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Friday, 11 January 2013

Story Stones

I've so many stories in my head, sometimes I want to just sit and tell the we'an one after the other. Non-stop. Just finishing one and starting another.
But the we'an isnt here.

This is my place. My heads peace. My headspace. The place I can be.
My maw told me we had come from the country. Up north. She stopped talking about it, like. Didn’t give me all the details. But I remember bits. Seeing the sky. Like this sky, beside these stones. These are my story stones and they are talkin' about taking them away. Something else they bastards who know want to take from me.

Photo from HERE

My maw said she lived in the country with her maw until she died. Her maw doted on me. I’ve only saw a couple of pictures of my granny. One fae when she was a wee lassie and one fae when she was haudin' me. Looking at me. Like she liked me. Like she loved me.  And I can see in the picture what I'm looking at.

The sky. The hills.

Then she died. I don’t remember that. All I remember really was the concrete before it got really greeny grey. When it was new and when it was like the space age. All I remember was the noise. Fuckin noise everywhere.

Our house was noisy. All the time. My sisters my brothers and him, Big fuckin' Noise, who promised my maw the moon and its fuckin' halo. All he did was shout and sing and belt. He would sing and shout sorry in the middle of the night. He would punch her and say sorry after work. He would belt us for being noisy or for spilling cornflakes and say sorry and buy us stuff stuff stuff noise noise noise.

This is my place. I found it when I was wee. I found it when I found The Hobbit and he Moomins and Watership Down. A circle of stones. A place to get away from the noise. A place to dream of a different world where Hazel, or Moomin Mama or an Elf would look after you and you would go on adventures and you would stick your fingers up to this world because they had no way in, just like Kes.

I can see the school I went to when I was wee. A place where children were quiet and all the noise came fae the bastards who used their knuckles on the side if your head when you looked out the windae at the sky and the hill with the stones. The miserable oul' fuckers who spat their threats so close to your face you could smell the same fruit waft from their gobs as the noisy bastard at home.

The playground was sometimes okay, like. But sometimes the noise was just too much. The crowds in my head. The shouting bastards at home and the spitting nasty Newton Mearns twinset and pearls who knew. They fuckin’ knew how the world worked and twisted and pulled at you to fit into their world.  Sometimes I hid when the bell rang. And I would sit in silence, listening to the gentle breath of the Glasgow traffic across the city. Sometimes by the time the jannie found me I was soaked. But I didn’t care. Because I had had time to live in another world.

That’s why I looked for this place. For peace. To see the sky.

Once in the school, the heidy and teachers and the social and my maw were all asking me questions. All looking at me. Sitting in this wee room. The walls pushed at my head and their words and faces were thrown at me one after the other while the others watched. I couldn’t understand why the fuckers just wanted to be so noisy! And fuckin hated me for not wanting their noisy world. I stood up, all 7 1/2 years of me and told them to, "Shut the fuck up or I'll chib the lot of ye!" Just like that old bastard would say to me and the noisy brothers and sisters. I said, "I don't want your fuckin' golden time or your time out! Get out of my face!" And I ran out of the room.

It took them and two Polis men to find me. And it took them hours. The place I found when I climbed up the coat hangers, the space between the ceiling and the roof was dark, but it was quiet. I remember it as a wonderful world where I was the Bionic Woman. Strong and fast and I could belt him so fast he never came near me or my maw in the night again.

My maw didn’t tell him about me running away in school, but he found out when they said I had to have a social worker coming to the house. He hit the roof! He had to clear up all of his bottles. He said it would be my fault if he lost his job on the building site because my lies would be in all the papers. He told me my maw would die of shame if that happened.

When I come here and it is dark, I dance around these stones. I listen to them. I hold them and they tell me about other worlds. Worlds so quiet that everyone notices everything. Just your eyebrow in the wrong way would have the people of this world know some bastard was annoying you and they would deal with him. So mostly people are happy. And they know about the we'an and they want to find her with me...

The quietest time was when the social came. Every so often; I can’t remember how often she came. She spoke in a quiet way, smiling all of the time, but always looking concerned. The bastard was always cheery when she was here, always saying things were great and asking us, "isn’t that right kids?"  I could tell the social didn’t believe him because she always looked at my maw and asked her what she thought and my maw just nodded and looked sad through her smile.

She looked so thin, I remember.

You might think I'm jokin' but the best time was when I stabbed the bastard. Well, just that bit and then what happened afterwards. For a while.

He hit her when she was happy. When she was telling me about the sky in the country and how I used to crawl in the grass and pick up ants and lick them. She was ironing his shirt. It was away after our tea time. And it was dark and I knew it was payday. And he came in and went fucking mad because she was smiling. He shouted at her for being a hoor and for not knowing the sash and for being a fenian bastard. He hit her with the flat of the iron square in the face and she went down and I never saw her get up again even with him shouting at her to get up to fuck a' that.

I went to our bedroom and broke the aerial off my brothers radio. The broken bit was sharp. I think I had thought I was going to whip him, but he was on his knees shouting in her battered lifeless face and I rammed the sharp bit into his eye and he went down and blood went all over me. He only screamed for a short while and that was the end of his fuckin noise.

Me and the brothers and sisters were split up. They were young and they went to houses. I was, I suppose, a kind of criminal. But I was glad I did what I did. Maw is in these stones and he is in hell.

The place I went had plenty of noise, but I had plenty of places to escape to. It was easy. And they knew I always came back. I hated the world beyond the fields and I knew this place was better than a house in Glasgow. 

I know you probably think I am a bit ruthless, but when I said what happened was great, I just meant the quiet times I could have. There was noise fae the other girls, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and a bit of noise sometimes meant I could stop thinking of her smiling and telling me about the sky and then lying dead.

And then it was over. I was thrown into a flat here right in the middle if all this shit. It was like being hit round the head with saucepans. Except when I opened the windae I could hear Glasgow breathe and although I could see all their fights and hear their songs when the pubs rolled out, I could see the hill beyond.

They got me a job in a sewing place. Making jeans and cheap denim jaikets. The noise was awful... But, when you got into a rhythm you could get lost. I was one of the quickest on the machine. I kept myself to myself and I made enough money to go to the Lake District and walk in the hills and sit in quiet cafes watching streams bubble past and watch happy people glad to be near the sky. I ate Kendal Mint Cake and explored caves. I smiled at people when they spoke and they smiled back, knowing I wasn’t going to say anything back to them.

Every morning on the train to work, he looked at me. I saw him, looking and his lip curled into an almost imperceptible lop sided smile. If he wasn’t looking, he was reading his books. Books without pictures on the front. Books about the real world but, and this is when I smiled back, when I went to the library one day, I found one of them called "The Revolution Betrayed" and realised he wanted a world like the one I wanted. One where there were no bastards in your face, screaming at you to hurry up, sit down, buy this, eat that, get thin, eat fat, go here, fuck there, fight wars, earn less. He wanted a way out if his fucked up world and I told him I would never go in to a pub, so if he wanted to meet me we could go on the train to Balloch on Saturday. He looked kind of shocked, but agreed.

We met at Central Station the next day and even though it was raining, we went to the big Country Park. We had tea and egg sandwiches in the cafe and sheltered under a tree, just sitting, watching the rain splash into Loch Lomond. Then, after a fish tea, we caught the train back. I smiled at him and told him I would see him on Monday.

On the Monday he sat beside me on the train. He had a newspaper and he told me I should take it.  It said smash the system and a better world was possible. And I knew it was, but I couldn’t see that smashing anything would help.

We both liked silence, but sometimes he liked to go to meetings and he would bring me along.  They would be baying for Thatcher’s blood, though never really saying that.  We smashed the system and the poll tax and Thatcher made way for Major; we climbed hills and waded through bogs and sat beside bubbling rivers and slept on soft white covers.  We lay on the grass and watched the sky and listened to the breathing of distant Glasgow from the Campsies.

And we married in a registry office, just a few of us, just before the we’an was born.

And I told her stories of rabbits and hobbits and moomins and better worlds and she gurgled and laughed and I smiled and sang and told her about the sky.  And he came in from his meetings and tucked her in and we sat with the window open listening to Glasgow sigh as it went to sleep.

It was slow, the change.  He had a couple of beers with his comrades, and then the comrades had noisy parties he had to go to but I hated and stayed away from.  And then I saw them.  My time in the quiet world taught me how to notice.  She was on our train and I saw her look at his book.  I saw his imperceptible smile.  And I knew. And the world was noisy again. The walls were in my face.  The carriage of faces mocked me one by one while the others watched.

His meetings were more frequent.  He turned his back on me at night.  He was never there to tuck her in and one night I took the we’an to the community centre where the meeting was, and found it wasn’t.

The next day on the train, when they looked at each other, I got up and punched her in the face.  He jumped up and looked at her as she shouted at me.  He looked as if he didn’t know who to look at and that was when I truly knew. I smiled and pulled the scissors from my pocket and rammed them into his face.  The world went quiet and I only saw him in court and haven’t seen the we’an since.

I shirk.  It is what I’m told I do. But I shirk away from the noise and the deceit and the faces and the Newton Mearns people who know how to create noise.  I couldn’t give a flying fuck if they take my generous benefits from me, the ones they give to me so reluctantly. As long as I can sit under the stars and listen to the stories in my head and imagine singing to her.  So long as the people from the better world are here, dancing among the stones, I don’t gie a fuck.

More information on the Sighthill Standing Stones HERE

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