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Làmh ri Glèidheadh / Hand to Hold

Làmh ri Glèidheadh

Tha cuimhne leam an là
chum thu mo làmh na do làimh-s’,
’s sinn air coiseachd an àrd-shràid
bhon fhlat agam dhan bhaile.

Thuirt thu air an là sin: “’S dòch’
gur sinn an fheadhainn neartmhor,
oir ma chì ògannach gèidh sinn,
chì e gu bheil e ceart gu leòr.”

“OK”, ars mise, dòchasach,
gun cumadh tu i an comhnaidh,
ach cha do chum thu riamh a-rithist i,
is chum thu do làmhan-sa nad phoca.

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Lassies Don't Make Baskets

Lassies don't make baskets, they clean and tidy up,
So go and wash the dishes, and dinnae chip the cups.
But I want to make a basket, I really want to learn,
You can teach me, I'm a quick learner, as you already ken.
You always say 4 hands are quicker than 2,
So if I was helping you make them, there'd be less work for you to do.
You sit out there for hours, in every kind of weather,
You don't have time to play with us or even have a blether.
My Granny said she'd taught you, you were very quick to learn,

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Late Registration

Knees locked from standing behind the desk, I force a smile for the guests tipping through the door like the contents of a spilled toy box; flight cases crashing and voices fighting for dominance.

Check-ins at this time of the morning are always either exhausted business travellers or bands fresh from the stage. Either way they’re only looking for the same thing: a drink or two and a warm bed. I try not to judge, although my mother would have told stories for weeks about the man who’s approaching the desk rummaging through the contents of a poly-pocket.

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silent rebel, punk

Learning unlimited

In retrospect, it was an auspicious day, but at the time it was no different to any other. It was our son’s first day of compulsory education; the day he didn’t go to school. And he never did go, not even for a single day. Eleven years, that’s how long most children spend behind desks in a room with a teacher and thirty or so other children their own age. But our son’s education was different.

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In games, we played Murderball, a prehistoric form of rugby with very few rules. There were two blue crash mats, two teams facing off against each other and a large brown peeling medicine ball. The aim was to move the weighted sphere to the opposite end and it didn’t matter how this was done. No laws of engagement existed, until one day, we weren’t allowed to play at all. A fellow pupil broke his collarbone, having been flipped mid-tackle.

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Let's build a morgue

Roger Soames, former Cox Professor of Anatomy at Dundee University, used to sigh with exasperation and his shoulders would slump in resignation every time I burst into his office to announce with bounding enthusiasm: ‘I have just had a brilliant idea’. It is fair to say that most were utterly bonkers, a few had some latent usefulness and one or two even had merit. But you need to have at least 50 barmy flights-of-fancy before one genuine gold nugget is conceived. This is the story of one of those rare and successful ideas.

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Letter to Mum, Nov 77

21 November 1977

Dear Mum,

I miss your sayings more than anything and I try to live by them as much as I can. ‘Leave while the party’s still good’, is sometimes a struggle. I’m wondering about one of your favourites for my current situation, ‘to thine own self be true’. I’ve fallen in love with Father Mann. No, honestly mum, don’t be mad or stop reading. It’s the real thing, I’m going to tell him soon. I’ll never get the chance at mass with Mr McAlpine hanging about like his bodyguard so I thought of three possibilities:

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Little Cyclone

For those who stayed in Belgium, Groupthink kept the peace;
Collective see nothings, hear nothings, do nothings. 
A passive acceptance of German aggression,
Sharp instruments of Nazi collaboration.  

Brussels refused to conform; a lonely rebel, 
She resisted unrecognised authority, 
Flew invisible flags of rebellion, stretched out
A Comet Line of thousands on to France or Spain 

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resistance, WW2, solidarity

Living Dissection

Eat with your mouth wide open / future child // Laugh and let your spit dribble to the floor via your chin and your bib // Find the blue food colouring / pour it into the mashed potatoes when the adults are not looking // Kit out Action Man with fabulous cherry red high heels and a tiara // Say you are reading for school / listen to metal in your bedroom all day / full blast with the headphones blocking out the world at the door // Shoehorn the most vulgar Cannibal Corpse song titles into your homework // Drop spectacularly out after the first year of your engineering degree // Tell your Di

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Sometimes we have to take a risk to achieve our deepest desires. And, as a child of nine in the long hot summer of 1974, my deepest desires lay close to home - in the freezer cabinet of The Shop.

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