Are You There? Sleep?

What do you do when sleep doesn’t come? Well for one thing I have to get up and smooth my sheet, tuck it back in down the side of this too bloody thick and heavy mattress. I snuggle down again and listen to a book – tonight it’s 1984 (again) and I discover I’ve forgotten Winston’s voice, and the diary, and lots of other little details. I don’t fall asleep. So I get up and have a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes to stop my stomach growling and relieve the yearning for something sweet. Then I have a prowl on FB and Twitter but my eyes won’t want to do too much of that…and they won’t let me read a book for more than five minutes. But no one’s doing anything interesting or amusing on social media, and now my legs are twitching so I think I’ll try to knock myself out – Christ, it’s 4am and the alarm is set for nine.

Loads to do tomorrow before starting work at five; first I have to pee in a cup; then I haul myself up to the hospital for an x-ray on my back before handing the pee into the doctor’s office. After that it’s a 25 mile trip into Glasgow for my wages, drag some dough to the bank to pay Virgin and lesser direct debits, and then buy some food. An 8-hour shift on top of that is cushy.

I took a sleeping pill last night and didn’t get up to go for the x-ray this morning so it’s my own fault. Now I get to choose which book goes with me in case I have to sit around for hours; I’m thinking Helen Dunmore’s début poetry collection, The Raw Garden, should win because I need to finish reading it, and it’s nice and thin. There’s no doubt my eyes will see the glory of 5am but hopefully that will be the last until the alarm announces that the real morning has broken.


Agnes Owens – A wee wuman fae Balloch

I’ve discovered Agnes Owens, though I remember hearing her read at the Newcastle Playhouse with the Poetry Virgins sometime in the 1990s…I remember noticing her socks, I think. So, today at my writing group in Alexandria, I mentioned that I wanted to find a couple of local women to write about because all the famous men here had been done to death. I Googled Famous people from the Vale of Leven and found Agnes, and Sharleen Spiteri. Fab. Two different generations of women from the same area bursting into words and song – and how!

First thing to do next was capture some books (I already have some Texas music). My friend, Amazon, had Agnes’ collected short stories on Kindle for about £2.50, then the five novellas in one book second-hand for less than three quid. So, that will keep me from housework and socialising (ha, as if I need a reason for that) for the rest of the month, or more. Tomorrow I can meander through the house with Texas in the air and wonder if Agnes and I ever shared an hour in Sandra’s Café on the Main Street…or maybe she preferred The Fountain across the road.

Endoscopy & Colonoscopy – spot the difference.

The Colonoscopy is a piece of piss…especially after the drinking and letting-go of all that liquid food the day before – it takes most of the day to consume those 4 Kleen-Prep sachets. But at least it keeps hunger at bay, and reminds you how pleasant and cosy a mug of Bovril can be. And the whole thing is helped on its merry way with a little sedation and a mad (female) doctor who makes you laugh. No pain is a definite gain…not even much discomfort. I think I put my rear end way behind me, at quite a distance so wasn’t really bothered what went on. There was a TV screen in front of me and I could see the black dot proceeding through the white tunnels but it wasn’t that interesting – Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Now the Endoscopy, the stuffing-things-down-your-throat, that’s another matter entirely. I was afraid I’d do the wild arm-waving I did ten years ago with the first one, because the sedation didn’t work and I was as prepared as a baby insomniac. Of course I fell asleep after it. But this time, I gave myself a wee talking-to, saying, Just get on with the bloody thing and it’ll be over in minutes and they’re not piercing you with anything. The staff were lovely, super-friendly; they pat you and chat like women you meet on girls-nights-out and the world is wonderful for just that night. So I let them choke me, and didn’t struggle – except in the throat itself. And they give you tea and a sandwich after it (I think they need to make sure you can still swallow and keep food going down in the right direction). So, all’s well that ends soon.

The good news is that I don’t need follow-ups for either test…but, they didn’t explain why I have become kind of anaemic over the last several years. It doesn’t help that I never go to the doctor for anything unless I’m falling apart, which is rare. And, they still don’t know why the soft tissue in my right side is painful, but that will be a story about the NHS in another post.


Collected Poems 3: 1997-2003

Unexpected poetry: poetry? Some of this is as strange as Edwin Morgan’s other language. But, I did quite like the long piece, Three, from WORK IN REGRESS. And, I sniggered right out loud at: Untitled (p37) and Lugar (p45). I liked Shakespearian (p23) and Catullan (38). That’s not a lot in thirty pages; I would want to like more. I hated OB, and wasn’t interested in MARFAN. Liked a few in the UNTITLED section: Veracruz (p58), Little Ones (p86) and Coplas de Pie Quebrade (89). I always think an untitled piece of work is lazy, but it appears that depression and madness is the path to fame whether from mass murderers or artists – I mean, look at Tracy Emin’s Bed!

I’ve had extraordinary phases in my life, some where I feared for my sanity and existence, but my need to show or tell my view of the world is about making connections. Our art should never be a maze that travels so far up back passages as to cut everyone off at the bloody pass. I don’t remember where I got this book, a beautiful and new hardback, but probably from a charity shop for a pound. It has sat on my shelves for years, and was only recently chosen on my search for sonnets. Something made me read, and continue, and if it hadn’t been for the sequence, Three, I wouldn’t have stayed. It caught my attention, made me smile at the list-theme, inspired me to write my own lists…then a few poems made me laugh out loud so I read on. But I am disappointed not to find a poet to love; he could’ve been a contender, for my interest, which is passing on.


With my nose at the window of the world, I hope to be proved wrong: there won’t be an ending soon and I will be the longest-lived in my family so far; that includes the disappearance of war and brings my grandchildren into a better world.

I like sitting down, lounging in fact, mostly in my bed, writing, watching drama (not just plain old domestic) and socialising sometimes with friends, family and other writers and lovers of TV drama box sets. Obviously, I want all this to continue until my old head nods off. I won’t be retiring from this side of life. When the sadist government allow me to rest I can just be me.

The wisdom to chill only comes with a hippy mindset and old age, and, drugs might have something to do with it, although, I’m only on digestion medication at the moment, there might be more interesting toxins in front of me eventually…and I’m sure I’ll do as they tell me most of the time. I’m not afraid of losing my legs; as long as my head and hands are up for the job I’ll keep writing. See? My priorities are sorted. I think this may be the ninth or tenth blog I’ve had so a lot of lessons have floated under this bridge…and, I know enough not to promise to keep this up every day but I will aim to capture one day a week to expel a bit of verbal here.