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I’m odd and different
My love for books and rock and roll
Is something my family don’t get
I argue and disagree with them all the time
I wear things that my parents disapprove of, saying
“You’re a girl, why do you dress like that”
“Why don’t you wear something that isn’t black”.
I want a lot of tattoos and I want to dye my hair, ombre of blues and purples
Which is a no because they love my hair
“Too many tattoos are ugly”
“Piercing are just holes in the face”
So I had to go against my parents just to get a simple nose piercing.

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Remembering my mother in St Clement’s Church of Rodel, Isle of Harris

‘I sank beneath your wisdom like a stone’

Leonard Cohen

Remembering you, it’s perfect
finding in my pocket
tiny periwinkle shell, ember-red

with right thumb
brush off
cling of sand, crumb

let fall
single wind-made
blade of Marram

set down spiral-drawn shell
on stone sill
over bountiful

swell of gifts:
two and twenty pence pieces
sheep’s wool twists

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‘And you?’ Raisha’s eyes were warm, generous, drunk. I smiled with a closed mouth, sensing the edge of something. ‘Did you rebel?’

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I am the second youngest in a family of five children – three boys and two girls. I also have an allergy to all dairy products. For example, milk butter and cheese. In my younger days if I wanted to miss certain lessons or exams, I would sneak through to the kitchen when everyone was asleep and drink a glass of milk and piece of bread and butter.

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Revenge is Sweet

Revenge is Sweet

There's no point in spinning this story out by introducing a few red herrings and ending with a twist. I confess! I’m guilty! I nicked my neighbour Mr Gray’s plump ripe strawberries from his prize winning patch. It’s been over sixty years but my memory clicks into retro mode every now and then and that’s when the guilt returns. The heist was weeks in the planning and the motive for the crime had an element of revenge and rebellion.

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In 1976, no lang eftir colour TV arrived in Shetlan, I knitted twa allovers. Advised by my mam ta acquire some cheap, nylon-based oo fir dis project (a sign o her confidence both in my ability and attention span) I med a broon an cream, geometric-patterned jumper fir mesel, an a blue an white Norwegian Star patterned wan fir my bridder. I did dis on Monday nichts ower at my freend’s hoose. Sho knitted fir her boyfriend in shades o green ta match his een. Wid I ivver have a boyfriend ta knit fir?

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Right To Write

Right to Write

The first walk to school: My steps were taken with the assured footing of a toddler walking for the first time, confidence that had left and enrolled in a foreign legion.

My first day at school created ultimate fear.

I walked out from the safety of home; shedding many a tear.

The school building looked daunting to me.

One more look back, for my mother to see.


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When I was 15 years old I was living in what was once the industrial heartlands of the West of Scotland.

Thatcher has swept to power. An air of despondency crept over my town as the mines and steel works closed with abandon.

Unemployment hovers at 3 million and bleak times lie ahead for school leavers.

I shared my home with 4 brothers and 2 sisters and 2 non drinking parents.

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We all went round to Steven's house that afternoon. Me, Dario, Craig and the twins Derek and Brian. It was 2003 and we were all ten years old apart from Craig who was not only older but taller too. Even at such a young age we all felt the seriousness of the situation. It was the day of Steven’s dads' funeral.

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What do you say to someone who knows he will die today, before the ending of the light, or at best during the long dark night to follow?
"How are you? Looking better - I dont think this rain is ever going to stop."
He managed to nod and give a thumbs-up as the nurse settled him back into bed. He was careful of the tubes linking him to an oxygen stand, careful not to foul the lines of plastic that seemed to reach into every possible opening to his body.
What do you say in a side room of a cancer ward? A quiet last retreat, a place for some dignity.

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