Write a Novel in a Year” course run by Janis Mackay? Yes, meeting a man has been on the agenda for quite some time. But I think I may be fussy.

In any case, I didn’t meet THE man for me, but I did get the novel started – in fits and starts. I would love the day event, scribble furiously, be all inspired by Janis and the exercises she gave us, then go home and just get sidetracked into teaching, cooking, shopping, washing, travelling to work etc. I did my homework four weeks later on the Friday night before the Saturday workshop. Nothing changes. Just like at university, where I couldn’t work until I was under pressure! Then, it all became absorbing.

It’s not a good way to write a novel as you tend to forget what you might have already said as the text gets longer and more involved.

I was a bad planner. But, I hope I make up for that with creativity. My lack of a daily habit meant a lot of time editing and redrafting. Lots of patience. I got there and whether it is a hit or a miss, I am proud of my endurance and effort. I am also so pleased to discover I found it so very absorbing. “While God Was Sleeping” is finally out as an ebook on Amazon. £1.99 – a bargain.

So, I still believe communication is central to being human and I also believe you never truly believe you can do something until you do it for yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Our sense of self-worth is connected to what we personally achieve through our own efforts – not in work or academically necessarily, but in an area of life where you feel it matters. Not where the world thinks it matters.

Beyond Borders – a Scottish Summer

beyond borders 2017

How lucky am I?  I live in an area of outstanding natural beauty which is just a stone’s throw away from The Edinburgh Fringe and International Festival, I can indulge in our own Creative Peebles Festival right on my own doorstep and Beyond Borders International Festival  is mere spitting distance away at Traquair. It seems as if the world comes to me to share the Scottish sky of skeeting clouds and blue heavens promising to come out of hiding if you wait long enough.

This summer there were no trips away or exotic holidays, but I was lucky enough to see a great production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and the upbeat and cleverly staged Adam by Frances Poet, both international in flavour and apt for today.  I spent yesterday and today at Beyond Borders listening to remarkable people talking about human rights and seemingly intractable world issues and making those issues so very human. The talented Barbara Dixon provided lunchtime tunes on Saturday and Raj talked us through a wonderful yogic start to the day. Traquair grounds are chilled and friendly.

I’ve bought books at the Edinburgh Book Festival but haven’t had a chance to open them. So, I restrained myself from purchasing at the Beyond Borders festival, fearing I may never hoover the house again as I indulge my nose and eyes in flipping page after page. It has been a good weekend.

I spent a day with the Playwrights’ Studio doing workshops and socialising with others interested in theatre. And then there was the Edinburgh Art Festival 2017 day spent among other keen writers. August has been indulgent.

My weekend earlier in August with the Go Big Women’s Activity Group was entirely different. I’m all for variety and challenge in life. I just wish my knees were younger!  We could all do with indulging ourselves more often.

Gorge Walking August 2017

Edinburgh Art Festival 2017



Today I had a gloriously sunny morning in Edinburgh writing poetry with a talented bunch from Helen Boden’s Ekphrastic writers’ group. We were escorted by Helena of Edinburgh Art Festival around the current celebration of Patrick Geddes and his contribution to Edinburgh’s built environment.

Here’s what I did:

The Sociology of Autumn by Toby Paterson



Panels of coloured perception.

Interwoven, rigid, metal, gapped,

forced rectangles of education,

politics, gender, race, economics, and more.

The individual weary of conformity.

Autumn: social, cultural patterns

nearing the end?

Remnants of the past.

Our cohesion

gapped and scaffolded

giving way to TV

the internet


Everything has its time.


I liked this installation by Toby Paterson. It reminded me of home – Basildon in Essex: a new town. I grew up with these sociological ideas. Yet the irony of Chessels Court and how time changes ideas to functional practicality is that it was designed as a city garden with a pioneering nursery for children and now there are two signs saying “No Ball Games” and the lower windows of the original social housing, meant to create community, are barred. IMG_20170808_111333044


I loved the Palm House by Bobby Niven in the Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden which is not normally open to the public.

The Palm House by Bobby Niven

This lovely setting and its installation inspired the following:

Chip, chip, dappled, dip, dip.

Sanded fingers stretch into

the imagination of a working artist.

Bright lit and natural,

the oak and glass stand proud and pristine,

reaching to the apex of creative thought

settled in this garden.

Cool, hidden corners cradle the sky-drenched artists’ space.

This is my kind of garden –

Wild and natural and unexpected:

a verdant escape from crowds and bustle.

Teaming with meaning

Bugs and brains

Light and shadow.



For Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich The Dragon of Profit and Private Ownership I wrote:

Inflated greed punctured

by mummers with leaves of green and darling primary pupils

demonstrating their opposition

through soft fabric and pudgy-footed dragon toes.

An angry red mouth emits a silent roar.

It’s cute

This social rebellion.

The Dragon of Profit and Private Ownership by Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich

And finally, the video and potted plant installation called With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods by Shannon Te Ao inspired the following poem:

Brushed pale skies stretch

yawning over the wild grass panoply

while speckled power lines,

the towering transporters of man’s energy,

take their place,

foreign and misfitting –

necessary –

for human connection across the vast expanse.


Two bodies, shoulder to shoulder,

dancing at dusk,

holding tight for humanity,

for the natural connection of bodies.



hands tight and tender:

the foliage of life in its elemental

original form …


An earring adorns a lobe:

a foreign body part.

We have always

desired union with

the foreign.