MAY 2019





Southlight magazine celebrates creative changing with an on-line one month

long publication as part of Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing: Send us

your short prose, poetry, book or film reviews, photographs, art work about

profound changes in life histories from one stage to the next. Think pupa to

butterfly; grape to wine; yeast and wheat to bread; selkies; Kafka’s beetle,

Wolf’s Orlando; Greek myths.

E mail your contributions as MS Word or Rich Text Format - jpegs for images

- with your name in the file title - to

And if inspiration doesn’t strike, visit our Facebook page for daily prompts

from April 31st on the Southlight Facebook page














LIVEWIRES - in celebration of the enduring creativity in our older writers and artists - send your Epiphanies, your poems, prose and photographs on any aspect of Birdlife, your poems, your short fictions, your artwork in response to daily prompts .... e-mail :

Get your daily writing prompt from the Southlight Facebook page :   and get writing.



Latest Posts

Metamorphosis THIRTY

Posted on 31st May, 2019

DAY 30


Our final posting for the month of May - many thnaks to all who sent work - we have enjoyed reading and posting it.


Letter to my son - Carol Price


Dear David,


I have been very worried about you. I know that you have been continuing to try to find work, and every week I see you leave the house to visit the Job Centre. Occasionally, you are smartly dressed in your suit and I guess that you have an interview. It is almost two years since you have had any significant work and I can see the light has left your eyes; no longer the sparkle in your conversation and the enthusiastic banter with your friends which I used to love to hear.

More and more you are spending your evenings alone in your room, or sitting with me in front of the television, making an effort to keep me company. Since your father died last year, life has lost its lustre for me also, and though we both are grieving, we are solitary in our grief.

When I was your age, I was already married with a small baby. Money was tight, but  it was a fulfilling life. Your Dad and I would go out for walks a lot together, bringing you in your pushchair, and during the summer we would rent a small cottage by the sea and you would play for hours in the golden sand. I look at you now and I see a grown man still living with his mother when you should be making your own way in the world, settling with a girl you love and looking forward to being a parent. The reality is that you have debts you cannot pay and nowhere to live except the spare room in your childhood home.

I thought about selling the house and splitting the money between us, but then neither of us would have enough to purchase an adequate property. I asked a surveyor to look at the house thinking that maybe I could convert it into two self contained units, but that was not practical either. So here we are, neither of us happy, existing in this imperfect world.

The other weekend, you went out with your friends and the following day you seemed brighter. You even offered to cut the grass for me, and I heard you humming to yourself as you got the mower out of the shed.

Last night, you did not come home till very late, and I thought I heard whispered voices. When I got up this morning, you had left your room and you were in the bathroom having a shower. Your bedroom door was slightly open and I caught a glimpse of a tousled mass of auburn curls on your pillow.

You probably think I would not approve of you bringing a girlfriend home, but truthfully I welcome the fact that you have a chance for some happiness. I yearn for you to experience a loving relationship, to find your identity again in the wonderful glow of a mutually respectful twosome. If this girl is special to you, then she will be welcomed into my life. 

When you come down to breakfast, no doubt looking slightly embarrassed, I will be busy in the kitchen, but my heart will be singing for you. Perhaps the times of gloom and financial despair will start to lift now, and you and I can move forward into a happier life.

With much love,







Lost Momentum : Gwendol Gains



Patches of bare threaded carpet, pink and grey

rub against my heels and toes

Small round aluminium ashtrays that spill

white ash onto rose wine

that soaks - Mateus


Curtains that gently waft  

night air across the room

Guarded breath too halted to be heard or seen

is felt close on cheeks that smart

from kissing stubble and transient pleasures enjoyed

Tom Waites’ Closing Time crackles on 

as burning musk pervades

Silk and velvet cushions, faded crimson and midnight blue

lay strewn among crumpled bodies lost

below a chandelier all yellow and tarred

with cobwebs hanging


Corded sashes broken in the night

leave gaps too wide for explanation

Discord, harmony

drift side by side

as cream Corporation buses start to move


This Gauloise night is nearly over

London Road is waking up

to drizzle and dripping and dropped

Park Drive packets, all wet

Students staggering home

shuffling leaves so sodden

that cease to rustle or fire the imagination


The Op has popped for Bridget Riley

Rock now cracked is rubble, the Stones

Time to roll to safer shores

than breakfasting at Blue lagoon cafes with talk of Che

to salaries that need bank accounts

dry cleaning bills and women that do


Doorstep deliveries that

STOP the revolution _

                                     for yet another generation




Review of 'Metamorphosis' by Franz Kafka : Catriona Scott


‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.’

It has been a month now since I last wrote a review and so I thought it fitting that, when I returned to writing, I did so with a review for a book I have been meaning to read for a long time. I say a book but I really mean a short story – Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It is one of those stories that everyone knows the premise of, and it is probably Kafka’s best known work. As such, I felt rather intimidated at the prospect of reviewing it. What could I possible say about this story that hasn’t already been said in a more eloquent and scholarly way? Well, I can begin by saying that this story surprised me. Of course, waking up and finding oneself transformed into an insect would be a surprise to anyone, but it was the way in which Kafka told his story – the deft, precise prose, the minute details, the fusion of humour and horror – was what most caught my attention while reading. Perhaps this is because of the often misused and misinterpreted phrase ‘Kafkaesque’, or due to my limited knowledge of Kafka’s own biography, but I had expected the story to be complicated, perhaps even impenetrable, like so much red tape. What I found instead was a darkly comic story, sparsely told from a small premise, proving the point Adam Thirlwell, who wrote the Introduction to this collection, makes – ‘so much less [is] necessary to create a story than people [think]’. 

In his Introduction, Thirlwell also states that ‘Often, these are the funniest jokes of all – the ones that are not really funny. They are often slightly sad.’, and this is definitely true of Metamorphosis. Gregor’s transformation is grotesque and frightening but, at the same time, the image of him struggling to get out of bed on his tiny new legs, or that of his father shooing him away with the insect Gregor looking pleadingly back at him – these images are amusing in spite of their sadness. But the story’s humour begins even before Gregor attempts to get out of bed, as his immediate concern is not that he has become a giant insect, but that he has overslept.


The next train was at seven o’clock; to catch that he would need to hurry like mad and his samples weren’t even packed up, and he himself wasn’t feeling particularly fresh and active.


As the story builds throughout its fifty one pages, we see Gregor face a series of different challenges, from attempting to communicate with his family to being pelted with apples by his father, to his mother and sister attempting to move furniture from his room which he wants to keep to retain some sense of his human self. Although these situations are often comic, because the characters of Gregor’s family, the servants, and the eventual lodgers are only shown through a few details, we sympathise the most with Gregor as his situation worsens. His situation – and, indeed, the plot of Metamorphosis – is very simple, with his transformation beginning a series of interactions and inconveniences that build towards a climax, and so it is the execution, the details, that really make it gripping. From the description of Gregor’s father – ‘his father leaned against the door, the right hand thrust between two buttons of his livery coat, which was formally buttoned up’ – to his sister’s various efforts to find him food that he will enjoy, the details are small but help to paint a fuller picture of the family and their surroundings, so much so that it comes as a shock when Gregor’s formerly sympathetic sister states ‘…we must try to get rid of it. We’ve tried to look after it and to put up with it as far as humanly possible, and I don’t think anyone could reproach us in the slightest.’

Metamorphosis may be a small story, but it packs a powerful punch, and is a fantastic introduction of Kafka’s unique style. It has certainly piqued my interest in reading more of his work in the future – especially since his characters’ attempts to understand the logic of the nightmarish world in which they find themselves seems particularly relevant these days.







Metamorphosis TWENTY NINE

Posted on 30th May, 2019

Day 29


I believe I have it in me : Carolyn Yates


I believe I have it in me to become a breath, a pile of bones, moss on a stone.

I believe I have it in me to be tucked away, stilled in a caul of mold,

folded into dry twig and hazel husk.


But what I was is still here,

a discord, a fissure, a fracture healed.

Still here, a mosquito bite, a scratch, a graze,

a bruise, a metronome, a heart attack.

A rippled pond.








Extract from a novel - Mrs Fitzgerald - in progress : Jean Manson


......Helen was, after all, a master – or is that mistress? – of disguise. She revelled in her talent for deception; that was what made her so good at what she did. 


“Mrs Fitzgerald” required a certain look, but thankfully not a huge amount of make-up. She picked up the navy slacks and her white Hermès blouse, and found a pair of tan Louboutins, all of which she placed on her bed while she started getting ready. She still had three hours to get into character before she needed to meet Oliver. 


As Helen stepped into the shower she marvelled at what Luke would say about her current situation. “You could wrap the world round your little finger, if you would only listen to me,” he had once said to her. One thing was certain – if she had listened to him, she wouldn’t be in the position she was in right now. The same couldn’t be said for poor Luke.


Hair towel-dried, she began the transformation. A stylish blow-dry, with her auburn hair falling in gentle waves about her face. Contact lenses put in place, changing her brown eyes to a striking green. Expertly applied eyeshadow, just enough to enhance the colour of her eyes, but subtle enough to look natural. A coat of mascara on her lashes. Precision-pencilled eyebrows. Rose-tinted blusher, and pale pink lipstick. “Mrs Fitzgerald” also had very particular tastes in underwear - a matching cream lace-embroidered set would be perfect for today’s outfit. Underwear was important; after all, she never knew who she might need to show them to. Tan stockings rolled on, before sliding on the rest of the outfit from her bed. To finish, an exquisite pair of Cartier earrings – white gold pearl drops studded with real diamonds – and a spritz of Henry Jacques perfume.





Metamorphosis TWENTY EIGHT

Posted on 29th May, 2019

DAY 28


Buzzard : Jackie Galley


Takes beetles, toddler gait

to the next one.

Higher up the slope I watch

how the sun occasionally spotlights

through cloud, shadows running

down the field giving the impression 

of movement.

I am reluctant to leave

settle to wait until the food is finished

until flight shifts the perspective

air is trapped in talons

and I become insect small

to a birds-eye vision.




WHEN IT'S TIME TO GO : Clive Donavan


Not to be pulled out wrestled from a hide

Like a rabbit

Or uncooperative trout

Or bludgeoned pig or sheep or cow;

I would rather like to go like this parsley on my plate;

Green, alive, and willing, in acquiescence to my fate.





Metamorphosis TWENTY SEVEN

Posted on 28th May, 2019

DAY 27


The Nature of Man : Catriona Scott


Spring Time

Babies coo

Roots grow

Children too


Summer Time

Children change

Flowers bloom

Teens estrange


Autumn Time

Adults emerge

Petals wilt

Mournful dirge


Winter Time

Man falls

Wind howls

Death calls


We live our lives as best we can

It is our nature

The Nature of Man




Viol neck absorbing ultra-violet in the sun




Instrument Maker’s Workshop : Vivien Jones


Venice, around 1540. The Jewish quarter – the instrument workshop has one wall thrown open to the sun, three nearly finished viols, one just strung, hang in the doorway spinning slowly. The maker is bent over his workbench, carving the head of another viol into a tight spiral. He works with a gouge and mallet chasing the curve to where it disappears into its own centre. He grunts with satisfaction. On the bench shavings in single ringlets testify to his skill – the workshop is strewn with tools, chisels, planes, gouges and others – each in sets of different sizes. There is a stinking glue kettle by an open fire. In the yard a saw pit, a pole lathe and the dangerous varnish cauldron sit idle. He will be occupied by the fine finishing work for the next three days – the carving of the head, the fitting on the neck to the body, the turning of the pegs. In the yard also are his wood stacks – boards of sweet chestnut resting on sticks, stacked to dry slowly, each stack a year older than its neighbour, five stacks in all. The sixth stack is the pinewood, brought down in horse trains from the Alps, wood for the soundboards, expensive, worth stealing.  He is a master maker – he has been to the mountains and tapped the trunks as they tip onto the flume down the slopes – he has made his mark, a tar L for his name, on the ones he will buy and saw up into boards.  He knows the joy of listening to a board and hearing the rustle of a responsive piece.   In the corner of the workshop a boy is combing the fourth set of one hundred and thirty eight horse hairs he has counted out into a straight bundle. He is preparing materials for a bow. A row of beech sticks lie beside him and a group of cherry frogs with a pile of lime-wood wedges, split by the master that morning.  He is the apprentice, allowed to perform certain small tasks, allowed only to help with others. Counting and tying hairs, putting the glue pot to heat up – he is not yet strong enough to be the under-dog in the saw-pit – the master hires a labourer for that but he is a bright and willing boy, brave enough to ask questions and, secretly, the master loves him for his curiosity and diligence. The master often gives menial work to the city’s beggar boys for a few scudi, but this one he has taken into his workshop to teach.  He his own son is not yet old enough for such learning, but sometimes sits laughing on the floor crowning himself with fragrant shavings before boredom sends him running back to his mother. Today the master has promised to show the apprentice how to sharpen his precious plane blades on the wet-stone – how to judge the angle, the force, how much oil to apply, how to measure the edge against clear blue sky – but for now the master lays down the gouge, wipes his brow and takes down the viol with strings from the doorway.

He gestures to the boy who hands him a bow from the rack behind him. ‘I’m no musician.’ He tells the boy but nevertheless, makes him weep with the beauty of the sound he coaxes from the viol. ‘That’s a tree singing.’ He says, ’Just a tree, some old sheep guts and a horse’s tail.’     





















Metamorphosis TWENTY SIX

Posted on 27th May, 2019

DAY 26


For Serena in a Catsuit : Gillian Mellor


All Queens dress for the court.

They have every move analysed,

must feel at ease in their own skin.


All Queens hand their newborns over

when they return from maternity leave,

their bodies fresh from children carry additional scrutiny.


There is pressure to perform each summer 

on the green grass in the white uniform.

There is beauty in a body the shape of hard work -


each curve decoded from genes into being.

When the mindset joins forces with the body

there is a need for power to be checked, 


kept within the lines of closed minds.

It is thought Queens never run fast enough.

They know that no one runs faster.





The Hare : Susan Cartwright Smith


“Tell me again, about the hare,” I said.

I was aware that our walk was slower-paced than normal, and Dad was struggling to breathe. 

“Why don’t we sit awhile then?” he said, and walked deliberately to a bench. I looked around, disgusted at how tame the woods were now. Gone was the wilderness of my youth. Here instead was a beast brought to heel; the council paths laid through the woods, ostensibly to encourage family walks, but in reality to provide a place for thoughtless people to conveniently empty their dogs. Dad got his breath, and surveyed the field in front. 

“These fields were once part of the Wild Wood,” he said.

“I know.”

I remembered being gripped with thrilling terror at being lost forever in the woods, the merry mix of oak, birch, beech, thorn, holly and ash, with occasional rowans and elder marking the way. The paths hadn’t then subdued the forest floor, and as children we would return home after an entire day away, scratched from brambles, stung from nettles, and bruised and scraped from climbing trees. 

“The Wild Wood is a magical place. Witches would come to gather plants, to meet, to swap knowledge. The magical animals ran free; their homes were safe.” 

Having never so much as glimpsed an adder in a wood supposedly renowned for them, I said nothing.

“And where you find witches, you will always find people who speak ill of them,” he said, giving me a glance. “And so it was with one young witch. Young, for the time, and pretty. She spurned many men’s advances, but welcomed almost as many. And people didn’t like her free ways, fettered by yokes of their own making. 

When the Witchfinder came, he did not have to look far. People led him there, in case he found them. At first the Witchfinder offered her freedom, in return for certain favours, but the witch spat at his feet and laughed in his face. He struck her down, and told her to pray for her immortal soul. While the crowds gathered in the town square, thankful that the noose was not for them, the arrogant old fool hunted this wood. This Wild Wood. Careless of the natural way of things, he let his hounds roam free, worrying the nesting birds, terrifying the small creatures of the woods, and fouling the paths. The fat old fool rode his horse through the Wild Wood, the iron-shod feet gouging furrows in the land.

A hare, fearful of its form being discovered, darted out of the meadow. The hounds took scent, and gave chase. The hare was leading them away from the leverets and its future. At the same time the witch was being led up to the scaffold - hanging being more popular than burning in this area. Not that many witches were hanged - until a Witchfinder found them.

As she stood with the noose around her neck, she stared into the distance. As the block was kicked away from under her, the hare did one of its mighty leaps, to throw the scent. The witch hovered in the air, the noose still lying about her neck, and the dogs, in their rampant confusion, stumbled, turning back, snarling the hooves of the horse.

The Witchfinder was thrown, and as his horse slid and stumbled on the half-buried tree roots, his spine broke on impact with the questing  fingers of the tree, and his head was smashed in by an iron-clad hoof flailing. The horse and hounds, confused and terrified, ran off into the Wild Wood.

The hare loped back to the Witchfinder. The last thing he saw was the face of the witch, smiling. He wasn’t found until the Wild Wood had reclaimed at least the top layer of him.”

Dad chuckled grimly.

“And what of the witch?”

“As the witchfinder’s back broke, so a terrific clap of thunder sent the superstitious fools scurrying from the town square. No-one remained to see a slut die, not if they could save their own stupid skin. So no-one knows”

Sometimes I couldn’t weigh Dad up. And he was deliberately unreadable at times. As I held a hand out to pull him up, a lean hare sat proud in the field, inclined its head to us, then, with an enormous sideways leap, set off back into the meadow, satisfied that a story had been told well. 

“There’ll be lots of hazelnuts next year, Dad,” I said, as we walked back. “We’ll have to come and forage.”

“Aye,” he said stiffly. “You will.”



Metamorphosis TWENTY FIVE

Posted on 26th May, 2019

DAY 25


Leela Soma, author of 'Twice Born', 'Bombay Baby' and 'Boxed In' has taken the concept of 'Metamorphosis' in its broadest sense,  the Chameleon poem on young Asians and their wanting to 'change'  and the other one 'Journey' what  Asians  tend to aspire to in old age- 'Moksha' or salvation. 





The Asian Brit, young ones, colours shifting at will

ashamed of their immigrant parents and

their heavy accents, their love of ‘home.’

Home, a far-away country, thousands of miles away

that their parents had left to give them a better life.


The reptiles change their clothing when they leave home,

become one with their peers, shed their traditions

integrate at will; rid their layers of roots to blend in

a chameleon on every branch of tree that they cling to,

brown as the bark or green as the leaves,






Born from a seed, a sapling, a flower, a fruit
musical scales in the bark, the art of branches
reaching out to touch the sunshine. To enliven 
the language of leaves rustling in the gentle breeze
the tree, roots, weeds, bush, grass, in symmetry

bounteous nature lush green surrounds life 
sylvan heaven on earth, sown by divine hands?

Flowing gently, the green reflected like a mirror

pebbles grey, brown, white and  rose under the stream 
edged with shimmering silica, snaking along the course
joining the river, tiny strands of water, flowing in
reaching towards the huge sea, a union, merging.
Like the journey of life, shades of light and darkness
seeking Moksha, and attaining the ultimate Consciousness. 


Note: Moksha :  salvation






Metamorphosis TWENTY FOUR

Posted on 24th May, 2019

Day 24




A wisp of billion year old sky escapes

When I crack open this stone.

Smelling of rock, I breathe it in, enriching lungs,

Then out it scrolls away...


Fleet, it flies, so slight, its molecules are re-aligned.

It meets its species, reunites with air that lacquers earth,

Loose, high, free, untramelled, far from snares of thickening mud

Where metamorphic slabs compel, compress, incarcerate...


Perhaps, in gratitude, it will return one day, and I,

Sinking in final shudder, trapped in coil of death

Begging and gasping for one extra single breath,

Blood aching for oxygen, the rich raw life of its foam...


Or, something else will snuff me up,

Fold me in, squeezing, firm, 

Enveloping for an aeon,

Till the merciful crack and doom-day blow of release...







Respect : Vivien Jones


Ellisland Farm house. Dumfriesshire



Hello. Did I make you jump ? It’s all right – I’m Linda - I’m allowed to be here. It’s part of me ASBO to do projects and things. Maureen, that’s my social worker, brought me here and she’s paid and everything. She’s off getting a cup of tea and a fag. I’m up in Scotland to see me Nan and to keep out of trouble while I get used to having an ASBO. Tell you what, it’s not as bad as I thought. I had to chose two things, like at school, for me ASBO so I chose Basic IT ( I’m getting a computer once I’ve done me course)  and An Introduction to Literature ‘cos I like reading and this here Robert Burns, he was a bit of a writer so we came to have a look around ‘cos he lived here. Maureen says he was a bit of a lad with the girls and the booze as well and a farmer and a Customs man – but he’s mostly a writer, poems and songs and things. You wouldn’t have thought he’s had the time what with all those other things. 


That’s like my Mel – he’s a rapper, one of the best, been on TV and everything, dead political, he’s done three raps about Iraq this month and he’s always rattling on about freedom. That’s a funny thing – one of them boards says that Robert Burns was 29 when he come to live here and Mel’s 29 this year – he don’t like to admit it – he was in Rock Against Racism too but he says it makes him feel old thinking about it. But that Robert Burns, he was on about freedom too, wasn’t he ? Doesn’t sound like much has changed, does it ?


Mel’s trying for a record deal, bit like Robert Burns having his writing published – but I say that you gotta watch out making deals with high-ups –them celebrities, they just turn into poodles, don’t they, running around after them that pays them. That Robert Burns, he played up to the toffs’ idea that farming was romantic while he ran about after them Edinburgh high-ups. I bet he couldn’t wait to get the mud off his boots. Still, he wrote ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ after he was a celebrity, so he didn’t really sell out. I read all of that one – even the Scotch bits – I like when he says ‘the man o’ independent mind. He looks an’ laughs at a’ that’ – that’s just like Mel and me. Bit ironic. Bit cheeky. 


It’s a bit parky in here, innit ? Nice though. Bit old fashioned - I like something more modern myself. Mel and me are getting one of them refurbished flats in Hackney after the baby’s born. He’s admitted paternity, that’s how we’re getting the flat off the council. That’s like Burns as well, innit ? Only Mel didn’t have to stand in no church and say it – only to the CSA. 

He was dead romantic though, eh ? ‘ O Jeany, thou hast stolen away my soul !’ – dunnit make you curl up ? Oh. I know, he put it about a bit as well ( Mel used to be a bit like that before the baby ) but he was a bit of a looker too, wasn’t he – and what with having a way with words – couldn’t help himself, I dare say. But before he earned a bit, well you can understand him taking the free pleasures when he could. Don’t we all ? He wrote a verse about that -

But pleasures are like poppies spread

You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed

Or like the snow falls in the river

A moment white, then melts for ever.’

Doesn’t that just say it – and it rhymes.

We’re ever so similar really – Burns and me and Mel – he liked to party too. That’s what I got me ASBO for – playing loud music – in a confined space – at night – all night – and he wrote hundreds of songs just like Mel. 

Maureen says that I have to learn respect to satisfy me ASBO conditions – respect for myself ( that’s what the classes are about ) and respect for other people ( that’s not playing me music loud ) He got it didn’t he, that Robert Burns. It’s what Mel goes on about – respect – this Robert Burns – after all these years, he still got respect. 





Metamorphosis TWENTY THREE

Posted on 24th May, 2019

Day 23


‘Jump’ by Kerrie McKinnel


And so we jump. After so long

spent talking – the hours,

days, weeks, months, years

of discussion – we’re here.

And I’m still not ready.


‘He has to go to school one day.’

‘But we could home educate.’

‘What about work?’ Work:

the only constant throughout the last five years

of nappies, soft plays and carpets turned into rainbows

by plastic toys, discarded clothing and chocolate stains.

(At least, I hope it’s chocolate.)


We allow ourselves this summer as if it is the last:

as if life will change forever in August;

as if he will become a different child once he has 

the weight of a school backpack and black plimsoles.

Six weeks of sunshine,

forty-two afternoons in the garden,

before the debatably inevitable.


And so we jump.





Move over, Mr Bond........



THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (excerpt) – by Laura Rimmer






So they offered me the job. Counter-terrorism. Undercover surveillance. I mean,

who’s going to pay any attention to a granny dressed head-to-toe in Per Una at

Marks and Spencer? Nobody, that's who. And that's the key. That's what Jerome

says. That's my M, by the way. It's not like in the films, we don't have an M or a Q.

We have a Jerome. He's a good looking lad. If I were twenty years younger. But I'm

not so we can have a little flirt, you know? And it's safe. A safe flirt. Anyway Jerome

says I'm doing a great job. They provided the mac. I think Jerome would like it if I

dyed my hair beige, blend in even more, but you've got to draw the line somewhere,

you know? Bad enough I look like Inspector Gadget. As far as the family is

concerned, I'm getting to be quite the floristry expert. God knows how many flowers

they think I'm arranging, by rights I should be surrounded by the buggers. And not

one of them has thought to ask why I never bring my floral creations home with me!

Anyone’d think they didn't listen to me! Anyway. A fella we were after -- a bad fella, a

key member of that cell I told you about -- we caught him. Joint effort, they said, but

special praise had to be reserved for little old me. What did I do? I tracked him.

Usually in these kind of situations, they might send in a young, glamour-type, you

know, as a honey-pot. I'm more treacle. Sticky black treacle. Once I've got hold of

you, you'll not be able to get rid of me. So I got hold of him. Infiltrated. Got a job

working as a member of his household staff -- I cleaned his toilet. Talk about pube

palace. He never suspected me. Too busy running away from my Marigold hands,

covered in his shite. That's the way to do it, you see -- no, I don't mean run around

wearing fluorescent rubber gloves. Just be what they expect. If they're only expecting

a cleaning lady then that’s all they'll see. Take it from someone who knows. So now

he's been captured and locked up for the next eighty-eight years. Job done. It was

on the front page of the paper, too. Stu brought it home, tucked under his arm the

way he does every night. I was dying to say: 'Do you see that story, there, about that

terrorist who's been apprehended? That was me! Me, Dorothy Pipe. I'm the one who

apprehended him, Marigolds and all'. But of course I didn't say that, and then Stu

took the paper up to the loo with him and the next time I saw it, it was all creased

and...well, it was only fit for the bin. It's online, though. It'll always be there, online. A

permanent record of the time I did something for the good of this country, the time I

did something that wasn't for or about my family. And that felt good, let me tell you.

Because, I’ve been thinking a lot about something lately, and I'll tell you what it is.

Stu, Susan, the kids, Nanna -- they all take me for granted, each and every one of

them. And you know why? I've always let them. I didn't mean to. I didn't plan it. It just

worked out that way. I was already pregnant by the time we got married, and with

Stu out working, it just seemed easier for me to do everything else. He doesn't class

all this as working, you see. He thinks he does the hard stuff. Perhaps if he'd ever

had to do any of it, it’d be different. Perhaps if he knew how shite it makes you feel

when your family turn their noses up at your cooking, or scrape it all into the bin --

your hard work literally being thrown away -- perhaps if Stu had ever had to do any

of that he'd appreciate me more. But he hasn't, so he doesn't. And isn't it a bit unfair

of me to expect him to change now, at his age? It'd be like asking him to build an

igloo, or a website. He wouldn't know where to start.



Dot! Dorothy! I need the commode!




(CALLS) Coming, Nanna. (TO AUDIENCE) Eat your heart out, James Bond.



Metamorphosis TWENTY TWO

Posted on 23rd May, 2019

Day 22


Best Friends : Clare Phillips


I knew I was hers, for me

it was about the farm, borrowing

her Mum’s wellies to slurp frogs eggs

into jamjars, runs built for newts

out of lego.


It wasn’t being paired off 

on the twin, tweed seat 

of a coach to Wales

for the school adventure


tickling necks and touching knees

or later, watching 

her plait


become a kinked shawl 

like unpicked knitting

her whispered suggestion 


to share the top bunk 

swap our secrets.


I knew then she wasn’t 

my best friend, never could be

but we were all in love with something

the imago pushing to be born, spawn 

soon to be tadpoles, tiny frogs


another week, even a day

might do it.







Flood plain : Carolyn Yates


Today water is locked icy tight, and that band of geese is calling raucous greetings to a white sky. 

This bruised land-water freezes into crystals beads, breaks like shot under the dog’s paws. 


But yesterday, yesterday was different. Yesterday water threw itself down mountains, shrieked, rolled, tumbled out to wider plains. Yesterday the raging earth spewed up animals, carpets, sofas, all tossed to sea. 


Silky water coaxed earth to desert the land, gulls cried like drowning babies. 

Sublimated meIt-water ran new rivers across our hearts. 

Today the seer predicts flood defences will fall.


Metamorphosis TWENTY ONE

Posted on 22nd May, 2019

Day 21


Two pieces today from the prompts on our FB page


Prompt 17 - With many ways of presenting yourself - how many different versions of you are there, and does anyone have the full picture? Do you?


Daft Wullie : Peter Burrows


As a boy there was no escaping the local tale. 

His ancestor, Daft Wullie, the keeper

of Castle Island boats was the one they said

gullible enough to be coaxed to smuggle

the key, to row her across the loch at night

setting her free to her fate. An undeserved title

bequeathed by hearsay, perhaps; four centuries’ mist

obscuring the ‘bastard orphan’. 16 years old, 


‘Wee Willie Douglas’, love-smit, hawked; a fool   

for her cause. The failed attempts. Banished twice.

Yet too much the knave to be doubted again -

Lost in the lore of an unforgiving view.

Behind the masque, he plays the part of courtly page

to the drunken Master. He drops the napkin,

swapping keys, rushing from hall to gaol.

The disguised Queen fleeing to his readied skiff. Locking


all behind, with their sunken boats. Halfway across,

she rises. Lifts her veil to her followers

ashore. By her side, William Douglas

throws the keys into the loch. From the castle

her watching captor, captive, incensed, attempts

to stab himself with his dagger. The oars

ripple out their moment in history.

The keys lost, until dredged centuries later. 




Daft Wullie was inspired by a classmate when I lived in Kinross. Loch Leven is where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for about 9 months until  she escaped aided by the illegitimate son of her keeper, Sir William Douglas. I didn't know much about the history being about 11 years old at the time when I learnt it. I was told by a friend that my classmate was an ancestor of 'Daft Wullie' who was remembered as a fool taken advantage of for helping Mary escape. In reality there was a lot of cunning involved. The idea that you had history going back 400 hundred years to somewhere we were just a stone's throw from fascinated me but my classmate was refused to talk about it. Later I found myself going back to the story when revisiting my childhood home and visiting the castle for the first time. The more I read, I discovered that ‘Daft Wullie’ had been unfairly characterised over the centuries.  I'd like to think that my classmate eventually found out the real story and became proud of his real ancestor rather than embarrassed at the thought of the mythologised one. P.B.



Loch Leven Castle where Mary Stwart was imprisoned




Prompt 23 : Kafka’s Metamorphosis : Susan Cartwight Smith


We were already transforming when we were told of a different way of being.

Our hard carapace had not yet formed, but some of us had dared to stretch our wings. Obviously a portion of us suffered damage while still delicate. Others flew unfettered.

We gathered together in our chittering mass, to muse on the best way to deal with this challenge to what we thought was normal, usual. Should we accept that life was now going to be different? Should we make an effort? The crik-crak of our spindle limbs tapped against each other while we chattered.

We knew that the ones who did not fly would be gobbled up, and never heard from. We knew that the ones who flew, however briefly, shone brightly. The ones whose wings unfurled in different colours or shapes, were viewed with suspicion – and some chose never to reveal their incongruousness, and kept their secrets hidden.

We had listened to the transformation story, and the creation story. We turned our jumbled heads this way and that. The world held its breath and waited – we were so many that our decision could change everything. Our actions could destroy the world, or create it anew.