Monthly Archives: December 2014

Two women’s wishes fifty years apart

While in Scotland recently I noticed in the local rag’s death column the passing of a 91 year old woman that I knew from the village wherein I grew up. Seeing her name triggered a memory of long ago.

As a child I used to play with her son, Billy. One morning on the way to school we strayed into a copse to look for birds nests with the result that we arrived late for school, a transgression for which we were rewarded with the strap from the headmaster. As far as Billy’s mother was concerned I was to blame for leading her son astray and therefore she banned him from ever playing with me again. That was over fifty years ago.

This week a work colleague said that the wife of a homeless centre volunteer wished that I would be a friend to her husband, Terry. She felt that I was the ideal company for him: similar age, interests, viewpoints and Celtic background. Terry had told his wife that he had enjoyed my company. I was touched when I heard his wife’s wish and contrasted it with Billy’s mother’s wish all those years ago.

I somehow feel validated now.

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The self – portrait

Webjyko modifiedSarah could not believe her good fortune. She had experienced such a bad run of relationships and was about to give up on ever finding a genuine soul-mate, when along came Eugene. He was everything that she had been longing for in a man: intelligent, creative, intuitive, witty, honest and considerate; tender attributes, yet honed with a masculine edge.

He turned up at the readers’ circle where Sarah had been a member for a few months. Joining the group had been her attempt to forget all about ever finding the right man to share her life and common interests with. However, on the night Eugene arrived and took his seat opposite her in the circle, their eyes met  and they connected instantaneously.

From that moment their relationship blossomed throughout the following days, weeks and months. They were rarely seen apart. They balanced each other perfectly, too perfectly some might say: she was a writer and artist, though struggled for new ideas in the former; he was also a writer and artist though struggled with colour blindness in the latter.

She became his eyes; he became her imagination. They chatted every night online for hours or sometimes just for minutes, not that time mattered to them; the quality, not quantity, of their conversations was what mattered. Whenever they met at their regular spot, the time spent together was never long enough, even when they met earlier and earlier and parted later and later. They had their favourite park bench and wooden bridge: they held hands on the former; draped an arm over each other’s shoulder on the latter. They enjoyed the same food and drink; their reading and music tastes complemented each others. They were definitely made for each other – twin flames they were. The only thing that Sarah did not know about Eugene was his home address; he never told her nor did she feel inclined to ask. She had never been so happy and no more so than when they met at their regular spot by the train station each Saturday.

Her heart, as always, skipped a beat when she saw him coming over the bridge from the platform. He, as always, stood on the bridge for a moment to admire the view before descending the steps towards her. They hugged each other long and tight. ‘I have a surprise for you,’ Eugene finally said as he slowly let go and stepped back. ‘Remember when you suggested that I paint a self – portrait?’ ‘Yes,’ Sarah replied. ‘And I said to you at the time that I had been working on one for a while?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, I finished it and brought it with me.’ ‘Where is it?’  ‘Right in front of you,’ Eugene replied with a warm smile. Sarah was puzzled. ‘But you are standing in front of me.’ Eugene simply smiled.

She shook her head in amusement: ‘Hmm, yes, very clever.’ She looked into his eyes. ‘Mmm, I love your eyes; oh, you forgot to wipe away a paint mark just above the right one. Here let me.’ She moistened her handkerchief and proceeded to gently rub the stain away, chatting as she did so. ‘So you are the self – portrait, eh? You are supposed to give me your imagination and I give you the colours.’

Suddenly she let out a shriek and recoiled in horror.  Shocked, Sarah looked at her handkerchief then back at Eugene. The part of his face that she had been rubbing had disappeared. ‘Speak to me Eugene; do something; say something; don’t just stand there.’ She nervously raised the handkerchief to his face again and rubbed again, this time more vigorously and widespread. The handkerchief thickened with paint. Tears streamed down Sarah’s cheeks.

She was now oblivious to his silence and stillness and continued to rub and rub until she could rub no more and finally collapsed to the ground on her knees, dropping the heavily paint-stained handkerchief. She raised her hands and saw with tear-filled eyes that they too were stained with paint; hues that only she could have shown Eugene. Still in shock, she wiped away her tears and looked around the car park. There was no one; not even a sound; she was all alone. Even the station was silent and empty. A sudden gust of wind blew away her handkerchief. Upon the ground directly in front of her was a paint smudge, all that remained of Eugene’s self-portrait.

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Santa MacGregor Part 2: the imposter

Santa_in_SleighIt was two year’s on the trot that I played Santa in our northern England street. The second year was just as entertaining as the first. I donned my hired outfit, got into character, hoisted the gift laden sack onto my back and walked down our end of the street ringing my hand held bell – don’t know why I keep describing myself as shy – and knocked on the doors. Everything was going well in each house until I entered the last. My daughter’s pal lived here with her infant sister and parents. After I’d finished my opening spiel the infant looked up at me curiously, the tip of her forefinger resting on her bottom lip. ‘I know who you are,’ she finally began with a giggle, ‘You’re Sharon’s dad,’ she added. ‘Uh?’ I replied, caught off guard. ‘I can tell by the way you talk,’ she continued. Momentarily taken aback by her astute observation I feigned a smile long enough for me to think of a feasible response: ‘Sharon?’ I began, ‘Do I sound like her?’ She nodded. ‘Well, I, er, I’ve, er, wherever I go in the world I speak the language of the people and I’ve, er, I’ve just come from Scotland, hen, so, er, that’s why I sound like, er, Sharon. I’ve, er, I haven’t had time to, er, adjust to, er, speaking like you yet. Would you like a…would you like a present?’ I then gently ruffled her hair, gave her sister a present, said a few parting words and left. I wasn’t sure if the wee girl swallowed my explanation but I certainly admired her observation.

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Santa MacGregor

santaI dressed up as Santa one Christmas when we lived in northern England. Armed with my bell and carrying my sack filled with chocolate delights I visited households at our end of the street where my daughter’s pals lived. Always on the lookout for ideas I wanted to add something else to the familiar script of ‘Ho, ho, ho! And what have my elves put in my sack for you, little one?’ So predictable. Being a Scot I was suddenly struck with the idea of re-enforcing the stereotype for which we Scots are well-known. So off I went. When I reached the first house and did my ringing of the bell and ho ho ho bit the little girls jumped up and down with excitement as their parents looked on with beaming smiles. I motioned the children to calm down and placed my sack in front of me and pulled out a cheerfully wrapped tubular shaped present (chocolate buttons) and with a smile said ‘Right children, who wants to buy a present?’ Aw, the look of sudden bewilderment that swept across their faces as they looked up at their parents then back at me. The parents looked just as bewildered and weren’t sure what to say to them. ‘Have you no money?’ I asked the children. ‘You mean to say that me and my reindeer have come all the way from the North Pole carrying all these lovely presents only to find that you’ve got no money to buy any?’ Poor souls just stood there baffled. I waited for a few silent moments before I suddenly burst out laughing ‘Ho, ho, ho! Fooled you didn’t I?’ and proceeded to restore the excitement and beaming smiles again and handed each child her present. The moral of the story is: be thankful that Santa’s surname isn’t MacGregor.

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Wearing a stranger

Ambgty51

Emerging from the shadows

Each day I have tried on a different person trying to find out who I really am. I’ve been trying for years. Now at last I’ve found him, and I have a different way of knowing.

It feels strange wearing a stranger for the first time, especially when he suddenly burst on the scene. Upheaval, not to mention mutual ignorance, has reigned; its unfamiliar robe has hung loose on the shoulders. This state of restlessness, innocence and ill-fitting affairs will last until the person adjusts the robe to fit and no longer becomes the stranger; but I will, or rather, the me that conformity has obliged me to wear all these years. True awareness alone will then reign.

In a world where conformity expects each of us to laugh and act like a clown even though beneath the mask we are wearing a frown, you can work out for yourself what this blog is about and possibly apply its introspection to yourself.

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