Writer Susan McCartney is becoming something of a local celebrity with her feisty poetry performances. And here she is with copies of her books containing her poetry and stories – many of them written in the Creative Writing course at Kinsley and Fitzwilliam.
Can you believe that before attending the course she had never written any poetry at all!
Well it was more a headband than a hat really. She was going to a 1930s evening in June, dancing to the Palm Court Orchestra – not that she could dance, but she’d have a go at a waltz, and the chance of being asked to dance would keep her happy between now and then. I mean, you never know what type of beaux might turn up to this kind of thing; it wasn’t exactly a run of the mill Friday night out, now was it?
Anyway, she’d done a bit of googling to find out what the evening fashions were like for ladies of that era, and she’d looked up evening gloves, handbags and headgear. She’d even checked on whether fans were used – she was pretty sure they would be – in all that heat. Then she’d visited Oxford by train, stayed a few days and found the most gorgeous dress in a charity shop in the covered market.
The sales lady had been really helpful, urging her to try it on, saying, “Oh yes, it could certainly pass as 30s with its figure-hugging body and slightly flared hem.”
When she’d come out of the changing room, just a corner of the shop with a curtain across, the lady had complimented her figure and said how much it suited her, just the right colour to go with her eyes. A young Polish man who was buying literary fiction agreed, smiled warmly and said how the colour accentuated her hair. That had made her feel all giggly inside – a young man and a compliment all in the same day – things were looking up!
The sales lady had looked around for an evening stole or jacket that would go with the dress but then she’d remembered the maroon feathery stole she’d had for her 60th birthday bash and knew instinctively that it would go. A little later she’d also remembered the light maroon dolly-bag that friends had bought for her birthday and realised her outfit was taking shape.
She got the dress home, wrapped carefully in her nightie so as not to catch on any of the suitcase fittings. All the way there on the train, she dreamt of dancing in the 1930s style, the music and the dress. She felt quite warm when she arrived home and instantly ran upstairs to try it on all over again with the accessories that she’d earmarked all those miles away. And now she knew the shoes she’d wear too – those chocolate brown ones she’d bought for £2 from the charity shop in Knottingley for the 1940s events she’d taken part in – wouldn’t they look just grand? And they did, and she had those lisle-look stockings that she’d worn on stage, they’d do too. Oh this was going to be a night to remember – if only for the outfit.
Next day she had a friend over and they went back to the same Knottingley shop on the hunt for scarves in the same colours as the dress. Because it was multi-coloured it gave her plenty of choice. There was pale green, chocolate brown, a hint of purple, dusky pink and those turquoise sequins that twinkled in every light. Boy was she going to outshine all the other ladies on that night in June. And if she could just find a scarf or two to create some kind of headgear, that would be magnificent.
She and Jen didn’t have far to look as scarves were on the end of every rail of clothes. Straight away, she saw a fringed greenish-blue one that would certainly work as a shawl or might make the base of a turban-style hat. And then, just two rails away, she saw the most exquisite scarf imaginable – it had a satin edge and the rest was semi-transparent in pinks and blues and greens. She had never seen anything like it. It was so delicate and feminine – like nothing she’d ever had before. She bought them both, ideas already brimming over in her mind.
Later on that day, she assembled the outfit again but this time, turned the fringed shawl into a little evening cape to hide the tops of her arms – she couldn’t imagine that any ladies in the 30s had “bingo-wings” and she certainly wasn’t going to show hers! No, everything had to be as authentic as possible. The satin-edged scarf worked well as a tight fitting hat that she could tie in a bow at the side of one ear – very much like the flappers wore in the 1920s. “That’ll do,” she thought.” Women often wear things left over from a previous decade and this will be no different. All I need now is a brooch to embellish it and maybe a feather.”
And the opportunity for those presented themselves that weekend when she went with Jen to a local Antiques Fair and bought, for very little money, two delightful brooches in turquoise and all sparkly, and at the last minute – when the stall holders really wanted to pack their things away- she found a pair of longish gloves in pale blue and spied in the bottom of the lady’s box a dark brown feather, a little dog-eared perhaps but certainly enough to create a stunning feature on her hat.
Again, she returned home and worked wonders with the feather and the brooches. It was just enough to set the whole outfit off. She fell back on the bed exhausted but happy that her outfit for June was now complete. Later as she was hanging it all up on the door in her bedroom, the phone rang, but she couldn’t quite get downstairs quickly enough to take the call. By the time she reached the lounge, there was a message on the answer-phone: “Sorry about this, but the 1930s night has been cancelled due to lack of numbers. To get your money re-funded you need to phone this number.”
“No!” she said over and over, “No. No. No!” It had been the one thing that had been keeping her alive. She wasn’t interested in the money. She stumbled back upstairs, put the outfit on for the last time and sobbing softly, cradled herself to sleep.
Did you like school? Hate it? Endure it? Maybe you loved it or you couldn’t wait to leave. School is a nerve-wracking and embarrassing place for many but if you suffer from dyslexia, it can be so much worse.
In an emotionally charged piece this writer really captures the feelings of a child struggling to cope with reading difficulties and how those experiences impacted on her for the rest of her life.
The doors of the school swallowed up my tiny body. I froze as if I was going into a trap. So many times people have tried to trap me with words and puzzles, so many words. I would sit quietly and hope nobody notices me. Please don’t notice me. My mother walked beside me and I try to hide behind her full flowing skirt but don’t feel comforted. She will tell them to make me study, she is against me too. Why don’t they understand how hard it is for me?
As I enter the room there are numbers and words, letter and faces. The faces that will end up judging me in the end, laugh and jeer at me later as I twist my words. How can I stop it from happening? I wish I were somewhere else and not in this huge room that scares me so.
Years go by, I walk down the daunting hall of Junior High. There have been no answers as to why I am who I am. I just sit and cry. Most of the kids that I grew up with are here. Years of jeers and laughter weighing down on me. I sit in the back of the room and hope no one notices that I’m there.
It was the day I had to stand in front of the class and speak: My history presentation. It was the day and my name was called. I walked through the aisles to the front of the class. I try to make myself small. Insignificant. I want to get past this quickly. My face rises red through body heat. My project chart shakes in my hands.
I am an academic, social and emotional failure. In my inability to hold a conversation I twist my words and phrases to the point of mutilation. I look away from all of them, make eye contact, that is what they tell us to do, but I can’t. Trying harder will not help. I get frustrated and aggressive and anti-social behaviour results from these tensions. But I can’t blame myself. Don’t hate myself. Don’t fight myself. Don’t strike out.
I drop my chart and begin to shake again. I look at the door and feel trapped. Can I make it to the door without anyone stopping me? Another girl shakes her head and asks the teacher if we can get on with it.
I want to take control and tell people. I want to communicate. If only they can be patient with me. I have something to say. It’s not my fault. The words jump off the page. It’s not my fault. My hand moves around the paper. Searching for the words. The words change on you and go blury. It’s just not my fault.
And to that one teacher that passed back my history grade and told me in front of the class, marry well in response to my grade for the presentation. I say, it didn’t kill me and it did make me stronger.
Another great piece of work from the Wakefield Creative Writers.
A glass half empty or half full? There’s a melancholy air to this poem by Neville Raper that perfectly catches the mood which sometimes follows Christmas and New Year.
Xmas all concluded
Now I sit secluded
Good thought occluded
Monday is so blue
It’s hard to start anew
January say adieu
Roll on springs renew
15-1-2017 (the day before blue Monday)
Move over Bridget Jones. The new girl is on the blog. This is Caroline Davenport’s piece, inspired by Blue Monday.
Friday, December 30th 20:55
Well, 2016 is almost over thankfully, it’s been hell.
Been looking at the photo in my end of year review on Facebook, what happened to me.
Gained some weight, well okay a lot of weight. Never seem to feel well. Oh and lost my boyfriend.
Saturday December 31st 09:44
That’s it woke up feeling rough, going to have to do something about this. New Year tomorrow, so New Me.
That’s it from now on my mantra will be “New Year, New Me” #NewYearNewMe
Saturday, December 31st 12:34
My friend shared this on her Facebook, it’s amazing, I’m starting right away, well actually I’ll start tomorrow as I am at a party tonight so I can’t give up alcohol, can I?
I’ve printed it and stuck it on the fridge to remind me. #NewYearNewMe
Saturday December 31st 23:09
Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me and Dave are back together.
Sunday, January 1st 07:35
Had set the alarm for a run, but it’s too early and I feel a bit yuck. Coffee that’s what I need.
Read this great article about losing weight in the bath.
Sunday, January 1st 12:00
Well, the weather was rubbish today, and I realised I didn’t have any running shoes or clothes. So walking to the shops to see what I can get in the sales.
Have spent the morning looking at apps that will help me.
Sunday, January 1st 14:00
Wow, town was a longer walk that I thought, went to get a drink and cake. Now sat here with water and an apple. #NewYearNewMe
Sunday, January 1st 17:00
Knackered, I had no idea how unfit I was, had to get a taxi home as I had so much stuff.
I got new running stuff, and stuff for yoga. Also, a blender so I can make smoothies and my own soups. But best of all I got a Fitbit.
Sunday, January 1st 18:30
New trainers and running gear on, new Couch to 5K app ready. Wish me luck.
Sunday, January 1st 20:55
God, I can’t move, but I’m sure it will get easier. My feet ache and I have a blister. Really fancy a packet of crisps. Off for a bath in my new Detox, Weight Loss Bubble Bath.
Monday, January 2nd 06:36
Early to bed early to rise, that’s what that website recommended. That and setting time when you can eat, then only eating at those times. My times are below
06:30 – 07:30 Breakfast
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
17:00 – 18:00 Dinner
Nothing outside those times and no snacks watching TV.
Monday, January 2nd 08:15
Just seen a post on Facebook about the 1000 walking challenge, got to be better than running. I’ll still build up to running, gotta sign up to a half marathon in June. But I’ll walk as well.
Monday, January 2nd 09:45
Fitbit set up, walking to Tesco to buy fruit to make smoothies. Aiming for 10000 steps a day.
Monday, January 2nd 13:33
Back from Tesco, Fitbit says I only walked 3560 steps, must be more than that. I’ll have to check its working right. I’d forgotten how heavy fruit and veg was, crisps are lighter. Got some exercise DVDs as well.
Anyway missed lunch so just had a smoothie, raspberry, parsnip and carrot it was different but lovely.
Monday, January 2nd 17:45
Just had dinner Grilled Chicken and Hummus. No run today as it’s a rest day was going to have a walk but as it’s raining and I walked to Tesco earlier decided to stay in and watch Exercise DVD.
Monday, January 2nd 20:00
Watched DVD’s knackered and I didn’t even do the exercise, thought it best to watch first make sure I know what I am doing.
Tuesday, January 3rd 18:00
Late for work today.
Wednesday, January 4th 19:24
Didn’t last night as after walk to yoga and back I was shattered.
Going well – have lost some weight I’m sure I am must buy some scales tomorrow.
Thursday, January 5th 06:45
Up early been up most of the night, got bad stomach pains.
So been research diets, just trying to decide which one, have got it down to these.
The Grapefruit Juice Diet.
The Blood Type Diet. …
The hCG Diet. …
The Cabbage Soup Diet. …
The Baby Food Diet. …
The Magnetic Diet. …
Cotton Ball Diet. …
The Lemonade Diet.
Thursday, January 5th 10:00
Nipped out from work to buy cabbage soup, seems you can’t buy it ready made.
Thursday, January 5th 12:30
Smoothie for lunch, not the best one tasted a bit earthy must have been the carrots maybe I will peel them next time. Went to market and brought loads of cabbages and more fruit for my smoothies.
Thursday, January 5th 19:00
Realised I don’t actually know how to make soup, so brought a soup maker from Argos, being delivered tomorrow.
Saw Dave tonight he said it was about time I lost weight.
Friday, January 6th 10:00
Got my soup maker can’t wait to get home and try it.
Friday, January 6th 23:45
Up late tonight. So Starting from ground zero (01/01/2017).Very pleased to report I have done 8.3 miles in my first week despite work and the horrible weather meaning I needed a dry coat and boots every time I went out!
And… I lost 7lb too I think, obviously as I only got the scales today so working on what I was last time I was weighed at work in the summer. Next week new Fitsteps class and diet to add into the mix.
Watch this space. This girl is on a mission.
Saturday, January 7th 08:00
Up early been for a run, well more of a run and walk, the weather is really cold, may have to look in the sales for a treadmill, I’m sure I can fit it in my bedroom or the living room.
Anyway off to make my soup.
Saturday, January 7th 12:00
Soup made its great, looking forward to this. Realised today I’m almost vegetarian now, not how that happened.
Saturday, January 7th 14:30
Off to a birthday party, been trying on my going out clothes, but nothing really fits, all a bit tight. Off to town to buy a new outfit to show off my fabulous new body.
Saturday, January 7th 17:45
Can you believe I had to buy a size 18 still, very odd I reckon the manufacturers have changed the dresses sizes, I mean all this exercise and diet I must be losing weight right.
Anyway walking to party tonight, can’t wait. The dancing will be good exercise too.
Saturday, January 7th 22:40
So tired. Parties stink when you are hungry, can’t eat any of the buffet and can’t even have a drink.
Dave danced with some young blonde lass, couldn’t get his eyes off her. He said I was boring without a drink in me.
Sunday, January 8th 06:00
Up early again, not sleeping well, I think it’s because I didn’t have a nightcap. I wonder if wine counts as alcohol, after all, it’s only grapes so part of my five a day. I could add it to my smoothies; this would make them taste better as well. And if it’s to help me sleep then it’s medicinal.
Sunday, January 8th 10:00
Off to my mums for Sunday lunch, can’t wait will make a change from Cabbage soup, getting a bit sick of it, to be honest, I swear I smell of cabbage all the time. May have to try the lemonade diet; I know soda is on my list of foods I’m not eating but it’s part of the diet, I’ll just not drink cola, etc.
Sunday, January 8th 13:00
Walked to mums, my feet are killing me, got blisters, maybe I shouldn’t walk so far in high heels.
Sunday, January 8th 15:30
Dinner was basically pile of veg and meat, no potatoes, no Yorkshire pudding, no dessert and no wine.
Sunday, January 8th 20:00
Feel guilty found some biscuits in kitchen and ate one without thinking.
Sunday, January 8th 22:30
Not sure about this Lemonade diet it makes me burp all the time.
Monday, January 9th 17:00
Not been well today had really bad stomach ache, then had a massive poo that hurt. My mum said it’s because I ate lots of meat yesterday and I’m not used to it now.
Monday, January 9th 20:00
Brought some little rubber bands with magnet on they go on your big toe and stop you feeling hungry.
Missed Fitsteps tonight, so watched my fitness DVD’s again.
Tuesday, January 10th 23:00
Someone on Facebook posted walking in circles the other day, and I decided to be a hamster today and walk around and around the building at work.
14 laps around and 3.28 miles later, this gal is exhausted!!!!
Wednesday, January 11th 20:10
Given up with cabbage and lemonade diets clearly not working, and I have wind all the time. It was Sarah’s birthday today she brought cake, of course, I didn’t have any. I wonder if there is a cake diet?
Wednesday, January 11th 21:17
There isn’t a cake diet, oh god I really want cake now. Does carrot cake count as real cake?
May try the Atkins diet.
Wednesday, January 11th 21:17
Not trying the Atkins diet, just read this.
Wednesday, January 11th 21:17
Think I might detox tomorrow, I read about having days off eating.
Thursday, January 12th 13:17
I was sent home from work after I fainted, so off to bed.
Thursday, January 12th 18:55
I’m so hungry and tired, not sure this water only day is such a good idea. Don’t even have the energy to watch my exercise DVD’s. I could really do with some chocolate.
Friday, January 13th 13:00
Oh, Friday 13th. Oh dear, hope nothing goes wrong. I’ve got my lucky rabbit’s foot just in case.
Back at work, just want to cry. Weighed myself and I have gained weight. Only managed to walk 28 miles in two weeks, I’ll never get to 1000 miles at this rate.
Friday, January 13th 22:00
Been out for a meal with old friends, had a lovely piece of smoked salmon. Great night, feeling much better.
Saturday, January 14th 20:00
Great day been out for a walk, ran on the treadmill, feeling on top of the world.
Bikini Body on its way.
Sunday, January 15th 22:00
Looking forward to another week of exercise and diet, I think I’m not losing weight because of all the muscle I’m building.
Monday, January 16th 06:30
Back at work, Up early. Went for a run. Feel great. Positive thinking that’s the way forward.
They said on the radio that today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year lots of people phones in saying they were in debt, had failed their New Year’s resolutions, were overweight.
Not me Positive Mental Attitude.
Monday, January 16th 07:20
Not going well, stubbed my toe on the treadmill, ran into bathroom, got blood all over the bedroom and landing carpets. That’s not all then slipped on floor and banged my shoulder.
Monday, January 16th 09:44
Not got to work yet ended up in A&E, not because of my stubbed toe or hurt shoulder. No came out and slipped on the wet leaves, I mean wet leaves not even ice. So now sat waiting for x-ray.
Read an article about making positive changes to your life, ditching the fad diets, clearing out the old.
Monday, January 16th 16:30
Home from hospital. Now for some changes.
Monday, January 16th 20:30
Had time to think today, decided to make some changes.
Have dumped Dave he was demoralising me
Binned all the cabbage, may still make soups and smoothies occasionally though
Listed the treadmill and Exercise DVD’s on eBay
Emailed work to resign, I’m going to work for myself
Booked a walking holiday, I do actually like walking
Bought myself some decent walking boots.
Sent an email to volunteer at Dogs Trust
Feeling great and enjoying my burger and chips with a coke, with my besties, Thank you, girls, for being my friend.
#NewYearNewMe #FeelingPositive #PMA
Today is the day! Blue Monday – the third in January. We are supposed to feel at our lowest ebb and looking out of my window, it’s easy to see why. Dull, dank and murky – the weather just makes me want to curl up under the duvet again. Anyway, this funny observational piece from Lynda McCraight cheered me up. It’s about the plethora of food programmes on TV. Read and enjoy!
Blue Monday – Fast or Feast?
So, it’s that time of year again. You’ve stuffed yourself over Christmas, eaten a whole 5 bird roast to yourself, over the course of a week, seen family and friends you’ve not seen for years, been ultra polite when they’ve wanted to watch a TV channel that you didn’t, seen in the New Year with Jools Holland, and made a mental note of some New Year’s Resolutions. Already it’s mid-January and nearly time for Blue Monday, and you’ve noticed an absolute glut of adverts on telly – especially now you’ve got control of the remote back – all dealing with the delicate subject of being “slightly overweight” and “have you over-indulged over Christmas?”
Having scanned the TV paper today, it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that there are three programmes about dieting and healthy eating on. The Money-saving Good Health Show is on at 7.30, and then, only ninety minutes later “Sugar-free Farm” where a host of celebrities -including Anne Widdicombe and Joe Pasquale -attempt to live and work on a farm in return for healthy food. That sounds like it could be every bit as entertaining as watching Anne Widdicombe on Strictly Come Dancing! I mean, who thinks up these programmes? If you want wall-to-wall dieting programmes, you can skip across to channel 4 at 8pm and view: How to Lose Weight Well, where, this week, water-only fasts are being investigated. Water-only? Yuk – the thought of it is enough to turn your stomach.
Interestingly and what seems to be a bit of conundrum that could make us all even bluer on Blue Monday, alongside these programmes on dieting, in case you feel your resolve weakening and need some “foody” entertainment, is a whole host of programmes involving cooking and food and eating, so many in fact that you can have a whole day’s viewing of food, without actually eating any. You can, at 10 a.m, watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in the US, followed at 11.25 by “Who’s Doing the Dishes?”
If you’ve never seen this, let me enlighten you as to what you’ve been missing. A celebrity – in this case strong man Jeff Capes, a man who prefers eating to dieting – cooks a 3 course meal for 4 spray-tanned minor celebrities, all with inane senses of humour and about as much brain-power. Each course has to contain some clue to Capes’ identity so the minor celebs might guess who has cooked their meal. The main course is haggis which refers back to Capes’ days at The Highland Games, when he was involved in Tossing the Caber. Dessert is Strawberries with Power Ice-cream which I have to admit I’ve never heard of, and sadly I fell asleep during the making of the starter so have to pass on that.
The object of the programme is that if the minor celebs guess who’s cooked dinner from the clues given, they win £500 and Capes has to do the washing up. If they don’t guess, he gets the £500 and they do the washing up, which to be honest is about all they’re good for! As luck would have it, they haggle over whether it might be Robbie Coltrane because of the Scottish connection, but a last minute clue brought in by the host of the show, some Irishman I don’t recognise, in the form of a shot from the shot-put contest, firms up in their mind the name Jeff Capes and without further ado, he dons the apron and begins the mammoth wash-up, whilst they talk amongst themselves about what they’re going to spend their winnings on as, thankfully, the credits roll.
At 1.45 – or in our case in place of lunch –Chefs Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is gets aired. Suffice it to say, I know nothing about this programme, but just from the title I can tell it’s something I wouldn’t want to watch. If you’re still awake at 3.45 it might be worth watching: Hairy Bikers’ Comfort food. You can increase your girth by just being in the same room as this programme and admiring Dave Myers’ Edward the Seventh moustache, ably assisted by Si King and his ponytail. Now, these men CAN cook and they have a great culinary vocabulary too. All their sauces are UNCTUOUS and Myers has a host of culinary quips at the ready on the end of his tongue. My only complaint is: do they have to eat the food straight from the oven, risking burns and scalding, as you can see it is so hot?
If your appetite is still up for more you can switch over to channel 4 for Come Dine With Me at 5pm. This is a programme where 5 contestants used to be chosen because they could cook and host a dinner party for the other four, each contestant being scored on their hosting and cooking skills. Nowadays, sadly, no one on there seems able to cook: the women try to get points by wearing low-neck dresses and short skirts, and the men just get drunk and incoherent. But, at 5pm, maybe it’ll nudge you into culinary action, like opening a can of beans and cooking a piece of toast.
Mid-evening, Rick Stein puts in an appearance with his Long Weekends Show which, this week, was filmed in Bologna, where Rick learns how to make the local fresh egg pasta. It’s an hour long and you could learn 4 different pasta dishes in that time – but it’d beat the hell out of beans on toast for the rest of the week.