The #FFFinal Curtain

This Friday (29th March) will be the last day of my placement at Glasgow Women’s Library and my last #FlashFictionFriday.  It will seem strange not journeying through to Glasgow every Friday once it’s over.

I’m looking forward, this week, to reading the submissions prompted by the current image (below)  and to preparing a #FFF file with additional images so that the project can be continued or resurrected by others at any time after my departure.

This blog will be brief because much of what I have to say will now find its way into the impending reflective essay.  However, as many of you will know,  I’ve enjoyed this project and am glad that I had the chance to engage with it.

In addition to my work around #FlashFictionFriday I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in other activities undertaken by Glasgow Women’s Library.  I have been fortunate to sit in on the planning meetings for GWL’s own Women’s Literary Festival, Open the Door.  Some of you may be interested in the activites taking place over the two day festival.  You can find out more here:

GWL Launches Plans for Open the Door 2019

It promised to be an inspiring couple of days. I hope you can catch some of it.

That’s all, folks!

Luath placement Day Five Its the final countdown…

Today felt rather odd, perhaps because I knew it was my final day at Luath, perhaps because I was going to meet Gavin for the first time and the controls of power would change from the girls working there to Gavin. I went for a coffee at the Castle Rooftop Diner again. I didn’t even need to ask for my order today, as they knew!  So I sat and relaxed before climbing the Luath’s tower. (Seriously, I think I will be fit after this!)

I met Gavin, and explained what I had been up to all week. I was then tasked with continuing with the Scottish Parliament: an oral history. This time not with proofreading, but with creating a blurb, a press release and other items on my list.

Later on, Carrie showed me the ONIX system and Maia explained how to create a barcode. These were useful things to see. I wrote a brief summary for  Gavin, and discussed this with him at the end of the day, prior to leaving.

I felt that perhaps he was perhaps surprised about my decision to leave teaching.  He did explain that it was difficult to get into publishing, and indeed to get published. I understand that fully, and stand by just teaching up to four days a month for money flow, but other than that I want to pursue my dreams.

As I travelled back  the Queensferry Crossing, I contemplated about my week. It was busy, eventful and I learnt a huge amount. I considered what Gavin had said about teaching etc.  However, I have come to the conclusion that I really do want to work with books and become an author, and I would also enjoy proofreading -on a freelance basis. I made my choice when I resigned my permanent post in September. I am totally convinced that it was the correct move for me.

Lorna Goodison, Jamaica’s makar, in conversation with Louise Welsh in Bute Hall, GU

From atoms of a shared consciousness…

There’s something quite magical and transformative about listening to a seasoned poet reading from their vast ouevre, unbidden and from memory. When it’s in the architectural splendour of Glasgow University’s Bute Hall in Gothic Revival and that poet is the Jamaican poet laureate, Lorna Goodison, in conversation with Louise Welsh, writer and Professor of creative writing at the University, then you know that for the next hour you’re in for something of a treat. Within a minute or so of introduction, Lorna is in full poetic flight reading firstly ‘For my Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)’ (raising much laughter in the audience) before dropping into the corpus of the collection with many more readings; aptly closing with one about Bob Marley and Robert Burns in ‘And I Hear From Two Rabbies’. Lorna’s poems are words of praise, paeans to Nature and everyone and everything connecting to it; teeming with a superabundance of fruit and flower imagery – mango, daffodil, bougainvillea are just three such examples. Together these exotic blooms of spoken words, powerful as they are, form almost as a new Jamaica in the vast cathedral of space above our heads before falling as confetti into our shared consciousness. The Botanic’s Kibble Palace might have been more suited for such a show but on this cold March evening the warm ambience of the Bute Hall, in the falling light through stained glass, tawny and familiar, is just right for transcending our ordinary lives.


Luath work placement day 4 … ‘I think I’m alone now …’

After running from my car, which was parked quite a distance from the Halbeath Park & Ride  building, to the bus this morning, I recovered on the bus. A leisurely stroll ensued past Princes Street Gardens then up to the Royal Mile, by a different route this time, I was in need of a drink. Underneath some scaffolding, I found Deacon Brodie’s cafe. It was perfect. With the age of the building and the cordiality of the staff, I could have whiled away many hours there; the coffee delicious.

I headed up to Luath for my fourth day. Then I continued proofreading the ‘The Scottish Parliament: an oral history’  manuscript for the remainder of my day, prior to heading to Main Point books in Bread Street.

For a couple of hours this afternoon, I was on my own in the office as Maia needed to go to give a presentation at the university; Madeleine, the other intern was already at the book shop. I took three telephone calls and had a long discussion with an elderly author during one of these calls.

When Maia returned, I left to see Jennie at her shop with the completed manuscript, that I had proofread. She agreed with most of the alterations, which I was delighted about. These will then be queried with Luath’s director on his return from London. Another busy but successful day.

Luath work placement day 3 – ‘I’m halfway there!’

Crazily busy day today proofreading a book about the Scottish Parliament from its establishment in 1999 until more recent times. It was mainly compiled as an ‘oral history’, which has since been transcribed. I have gone through more than fifty pages, over a hundred more to do still. However, I am getting faster. The oral transcripts do not need as much attention as the author introduction and other author written sections, as they require speaker authenticity. I certainly have learnt about a subject today, that I never thought I would read!

Jennie, an editor, was in today and gave me lots of tips. She wants to go through this task with me tomorrow in her bookshop, Mainpoint Books, towards the end of the day. So that will be a beneficial thing to do too.

In between all of this, I delivered a box of books to St. Augustine’s United Reformed Church, on George IV bridge, as they have an Old Edinburgh group meeting there tonight.

I will definitely sleep well tonight.


Luath work placement day 2 …’Beware the savage jaw of 1984!’

Interesting day and the time just flew by! I finished up my AI on  Sgaith, Amazon Queen of Skye.

I then went onto completing a Marketing Plan for Barnhill by Norman Bissell. I then prepared a calendar of events for a Fathers Day Promotion/Competition/Social Media items to do with the launch of Barnhill. Barnhill is a biography on George Orwell’s  latter years, which he spent at Barnhill on the Isle of Jura. During this time he wrote ‘1984’. This june marks the 70th anniversary since the publication of ‘1984’. This was all extremely interesting and useful to do.

The day ended with another post office visit, this time we got drenched but didn’t take the long route!

Looking forward to proofreading a novel tomorrow.



#FFF – Artemisia inspires!

Artemisia has arrived in Glasgow.  Artemisia Gentileschi’s self portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria is on tour from the National Gallery and has popped up at Glasgow Women’s Library.  Here she is.  Isn’t she beautiful?


She has taken up residence in the upstairs gallery at the library, right next to the Decoding Inequalities exhibition.  She will be there until Tuesday 19th March.  Both Artemisia and Saint Catherine have extraordinary histories.  For this reason I have used the above image as this week’s #FlashFictionFriday prompt.  To tempt readers of this blog to submit a story some information about Artemisia and Saint Catherine appears below.   Or you can find out more by following this link:

Get writing, get tweeting, what have you got to lose?

  • Write a tiny story of up to 240 characters inspired by the Artemisia painting
  • Be brief, dive right in to the heart of the story
  • You can hint at a wider backstory – remember your <240 characters are the tip of an iceberg
  • Trust your reader to fill in the gaps
  • Tweet your story using #FlashFictionFriday and remember to tag  @womenslibrary

If you are not a Twitter user you can send your story to:

If you are in or around Glasgow before 19th March – come on in and meet her!

Glasgow Women’s Library
23 Landressy Street
Glasgow, G40 1BP

Opening hours:

Our opening hours are 9.30am-5pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and 9.30am-7.30pm on Thursday. We are also open on Saturday from 12pm to 4pm.



Luath work placement Day 1 ‘I took the bus to streets that I could walk down/ I walked the streets to find the one I’d looked for/ I climbed the stair that led me to your front door’


Nothing could prepare me for how different this day would  be, compared to ‘my previous working life’. Apart from having adults to speak to/not speak to (as appropriate at the time) and being able to go to the bathroom without waiting for break time and actually, most importantly, being able to do a task without being interrupted by 33 children at various points: it was as far removed from my normality of 24+ years as it could actually get!

So, as I had arrived in Princes Street nice and early, I sauntered up to the Royal Mile and found myself in the Castle coffee shop, where I waited with a lovely americano till  nearer 11AM. I then made my way to the little close off Castle Hill. Another girl, Madeleine, was looking too, then we eventually worked out which door we needed. All that education between us …

We were warmly met by Maia and were introduced to Carrie when we got to the attic. Yes, attic! The room is ‘cosy’ and had the most amazing views. It is piled high from corner to corner, not that you could see the corners, with.books and manuscripts galore! The walls and slanted roof adorned with book sleeves. What a treat! A book lovers delight …This week would certainly be an adventure!

We were shown the One Drive server and asked to just browse it. I was apprehensive as we could look at everything. I had to take the utmost care not to accidentally erase/alter anything! It was fascinating to see the AIs (Advanced Information sheets) and also the way they approach book sellers.

I have been given the task of sorting out social media for a novel coming out soon and to look at doing an AI this week too. I commenced an AI on Sgaith, Amazon Queen of Skye.

Madeleine and I then packaged books and AI letters to go to various booksellers for Tribes of Glasgow.  We then carried these sacks to the post office, via quite an interesting route,  then went our separate ways home. Next time I’ll do the navigation! 😂

Looking  forward to tomorrow.


Luath placement ..on my way!

Sitting here at my dressing table feeling a tad apprehensive about what is in store for me this week. I am looking forward to it but equally nervous about whether I will get things right, whether they will like me or not or whether I’ll talk too much! It will probably all be fine … though as I sit glancing at my nails,  I do wish that on the 1st March (St David’s Day) I had chosen a different colour of shellac nail varnish,  other than daffodil yellow … It might not give the ‘right’ impression…too late now …

As my bus approaches the Forth Road Bridge, I’m thinking about all the questions that  I could ask and those that I could be asked. I hope that I don’t clam up, as could equally happen to me as talking too much …no middle ground.


What If?

What If?

Three Mondays ago, I did a first reading of an extract from Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis with a class of 10-11 year olds. We briefly discussed the story, the meaning of the title and a few closed questions to check for understanding. It was the beginning of a process of philosophical enquiry but we didn’t get very far as we were preparing for a full day’s workshop with Scottish Opera, where the children would, in a single day, tell the story of 1719, when the Jacobites, supported by their Spanish allies, took on the might of the Hanoverian troops.

In the space of three hours, I watched as a rabble of ‘lively’ youngsters morphed into serious singers and performers. Sixty six children who could not stand in a straight line to save themselves transformed into marching armies, flamboyant flamencos and charging clansmen. I witnessed them become people of talent and passion as their singing touched the ceiling and tugged at my heartstrings. They swelled with pride in themselves, just as parents swelled with pride in their children at the afternoon performance. When we returned to the classroom they said they had become butterflies and I felt the winds of change were upon us.

Next time we discussed Kafka they were filled with questions of wonder … but settled on one to discuss … where was the train going? This question took us to Hogwarts and the powers of witches and wizards, which as one child put it, was the only logical explanation of what could have happened. After all, how else could Gregor have turned into a giant insect overnight if not by magic? But if he was a wizard why couldn’t he turn himself back to a boy? Maybe his legs were too short now and he couldn’t reach his wand. Maybe he couldn’t grip his wand because he had no arms – only legs. Maybe he had got into a quarrel with another wizard – or witch – who had done this to him. Maybe it was Voldemort’s ultimate revenge. But one child disagreed with all of this – something else had happened. Magic did not exist! Gregor locked his door every night – who could get in? Another said something about a window – maybe the window was open and something entered that way? Or maybe, said another, he had eaten insects – and eaten so many that he had turned into a giant one. What kind of insect was it anyway? Someone said people eat insects in China and elsewhere in the Far East – covered in chocolate – maybe he had turned into one of these insects. No, said another – what about the white spots? What are they? What kind of insect had white, itchy spots?

It struck me that their minds were going for a walk, a meandering meditation, based on emerging knowledge and logical thinking. I remembered my interview with Chris Arthur on the difficulties of the definition of the essay – an ambulatory meditation, perhaps? Is this kind of exploration that we are missing in schools and education today? There is a focus on problem solving and higher order thinking – but do we apply this enough to children’s perceptions and understanding of the world, to their sense of wonder and imagination? To their writing? Maybe our education system has to look further afield, to places like Singapore, using the ‘white spaces’ approach that Peter MacDonald referred to at a recent masterclass in Critical Criticism, to free up the curriculum and develop pedagogical approaches to include more Socratic questioning?

Perhaps if we had more philosophically based discussions around high quality literary texts, we might foster children’s creative minds, and capture that sense of wonder that makes connections to real and imaginary worlds. What if we could sieze this and put it into a bottle, shake it up and feed it over the years – what genius genies may emerge in the end? Far from being ‘empty vessels’ whose minds we should fill with knowledge and understanding, children’s open minds can take us on new, logical and wonderful journeys of real and imaginative connections – if we let them!