Post-Brexit Thoughts from “An Immigrant”

Hello Followers and Casual Readers…

… I have to share this post written by a beautiful soul I have come to know through Social Media and mutual love of art and animals, floof and sweary words! I have not met the girl… YET… but I am working on it and I am confident that our paths will cross one fine day.
It saddens me to read this entry in her blog TetrisandCheesecakes because NOBODY should be made to feel like this. There is so much hatred in this world and we are all too quick to blame other outlets, such as mental health issues, media, peer-pressure blah blah blah… but really… the only person to blame for ignorance in the way we view and treat others is ourselves and our own blinkered ignorance.
I cannot abide racism. I cannot tolerate it and I will not turn a blind eye to it, but when a lovely girl, like Lucie, writes about the HELL that she has been through in her life only to be met with unfeeling and mindlessness by people in her circle of supposed ‘friends’ it is just too much to bear. NOBODY deserves to be treated like this. she is a human being. a wonderful, intelligent and caring human being.
please read this carefully and digest every word. she could be the girl next door, your brother’s girlfriend, your girlfriend, your daughter…. she’s a woman. a human being. being made to feel like an imposition, an inconvenience, an imposter, a freak, a taker, a faker… is completely immoral, unethical, cruel and ignorant.
next time you look at someone of colour, or converse with someone with a non-UK accent, please consider this: what is their backstory? they could be like Lucie. a good person, who fled from fear and certain death and control (something that privileged British white people cannot even begin to imagine) to a supposed better and safer life – only to be met with judgement, hatred and assumptions – is just insane. insane.
wake the fuck up, humans! #evolve

Tetris & (Cheese)cakes

The past few days haven’t been the easiest. I have seen so many stories of an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment, heartbreaking stories of families and schools being targeted by those who misguidedly thought a vote to leave the EU equalled sending all “foreigners” home. I may be unique amongst my friends as I do know people who voted “Leave” for reasons that didn’t include the immigration issue. They made the decision based on their own feelings and histories, and I really don’t want to detract from that. It’s tragic that though their personal reasons were not have racially motivated, their voices have now given credence to the racists and xenophobes in our country, who have taken their numbers as a sign that hate is justified. 52%. I really want to believe that 52% or Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t racists, and who want people like me to “go…

View original post 756 more words

chewing the fat – a short story

jack-sprat-small

 

Black Friday. the streets were mean and surly as the hustled bustle of frenzied Christmas shoppers began to reach fever pitch and a new-found level of savagery.

still owned by the same family, now in its fifth generation, Mickey’s Diner is the oldest diner in Brooklyn and it hadn’t changed one iota since the 1900s.  the smell of Irish stew and coffee became as synonymous with Brooklyn as the Bridge itself.

Escaping the Christmas contagion and mass hysteria, Harold and Maeve Spratt entered the diner, as they did every Friday.

Harold sat opposite his wife, Maeve.  he motioned to the waitress that he’d like a coffee.  “black n bitter” he scoffed.

the diner was busy and crammed with people.  people loitering; people taking seats and leaving seats; people with harried expressions; people hugging and laughing; people impatiently roaring “check please!” – to which the waitress would roar  “i said i’ll be right with you, goddamnit!”.  there were lovers in corners, huddled over steaming bowls of stew; there were whining children – pissed because they’d been trailed from shop to shop on a promise that they would get to go see Santa Claus if they were good little boys and girls but their whines seemed justified – it was a little after 4pm and they knew that they’d been duped; little kids, stropping, rigid in strollers, screaming for attention, their bottom lips quivering and their faces red.  poor little bastards.  what a toil for them, being pushed through a noisy jungle of legs, ill smells and the odd dog’s unwanted overfamiliarity.

Kim, the waitress, had waited these tables for thirty six years. “in with the bricks” she’d cajole, with a tired smile and swollen ankles, smiling lamely at customers as she waited to take their order, stabbing her chewed pen on the notepad in her slender hand.  “what’s it to be, Harold?” she asked, arriving at Harold and Maeve’s table.

Harold ordered another cuppa Joe “black n bitter” and a naked mixed green salad “no dressing”.  Maeve was still pondering over the menu.  “should i get the blueberry pancakes, with maple-cure bacon, Harold?” she asked “or should i have the a big slab of that pecan pie…?  i just love pecan pie… ooh peaches…”.  Harold silently scolded her with a glower, cutting her off bluntly,  as he casually unfolded today’s Gotham Gazette and snapped it open, putting it up as a barrier between him and his wife.  he quietly sipped his coffee and muttered, from behind the headline: “have whatever your heart desires, Mae – what the Hell do i care!?”.

“aw come on, Maeve, i got other people waiting” said Kim, loudly cracking her gum, like a gunshot.

“ok… i’ll have the blueberry pancakes, with the maple-cured bacon – and two eggs, over-easy… and i’ll have the corn muffin with peaches and syrup please” she said, looking pleased with herself, smiling smugly at Kim as she handed her the menus.  Kim stuck her pen behind her ear, took up the menus and zig-zagged off in the direction of the kitchen hatch, where she brayed the order at the cook.

Harold and Maeve had been coming to Mickey’s Diner for almost 50 years.  every Friday, since before they were married.  those early Fridays saw them sit, as young lovers, huddled over a milkshake with a stack of quarters for the jukebox.  Hell, they’d even been known to get up and dance, like there was nobody else around.  later Fridays saw them bring their children for birthday balloons and sparkling sundaes.

but today Harold and Maeve sat in silence.  she, now 40lbs heavier, sat looking around her, with her hands close-knit in her lap while he sat, quietly sipping his coffee, reading the funnies.

Harold was 78 and a retired cop.  He was a tall and intolerant man, with a wiry frame. granted, it was a little bent out of shape nowadays but he tried to keep himself lean. still, he had a bone-dry sense of humour, a boner for the waitress’s legs and a bony face, to boot. he was an ugly man and had been known to make children cry with just one glower; his piercing eagle eyes and hanging monobrow made him look like ‘the bogey man’ to the children in the street where they lived. however, with age, the severity of this look was lessened by the thick horn-framed spectacles that were now perched on his prominent aquiline nose.

Maeve was a retired cook.  she loved food. oh boy she loved ‘a good eat’.  “a little too much” Harold would say, to his friends at Tuesday night poker club, when Jimmy ‘One Shoe’ McGonigle and Tom ‘Crab’ Fisher would ask after ‘the good lady’.  “gah, she’s as good as an old slipper” he would say “a little worn and twice the size she was when i first tried it on with her”

yes. it was true.  Maeve liked her food. she loved to eat. she was 72 and overblown. “a diet of fat and flour will do that to ya”, as Harold would say.

amid the rabble of babble and clatter of crockery, the cook roared “one mixed green salad, one pancake pig-out for table 17!”

Harold squirmed in his seat, shaking his head with embarrassment and burying his face in the day’s obituaries.  Maeve smiled with glee as she watched Kim weave through the tables, a plate in each hand. cracking a large gum bubble loudly in Harold’s ear as she laid their food down at their table, Harold tutted and threw her a contemptuous glance.  “sorry” she said, huskily, with a nonchalant shrug and ‘like-i-give-a-fuck’ smile.  Maeve began to sweat and squirm with excitement. her eyes widened and lit up like cooker rings when the platter was put down in front of her.  she pulled her seat in close to the table.  so close, her huge tits pushed the plate three inches away from her.  “thank you, Kim, you’re a sweetie” she said, cloyingly to the waitress.  “can i trouble you for some extra bacon – two skinny rashers like that ain’t gonna fill me up?”  Harold rolled his eyes to the waitress: “… and a heart attack on a plate, if you got one of those too?” he snarled.

Harold neatly folded his newspaper and laid it to one side.  he picked up his fork and began to eat. quietly, in silence.

Maeve picked up her napkin in her plump hands and tucked it into her blouse, near spilling her cleavage onto her plate.  Harold looked at her with equal parts contempt and dread.

a few years ago, Harold had grown to hate eating with his wife.  her ill-fitting dentures and vile table manners filled him with anxiety.  his intolerance of messy, noisy eating had grown exponentially over the years.  there were many occasions where he would sit at the dining table, in the comfort of their home, silently plotting ways to kill her as she chewed hungrily on a turkey leg or slurped her coffee or spoke with her mouth full of ham and egg sandwich – plosively spatting slimy chunks of half-chewed bread and mush across the table, often onto his plate.  he now found this woman, the former love of his life, disgusting. repulsive. like a pig.  an old sow.

today was no exception.  he sat and picked at his leafy veg, polite forkfuls of spinach and lollo rosso quietly masticated in his closed mouth, as he ruminated on her demise.

with a whore of an appetite, she attacked her plate… chopping up her pancakes with the fork gripped tightly in her chubby fist.  her eyes twinkling as she greedily licked her painted lips. she was hungry.  she was always hungry. she stabbed at pancakes, bacon and blueberries – stacking them on the four prongs of her fork, closing her eyes as her mouth yawned open like a whore’s cunt, stretching and glistening with greed.  Harold watched in horror, at what seemed to occur in slow-motion, as she slammed that fork in her mouth, cramming it full of what she craved; thrusting it deep inside that gaping cavern. her pink painted lips creased around the fork as her eyes rolled back in her head in ecstasy; her chubby fist deftly removing the licked-clean fork and returning it to the platter only to be stapped full of more fat and flour; more glutinous grease, as that ugly and guilt-free grin opened across her puffy face like a septic wound, seeping and encrusted with crumbs and spit.

and that sound!  Harold hated the sound.  the sounds were the worst imaginable.

the rattle and clicking of her ill-fitting dentures frayed his nerves with each bite. the jaws snapping, snapping; her poorly painted and puckered lips smacking, smacking… and the gulping.

Harold hated the gulping.

she would take a swill of her coffee, gulping down air with her mouth full of pancake and pig.  the squelching and sweating.  she would sweat with excitement and effort. how could she fill that mouth so full. the sweating… as her stomach succumbed to the stretching, she was like a foie gras goose. her eyes would gleam and her mouth would glisten in her unabashed gluttony, her chin wet and shiny with trails of jus and bacon fat. but it didn’t stop after the plate was empty… oh no. this was the bit Harold hated the most.

the rattling.

after eating, she would rattle her dentures around her mouth; her tongue poking around in there, scouring for remnants of half-chewed food. her painted mouth stretched outwards like the muzzle of an adult baboon. oh that sound.  it drove Harold crazy.

*cough* *splutter*

suddenly, Harold’s murderous fantasy was interrupted by a violent coughing fit. it took him a while to realise that his wife was choking.  he sat, quietly forking away at his salad.

“don’t talk with your mouth full, Maeve” he said, awkwardly, loud enough for all to hear, as he quickly polished off his salad.

the coughing and spluttering grew increasingly more urgent…

“someone call 911 – that fat lady’s choking!!” someone yelled.

for Harold, everything seemed to be in suspended animation, surreal. he watched, chewing on his watercress and kale, as a young bearded hipster guy in skinny jeans and man-bun tried to pull the Heimlich manoeuvre on her but he could barely get his arms tight enough around the bulk of her corpulent form to perform the move effectively.

Harold sat and watched, in disbelief and quiet amusement,  as his wife’s face reddened and her eyes bulged as if fit to burst. Harold watched as everyone rushed and fussed around her.  he glanced outside, it was starting to snow.  he turned back to his wife and stared into her eyes, her watering and bloodshot eyes.  he watched as her face turned purple and her heaving mass slumped, hard, onto the floor.

“call 911… QUICK!! she’s not breathing!” yelled the bearded hipster.

“Jesus, man, what’s wrong with you!?  your wife is choking!” he barked at Harold, as he took a hold of Maeve’s hand.

Harold couldn’t move. he seemed blissfully paralysed.  he simply sat and watched the drama unfold before him.  he sat and stared at her plate. he sat and watched as the Coroner came and took her body away.  he sat there, still.

“it’s not like her to leave food on her plate…” he thought.

damn.  she hadn’t touched that corn muffin.

“what a waste!” he thought, as he stabbed his fork into its peachy depths.

 

 

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

~ an idea for a screenplay.

 

 

for my whale brothers and sisters…

serveimage

this planet is small,
too small.
sometimes, it seems, there is
nowhere to hide when
what’s inside presides,
pervades,
prevails;
when the storm
shreds the sails
leaving no safe harbour.
soon,
there will be
no trees to breathe
no rivers to cry –
and the oceans will be salt
flat graveyards
for my whale brothers
and sisters to die (in).

this planet is home.
it is my home, it is your home.
she is ancient and beauty full –
once carefree and colour full.
cut her, she bleeds;
and yet she continues
to breathe and pirouette
around the Sun – the chosen, and only,
one.
and on and on
and on and on, she yields,
selflessly, with
wisdom and generosity, just like
my birth mother.
But still we press
upon her –
prey, greedily, upon her.
we cut her to the quick
don’t you see?
it’s our very own existence that
is making her sick.
’tis not cognitive dissonance
– we are but blind
and bumptious.
our selfish genes –
cocksure, precocious;
they do not see
nor do they care.
they continue to
rape
and assault her.

in the name of opium, religion
sanctimony or devotion, tell me
which God(head) has the
biggest and most powerful
Warhead?
beware!
wake up, people!
we do not have options:
we have nowhere else to go.
this is not a movie.
this is real.
wake the fuck up, Dorothy!
we’re not in Kansas anymore.
and you’re right:
“there IS no place like home…”
this IS our home.

we have nowhere else to go,
when this home is spoiled
and wrecked.
so sad a picture!
what a legacy we leave
in the damage we weave, into
the fabric of us.
when WILL we
realise the extent… when
it’s our OWN extinction event?
it is already too late.
do we care of our fate?
we should… like i say,
it’s not like we have options.
we can not just up and leave;
no other place to resettle
this will be the ultimate
test
of our mettle.

this planet is blue.
i can see why

 

 

 
can’t you?

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

 

 

did i take the yellow pill, or the pink?

IMG_3703

i/

a harlequin bows to greets me, backstage. with one graceful and balletic movement, he offers me his gloved right hand. a hand with six fingers. i take his hand, and let him lead me down a violet-scented corridor with forty doors into the deepest realm of my subconscious.

where the fuck am i?

the air is fragrant and warm on my bare legs, as i am wearing nothing but a simple white shirt. my breath echoes around the cathedral vaults of my mind. in the temporal lobe, a blue ginger candle burns bright; its tiny flame licks itself clean, casting off enormous and wondrous shadows across the triforium of my inner vision, a stained-glass gallery of memories – old and new.

in the centre, there lies a bed. a bed adorned with silky smooth chocolate sheets. i slip into its creamy coolness. the harlequin whispers:

“this is where i leave you… what happens now is your doing.” as he hands me an emerald ring.

he takes four steps back, bows, without averting his gaze, and disappears into the inky darkness.

ii/

the emerald ring burns as bright and exquisite as fire in zero gravity.  i watch, in shock and awe, as it melts into the skin.  lying on my back, gazing up at the ornate ceiling, it is then i remember…  the ceiling depicts enchanting scenes of woodland creatures, like the wallpaper i had in the bedroom of my childhood. exactly like that. i am captivated.

all of my six senses spin out of control as my mind pixelates and begins to break apart, crumbling. it is quite humbling.  i am a fractal; spiralling out of control but the sensations are beautiful.  i close my eyes and drift in arms of the Chaos. Chaos is my mother.

oh mother. i came from inside you.  her voice, soft and low, is soothing. she is manic. she tells me how she never enjoyed sex.  i am confused. how did i come to be, if not borne out of ecstasy?  heavy and shaken, i awaken.

the unmistakable feeling of fresh air on my face stirs me from my bleak reverie and i find myself, in a white linen bed, upon an Alpine mountainside. the air is white. i feel light as light. there are four goats, standing, staring at me. they are chewing, ruminating on something… i stare back. the black goat, with large twisted horns, speaks to me:

“you seek answers” he bleats. “you are inside you…”

iii/

with a jolt i find myself on the ceiling of a round chamber, looking down at a pack of wild painted dogs. they scavenge and scrape. they wait for me to fall so they can pull me apart and feast on bone and gristle. they whimper and simper. their mouths, foaming. their teeth, bared. snarling, their eyes burn into me.

a beautiful young boy, of eleven years, walks into the room through the wall and picks up a red violin. he begins to play. the wild painted dogs become placid, docile; turning and turning twice before settling down. the music is beguiling and i find myself dancing.

the harlequin reappears and throws me a ball of fire. i catch it in my left hand and rub my palms together.  with two fingers, i smear the ash and grease across my face, like war paint. i am wild, like those painted dogs. he throws me another. the flames cannot hurt me because i am a child of fire. Inferno is my father.

iv/

punch-drunk and bewildered, like a wildebeast with a lionness upon its back with her mouth clamped on the jugular, i clutch my throat. i am bleeding. i have been bitten. smitten with eternal life. who is this beautiful creature, in turquoise velvet? i have been turned and returned to this strange and promised land. he holds me, in the palm of his hand. he is fair and fey. i look into the galaxies of his turquoise eyes and see my own reflection. my throat is cut. the blood flows. a thick, red gloopy wine.

did i take the yellow pill, or the pink?

i frantically chase that memory but it flickers and rolls into the static, like an image on an old cathode ray television set, blinking and on the brink of its own obsoletion.

my mind is awash with bizarre and bric-a-brac.

the violinist suddenly stops playing. he lays down his red violin and tells to me to:

“run: the wild dogs will smell the blood.”

and so, i run.

i run into a beautiful emerald-green ocean, disappearing beneath the ninth wave… returning to my self.


image & words (c) Kat McDonald 2016

– the mind is a wonderful entity.

meet “The Smiths”

the smiths_blog

the Smiths are a close-knit family. they have no home, they are vagabonds… vagrants… squatters.
they may have lived by you, or with you.
you may have seen them.
they are renowned, the world over, for their heinous behaviour.

i remember the night they moved into my precinct.
from day one, they wreaked havoc with their host.

it is true: they target indiscriminately.
it is true: they are sociopaths. chameleons. changelings. shapeshifters.

they adapt to their new surroundings with unnerving ease.
and then they take over…
… and they almost always overstay their welcome.

if you let them in, they will destroy everything you love about life.
if you do not let them in, they will worm their way in
and destroy everything you love about life.

they arrived in small groups. by the end of the week, their host was overrun by them.

how could he get rid of these unwelcome guests?

he tried being patient. that did not work. they defied him, and continued to defile him.
he tried ignoring them. that did not work. they were ‘in his face’, with increasing aggression.
he tried evicting them. that did not work. they returned, in increased numbers.

they are breeders. every week, more and more of them seemed to appear.
i rarely saw them, but they made their presence known.

they became pandemic.
they became aggressive.

their host became inflammatory. incensed with rage like a fever. delirious. mad.

he could not sleep.
he could not eat.
he was tired.
he was ill.

the only way to fight fire is with fire.

we smoked them out.
and fired silver bullets.

we killed them.
we killed them good.

for now…

(c) Kat McDonald 2015
– a comedic view of a ‘family’ of flu pathogens, currently inhabiting my lover’s body.

i am wise to your game…

image

i know of two sisters;
two sisters,
so alike,
people mistake one
for the other.

two sisters
so alike,
like daughter
and mother…
but who
gave birth
to who?

sisters…
Jealousy
and Envy…

the ugliest of sisters.

i see you, Jealousy…
oh i see you, there,
standing tall.
even with back turned
to face the wall,
i feel your stare.
those eyes…
… of burning green.
yes, it is true.
how astute of you.
you are taller than i.
what of it?
from across the room,
i feel your watchful eye,
drill to my core.
i look at you.
you are nothing to me
but i am everything to you,
aren’t i?
i feel your pain.
i am not sorry
for what i have,
for what came to me
and resides in me.
why should i be?
why should i
make apologies?
what of you?
where did this insecurity hail from?
your head?
your bed?
oh i feel you watching.
i feel your resentment,
discontentment.
so you choose to belittle.
how very big of you.
yes, you are taller than i
– in stature only.
oh you catch my eye
with unnerving constancy.
every time
i lift my eye
i see you,
staring back at me.
i see you, coil
i hear you hiss.
oh i know you.
i’ve seen your type before.
i know you don’t like me
– you are made of glass,
i can see through you.
and your casual invitation?
i am wise to your game.
there is no contest,
sweetheart.
for i have already won
and you are broken.

Envy, oh Envy…
you petty thief!
point those long fingers,
like daggers
or shards of glass,
i will break
them off, lass.
oh i see your smirk,
your smile,
a sphincter;
thin-lipped and tight,
coiled like a whip.
why do you knot yourself
with resentment?
you made quite the entrance,
in this arena…
yet you tried
to fell me
with words you
tell me what i already know.
– what a fool,
for i am impervious
to your cutting blow;
your words of rancour
and begrudging admiration.
oh i know you hate me.
you hate me
because
i have
what you want.
that is clear.
your judgement is quick
but ill-disposed.
there is coldness
in your eyes.
cold.
cold.
cold.
what do you think
you have been denied?
oh Envy, i pity you.
you are collared,
like a dog;
rabid,
immobilised by
your own desire.
you are vapid
and paralysed.
what did you think
you had?
i listen to your heart,
your black heart,
as you try
to subjugate me
with your words.
ineffectual words.
i am impervious
to your scathing
and hating.
i am immune
to your disease.
is that all you have?
where is your substance?

oh sisters…
i pity you.
ugly, twisted sisters…
i see through you
and your ménage à trois.
i am wise to you,
and the games you play…
i pity you.
i truly do.

i hope, one day,
you will find peace,
find love,
find a lover…
find
whatever
it is that you so sorely covet
i hope, one day,
you heal the wounds
that makes you sick.
but you cannot
contage me,
you will not cage me,
or enrage me.
you are horrid.
i feel nothing for you.

n-o-t-h-i-n-g….

except
gentle rose-coloured
pity
and a kiss
upon your forehead.

(c) Kat McDonald 2015

the death of my unknown brother

276 done

my mother was the youngest of six daughters. born on a farm in Retty, between Banff and Portsoy, to Peter Munro Stewart and Eliza Massey, my maternal grandparents. they worked land on the farm. when the seasons changed and all hands were required on deck, my grandmother would join in. life was simple, but bringing up 6 daughters and an adopted son was not always easy. food was plentiful, often sourced by gaff or gun.

my mother, now in her eighties, grows misty eyed when talking of her childhood. these are not cataracts, these are tears. bittersweet tears. tears of longing – perhaps longing for that lost youth and innocence. tears of joy – in the remembering of days gone by. tears of yearning – yearning for the company of those no longer with us. she talks about her childhood. one early childhood memory is in the forefront of her mind: a memory of running across the cornfield to meet father coming home from working the land. he would scoop her up in his arms and lift her up on his broad shoulders for a ‘cockitty-hooey’ or he would plonk her astride the enormous shoulders of one of his trusty Clydesdale horses. the ‘giant horses’ as my mother used to call them. she smiles as she speaks of the various farming cottages and houses she grew up in, as her father’s search for work made nomads of the Stewart family. since fighting for King and country in WW1, he was never out of work.

my grandfather loved to wander through the Scottish countryside, playing his bagpipes. my mother talks fondly of how she would often follow behind- skipping through the glen, or through a pine-scented forest, dancing to his wistful and often haunting music.

other early childhood memories flood her eyes as she remembers being stung by a bee. “my thumb was all swollen up like a lollipop” she reflects. she tells me of a home-made swing on a cherry tree and i envy that; and again, she speaks of the ‘giant horses’. my grandfather’s Clydesdale horses – their height, their heavy gait, the sound of their heavy hairy hooves and their gentle nature. again, i envy that.

she speaks of how her older sisters joined the Womens’ Air Force and headed off to assist the war effort. she tells me that she secretly admired them, envied them, of how they looked in their uniform.

at very tender age of 14, my mother left home to return to Retty Farm, to go work at the big farmhouse (where she and two of her sisters were born). she was returning home, in a sense. she was 14 – a mere child. she remembers her ‘boss’: the gentleman farmer and his plump English wife. how he requested 2 hard-boiled eggs every morning. they had two daughters, who were to be addressed by their titles. Miss Edith was a doctor and Miss Gail stayed at home. The daughters were in their thirties. they seemed old and stuffy to my young, ever-curious 14 year old mother.

at 15, my mother’s mental health took a down turn. it continued to deteriorate and at 16 she was admitted to Ladysbridge Mental Asylum where she was detained for 6 weeks and given electric shock therapy. this terrifiying treatment was administered twice “for her nerves”.

she remembers the jolt, with tears and fear in her eyes. the pain. the fear. such a frightening experience. my mother’s face pales, as she remembers this period in her life. “i remember lying in my bed, in the ward, hearing other patients wailing” she whispers. “i was terrified. but i seem to remember one of the nurses stroking my hand”. she was 16. no more than a child.

today, electric shock therapy is still administered to patients, but under anaesthetic. my mother had no anaesthetic. i cry as i think of her, a teenager, alone in a mental hospital and strapped to a bed; a piece of wood in her mouth to bite down on to prevent her biting off her own tongue as the electric current surged through her body – racking her momentarily senseless. having studied psychology myself, i am firmly opposed to this treatment. there is a divided camp of scholars with regards to whether or not this treatment is effective. to me, it is barbaric and futile. i think of my mother, a 16 year old woman-child, who would have benefitted more from talking and counselling. not this. “but that’s what they did back then, Kathryn…” she says, biting back tears.

at 17, she moved to Aberdeen, to (ironically) work for consulting psychiatrist Mr Bell- the psychiatrist who treated her at Ladysbridge. “he and his wife were affa snobby” she remembers. “i can still picture his stern, unsmiling face as i polished his shoes”.

living alone in the cold Granite City, during the WW2 at the age of 17, was a tumultuous time. Mr Bell and his family lived in a 3-storey townhouse on Rubislaw Terrace, Aberdeen. Old Mrs Bell, Dr Bell’s mother-in-law, lived with them on the top floor. She remembers her maid’s uniform. she recalls one memory of answering the door of their mansion to a nun who immediately remarked “what a lovely complexion!… that didn’t come out of a box!”… “my hair was cut in a pageboy… you know… curled under… i would only wear a little bitty lipstick” she says, smiling, as she reflects. she tells me of the pains of being homesick. on nights off she would just sit in her room and listen to her wireless, or she would sit and talk with the cook from Banchory. she remembers the cook asking “oh my Dear, how ever are you going to be able to work with those small hands!?”. i watch my mother – staring into middle distance, stroking her lip, shaking her head in disbelief at how quick the years have passed: “she was a fine wifie” my mother says softly. her voice tails off into a heavy silence.

she then snaps from her day-dream and tells me about her friend, Evelyn Wilson, and how they went ice-skating one night a week. until the ice-rink was bombed. “i remember going home on leave and never returning… i was miserable. and i promised to myself, if i ever had daughters of my own that they would never grow up to be skivvies… or servants to the rich and pompous.”

she tells me all about her family moving to Baldavie and how she would board ‘Johnny’s green bus’ to work in Macduff every day. “i kept house for Mr Yorston, a dentist… i had to call Mr and Mrs Yorston ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’.”

she tells me of her harsh discovery of boys. how cossetted and naive she was, on reflection. and how, at 19, she fell pregnant.

on December 8th, she gave birth to a beautiful little boy and called him James. she stayed at home, with my grandparents, bringing up the little boy. there was so much love in the Stewart household and among friends and extended family. there was no shame, no predjudice against this young unmarried girl with a baby. thankfully because people could be cruel.

“my best friend,Betty, was tall, thin and angular – almost boyish in her walk and the way she held herself. she was a bit of a tomboy, but she loved to dance…” she remembers, fondly.
i ask my mother to tell me all about those dancehall days. “oh it wasna onything fancy…! we would put on our bonnie frocks and a bit o’ lipstick and together we would go to the local dance hall.”

the local dances were held in a village hall in Whitehills. a band played ceilidh music. people would gather, sipping soda or bottled beer, and listen to the music.

“everyone just stood about,waiting to be asked to dance…” she said. i watch as she skips across the living room floor, in the waltz of a memory.

265 done

she speaks in earnest about those dancehall days and the boys. one boy in particular. a boy called Ernest. “Ernest was a boy that used to go to the dances. he was a sweet naive boy who would meet me at the garages… i was naive too…” she laughs. “i thought that that was the thing to do… to have a boyfriend.” she laughs some more. her eyes twinkle and her nose crinkles as she told me of one particular night. “we held hands and walked in the countryside… we went for iced tea… he tried to kiss me but it was disgusting!” she can barely tell me the rest of the story for laughing. i get caught up in the story and demand she tells me more. but she is helpless with laughter. “ooooh Kathryn!” she howls. “he hidna ony bottom teeth!”. my mother refused to see him again.

at 20, she fell in love with a tall, fair-haired boy called ‘Sonny’. he was the cousin of her best friend, Betty.

one night, much later, at the village hall dance, mother (wearing her “bonniest frock” and who had just won a hand-picked local beauty contest) was asked to dance by Sonny. “i remember the song playing… “I’ll be your sweetheart, if you will be mine. All of the time, I’ll be your valentine… bluebells are blooming keep them and be true… when i’m a man, my plan, will be to marry you” and we danced… i coulda danced a’ night with Sonny. he wis so good-lookin’!” she says, fondly, as tears build in her eyes. and mine. i feel for her. he was the love her young life.

however they never did marry, but my mother found herself pregnant with Sonny’s child. at the age of 22 she gave birth to Alison. my sister. sadly, Sonny did not want to know. my mother remembers, vehemently as though it were yesterday, of how he drove past her – as she stood at the side of the road in the rain, with a little toddler and a baby in a pram. he drove past in a sports car, and a blond dame in the passenger seat. my mother’s heart was broken. again.

a year later, my mother found a new job. she would get the bus up and down to Gamrie/Gardenstoun to work for Mr & Mrs McDonald, who owned a chip shop. They were good people. their daughter, Catheline, was a beautiful young girl. my mother quickly became really good friends with Catheline, despite the age difference. their youngest son, William, was to be someone who would impact on my mother’s life. but he was mysterious, and my mother was shy. he would play guitar. he smoked cigarettes and kept the packet tucked up on the folds of his rolled up shirt sleeves. he looked like Jimmy Dean. he was a taxi driver. my shy mother would watch him walk up the street, peeking at him through the window. he was “oh-so good-looking”. my mother fell for him.

they fell in love and decided to marry.

on May 12th, they married at Gardenstoun Church. my mother wore a pale, pale blue dress, little white pumps on her feet (“slight wedges” she adds) and a sweet little veil. “i remember my bouquet was a massive spread of lillies”. Catheline was my mother’s bridesmaid. she was 14.

after their marriage, they lived with his parents initially. his mother and my mother got on really well. “your Granny had a wonderful sense of humour and fun” she tells me, smiling an impish grin. “i remember one time, when we were spring cleaning, she threw their feather bed down to bottom of stairs, to take outside to air… i decided to leap down fae the top o’ the stairs onto it… of course, i bumped her head on way – nearly knocking myself oot!” she giggles, like a teenager. “well! your Granny laughed ‘n’ laughed!” she tells me. “we laughed til we were sair wi’ laughin’…. your Granny says, and i aye mind this… “Cathie, supposin’ you’d near killed yersel – i’d hiv still laught!” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks.”

my Granny was, indeed, a fun and loving person. i don’t remember much of her, as she died when i was 4. i do remember attending her funeral, sitting next to my father on a hard wooden pew and watching a tear roll down his cheek. my mother remembers me saying “my granny went to heaven in a box!”. oh my. i guess i was always meant to be a source of comfort to my grieving parents.

a year of marriage and my mother fell pregant. William was born on December 12th. he was the first born to my father. my parents stayed with the inlaws for a little while, and then moved.

my father got a job on a farm. it was a difficult time. the pay was not good. they could not initially afford to take both children with them. Alison was left with my maternal grandparents, whom she loved dearly. James came with my mum and dad and baby William to their new home. Alison remained at my maternal grandparents care. my mother was torn. choosing which child you can afford to nurture and rear is not a decision that a parent wants to ever consider, let alone have to make. but her hands were tied. money was tight.

247 done

my father worked hard, and saved. eventually my mum and dad and the children moved to Couper Angus area, where my father took a job in a farm. the money was better, and it finally meant that Alison could come to live with the rest of the family. “oh i missed her so much, Kathryn… you hiv nae idea!” she said, crying, as she told me of many a night when she would cry herself to sleep, the pain of missing her daughter gnawing at her. “the pain was just too much and i sent for Alison to come bide wi’ us”. Alison eventually came to live with them. but she would cry in the night – missing her grandparents. however, she soon grew to love her new home and being back with her brothers. my father adopted James and Alison. he loved them both dearly and made no difference between these two children and his own flesh and blood, WIlliam.

a couple of years later, my mother fell pregnant again. she was aged 31 when she gave birth to my brother Stewart on August 13th. my mother remembers the midwife saying “oh my! what a bonnie wee boy… and what long toes he has!”.

i ask my mother what life was like, for children growing up in the countryside, in hardship. she says “och.. i remember them playing outside – in the countryside, on bikes, making swings… i remember one time Stewart coming back home after playing near the churchyard saying “the minister was playing ‘Venus in Blue Jeans’ on church organ…” she smiles fondly, with misty eyes as she remembers those days. those happy days. at the age of 15, James left to join the RAF and headed down to England for his training. the family missed him dearly. but it was a new chapter in his life, an exciting time for him. he would be traveling the world to exotic places that his brothers and sister only saw in encyclopedia.

it was a post-war Scotland. she often worked the land with my father… hoeing turnips, picking berries. she then, in her unending love for children, took to fostering children. “one day Stewart asked me “mommy – why do all our babies have to go away?”… he was 7 years old. after that we stopped fostering.”

a few years on, my brother James was stationed in Germany. he was 21. my sister, Alison, was working in Montrose as a dental mechanic. William was 17 and had just started a new job as an apprentice carpenter. Stewart was 10 years old. my mother’s news broke. she was pregnant.

she was in her forties. my eldest brother said “still in shock, Mum… i’m still looking for my eyebrows in my hair!”.

“everyone hoped it would be a little girl. we all put names in a hat and would pull them out. immediately each name was rejected… Kirsty, Flora, Michelle, Caroline…”

William always referred to my mother’s bump as ‘Little Kathy’ – he would affectionately pat my mother’s bump and say ‘how’s Little Kathy today?’ with so much love and anticipation in his heart…

one day my mother and father would go into town to buy a pram for me. my mother quizzed my brother, William, “maybe you don’t want to come?”
“don’t be silly” he said. “i’m proud of you, Mam”

they bought the pram. a beautiful dark blue carriage-sprung Silver Cross pram. it was expensive.

William bought a silver baby bangle, with the words ‘Little Kathy’ engraved in it… he had saved up hard for this gift. a gift for the new baby – he was so sure it was to be a baby girl….

he seemed to know he was going to get a baby sister… devastatingly, he did not live to meet me.

10 weeks before i was born, a tragedy ripped my family apart – leaving a gaping hole in their lives. one that would leave the family torn apart by fate. a fate so cruel.

my brother, William, was to pass away – only 10 weeks before i was born. a cerebral haemonrrage… a brain injury so severe, with no known cure at this time. no remedy – no life.

my mother recalls the night before: “he was playing his guitar, singing “Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees… i recalls him walking down the hallway towards the living room, his eyes full of fire and his voice full of passion and song… singing that song… his eyes made direct contact with mine… ” she reflects… her heart breaking. “he was singing that song… looking right at me… i shall never forget that moment… it was the last time i saw him “alive” and so full of life and so happy….. and to this day, i cannot bear to hear that song”

i take a deep breath. i know the next chapter in my mother’s life is not going to be an easy one for her to relay, or for me to hear. but, hear it, i must.

238 done

“i remember the day William died… he was 18 years old.” she begins, talking slowly and softly.

“i was sitting, having lunch with your Dad and i remember seeing a car draw up outside… “oh it’s William’s boss! i wonder what he wants” i thought… i can still see him. his boss helping him out the car… “i wonder what he’s doing home….” i thought. i can still see him. William, his hands clutching his head… he looked so unwell. so pale… i remember too thinking about how i had just asked him this morning “what would you like for lunch?”

“just an apple…” he replied, smiling. “he had the most beautiful smile.”

“i remember his boss saying “the Dr is coming out to him….”

“i remember we helped him to his bed. he looked so pale, Kathryn. he was holding his head in his hands… my heart was sore.” she says, her voice dimishing to a near whisper. and i can tell she is having problems speaking now, i can almost see the lump in her throat and, sweet Jesus, i can almost feel it. the moment seems so real. like i am watching a film.

“we helped him to bed. the Dr came almost immediately.”

“have you taken anything, Willliam?” the Doctor asked.

“yeah… two anadins…” he said, breathless.

“okay William” the Doctor said.

my mother then told me that Stewart, our brother (aged 10) went back to school, Inverkeillor Primary School.

my mother’s eyes brim with tears as she tells me how my Dad had taken William to hospital, with a travelling rug over him as an ambulance would have taken longer.

my mother, at this time in a state of blind panic, had cycled to the nearest shop and had told the shop owner that William was not well and that he’d been taken into hospital…

a few hours later, my father returned from hospital. the news was not good.

my father told my mother that William was not going to get any better…

oh my goodness. as i listened to my mother’s voice quake when she said those last eight words…”William was not going to get any better…” i felt a pain… in my chest. a crushing weight upon my chest. i could not see to continue to transcribing her remembrances. tears splashed down on my notepad. i could not contain the pain and i burst into floods of tears. but i begged my mother to continue. i wanted to hear her story. i wanted to know more about my unknown brother and his death – as this was to impact upon my life with such intensity and constance. i needed to know. i needed to try to feel a certain empathy. i needed my mother to expose the rawness of a mother’s grief to me. i needed to know about my father’s pain. and the depths of this pain. a parent should not have to bury a child. i needed to know. i wanted to experience it; how they felt… my parents, my siblings… as i was yet unborn. i needed to know why much of my childhood was spent visiting a grave. and so my mother continued, both of us sobbing, in tears.

my mother then went to hospital, with my father, to see William.

“there were wires coming in and out of his body… his lifeless body… he looked so pale. he was on a life-support machine… the machine bleeped… each breath.” my mother said she was scared to touch him incase she made him more ill…. “i looked at him. he was deathly pale, lifeless, still… ” i closed my eyes and envisaged a mother sat by her child… scared to touch him – for fear she would move wires and make him more ill…. i cannot imagine the pain.

my mother recalls that moment: “i remember looking at him… those wires… but he seemed calm… “i think he’s looking better. eh? “i said to the nurse… my eyes full of hope, beseeching some kind of miracle… the nurse had tears in her eyes “yes… maybe..”she said. clearly placating me….”

“the next thing i remember was the Doctor saying to me “there is nothing more we can do…”
i remember falling to my knees and begging with the Doctor “but you’re a Doctor.. you must make him better…” i remember sobbing so hard, and feeling sick… this could not be happening. this must be a dream…..” my mother tells me, as i hold her hand.

“you have a new baby to think about” the Doctor said…. i remember his eyes full of tears and the hem of his white coat was frayed… ”

“i was given a bed to lie on.. i was in shock… afraid of losing my baby… i remember lying there… with the big baby bump, crying sorely…. i remember begging of the Doctor…”but you are a Doctor… you have to help him get better….” i said, sobbing. i had never experienced such pain. i kept hoping “oh this is a dream. this must be a dream. i am going to wake up soon and everything will be alright…” but it wasn’t a dream, Kathryn.”

“i remember Dad took me home. your Daddy was in tears. inconsolable. the pain was so deep – tragic. it was terrible… i remember thinking “this cannot be happening….”

“i had a baby on the way. i was not permitted to stay at the hospital. your Daddy had to return to the hospital to give permission to turn off the machine…”

my father returned from the hospital, a deathly shade of pale… clearly pained. his heart was broken… he was devastated. he had just turned off the power. he had just switched off the life-support for his first born. his first son. dead. he felt hollow. no words could describe how much pain he felt…the whole family was aching…

my mother told me that Stewart, now 11, was crying. sobbing. a sound so sore that words cannot convey. he shared a room with William. they were the best of friends, as well as brothers; William had taught my brother Stewart how to swim, how to play guitar… now he would never see his brother again. “i remember him looking at me, with the biggest, bluest eyes – full of tears, full of longing and love… his wee facey was pale… i remember sleeping with him that night… but your poor father…. jesus, i wish i could have done more for him…”

“oh my William” … i remember going into the bathroom. locking myself in there. and whispering to myself “oh William… it’s not true… it can’t be true….”

“i remember holding Stewart close that night… i remember telling everyone and my own mother saying “it should have been me…” “it should’ve been me….” my own mother and father were devastated. as were my whole family….”

“Alison came home from work that day. i remember telling her. her eyes…. i will never forget. there are no words to describe… William and Alison, not only brother and sister… but good friends…. she was sobbing so hard, i felt sick listening to his sister’s cries…. her heart was breaking”

“James was stationed in Germany. we telegraphed him. he would be coming home. his family needed him. he was, only, 21.”

he was only 21 – and his heart was broken.

my mother’s sister, Chrissy, came over immediately. she, like the rest of my family, were devastated. words cannot fully describe the pain and emptiness left… the frustrations from the lack of skill of the doctors and the irrevocable feeling of helplessness.

the next day, my brother, Stewart was sat -throwing a ball against the wall…. my aunt Chrissy (my mother’s closest sister) saw my brother in his solititude, and said “what are you doing, dearie…?”
“i don’t know….” my brother, Stewart, said… he had not only lost his brotehr, he had lost his best friend also…. he was 11 and was now sobbing, inconsolably.

a gaping hole had been left in our family in less than 23 hours.

“your father and James attended William’s funeral. i wasn’t allowed to go…. to be honest, i’d have thrown myself into his grave if i’d gone…”

“the first time i visited his grave, i was beside myself with grief. my body ached, my heart was heavy and sore and i could not stop crying. i cried for days”

the intensity of this part of her story left me feeling bereft. bereft for the brother i never knew. bereft for the friend i never knew. and partly bereft for the childhood days i missed, by going to visit a grave. i now know why we visited the grave with such frequency. i now know why my mother is the way she is, over-protective.

“you shouldn’t have to bury your children…” my mother says, breaking the silence.

“you look like him, you know…” she says.

by this time, my family had moved to Fife. my father had taken a job at Eastwoods – a chicken farm. the money was good and it felt right.

every Sunday, my father would take my mother out for a run in the car… out to the countryside where she could reconnect with nature.

i was born 13th April.

my mother cried so sore when i was born. the midwife said “oh my goodess… what beautiful baby girl!!” my mother cried… her body racking in the pain of both loss and rejoice.

“were you not wanting a girl?” the midwife asked, on seeing my mother’s tears….

“oh god yes…. ”

my mother told the midwife of her loss and pain…

“oh maybe he’ll have seen her first..” the midwife said, hugging my mother.

“i took comfort in those words…” she said.

“now… i’m going to make us a coffee… ” she said, bravely, as she rises to her feet and totters through to the kitchen.

270 done

i take a deep breath. the deepest.

writing this has not been easy. talking to my mother about all this has not been easy… talking to my mother about William and his death in such depth has not been easy. it has been the hardest thing.

274 done

“even now. the hardest thing is the pain. it still gnaws at my heart, Kathryn…. i talk to his photograph and stroke his hair – longingly… and i often kiss his cheek and hold his photograph to my heart… i still do that. i still yearn for him, like it was yesterday… but you…” she says, turning to me

“you played a big part in helping to heal with all our broken hearts…. you are an angel.”

(c) Kat McDonald 2014

for my brothers and my sister. i love you all…
for William. my lost brother. i never had the chance to know you, sadly, but i know you walk with me…
for my mother. you are the bravest woman i know. i love you with all that i am.

235 done

A Scottish Bus Blog

a stark observation of life at its best – and worst. the two are the same.
life is full of dog shit and bus stops.
it’s hard not to allow the chaos that prevails to seep into our lives and dampen and darken our spirits. we battle on.
family and loved ones. they matter.
we do what we do because we care.
and it is because we care that we take ill when others around us blatantly do not…
brilliant writing. bleak imagery. but warm optimism contained therein.

Pure Phantasy

901117_10200515693070947_961366858_o

X58 from Kirkcaldy to Leven
Expected time of arrival at bus stop – 18:23
Actual time of arrival at bus stop- 18:40

A rattling, vibrating, roaring, precarious, slightly dank and mildly smelling of human feces, stagecoach took me from A to B.

I worried for my own life, and the life of other road users, on several occasions.

Twenty minutes of my life in someone else’s hands, and this guy was in a hurry, after running late.

The bus was fairly empty. A few reticent passengers here and there and only one mong clutching a, plain but mysterious, blue plastic bag for dear life. What is in there, i wonder? As i look down at his feet and see only socks, i conclude it must be his shoes in the bag. Of course.

Despairingly gazing out of the window at the same old streets full of the same old people…

View original post 492 more words

a house full of butterflies

20140810-154154-56514586.jpg

in a house full of butterflies
my heart resides.
a house,
a home,
a haven for the heart
and one hundred butterflies.
i watch them come-
they return, again this year.
i watch
as they cling to the walls
with no fear of falling;
like lovers cling to each other
with no fear of tomorrow.
i watch
as they wing to the window,
but choose not to leave;
like lovers’ fulfillment.
i watch
as they flutter in light and breeze;
like lovers’ adulation.
i watch
as they hold tight in the night;
like lovers sleeping.
oh what beauty! oh what love!
home is where the heart resides;
the heart and one hundred butterflies.
i watch them
as they dance in each chamber;
like the butterflies
deep
in the four chambers of my heart.
i watch them come-
with no fear of trap nor pin.
i watch them come-
on beautiful beating wing
of velvet, red and gold.
i watch them come-
like gentle pilgrims
their message is true, and old.
they tell me i am safe here,
they tell me i am loved.
a hope,
a home,
a haven for the heart
and butterfly.
they tell me home is
where the heart resides.
this is home.
a home for love
and one hundred butterflies.

(c) Kat McDonald 2014

– for Robert: for in both his heart and home magic resides…