BREEKS – A BRIEF POEM TAE CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WEEMIN’S DAY –

 

 

pink pants 2Navy blue breeks, bocht at the co-op drapery.

Industrial strength elastic, awa tae the pimary scuil happit up lik a wash hoose spicket.

Braw breeks, Christmas breeks, breeks adorned wi bows.

Breeks fir each day o the week.

Toastie in terry towelling richt up tae yir oxter breeks,

Haud up yir tights breeks,

Tuck in yir simmet breeks.

Fresh cotton bin oot oan the rope breeks.

Haund me doon, mibbe no even yir ain breeks.

Drive ye roon the bend, huv tae puu thaim oot yir bahookie whin naebodys leukin breeks.

Ping the elastic breeks.

Breeks tae let the air in.

Clean, in case ye get knocked doon breeks.

 

Big lassie breeks,

Bikini breeks,

Match yir bra breeks,

Breeks wi nae VPL,

High legged breeks,

Lift yir cheeks an mak ye leuk lik Kim Kardashian breeks.

 

In case ye get lucky breeks,

Racy lacy toatie wee breeks,

Wan piece body suit fasten atween the legs breeks,

French knickers tae match yir camisole top breeks,

Ooh…richt up the sheuch o yir erse breeks.

 

Pure white, butter widnae melt in yir mooth, waddin nicht breeks.

 

Ten year mairrit, bin tae an Anne Summers pairty breeks;

Thong breeks,

G-string breeks,

Silky breeks,

Satin breeks,

Suspender breeks,

Crotchless breeks,

Show aff yir sequinned vagissil breeks,

Match yir furry haundcuffs breeks,

Velcro fasten rip thim aff wi yir teeth breeks,

Vvvvvvvv….vibrating breeks!

BREEKS YE CAN EAT !!

 

Thong higher than yir low slung jeans breeks.

Roll doon unner yir bump breeks.

Haud ye in breeks.

Belly warmers.

Don’t. Even. Think aboot it. Breeks.

Aa the same colour o grey breeks.

Need twa pegs tae hing thim oot oan the rope breeks.

 

 

Whit’s yon stuck doon the inside o my trooser leg?

Aw naw it’s yesterday’s breeks!

Haud up yir tights breeks,

Tuck in yir simmet breeks,

Tuck in yir breists breeks.

Awa tae draw yir pension happit up lik a wash hoose spicket breeks.

A chynge o breeks,

Breeks fir the hospital.

Bloomers.

 

COPYRIGHT TRACY ANNE HARVEY

 

 

 

 

HAIM MADE

It wis gloss painted white wi a rid roof. Black strokes making Tudor style gable ends. A wee black chimney wi a birlin granny.
Fower windaes at the front, cut intae the plywuid, a braw rid front door, same as the roof. Wee curtains glued ontae the back.
The hale front slid aff tae reveal the inside. Fower rooms, duin up jist lik oor hoose. Orange psychedelic swirls in the wee scullery. Wuidchip in the upstairs bedroom. Broon an white pansies oan the fireplace waa in the living room. Waa tae waa fitted carpets.
Ma Sindy dolls couldnae ae hud a better stert in life.
Me an ma pal, Linda, played fir oors, acting oot dramas wi oor perfect plastic dollies, chingin thir claes tae suit the occasion, makin thim blether awa in Scots American whilst languishing oan a 6 inch plastic couch or haen a lie doon oan a miniature white plastic bed.
Aye, ma faithir wirked hard tae build us the toys we dreamt ae.
Afore the dolls hoose, wis the white crib oan rockers. Cheery stickers oan eethir en, ma Tiny Tears doll and kangaroo skin koala fae Gladys in Australia, happit up unner an auld pram blanket, rocked intae oblivion.
We wid play hooses oot the front, oor tortoise shell cat, Tabitha, coorit in aside ma dolly.
Faithir built a fort in aa. Broon garrisons oan a green base, a wee railin fir tyin up the horses. A wee shed in wan corner, an a ledge aa the wey roon fir the cavalry tae tak aim. Often they git scutched by the plastic sioux backed up by action man an Sindy.
Thir wis a magnolia coloured Esso garage in aa, jist lik the wan oor uncle Josie wirked in oan the Mauchline road.
Auntie Ellen knitted us Humpty Dumpties. Big glaikit knitted grins oan thir big knitted faces, stuffed tae the gunnels wi auld tights, burstin oot lik intestines fae thir big knitted kytes as the years went oan.
Mammy an auntie Jean Bennie knitted claes fir ma dollies, bonnie intricate wee hings in pastel colours. Even Sindy hud a knitted bikini.
Toys created wi love an care, played wi fir monie a year.
Ah hink the dolls hoose went tae ma wee cousin Helen, the crib wis up in the loft at the hinneren. The fort micht hae went tae oor Jason.
It ne’er occured tae me tae mak toys fir ma weans. They cam too easy fae the club book. And ye cid pay thim up.
Aa credit tae ma faithir an mithirs generation, fir haen they kind o skills an fir slavin awa fir oors jist tae mak us happy.

STILL..

I still have rules to break and mistakes to make.

I still have to sleep in and moan about being a little overweight.
I still have deadlines to miss and people to kiss.
I still have time to waste and food to taste.
I still have to get caught in the rain.
I still have to wake up in the night and be the one to blame.
I still have chances to take and hangovers to shake.
I still have words to say that I can’t take back.
I still have qualities to lack.
I still have to amount to nothing and throw it all away.
I still have to have nothing to show for it at the end of the day.
I still have to keep hoping and smiling and feeling both the sun and the wind in my face.
I still have fresh sheets to smell and memories to make.
I still have to drive with the music turned up.
I still have to run out of money and patience and luck.
I still have to swing by the seat of my pants.
I still have to take a chance.
I still have to panic and let myself down.
I still have to shuffle about in my slippers and dressing gown.
I still have to believe.
I still have to wear my heart on my sleeve.
I still have to swim in the sea and let it all wash over me.
I still have to lose, and break even, and I still have to win.
I still have to take life on the chin.
I still have to hold on and I still have to let go.
I still have to get it wrong and I still have to put it right.
I still have to not know what to say and say it anyway.
I still have to listen to the cicadas and get lost in the Milky Way.
I still have to not give in to the urge to give in and I still have to fight.
I still have to know and also not know, that it will all turn out alright.

PHONE BOX

Coorit in roon the haundset, the diallin tone hummin awa in my lug lik a deein wasp. Fouterin in the pooch o ma Wrangler jaikit fir a wee sint chynge. Ah rhyme the nummer aff as ma fingers fit intae the wee holes an dial aa the wey roon.
It’s taen me aa ma courage tae cum doon here tae the phone box ootside Josephines. Ah’m wringin wat cos it’s teemin doon an the phone box at the en o Cameron drive hud been tant. Wi ma hairt in ma mooth ah read the names scartit intae the windae panes; Danny, Beannie, Dyker, Pord, Clug, Fairy, Bummer, Peace, Bobby Oi!
Ah staun up straicht whin ah hear a wummin’s kiddy oan posh vice answer the phone wi a “Hello, Auchinleck 424237, hoo cin I help you ?”
Afore ah’ve time tae chynge ma mind ah slam the coins in lik the baa gain intae the back o the net whin Talbot won the Junior cup final aginst Pollock 3 /2 last year in 1986.
Swallaen hard, ah ask for her by name. “Richt you are son, can I enquire eftir who is calling ?”?Ma mooths’s dry as a camel’s erse in a saundstorm an ma haunds shakin. Ah cin hear a vice thit ah cin reasonably assume is that ae her faither sain “whaes that oan the phone Jean?” “ocht it’s some fella leukin for oor Elizabeth” Ah cin hear her faither soukin his braith in. Ah cin picter him pittin his tea doon. Ah hear the Crossroads tune getting qwaiter as he turns doon the telly. “Ah fella eh? Fir oor Elizabeth ? Is that richt?” Ah hink ah cin hear his fitsteps gittin nearer the phone, an ah back awa a bit, nearer the windae. Ah jump back as a wee wummin presses her neb richt up tae the gless, ettlin tae ken if Ah’m gauntae be much longer. Ah jist fling her a deefie.
Ah cin mak oot the soon o weans hee hawin an laffin oan the ithir en o the phone, wan o thim shoutin “Libby, thir’s a boy oan the phone fir ye” Then her faither’s skreichin intae ma lug, “Hullaw….whaes this, leukin for oor Elizabeth ?” Ah try tae talk bit nuhin comes oot baur a wee squeak. “Whit’s he sayin he’s caad Jim?”, this fae the mithir again in the backgrunn, then, wi concern, “here, he’s no fae Cumnock is he?” Thir bletherin atween thim but ah cannae mak oot whit thir sayin as somebody’s revvin a caur up the main street an yon wee wummin’s still gien it laldi. Ah hear the mithir sayin she cin hear a lot o interference, thit she hinks it must be yin o they “party lines”. Ah hear the faithir sayin thit aa he cin hear is heavy breathin. Ah haud ma braith.
Ah read the wirds scribbled aside the phone, tellin me thit Frankie says ah’ve tae relax.
Then, at last, ah hear her vice an ma hairt goes a wee bit faster, I cin picter her in her snowball jeans an her sweater shop jumper, her hair crimped tae perfection. Ah cin hear her faithir laughin, “here hen, it’s for you, some fella…its aaricht ah’ve no telt him yiv bin takin the ugly pills”, ah hear her checkin him, wi a crabbit,“ aa faithir, awa an gie us peace”. A rummel tells me he’s gied her the phone. Ah hear him warn her no tae be phonin me back or he’ll hae tae stert pittin the padlock oan the phone again.
At last Ah’ve git her oan the phone. Ah open ma mooth tae speak an ……beep….beep…..beep….beep……an d’ye ken whit ? Ah’ve no git onie mair chynge!!…..

antique bench booth box
Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Unner an Auchinleck Sky (1.1.2020 – awfy early!)

Rollin in fae the Waa’heids oan the horizon,

Ayont New Cumnock,

The clouds are pink, grey, yella aa at the same time,

Churlin abin the wheel at Highhoos.

Hingin owre the bare branches.

 

The oyster catchers blether on the bing.

The craws craik oan, owre the tap o the speughs an stuckies,

The grass mottled wi mowdie hills.

 

Ithir than wan wee wummin, oot wi her big dug aareadys,

Aabody’s still sleepin,

Windaes still black,

The stores no even open.

 

Shuin tae be wakenin up this Ne’erdaay mornin,

Tae sair heids an steak pie.

 

An whilst the world rummles oan,

Argy bargyin aboot this, that an the neist hing,

We’ve aa got each ithir,

In wan way or anither.

 

Copyright Tracy Anne Harvey

 

90’s

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White musk, short skirt, boots.

Bitter taste. Tingling. Toothpaste.

Hooch.

Rush.

Lush.

Smooch.

Heart fluttering.

Eyes wide.

Kicking.

Buzzing.

Never enough.

Dancing.

Lights.

Top of the world.

Love.

Birling.

Swirling.

Smoking.

Chatting.

Head back.

Laughing.

More.

More.

More.

Searching.

Looking.

Shadows.

Skin on skin.

Lips.

Beer.

Happy New year.

 

copyright Tracy Anne Harvey

 

CHRISTMAS CAROLE…

carole

CHRISTMAS CAROLE

Hitting 50, perched at the bar on a stool,

Nursing a bottle of Bud.

Dyed red tresses,

Shakes less as the day progresses,

Naebodys fool.

Tired smudged eyes,

Traces o’ Chrissie Hynd,

Faded jeans hug her behind.

 

Last orders, she’s ready fir haim,

The chancer by her side ups his game.

Hits on her wi some story – she’s laughing,

Clocks his wedding ring,

Sends him packing.

 

She fights her way thru the festive crowd,

Nowt but a bunch o weans

An the music’s too loud.

 

She blaws her last £3 oan chips and cheese,

Walking haim.

It’s stairtin tae snaw

And its Christmas eve.

 

Back haim, kicks aff her buits,

Heads up the stair,

Steps oot her jeans, lees them fankled oan the flair.

A pint o watter, 2  Anadin swallaed in anticipation,

Aside her, her phone lichts up wi a notification.

There’s umpteen missed calls and a wheen o’ voicemails waiting.

 

But Carole’s already oot fir the coont,

Disnae notice her phone ping.

Cooried up in her Metallica t-shirt,

She disnae hear a hing.

 

Juist as she’s in the middle o’ a guid dream,

Featuring Slash and Primal Scream,

She is awakened by a strange noise,

Sits bolt upright,

Hairt thumpin

Listens, eyes wide.

Nuhin.

Lies back doon,

Tells herself she’s paranoid.

It was mibbe juist air in the pipes.

Or gurgling drains.

She’ll need tae phone the landlord again.

 

Then, just as she’s getting comfy,

She hears it wans mair,

The clankin’ o’ chains coming up the stair…

… she’s up in a flash,

Grabs the baseball bat fae unner the bed,

Wi baith haunds, raises it owre her head.

Ready tae swing….

 

….the door opens, fuitsteps oan the laminate flair,

The smell o’ fag reek, a flash o’ bleached hair.

It’s her auld pal Sally.

THAT DEID LAST YEAR.

Disnae ken whit tae think,

Wunners if sumdies spiked her drink.

“SSS….Sally,” she stutters,

“Whit the fuck?”,

Sally says “Pit that duin hen, I’m already deid, it wullnae work.

I’m here wi’ a message fae beyond the grave,

You need to change yir ways afore it’s too late!”

“Me ? Chainge ma ways ? How ?

Whit ah’m ah daein wrang ?

Your wan tae talk ya cheeky auld cow!

You didnae hawf go oot wi a bang !”

Sally reigns in her neck,

Rolls her dead eyes,

Pauses for dramatic effect. …

“Before this nichts oot,

Ye’ll meet 3 ghosts,

Fae past, present and future.

They’ll show ye some haim truths,

An it’ll mibbe no suit ye!

But if their warnings ye don’t heed,

If ye juist keep gaun oan,

You too will be deid,

Or worse, auld and alone !”

And then Sally wis gone,

Leaving behin a chill in the air.

Shivering,

Carole juist stood there.

Puttin it doon tae the heebie jeebies

Brocht oan by the booze,

She got back intae bed,

Pu’d the duvet owre her head,

And tried to forget.

 

And she slept for a short time,

Until awakened by the guitar solo

In “Sweet Child O’ Mine”,

Her hand reached out, swiped snooze,

But Slash widnae stop,

She cursed and luiked at the clock,

It was 2am…

And then,

A cauld chill,

And the room filled with a bright light,

And the shrill voice of a wean,

Carole thocht “aw shite,

I’m haen yin o’ my migraines again.”

The weans voice said “I am the ghost of Christmas past”,

Carole said “ocht ye’ve got tae be huvin a laugh”.

And the wean taen her haun,

An they rose intae the air,

An ootside they flew,

Owre the rooftaps covered in frost,

Owre the racecourse and doon Whitletts Road.

Owre the fields, far below,

Back thru the years .

An juist as Carole thocht “ken this is braw”

They stairtit tae tumble and fa,

Erse owre elba,

Landit in a street, thick wi snaw.

In front o’ a four in a block.

Carole watched her younger self come oot the door,

Aw crimped hair and purple lips,

Studded belts and tucka buits.

Wi Sally in a string vest and ra-ra skirt.

Carole laughed at their antics,

“God’s truth,” she said, “I forgot we were new romantics”.

She reached oot tae them wi her haun,

But in a whiff o’ hair lacquer,

They were gone.

 

A whorl o’ snaw,

And Carole was back in the air.

Fleein up the shop hill,

Landin in her auld schuil,

Saw hersel,

Staunin, haunds oot front, crossed, palms up.

A whistle as the tawse cut through the air.

Carole winced. She’d mind o that being sair.

 

A whorl o snaw

And she was in the working mens club,

Her and Sally, flingin back hawfs

And dancing tae Bakerloo Line.

“Me and Big Sally”, she laughed, “we had a rare time”.

Then a flash o white teeth in the UVA light,

A ginger mullet and jeans that were, too tight.

The wan that had been the love of her life.

At the time.

But she had caught him in a compromising position,

Wi Elvira fae ahint the baur in the Black Bull.

Ever since then she had been oan a mission,

Tae be naibudys fool.

And she turned tae the wean and said,

Just you keep your tears and your tissues,

It’s nae wunner I’ve got rejection issues !

“if this is aboot trying tae show me abuit whit ah’ve lost,

Then it’s a waste o your time an mine,

So bring oan the next ghost !

 

An afore she kens it,

She’s wakening up in her bed,

Thinking “that was some dream”,

An her auld pal Davie Dredd,

Is staunin at the fit o the bed,

In top hat an tails, watch in his pocket,

Dreadlocks and tattoos,

His face a skull, empty eye-sockets,

His mouth a gaping black crescent,

An he says “I am the ghost of Christmas present”

 

An Davie taen her haun,

And they rose into the air,

An ootside they flew,

Owre the rooftaps covered in frost,

Doon the High Street and through Blackfriars walk.

And intae a flat and intae a room,

Where a lassies sitting hirsel by a 2 bar fire,

Heating a spoon.

Carole wants tae go,

But she’s rooted tae the spot,

There’s a cry fae the corner o the room,

A wee babby greetin in its cot.

 

A whorl o snaw,

And Carole was back in the air.

Fleein owre Tams Brig,

Landing ootside a church in Prestwick.

Seeing folk staunin in a queue,

Shuffling their feet,

Swapping vouchers fir sumhin tae eat.

 

A whorl o snaw

And Carole was back in the air.

Soaring owre the A76,

Owre the hills,

Landin in a village in the sticks.

She keeked through the windae,

Saw a family gathered roon the tree,

Heard Sally’s lassie say “ I wish ma mam wis here

Wi us on Christmas Eve.”

 

A whorl o snaw

an Carole was back in the air,

Doon the chimney,

Back in her flat,

Sitting oan the big chair.

She taen Davies boney haund,

Says “ thanks pal fir coming”,

Showing me I’m a lucky wummin.”

Then Davie was gaun.

 

Carole poured herself a wee hauf.

This nicht ca’ad fir some self medicating.

She wisnae uised wi fleein an her bones were aching.

She dozed off.

Woke up wi a chill in the room,

A howling wind and a sense o impending doom.

The shape o a terrible spectre in the gloom.

Getting nearer and nearer.

The ghost o Christmas future

Didnae utter a word,

Just stood there wi his hood up,

haudin his scythe.

An he taen Caroles haun,

And they rose into the air,

An ootside they flew,

Owre the rooftaps covered in frost,

Owre the Market Inn and Morrisons,

An juist as Carole was thinking “ken the grim reapers no sae bad at a”,

They stairtit tae tumble and fa’.

Erse owre elba owre scythe,

Landit in the graveyard thick wi snaw.

Carole sat up and shook the snaw fae her claes.

The grim reaper pointed tae a moss covered grave,

Where two weemin were staunin

Luikin at the grunn.

Airms folded, bumpin their gums.

“Was that no’ that auld wummin that stayed by hersel in the toon,

Auld sowel, ah don’t think oanybody ever went roon.”

“Ocht aye, the wan wi’ a’ the cats that wis aye talkin tae herself,

Ah can see her noo, hawf pissed, shaking her fist.”

“That’s her richt enough, miserable auld sod,

Ah cannae mind whit she wis ca’ad.”

Carole was dumfounert.

Couldnae believe her ears.

The grim reaper nodded,

Aye, this would be her in a few years.

 

A whorl o snaw,

An Carole was back in the air.

Doon through her roof,

Lying oan her laminate flair.

Cheeks wet wi’ angry tears,

Big Sally’s words ringing in her ears.

She could end up deed, or worse,

Auld and alone.

Nae fears thocht Carole,

It’s no’ too late fir me to change ma ways,

Reached fir her phone, said

“Thanks fir yir text and yir well wishes,

It’s yir mam here hen I’m coming fir Christmas.”

 

Copyright Tracy Harvey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DANCE OF THE DYING SWAN

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DANCE OF THE DYING SWAN

 

Stacey stood on the couch. Dressed in her pink bathing suit and slipperettes, she looked at her reflection in the black of the window. She had been practising her ballet moves, the five different positions. One day, she would be like Anna Pavlova.

The room was empty, bare floor boards, but cosy, warm, the radiators hot. She could smell the gloss paint drying. Her mammy was decorating. She always did at Christmas time. Outside, snow fluttered past the orange streetlights. Her LP  had finished playing “ The Dance of the Dying Swan”. She was having a well earned rest.

Tomorrow they would be going christmas shopping. She was getting  ballet shoes for Christmas, real ones, pink leather, soft. No points, she wasn’t ready for that yet, but still, she couldn’t wait. She might sew ribbons onto them. Or ask mammy to. She loved the look of pink ribbons criss crossed round her ankles, over white ballet tights.

Mammy said it was “just a phase”, this love she had developed for ballet. Said she would “grow out it”. Same as she had the brownies and wanting to be a nun. Anna had heard her saying so to dad, had seen them rolling their eyes in amusement as she practised her moves.

She had been studying Anna Pavlova for her school project. Anna had been a prima ballerina in Russia’s Ballet Russe.  Anna’s mammy had taken in washings and her step dad had been a soldier. If Anna could overcome such adversity then so could Stacey.

Stacey heard her mammy banging pots in the kitchen and began to feel hungry. She wished she could be like Anna, imagining her as being too romantic as to ever think of stuffing her face, and felt a pang of shame.

Mammy was making chips and ham. Pairing the potatoes at the sink. Tanya, the family dog, hovered hopefully, slevering onto the linoleum.  This might be a good time to ask. “Mammy, do you think I could go to ballet school?” Stacey watched her mammy’s back for a reaction. She continued chipping the tatties. “We’ll see”.  Stacey sighed at this standard answer but continued anyway. “ I think they do lessons in the church hall in Cumnock”. “Do they?” said mammy, turning towards the cooker, lighting the ring under the chip pan. “y’fir chips?, “aye awright”, Stacey felt the pang of shame again. “ mibbe I could use my pocket money for lessons?”. “We’ll see” said mammy. Stacey sighed.

The next day Stacey ate up her Ready Brek and her and her mammy set off on the bus into Ayr. The snow had melted into a grey slush that leaked through her boots.

They headed to the shoe shop. Stacey was excited, one step nearer her dreams. One step closer to Anna Pavlova. In the shop Stacey tried on first one size, then another, slightly embarrassed by her bigger than average feet. She already took a bigger size than her mammy, and she was only 11. Nevertheless, she left the shop with the box under her arm and a smile from ear to ear. When she got home she ran her hands over the soft leather of the shoes, and held them to her nose , inhaling the leather smell, marvelling at the workmanship of the soles and the satin edges. She put them on and admired her feet in them. She went into the cold loby and practised her bar work against the radiator. She heard her dad say “Whit’s Tallulah Belle up tae noo, prancing aboot like a herd o Ayrshire Kye?” Stacey, unperturbed by her dad’s kindly put downs, just turned up Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and prepared to leap down the length of the loby, into the waiting arms of the pouffe, which served as the Swan Prince.

And thus her practice continued over the course of the festive season. Granny came to stay for Christmas as usual, sleeping in Stacey’s bedroom, and Stacey, as always enjoyed her granny’s company, despite her snoring, watching her gumsy hairnetted form as she slept. Christmas was always a special time at home, with lots of food and laughter and cosy times round the gas fire, watching canned laughter comedies and eating chocolate and Spangles out her selection box. Dad and mammy would smoke and laugh at the comedies and granny would have an Advocaat. There were lots of happy visitors and Rod Stewart and Abba played on the stereo. The evening’s typically ended with everyone singing along to “We are Sailing” and waving their hands in the air. Stacey got a ballet book as a surprise Christmas present and marvelled at the pictures in it. A woman by the name of Isadora  Duncan danced bare breasted and free in it. Stacey saw herself as a more traditional dancer.

One day between Christmas and Ne’erday, Stacey’s cousins came to visit, along with her auntie and uncle. As was tradition, the adults laughed and drank and smoked a lot, and the 4 cousins played in Stacey’s bedroom and out the back door, along with Tanya, the big Alsatian dog. They all got to stay up late and generally get away with murder. Granny mainly stayed in the kitchen, drinking tea and nibbling away. Stacey’s wee cousin, Lynne, was willowy and slight with long fair hair and was “guid natured” as Stacey often heard the adults say. Stacey telt her about her dreams of being a ballerina and Lynne seemed neither up nor doon aboot it. The boys were envaigled and a show was devised for the adults, with Stacey in the main role. One of the boys shone a torch on the main performer, after instructing wee Lynne to “put the big light oot” and the other boy, in a pair of his aunties tights, played the Swan Prince. Stacey, in a net curtain tutu over her pink bathing suit, danced her wee heart out, imagining herself as the graceful and fragile Odette, in the throes of death. The adults roared with laughter but nonetheless showered all the weans with compliments. Stacey was happy and ignored the references to “a bull in a cheeny shop”. In these shoes, she knew she could do anything. Even when she nearly flattened her wee brother in an attempt at getting him to catch her as she jumped through the air, she never gave up her dream.

Hogmanay came round and Stacey started to think about her new year’s resolutions. Top of her list was to join the church hall dance class and go and see a ballet at the Gaiety. Mibbe Swan Lake or Giselle or Coppelia. She regretted she would never see Anna Pavlova but she held out some hope for Margot Fonteyn or Rudolph Nureyev. Also, she would practise her moves every day. Also she would stop eating chips and Pink Panther chocolate and Spangles out her selection box. She would become as thin as her wee cousin. Folk would say she wis “ guid natured” instead of a “guid eater”. Her auntie had even referred to her as having “a guid grip o Scotland” yainst, in reference to her size 6 feet. “Nothing I can dae about that” Stacey, quite rightly thocht. Others had referred to her as being a “big lassie” and “haen a guid constitution”. These remarks didnae hurt Stacey’s feelings as such, as she was generally quite bullet proof, but, more and more, she would feel that pang of shame. So Stacey started to become mindful of what she was eating.

She found out, from reading her mammy’s Woman’s Weekly and the free magazine that came with the News of The World, that if you wanted to be thin, you had to eat less than a thousand calories a day and exercise to burn the rest off. At first she thought a thousand calories a day was quite a lot but she soon begun to realise what a lot of calories there were in things, even wee things like Bourbon biscuits and sweetie shrimps.

Stacey looked at herself in the mirror and saw a belly that stuck out and a big bum and legs like tree trunks. She realised she was different from Anna Pavlova and would never soar gracefully across the stage looking as she did. She cut out sweeties and started putting her granny’s sweeteners in her tea. She tried her mammy’s Nimble bread and Ryvita and ate lots of apples. Her birthday came and her mammy made her favourite coq au vin, followed by mint Viennetta, and she devoured it, then had 2 bits of Arctic Roll. She felt so guilty afterwards that she got on her bike and cycled for miles around Auchinleck. Exhausted, she lay on her back at the side of the road looking up at the clouds, feeling her cheeks bursting. Even more determined to be thin.

As she grew thinner, she noticed folk noticing. They would ask her “ Have you lost weight?” and this would give her inspiration to diet harder. People started to notice her, stopped making good natured fun of her. She weighed herself and found she had lost over a stone. She felt light on her feet and ballerina like.

Except she didn’t want to be a ballerina anymore. Her mammy had taken her to the church hall dance class. Stacey peeked in the door, saw groups of wee lassies much younger than her, much smaller and daintier.  She realised she was too big for the class and felt silly and refused to go in. Her and mammy went home on the bus, Stacey feeling affronted but hiding behind a smile. She never stopped loving ballet though and she was thrilled when her mammy took her to see Giselle and she read “Ballet Shoes” from cover to cover, savouring every word and every image of the orphans Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil at the Childrens Academy of Dance. But she had given up wanting it for herself. Instead she sang in the Sunday School and decided she was going to be a singer like Cheryl out of Bucks Fizz in the Eurovision song contest. Her and her 4 friends practised regularly and enjoyed the attention of the old ladies in the church.

The dieting continued and Stacey felt light on her feet, happy as long as she was thin. More and more though, she found herself eating huge amounts at a time, feeling full to burst and ashamed afterwards. Sometimes she would spend all her pocket money on sweets and treats. She would look down at her body with disgust and cycle for miles. She started putting weight on, concealing it under long dark clothes.

She started to notice boys and went on a few dates. She did ok at school, although she could have done better. She left school and got a cleaning job and moved in with her boyfriend. He didn’t seem to mind that she was chubby. Once more she got thin and happy, her boyfriend seemed proud of her, was always showing her off, and they got married.

Life took over and she got on with it.

Granny lived nearby and she still saw her, took her washing down once a week to use her twin tub and drink tea, taking her baby girl with her.

She felt at her best in the winter. She loved the frost, how it coated the leaves and made feathers on the inside of the windows. She loved the cold, clean air and how she could see her breathe. When Christmas came round she would gloss paint the paintwork, just like her mammy, the smell taking her back to the year mammy had taken her for ballet shoes. She would smile, remembering how mammy had indulged a wee lassie’s dreams. How her dad had lovingly teased her. Sometimes, there would be a ballet on the TV and she would make a cup of tea and watch it, enjoying the beauty of the movement and the music, remembering her positions as if it was yesterday. Remembering Anna Pavlova.

She went to a new kind of keep fit class, called aerobics, and found herself to be surprisingly supple, if a little red faced.

She walked for miles with the buggy and her big dog.

She would forever live in a cycle of weight gain and loss, labelling herself with cruel names like “fat” and “ugly”, interspersed with periods of weight loss where she felt achieved, eating to get through when the going got tough. That was just the way she was.

When the snow came, falling in big fat curls, birling past the orange street light, she would stare out into the darkness, thinking about her happy childhood and dreaming of ballet shoes.

 

copyright Tracy Anne Harvey

 

 

AYR WITCH

scary-witch-silhouette-songspeckelsThere wis an auld witch

Fae the toon o Ayr,

Ye wid see her oan her broomstick,

Fleein thru the air.

 

Past the moon, wi her wee black cat,

Wi her book o spells

An her pointy hat.

 

She wis short sichted as a mowdie,

Wi a wart oan her nose,

She hud twa extra fingers,

An twa extra toes.

 

She was auld an she was reekit

An she cackled lik a crone,

She hud big shairp teeth,

That cuid bite ye tae the bone.

 

She wuid dance roon the fire,

In the daurk o the nicht,

If oanybody seen her,

They wuid get an awfy fricht.

 

She made potions oot o frog legs,

Beasties, birds and bugs,

A wee pinch o rats’ tails,

Spiders, snails an slugs.

 

She’d stir in bones o children,

Til it wis nice an thick.

If ye see her comin,

YE BETTER RUN QUICK!!!!

 

Granny Goes To TRNSMT

images

The lassies are all glitter, false eyelashes and fake tan,

Granny’s got legs like milk bottles in her pleated skirt and vans.

They’ve been luikin forward to this for weeks.

They are walking like John Wayne,

On account of the pouches of alcohol concealed inside their breeks.

 

Granny and the lassies dauner amongst the throngs,

Granny gasps when she sees that some of the festival goers are in little more than microscopic thongs.

Granny’s pants well and truly cover her fanny,

She is after all, a granny.

 

Granny pays £12 for 2 ciders at a time, even though she’s usually thrifty,

She buys chips and cheese x 4 and disnae even blink an ee when the wummin says “that”ll be £23.50”

She just hauds up the queue, counting 50 pences oot her purse, whilst folk behin her curse.

 

First to the tiny Queen Tut’s stage.

Below the tower blocks.

Granny kicks off her shoes and socks,

The grass sticks to her bare legs like molluscs on a rock.

It’s fun, melting in the sun, listening to the lassie’s sing,

Killing time until the Kooks and…. moving on to better things.

Granny lies there looking up into a baby blue sky,

Watching the tiny figures on the chairoplanes rotate.

Flying high, views over Glasgow Green, The River Clyde and the Gallowgate.

Also, it’s near the portaloos, which compared tae Glastonbury in 1986, are quite posh.

Which is a guid job, cos a that cider’s making Granny pee like a diabetic horse.

 

The lassies use chalk to colour Granny’s hair,

Then Granny and the girls head for the main stage where everyone is jumping up and down waving their hands in the air, gien it laldi.

Shouting…… “aaawwww……. Lewis Capaaaaaaaaaaldi.”

More glitter falls like green glittery rain.

Chewbacca’s oan the stage and the crowd’s gaun insane,

Saltires and Lion Rampants are swingin,

The wee man has the crowd beltin oot traditional Scottish words like “Bawbag” and “mingin.”

 

A Chernobyl style mushroom cloud of pink smoke rises in the air,

Granny is reliably informed there’s no a fire, but that someone has let off a flair.

The crowd sings “So Sally Can Wait”.

Granny kens a the words tae this yin, and she hinks it’s great.

 

After Lewis, granny and the lassies sit in a circle on the ground,

For a rest.

Sugary donuts and strawberry slush all round.

TRNSMT is a carb fest.

 

A lassie straddles a tarpaulin roof to worship George Ezra,

As he sings into the night,

About how, for now, we’re alright together.

 

Folk are throwing cider in to the crowd.

Granny thinks that kind o behaviour isnae right.

(No at £6 a pint.)

 

Granny and the lassies are doing drugs now,

Passing paracetamol round.

Granny’s heids pounding and she wishes she hudnae been such a lush,

The lassies are on their hunkers spewing up pink slush.

 

And as a huge yellow moon is rising in the sky,

Pretty smiling people walk by,

Going for Happy Buses, taxi’s and trains,

It’s time fur haim.

And Granny has an idea……

 

…………..She’ll bring grampa next year.