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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Those School Doctors

They said I had Heart murmurs. I asked them “How do you know?”
They told me. “Our stethoscope told us so” “Oh!” I replied, “Can they talk?”
They laughed and said, “No, but we know the sounds that heart murmurs make.
Therefore we want you to go to a Special School where people are trained to take
good care of children like you.

But, my present wee School was special to me
I shook my head and said. “It’s here I want to stay
It’s not far from my home, and I know the way
I even know the Policeman on Points Duty.”

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Non Rebel and Rebel Unite

“You’ll be starting at the farm on Monday,” my dad said. I stood silent, dumfounded. Words wouldn’t come. No rebellion. How could I, a bookish 15 year old, possibly cope with such a job? I’d just left school, after 3 years secondary education, and for this. The 2nd youngest in a family of 10 children, I was the only one given such an opportunity. Though brought up on farms I knew little farm work, and even less about horses. Gathering Kerr’s pink tatties into sculls every autumn, was the limit of my knowledge.

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I will be rebellious, and I will guard fiercely what I believe
Some self-respect is all that is left
And there's no way I will let it lose
To your angry eyes and accusing hands
Burning into my space
I wait until you are done
And you can feel like the greater one.

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Twice Pierced

The first time I got my nose pierced I was seventeen and had just gone away to university. One – maybe two – weeks into the experience, I wanted to do something to mark my new found freedom: having sex and not worrying about getting caught, staying out as late as I wanted to, sleeping in as long as I wanted to, eating whatever I liked, drinking as much as I wanted. My mum was appalled and for some reason it caused an enormous rift between her and my two aunts that lasted the better part of a year. I still don’t know why.

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Dear T,

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Cherry Blossom

‘You’re odd.’

God, you pick your moments. 

‘I can tell just by lookin’ at ye…’

I don’t mean it’s been a bad day. Quite the opposite. My work for the day done, I’d been congratulating myself, standing on the porch, winding down, the sun still warm upon my face.

‘The clothes you wear…’


You loom, casting shadows, banishing light: sucking the joy from the end of the day.

You’ve been waiting for this opportunity, haven’t you? The chance to have a go, to cut me down. Your time, your time to shine.

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The Dress Code

‘Don’t be on that all night,’ Dad says as he passes through the kitchen. ‘You’re costing me a fortune.’ I’m sat on the kitchen counter (our phone is hung to the wall just above it).

‘So, what are you wearing?’ I ask Michaela who’s on the other end. She’s wearing her new white stilettoes, her new navy pencil skirt and a shiny white blouse that she’s worn before. I’m supposed to wear the exact same or something very similar. This is me trying to fit in.

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More Than Just Paying Lip Service

“You’ve done what?!” Mum wasn’t happy, evidently. She had a good voice for being angry over the phone. “I told you that I didn’t want you ... oh, God, Colin.” Silence. Just for a moment. I quickly looked around the bus passengers - thankfully no-one seemed to be aware that this floppy-fringed, black-dyed, emo-punk was getting a row off his mum.

“You’ll need to take it out.”

“I can’t”

“Why not? Of course you can - you have to!”

“Been told to leave it in for six weeks till it heals.”

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Bad Widow

My husband just died but at least I’m taking it well. Everybody tells me so. ‘Oh Julie, you’re just handling this all so well’, they gush, willing it to be true. Insisting upon it.

At first I tried to play along; I wanted to believe. The love of my life died at 43 after a grueling duel with leukaemia, but whatever, I’m so strong. I’m so competent. Look at me, I’m handling it. Just like you all want me to.

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