There is something very satisfying about using up the Xmas leftovers; my last meal this year is plated, sitting in the microwave, waiting for my stomach to bang the gong. I am bathed, hair washed and teeth brushed, musing on last things. As always, everyone hopes the new year will bring a better life – these last hours count down empty promises…actually, that isn’t what I was going to say but I lost the thread because I’m watching Hemlock Grove while writing this. Blood n guts, vampires and werewolves mingle in my mind with cold broccoli, chicken n stuffing, and mashed potatoes. When I sit down with that steaming plate I’ll remember the mad meal-choices coming out of my kitchen to the blaring sound of Doctor Who and number-1 son’s gaze held fast to the screen. Shannon and Peter had kebab-meat in pita, Zander’s cheeseburger pizza rocked his world, and Susan could only manage a mug of broth…ahhh, Christmas in all its glory.

On the arm of the sofa beside me is a small selection of chocolate…and there’s a big bag of crisps in the kitchen cupboard – so are they the last of their kind in this flat? Oh and there is a tub of ice-cream in the freezer, a squeezy bottle of chocolate sauce in the same cupboard as the crisps…when will this end? I think about changing my shape but my head won’t let me or my body follow through with the necessary actions, yet. Maybe next year.

Next year – Tuesday, I will be forcing this body through the dentist’s door…what a way to start the year..but I will be starting a new life with my teeth in better condition. I wonder if one day I’ll be able to eat toffee again.

Fare-thee-well 2015

Thinking that I should be planning deadlines and being all resolute about what I want to achieve in the coming new year…also must go soak my hands in hot water so I can cut my fingernails and type without my nails skidding and clicking all over the place – see that ole bugger Procrastination still hanging around?

I could hook out a partly-used notebook and whisper penned promises in it, ramble until my handwriting disintegrates into a straight line, but if I started that I might actually come up with a real plan of action. Right now, I have completed all my chores, and accidentally swept others out of the way too – I kind-of cleaned the kitchen drawer, again, but left a wee heap of stuff on the counter that needs to find homes…and I scrubbed up old jewellery to be taken apart and be reborn in new pieces. But, I haven’t finished rebuilding that story or written any more on the others in that collection…or written anything other than xmas cards for weeks.

Space has been created, yes, in a passive way, in between other jobs – I’ve even hung the earrings I’ve kept on a jewellery stand, a big white owl, and it’s watching me from the re-cluttered desk…though its clutter that will soon pop off somewhere quite easily, soon. The force is with me; I feel the power winking at me…ye old gods – I was supposed to sort out the printers ages ago and haven’t done it yet but the force is forcing me to pay attention now and I’ve pinky-swore to do it tomorrow.

Whichever way I swing first, things have changed and some work has been done and the way is almost clear for me to…and then there are the tingles in my ancient teeth demanding I take them to the bloody dentist, but what a way to begin a new year! There is no dare here – it has to be done ’cause I’m at the end of the road, just like a 7 month pregnant woman, and there will be pain down every path but at least the dentist has better drugs than the local chemist. So, this means goodbye Procrastination…and don’t come back.



I am surprised to find that I am not myself: this sodden soul is blowing herself to bits, has driven her nostrils red and crusty, and now owns a deep, sexy voice…except when she’s coughing – though is not yet fit to bust. Number4 grandson was hardly in the house six hours before my sneezing fits began – he’d been coughing up his lungs and deeply sniffing a million snotters…I thought about telling him that everything he dragged up there would be sliding down the back of his throat some time soon, but I settled for telling him to blow his brains out. Why don’t boys like blowing their noses? Number2 son has a little line on his nose from that palm-to-nose sniff in his childhood.

It might be going on for twenty years since I had a cold – does this mean I’m getting old, really decrepit and will be sinking into the bog sooner rather than later? I want to be 108! Of course I’m still working, and only the loss of voice can change that unless I learn to tap intelligently on the phone and, that clients could understand what I was saying. Wednesday is my day off, and I have a cinema card, and was planning to go this week but coughing through films is considered reason enough for murder; I’ll stay in, out of the rotten rain, and cook stovies, followed by custard and bargain/reduced raspberries. All hail winter.

There is Always a Time to Die


‘I can call spirits from the vasty deep.’

‘For you and I are past our dancing days.’


This is my poppy of remembrance, created from my old watch and a bit of lace, all sewed onto a brooch pin given to me by my friend, Lesley. The idea for this brooch has been hovering in my mind all week, thinking of time and famous writings/writers, and of what is left behind.

Dear Linda, if I could call you back hale and hearty I would. And now dancing in front of me is the age old question, why her, why not me? We were of an age…why one and not another? How are we divided up and served our share of life? Riches and privilege of birth do not matter for each has a completely different life and level of happiness, contentment and satisfaction.

We are all terminal but Linda was the only one I knew who had a measurement in weeks or months – two doctors poles apart in their opinions…nobody could give her anything more definite than that, and she seemed to feel strong, apart from the pain, so all the signals were mixed. That visit was two months ago. When Angela and I left she looked pale and tired but happy to be part of pretty good crack between us and her two cousins. The laughter spilled all over our table in the massively packed, busy restaurant on the first floor of the brand new billion pound hospital wing.

Almost three weeks ago I visited her in the hospice and we talked of adventures in living; she didn’t want to complain of having short shrift because she’d travelled and lived but she assumed she’d get back out there to go for lovely meals in restaurants with family and friends before the final whistle blew. But when I saw her the following week she was drifting, mostly unconscious but knew I was there. My last two Wednesdays were busy with family visiting me and me travelling to visit them, and now I play it back, while I was tossing and turning in a spare room in Newcastle she was dying in her hospice bed – though I’m sure it would have felt like drifting to her. The staff there were very visible and alert to the least sign from both visitors and patients.

My daughter said the dreaded words to me last week, that from now on this was all I could expect, to lose friends…and in a way I would rather take the pain of that than give them any pain from losing me – but then I do want to wander on and on and reach 100 odds. An old woman of 109 was recently reported as saying that the only way to stay alive that long was to keep away from men – so as long as that doesn’t include sons and grandsons I will most likely have a good chance.

Reply to Ed Miliband’s recruitment email to me

No, you’ve got it all wrong, Mr Miliband – it should be you joining me, us. I don’t want to be part of your little club and listen to your empty words or lectures and platitudes; we are not simple. Most of us may lead simple lives where we strive to exist on what we can earn, and for some, what they’re given, but we don’t need to be a party to the ego of the smallest majority in this united kingdom. All we want is to see sense and sensibility performed in the duties you have all assumed.

My main problem with politicians is that we, as your employers, cannot afford to pay your expenses… my boss can’t afford to pay me mine. So we, the masses, without the luxury of expenses and bonuses, live as best we can and still get to work and eventually pay our bills. In my mind, the job of looking after the country should be more of a vocation than an earner. Change that status and you might get some respect – you will have earned it.

Irene Cunningham


I’m not a tiny green dot on Scotland’s
fresh face; I’m over a million people
who are neither deaf nor dumb, and we will
make a great cacophony in this house
if there isn’t a better service here.
Hear us roar. We walked and marked our crosses.
You can’t measure us by geography
because our land is also walked by trees
and we people salt the land in clusters
hundreds of miles from that parliament who
consumes our souls in ignorance but it’s
not a case of ‘They know not what they do’.
Their wee politician brains are fully
stuffed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.


So, here is my poem for the referendum:


We are poor bosses; poverty stricken
and weak at managing our minions,
those creeping vines with politic voices
who take and take and talk a foxtrot dance
around our floors, demanding expenses
for cushy cushions and homeless housing.
We are not in the Fortune 500
or the 25 and yet we keep them
above our needs. So lets chop its head off,
and let it fend for its own luxuries.
We are laying down the swords, preparing
for the dance of the century.