Wednesday, 30 January 2008


Two posts in a week...just felt like it. It's been a funny old week...they always are when I do a lot of writing. Exciting but mind blowing too (and my mind is damaged so very easily blown).

Anyway it was folk club last night - first one back after xmas. The guests were Malinky - very talented and obviously very popular..a huge crowd turned up. Verona was elsewhere so we didn't sing but I read the Radiohead poem (see below a couple of posts) and a new one I wrote yesterday. I had considered reading 'History at 40' but advisers close to source said 'it's too sad for January - everyone's already miserable enough!' Sad folk songs are one thing...there's still something heartwarming about them...but sad folk poems...they just about finish you off. So that one may get to the club later in the year..

In the meantime, here's the other poem I did read. I'd been working my way towards my Led Zep housework poem for a little while ('Whole lotta laundry') but finally it turned up. It is short and sweet and humorous (people lovely that sounds!). I did want to squeeze Karine Polwart into it too but it didn't work out that way. Maybe she's just too special and will come in handy somewhere else. I'm sure she won't take it personally.

Musical Chores

Robert Plant helped with the ironing today
Kate Rusby gave a hand with the cleaning
A little bit of Bjork did the trick up till tea
And some Eels gave the dishes more meaning

Nina Simone is a wonder in the home
Any chore's less a bore with our Nina
And when June Tabor sings, why my dishcloth has wings
No, I never shall be wanting a cleaner


Saturday, 26 January 2008


Well, here's a thing. I don't normally put poems direct on here but I thought I might this time. I put this on myspace yesterday and already have quite a lot of interesting comments. I know some people slag myspace off (and there is a fair amount of nonsense on it) but to be honest I find it a really good way of communicating with people I might not run into regularly in my small-town, school-gate, post-rave-travel-problem existence. Some of them are musicians, some writers, some people with other jobs who just like music and writing and communicating. Like anything (like blogging, like sex..) it's how you do it that matters.

Anyway, here's the poem...I write quite a lot that can be dismissed with loaded words like 'light' and 'humorous' and (one day hopefully) 'popular'. This is certainly not a candidate for the first two of those adjectives. It's a memory I've been carrying around for years. Hope it does something for you. There is a moustache which has dropped down a line...I haven't time or tech support to sort that out on here right now...but it should be up on the previous line.

History at 40

There's so much I don't remember already
Names, faces, whole unsuitable relationships
And there are places that I know, for sure, I've been
But no matter how I strain I just can't see
The getting there, the what it might have cost

My memory is a poor scrapbook so soon
A few jaded birthday cards, a lot of background music
A photo of a dog we once kept
But some of the connections are painfully frail
Who chose the dog's name? What did the dog think of us?

And now I think, so late, of tackling history
But it seems an odd choice, all things considered
If I struggle to remember my own little past
What hope is there for all the giant rest
The queens, the battles, the damned industrial revolution?

There is one blue day I see clearly
My friend's Dad (Staff Sergeant in the British army, Scottish, huge moustache)
Took us to Belsen, to teach us something
Because at 12, we thought we knew it all
And what a joke that was, a trick of the light

It was all emptiness
The photos of the starving, the quiet trees and sky
"There's no birdsong here, do you hear that?"
He was harsh with us and rightly so
We liked to complain about washing dishes, about waiting in the car

The drive back was different, we said nothing
No i-pods to hide behind, hell, walkmans were still new then
We looked out at the huge expanse of land moving
And counted our lucky stars, I think
We were shocked by the hole of history, too scared to breathe


Sunday, 20 January 2008

Strictly in training

Well, last week I was joking about the tap dancing...and yet, it's been one of those weeks for weird coincidences. Now my beloved and I are going to some beginner's dance classes this week('Almost Strictly Come Dancing') as a kind of birthday present for me (41 this Wednesday). Not sure how much of a present it will be but I always like to do something different on my birthday so tripping over my own feet and standing on his should about do the trick. The teacher asked if I had any shoes with heels...heels? I've got some quite ambitious trainers. I tried heels once when I was about 13, hated them and haven't worn anything remotely resembling a lady-like shoe since. So wish me luck.

I've had some interesting blog moments this week. I finished 'Fugitive Pieces' by Anne Michaels (about 10 years after everyone else) and or two questions (mainly because I tried to read the book with Xmas in the middle). I ended up contacting the writer Elizabeth Baines whose reading group had just covered the book. She was very helpful and her blog is interesting. It made me disagree with the Independent's Christina Patterson (yet again) as she wrote something snooty about blogs the other week. I don't have the exact quote but it was something about people who can't get published writing blogs. Unnecessarily mean I thought. What harm does it do her? I was a journalist briefly and I'm so glad it didn't end up being a long career...journalists can be so bitter and unpleasant! Most of them wish they were doing something else...In fact on several occasions when I did interview someone I had to spend ages reassuring them that I wouldn't totally misrepresent the last journalist to interview them had done. (It is in-house mother who buys the Independent I should point out. Personally it gets right on my wick with its 'be green' one day and 'fly round the world every other Monday' the next. And there's so much about fashion...fashionable clothes, fashionable clothes pegs etc etc). 'Fugitive Pieces' by the way has some fantastic moments...just try not to read it whilst a 7 year-old talks to you about, well, anything really.

I have been writing and thinking about writing quite a bit. Verona and I are to do half an hour of poems and songs at Out of the Woods in Dundee on March 2nd. It's a big venue and usually just music so I'm quite excited. I like reading poems for not-the-usual-poetry-audience. Just now I have put a new poem up on myspace. I'm not sure about it (which is unusual..I'm usually keen on them in the early stages, followed by insecurity, followed by 'well it's done now - let's see what people make of it'). I am sure that a more sensible writer would not have put such new writing in any kind of public domain at this early stage but then sensible has never been one of my choices (footwear excepted). Anyone who wants to look can find it at Rachel Fox blog on MySpace
I'm off to practise walking in lady's shoes (if I can find any). Until next week.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Land of make-believe

Montrose is miles from a regular cinema so a trip to the flicks is a major outing. Little girl wanted to see 'Enchanted' and the reviews said it was bearable for parents so we made the journey down to Dundee (oh, once again what I'd give for the ruby red slippers...or even just sparkly ones like in the book if they did the transporting job properly - I'm not fussy). It's not that long a drive but some of it is not dual carriageway and so people just start to act like caged lions if they're held up by a slower vehicle for any time at all. My beloved is a sensible law-abiding driver and says things like 'road's full of idiots today'. Truth is the road is always like that - one of the many things that has put me off driving.
It's odd not driving. I drove from when I was 20 till about 30 then, like a car with a dodgy distributor, I just couldn't go on any more (there were lots of other things going on...and off...but driving was a focal point for my craziness at that point). I thought it would come back but it hasn't yet and I'm really fairly sane now. I can drive on a road with no other vehicles (so just about managed in Auchmithie) but here...even in a small, relatively quiet town, it just doesn't seem to be my way foward. Sometimes it's inconvenient, sometimes a bit embarrassing (am I a wimp - yes, yes, yes), sometimes infuriating (oh, come on, how difficult can it be?). But for now it seems to be out of my reach. I take the bus. I walk. Sometimes I convince myself it's my mind forcing me to be environmentally friendly in a quite underhand way. Other times I say 'lots of poets don't drive..there was even a programme about it on Radio 4...I'm just sensitive'. Also I get lifts (sometimes from my aged much of a wimp does that make me? Makes her feel good though...well, in some ways).
Anyway, back to fairy tales - real life is such a drag. The film was a lot of fun and very entertaining, I'd have to admit, especially the big song and dance number in central park. Maybe that's how I should get about - tap dance everywhere and be accompanied by a mariachi band and a troupe of twirling construction least I think that's what they were.
Until next Sunday.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Starting as you mean...

Well, we made it to the party on the 2nd and it was so lovely - friendly people all eating, drinking, talking, laughing and singing. Plus little boys wrestling and little girls dancing about in fancy dress. Most of all it was great just not to have to cancel due to illness! Having a party on 2nd January is such a good way to start the year...seems like a crazy idea on the 1st Jan when you're cooking most of the day (or your friend Andy is...and you're 'helping') but then come the 2nd it's just so nice to meet people and celebrate getting through the festive season and out the other side. We've lived in Angus five and a half years now and I'm pleased to have met so many good people in that time. I do have regrets in my life but moving up here is one thing I've never regretted - not for a minute.
Verona and I did a couple of songs which was strange to think that a year ago we hadn't started working on music together and now we have something daft like 15 songs written (and most of them performed somewhere). Friend/head cook Andy also brought recording stuff up from Leeds and has recorded some of the songs this week so our myspace and website will be updated with better, clearer versions of the songs. They were still done in the front room though so it's not foolproof...just now recording one last song Mum went to bed and the creaks from upstairs have added some extra effects to 'Love song without a tune'. What was she doing - playing hopscotch? Ah, the joys of extended family life...