Stomping out of the Nest

Highly opinionated, outspoken. Flounces around like a prima donna demanding, dramatic, difficult.

Explosive temper.

I blame the parents myself.

First thing in the morning, in the middle of the night. “I want milk…. I want MILK….. I want milk in my cow cup. Get me MILK!”

She has Angela tortured.

I am talking about my three year old daughter. Scampering past on her way to the loo squawking “I’m gonna pee myself”.

When she’s been bold, a look from me sees the freckled-nose wrinkle, the furrow-brow, the inevitable tears and the wailing lament “Daddy’s not being nice to me.”

Angela carried her about for the first year of her life in one of them trendy baby holder jobs. She was like a baby kangaroo peeping out, all cuteness and bright blue eyes. Now, you would think she spent the time pricking her with thorns. Until she decides her mammy is her friend that is, then all’s smiles. Manipulative minx that she is.

She’s now Shanghai-ed the children across the road as her friends, I suspect they had no choice in the matter. Her dashing over home when she wants to do a pee or perhaps take a minute to acknowledge us as her parents. My neighbour looked bemused at this little dervish invading his house when I spoke to him about her visits.

Her little idiosyncracies. From her little Polish friend Anna she now says ‘dziekuje’ instead of thank you. To be fair that’s more than the others manage in English.

And today she’s off to Pre school for her taster session. But nothing’s that simple. No.

She met the teacher the other day down the street. Teacher being a civil woman tried to say hello, getting to know the child you see, in readiness for next year.

But it doesn’t work that way. Gasket-blowing:

“I don’t LIKE that teacher.”

“Tell her to go away”

And hiding behind Joanna:

“Has she gone yet?”

Thinking it would pass I mistakenly asked her about school. Oh dear. A mistake.

“I DON”T WANT a teacher with yellow hair.”

“I want a different teacher.”

Quietly. . .

“I want my godmother to be my teacher.”

Could be good clean fun today. I’m looking forward to the craic.

And what about Gráinne the fairy godmother? She has two years yet before she has the particular pleasure of taking a bow in that class. I’m thinking there will be a few interesting days before that comes to pass.

Such a little flower. Dziekuje Treasa.

Direct Access to the Word Hoard:The Enduring Appeal of Norman MacCaig

In this BBC Scotland feature, Seamus Heaney and others describe the effect of the late Norman MacCaig’s poetry. Heaney loved the ‘strictness and susceptibility’ in his work

I myself heard Norman MacCaig deliver a reading when I was a student in Stirling University. Then, he was a craggy old Scotsman with a twinkle in his eye. His poetry was wonderful and struck a chord.

His poems came alive through his Scots burr of a voice. Recently I rediscovered MacCaig when I came upon his newly published The Poems of Norman MacCaig.

Visiting Hour

The hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.

What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes

I will not feel, I will not
feel, until
I have to.

Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.

Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
can cross.

She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.


If you like poetry, you’ll not buy a better book this year.

I’m in the Dark Here

Halogen bulbs. Fourteen of them.

Today I spent £17 on light bulbs. I bought two bayonet cap jobs at £2.50 each. One was for the utility room where for months we have had the ‘cap’ of the previous bulb jammed in the socket. So taking advantage of being home alone I turned off the mains electricity supply.

Even as I poked out the broken cap it nagged in the back of my mind that the electric may still be on. What a shock for Angela were she to return home and find me overcooked on the the utility room floor. Like some sort of large burger made with too much lard.

I hope that if this actually happened she would realise that I hadn’t in fact decided to end it all – merely I had decided to take the plunge and fix the light.

But no, incompetent as I am I managed to turn the mains off and then back on again without major incident or death.

In TESCO I also bought all the own-brand halogen lights they had which cost me £1 x 6 (one had the wrong fitting so it is useless to me) and a pack of three for £6 on special offer. Whoo hoo.

In total I changed fourteen halogen bulbs in the kitchen and living room using a stepladder and a lot of patience. ‘But you didn’t buy fourteen halogen bulbs,’ you might point out if you are being attentive. Correct. In fact I had some extra in a box in the house.

So. Now we have light. I have one spare green bayonet cap bulb with nowhere to put it. Anyone that reads this will be aware my difficulties with these bulbs and the low level of light they actually emit. No doubt in a few years one of the current ones will expire and I will very cunningly be able to produce my spare. As a rabbit from a hat.

I always enjoyed Al Pacino shouting ‘I’m in the dark here’ in Scent of a Woman. He too had difficulty seeing but no problem expressing himself. Especially doing the Tango. So, no longer am I in the dark. Let’s see does anyone notice.

That is how I passed my Saturday. Meaningless, mundane, methodical but I enjoyed it. I survived my mains electric phobia.  And Angela is spared the hassle of cleaning me up off the floor when she comes home.