The Revolt of the Socks

One day, when my grandson was still just a baby and the Health Visitor had come to check he was OK, my daughter was just putting his socks on him when the Health Visitor said:

“Trying to cause gender confusion are we?”

And my daughter said “What?”

And looked at the socks, which happened to be pink.

Just then I dropped by, and she said to me “Hello dad!” and then to her baby

“Look, here’s your grandma”

And then to the Health Visitor

“This is my dad Jo. She’s my son’s grandma” and carried on as if nothing had happened.

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It was early one afternoon and Paula’s family appeared at the hospital window, her twin brother perched on her Dad’s shoulders to see inside. The hospital grounds around them were lush with the recent shower of rain and a string of droplets from broken guttering edged the window. She stood up and wobbled her way to the end of the cot to get closer to the faces she knew. The glass kept them distant and she longed to be on the other side. Her Mum, just in vision mouthed,

“Be a good girl,” and smiled.

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family, loss, defiance, conviction


On the kitchen top the old kettle rumbled, rising to its crescendo, the finale a desultory click.

Routine made the whole operation easy; in no time she was settled beside the living room window, chair angled to watch life outside. Most of her neighbours had left for work, there wasn’t much to see, or hear. The only constant companion, nature’s changing wallpaper. She often felt she was the street’s security guard, keeping an eye on any comings and goings. Not today though.

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Rebel Timeline

Donald MacLean did not choose to be born in a cave. This was a necessity, a ‘stay out of jail card’ decision because his father, also Donald, was one of the many crofters rebelling against Lord Leverhulme’s destructive, divisive grand schemes for the island he bought for five hundred thousand pounds at the end of the First World War. The Inverness Police were enlisted to hunt the crofter renegades who, along with their families, secreted themselves against the mainland turncoats.

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Rebel - Running across the road

When I  was a small boy I used to go out the door, out into the close, down the stairs, then out the front door and run across the road and sneak into our next door neighbour, Mick Forgrieve’s, van.

Sometimes I went into the front passenger seat or the driver’s seat or the back where the joiners’ tools were. I really liked that van and it drew me to it.

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Fairy Cakes

My mum is good at baking. She makes lovely fairy cakes. When I was a little girl I would help her. When they had cooled down my mum would put the icing on them and sprinkles. I would have to wait until it was time to eat them, but sometimes that was quite hard so I would pinch one and lick off the icing.



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The Story of My Life

I was one of those kids
who had to challenge the boundaries
and my parents said
“You will rue the day”
I just said
“Aye right, so I will’
trying to sound a bit cocky
I did it my way! 

I had my first son at seventeen
left on my own
nobody wanted to know
not even my parents
They said “hell mend you
we told you so”
But I still did it anyway
The more I did it
the more I got into
the wrong relationships 

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The Changing Room

“Go on!”

The curtain parts—a shaft of light—and then the hand appears. Something yellow with blue dots swims before my eyes.

“Go on!”

The voice comes again, insisting, inciting. I sit back on the little bench. The changing room is no bigger than a cupboard. A mirror, too big for the confined space, swallows me whole. The dress hangs on the wall like a corpse. I try to imagine myself inside the dress. I imagine mum, her eyes swimming with pride at the two of us, identical yet not identical. Her two little girls like ‘two peas in a pod’. A mirror image.

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Destiny Rewritten

The year was 1983. I had just turned 8. I was still learning how to read and write and being dyslexic meant I was slower than the rest of the class. My father bought me a dictionary to help me with spelling and the meanings of words. Although, I think it was also to give him a break from answering my endless questions about things I was being taught at school. Mother was not interested; her hands were full from looking after my 3 other siblings. So my questions were either met with “go and ask your father” or “that’s a stupid question, go and make yourself useful”.

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Who, Me?

I get called a rebel. I'm a responsible parent with a strong sense of right and wrong. I'm a thinking individual with reasons behind my actions. I'm a law-abiding citizen. But maybe I'm just not ... uniform enough. And the police don't like it.

It started early on. Normally, parents where I live would rent the village hall for their child's fifth birthday. I could have done that, of course. But it would have been rather cruel to my little one, who had just got through a very bad year in nursery — failing to develop the noisy, extroverted personality the system demanded.

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family, defiance, nanny state