defiance

A Dressing Down

Looking back, secondary school rules on dress were fairly relaxed when I started there in 1989. Ties, although encouraged, were an endangered species, and dark-blue blazers reached extinction some time during my second year.  Trainers and “T-shirts with slogans” were severely frowned upon; jeans banned outright.

“You’ve got the biggest bit.”  My brother Andrew measured the chocolate Swiss roll with his eyes. “Put some back.”

I stacked the three sections on top of each other. “We’ve all got exactly the same size.  Stop whining.”

Continue reading

Peter In Limbo

Peter was getting more and more agitated. He was desperate to speak. But, you couldn’t contradict a priest; especially not a parish priest! Peter lowered his head and took a few deep breaths.

“Here! Have you been listening to a single word I’ve been saying?” Father Kerr’s eyes seemed to bore straight through him.

Mr. O’Brien was surprised by the way the priest reacted.

"Me, Father?” Peter tried to keep the fear out of his voice. He grabbed hold of the desk seat with both hands, pressing down, trying to control his shaking.

Continue reading

Institutional Education

“Stupid people” Craig said, as he sat in the driving seat of my driving school car. This was one of my favourite sayings.

“Why do you say that?”

“I was walking down the school corridor on my way out for my lesson, when the Head master walks out and stands in front of me, ‘where are you going’ he asks me’, ‘going for a driving lesson’ I tell him. ‘You are not allowed to go for a driving lesson during school time, I am here to stop you leaving, you will have to call him and cancel it’.

Continue reading

Fifty Something....

I can't sleep. I feel subdued, undermined. You name it, I’m feeling it. I’m weary, heartily sick of it all. I know, you’re wanting to know why? Just give me time and I’ll try to explain.

So here I am, lovely home, smashing family, absolutely wonderful husband. Why do I let them get to me? Truth is, I don't know. 

My Dad died four months ago. It was hard but I was determined to stay with him till the end. I was declared morbid for that!

Continue reading

Hell Bent

Thundering down the stairs in her new Doc Martens Lizzie lurched into the dining room and shouted “that's me away” knowing there wasn't much chance she'd be able to leave without some comment. From the kitchen beyond, where she could hear the distinctive sound of the pressure cooker building up a head of steam, came the call of “wait a minute madam, where do you think you're going?” Her mother emerged from the engine room of the house where she spent most of her time, washing, peeling, chopping, cooking.

Continue reading

Thelma and Louise, Bitch

Thelma and Louise, Bitch
By Anna Stewart

How me and mum came tae be livin it up on the Forfar Road is a pure massive saga. So I'm just gonnae tell yi the best bit: the end.

We were visitin Edinburgh fae Dundee, stayin at my Great-Auntie's flat on the other side o The Meadows. It wis a summer night and we were walkin back fae toon through the line o trees cawed Jawbone Walk, and that's when my Mum's husband put his hand up my skirt, right in front o her.

Continue reading

Mibbees Aye

I’ve niver thought o’ masel as bein any kind o’ rebel an I canny mind o’ a time when I rebelled against anythin. Mibbee I’m a wee bit “thrawn” as ma mither used tae say but then she always hud a front fur folk. Dinny be yoursel, behave, dinny show me up!  Repression wis her byword. Like when I wanted ma ears pierced when I was forteen an ma mither prattled on aboot “if the Lord meant you tae huv holes in your ears you’d be born wi them” and mair nonsense aboot it makin you look cheap.

Continue reading

Apart-heid

When ah mind back tae last century, no jist tae when a wis wee,
But neither yit had ah got a degree.
Apart-heid wis oan the news, thon kin o stuff, nae excuse.
We wur jist young, students no richt shair o wha we wur or gaun where.
But auld enough tae stert tae spier: black n white, hoo cum this fear?

Continue reading

Keywords: 
apartheid, defiance

Rebel With a Cause

Secondary school art
Threadbare Jesus sandal 

Oh no you can’t

All arches and space
Lines hiccupping

Oh no you can’t

Sole foreshortened
Lost my perspective

Oh no you can’t

Art teacher
Telling tales of tea parties with Hitler

Oh no you can’t

Took one look
At my graphite frenzy

Oh no you can’t

‘You can’t draw’
Rubbing me out

Oh no you can’t

I resisted
Like wax under watercolour

Oh yes I can

I had seen the dark rainbow
In the raven’s wing

Continue reading

The Angela Merkel Challenge

I’m on the bus, after another dispiriting day at the office. At home, trite TV, back chatting teens, dinner drudgery and an unresponsive partner await to sap me further. Out the window I see a row of beleaguered plane trees, their stark, clipped limbs burdened with Christmas lights and decorations. I feel like one of those pruned trees these days. These years. And rather than making me stronger or healthier, I feel only the snap of disappointment and how close I’ve come to breaking. I sigh. Could I catch an airplane?

Continue reading

Pages