The Workshop


Dad didn't keep a tidy workshop. Every once in a while, he'd decide to impose some order on the chaos, and move things around. But it was a lost cause - there was just too much stuff.

But what stuff it was: footballs, rugby balls (of course), cricket balls, softballs, baseballs, basketballs, bowling balls, roller skates, ice skates, rugby boots, running spikes, fishing rods, fishing knives, waders, nets, gaffes, starting pistols, antique guns, box cameras, brass lenses, telescopes, a truncheon, hamsters' cages, books on first aid, physical training, self-defence and even silent killing, stacks of old magazines, Practical Mechanics, Readers' Digest, Men Only*, Trout & Salmon, demijohns, jotters, drawing books, pencils, broken clocks and watches, dowelling, wood, hardboard, beaverboard, perforated zinc, drills, hammers, chisels, saws, a lathe, a treadle fretsaw, tins of paint, solidified paintbrushes, glue, paste, turpentine, methylated spirits, broken things of every kind and unidentifiable aborted projects. The Big Vice and the Wee Vice, naturally.

At tea time, Mum would tell one of us to 'give daddy a shout'. The options were: bellow from the bottom of the attic stair, shout at the ceiling just outside the bathroom, or go upstairs to the workshop and say "A shout".

The skylight was a heavy cast iron affair with rippled glass, and provided the only ventilation to the workshop and the printing room. It could get very hot and stuffy up there in summer. Originally there were two skylights, but as the second one was above a part of the attic that you could only reach by crawling under the work-bench and through a hole, when it rotted and started to leak it was taken away and the roof slated over.

If I had to pick one favourite thing from the workshop, it would have to be the box of framed paper pictures that changed with a light behind them. Some were night & day scenes. Others changed completely, from a pastoral scene to a palace. Only one was damaged beyond use, from before my time.

*Men Only, in the early fifties, was a small quarto publication, largely text, with articles on sport, motoring, travel, etc. Occasional issues would have a topless model photographed in black & white. The magazine was not what it became.

The Front Attic


I'm sitting on Dad's shoulders. There's nobody else in the house and we've just listened to "Sailing up the Clyde" on the wind-up gramophone in the sitting room. We're now walking up and down the corridor, Dad giving his own rendering of the Will Fyfe classic in his idiosyncratic light baritone, and pausing after 'bide' to explain what it means.

Mum and Dad had a relationship with Scots that was typical of the social class and period. They spoke standard English with mild local accents and a few Scots words thrown in. If this was a form of gentrification, it was still very much the norm for schoolteachers at the time. I remember wondering why Mum's people, especially Aunts Polly and Aggie, spoke so broadly, and why it was OK for them, but not for us. But I never asked. On the other hand, posh was wrong too, when friends sent their kids to private school in Edinburgh and they came back with 'English' accents. It seemed nobody spoke properly in those days, except us.

Now we're going up the attic stairs! This is a treat because I'm still not allowed to climb the steep flight on my own so I don't get up here nearly often enough. Derrick and Douglas share the attic bedroom at this time and I sleep in the back room on my own. Later, when I'm big enough to manage the stairs safely, I'll move up to share with Douglas, and Derrick will get the backroom to himself "so that he can work for his Highers". Though I don't yet know it, he'll also get an ultramodern 60s-style wooden bookshelf set that I'll be very jealous of. It will be shaped like a stretched piece of Toblerone, but I won't make that connection for another 50 years or so, when I'll do it retrospectively on something still unimaginable called a blog - och shut up!

The front attic was brilliant. It had the only view of the sea from any window in the house, being high enough to see over Eglinton Terrace. We got wonderful sunsets over Arran. These sunsets, by the way, sound exactly like seagulls on the roof and smell of paraffin. In the winter, we'd light the heater, which would make the windows stream with condensation. In the mornings, you could scrape the ice off the inside with your fingernails. But this all came later, for me.

Dad lifts me down, says, "Wait there a wee minute Daidy-toor" and goes into the workshop to get something. I wander out to the top of the stairs just to look at Grandpa's 'stinguisher', an ancient conical purple contraption with a nozzle at the top and a button on the bottom. I know that all I have to do is lift it off the wall, bump it down on the button and . . . but not today. I'm still not strong enough.

The Pantry


Back in the 50s, nobody ever saw out of the pantry window, partly because it was small and high, but mostly because it was behind the perforated zinc fly-screen that gave bug-free ventillation to the old slate meat-shelf below. When Dad took the slate shelf away, it went up to the attic for a while, for no good reason, then, for no better reason, into the garden to lean for evermore against the granite wall, just by the bee-y plant.

When the ball went into the Wilsons' (formerly Robertsons') garden, the slate gave a foothold for climbing onto the wall but, because of the much greater drop, you had to dreep doon on the other side, like wee malkies. So, there was no easy way back. If Kim (the fawn dog) came out, you abandoned the ball and sprinted flat out down the garden. There, there was a heap of stones piled high enough against the back wall to let you climb to the relative safety of a precarious walk home on the loose coping, with a yapping hound on the left and an eight foot drop to the back lane on the right. At one point, the telegraph wires sagged low enough to touch. 80-volt ring tone is not lethal, but stings a bit, especially if it's raining and the wires are wet.

To make a bolas, you tie the ring-tops of two bottling jars to the ends of a few feet of hairy string from the dark room. Sooner or later, it gets tangled round the telegraph wires, just like the kites and parachutes. You throw the long clothes pole at it and on the third attempt, bring down the telegraph wire. You remove the bolas from the broken wire, hide it, put the clothes pole back on the lawn and decide to play inside.

Speaking of jam-jars*, the jelly pan lived on a high shelf in the pantry. Mum was a pretty good jam maker: raspberry, strawberry, bramble (my favourite), red and blackcurrant, gooseberry (which nobody liked much), and of course marmalade. I liked adding the sugar, helping to stir it, and sampling the 'licks' as soon as they were cool enough.

* jam-jars - the insulators on telegraph poles. The wires were spaced apart and bare, not insulated pairs like today's.

The Kitchen


The kitchen wasn't big enough to swing a cat in. There was always one available, but Fitzy Puss McClure was quite a serious chap and not really the swingable type. Outside, and not welcome in the garden, were Theblackcat and Thegreycat. Mum kept a stoneware jar of ham-skins (bacon rinds) on the kitchen dresser and, for a dangled sample, Fitzy could be induced to dance on his hind legs. This, and grass, formed his staple diet, though once he varied it by stealing a mouthful of my red caps. Red caps were round-like-a-wheel not round-like-a-ball and blue caps came in a roll. So the blue ones were better for the cap gun and the red ones better in the wee rockets that you threw into the air, to go bang on landing. Mine was the yellow one.

The window in the photo is a latter-day replacement of the original sash, and one of only two that were ever replaced. (The other was the Living Room). Under the window was a double porcelain sink. The one on the right was usually covered with a board, except on wash-days, when the wringer was clamped onto the divider between the sinks. Sometimes we got to wind the handle or feed the wet clothes and sheets between the rollers, keeping our fingers out. The other kitchen handle I liked turning was the mincer, especially if it was breadcrumbs.

The only electric appliance in the kitchen was the washing machine. The cooker was gas and there was still no fridge. Derrick had a Bunsen burner and was allowed to partially dismantle the gas cooker to fit the rubber tube onto the supply. Douglas's chemistry set had a paraffin burner with a sooty flame. He also had Sooty, who looked completely different in the mirror. The washing machine was a single vertical tub that had to be filled through a thin red hose clamped to the tap and emptied back into the sink through a thick black one. It made a great noise and used Rinso.

Once a week, Mum "phoned through the messages" to George who kept a grocer's shop in Fullarton Street and lived in the other red sandstone house. It was a fine shop with jars of sweeties, boxes of red and green apples, and a coffee grinder that I can still smell working. He would weigh out loose sugar and flour on a scale using polished brass weights, pour it into stiff blue paper bags, then seal them with Selotape. When the messages were delivered on a Friday evening, the treat was to "do the pouring ones". This meant, open the bags and pour the contents into our pantry storage jars. And taste the sugar to check it was OK.

(By the way, the view over the harbour from the kitchen window was not possible until the South Harbour Street warehouses were knocked down, sometime in the 70s, I think).

Apple Light

The apple light of dawn
wastes time on each dew drop
upon the lawn

as if these foundlings knew
more than their hour of being
has brought them to;

more than a brief dark waiting
for songster-heralded rose.
Anticipating

more than an autumn sun
has in its gift, they gleam
as if to run

to steam. Futile, they see
their coming blindness as
rays steepen. We

have no illusions, brook
no watery complaint
beyond a look

of resignation. Oats
for beasts. New Zealand rugs.
Oiled canvas coats.

The Wee Landing


There were seven stairs down from the hall to the Wee Landing and twelve more down from the wee landing to the glass door. This is the wee landing window as seen from the second top step of the flight of seven. (We might as well be accurate here). It was a big window, but not as big as the one halfway down the main flight. Both stair windows were uncurtained but were of rippled glass, reducing the outside world to tonal blocks. (Are you listening, Ewan?)

In later years, the wee landing window shelf, like most of the internal woodwork, was painted white, but back in the 50s, dark brown lacquer was the order of the day. And before Grandpa's crystal vase took pride of place, we used to grow plants on the shelf - cacti, geraniums and patience, mainly. I helped them on their way by feeding them plantoids at every opportunity, from a faded green cardboard box. Plantoids, though they look like mixed oddfellows, should not be eaten, but should be administered to favoured houseplants at the rate of about ten a day until bored. When watering the plants, the trick was to get the water to go under the glass shelf. Then every plant had to be lifted down and the shelf taken off and dried. This was a treat.

Major Robertson lived in the ghost house in the window, smoked a pipe, had a dog, Jim, a wife, Vera, a daughter, Sheila, about Derrick's age, who kept rabbits, and another, Jane, who was younger than me and didn't count. There was something about Jane and a tortoise called Slough-Couch but I can't remember the detail*. Mum and Vera used to talk across the garden wall. Our ground level was a good three or four feet higher than theirs, so Mum leant over the wall and Vera stood below, looking up. The Robertsons were the first people in my life to move away. Till then, I'd always thought people just stayed. On the night before they moved, when they came to the house to say their farewells, they didn't even notice the huge change in Dad. I couldn't let this pass, so interrupted with "Dad you look funny without your moustache!" Job done, I was rewarded with the sounds of general merriment that I'd been waiting for. Moustache gone, Dad never again sported any facial hair.

*postscript: Derrick reminds me that Jane said "If I dropped a brick on Slowcoach, would he break into a hundred pieces?" We didn't let her put it to the test.

The Spare Room


Two down, ten to go (that's how many windows I photographed) and I've decided to get the spare room over and done with. Looking at all twelve pictures, it's the only one that gives me no pleasant feelings. It's strange how, so many years later, I've suddenly happened on something that I must always have felt, but didn't really know till now: I never liked the spare room at all.

The dressing table all but filled the window, and such light as could squeeze through somehow made you look a bit sick in the mirror. Or maybe it just wasn't a nice mirror. The dressing table drawers were for holding tea-towels, Mum's bible and the hymn book. These (not the towels) were taken to church every second Sunday except when we didn't go. Dad never went to church and had a long lie every Sunday. I didn't like church except the bit where Mr Telfer would announce "the Children's Hymn during which the little children will leave". Then Miss Somerville would lead us, holding hands in a chain, into the church hall while the hymn was still going. Maybe she didn't like church either. Sunday school was good fun. She'd show us a big picture of Jesus and let us draw chickens.

But back to the spare room. Douglas had measles in it and it had to be kept dark because bright light would hurt his eyes. I wasn't allowed to go in, but Dad was, and when he gave Douglas a green acetate eye-shade with a stretchy black head band I wished I had measles too.

Strangely enough, I never caught it. I got German measles instead which spread like wildfire but didn't hurt at all. I used them to play golf for a week, at Seafield, in Wellingtons and a green jumper, with Grandpa's old hickory clubs. But that was 1963 and I was a big lad of 10.

The spare room wasn't just a sickroom of course. Aunt Polly was quite a regular visitor, with or without Uncle Donald. She nearly always brought smarties and even tablet. But best of all was that she let you interrupt.

The Wee Bunker


Dad's black Anglia, HAG 390, had a choke and a starter, two cream coloured pull-knobs in the middle of the dashboard. A little below were two smaller cream coloured knobs. These could only be the wee choke and the wee starter, because that's what they looked like. Some would argue that they were the heater controls, but it's appearance that matters.

It was the same in the house. Along the corridor from the Big Bunker was, the Wee Bunker. So what if it was really a small front opening window-cupboard and strictly not-a-bunker-at-all? The laws of how things are must prevail. A Big Bunker requires a Wee Bunker. That's how it goes.

One of the great things about the Wee Bunker was the smell when you opened the door. This was where we kept the soap, the paraffin, the shoe brushes and polishes (kiwi-black or kiwi-brown) and the firelighters. We kept matches there too, to tempt providence. The peg-basket didn't smell of much. Old grey wooden pegs, new yellow ones and broken-plastic ones (there was no plastic back then, only broken-plastic) - you had to get very close to smell the pegs, and when you did, they all smelled of firelighters anyway, like everything else in the Wee Bunker.

There were a couple of mousetraps, which could really hurt, and a load of other stuff that could only have been there to keep the bunker full, because nobody knew what any of it did.

It wasn't much of a window for looking out, the Wee Bunker, and the compulsory net made sure it wasn't much good for looking in either. That's what windows were for then, semi-transparent things to avoid seeing or being seen through.

By the way, the black shape in the foreground is a microwave oven. There was never room for it in the kitchen so it had to sit outside on the Wee Bunker. But that was much later. They still hadn't been invented. Older than the microwave, but dating from the sixties, not the fifties, are the two objects perched on top of the lower sash. It should now come as no surprise to learn their names. They are the Big Cowbell and the Wee Cowbell.

Peter

Pat? He takes it all in his stride. He's seen
students come and go. It doesn't mean
a lot to him. A stolid soul. As far
as he's concerned, his job's to mind the bar.

It opens at five, the Beer Bar, and Peter's first
to the counter. "A'm no an alcy, Ah jist get a thirst
sitting in lectures" "'saa right pal. 'sfine by me,
jist as lang's ye've got the readies ..." "Ah, repartee
is alive and well in Glasgow - behold the proof
in Peter and Pat" "Go home ye sassenach poof!"
A meaner cut than Peter could have known,
Terry went off and sat on a bench on his own.
It wasn't the 'sassenach poof' that stung to the core
but thoughts of home that were with him more and more.
Here among black-faced tenements, dripping rain,
and gritty Victorian statues, Coppice Lane,
Ashton-Under-Hill, in Worcestershire
seemed like a fading dream. For over a year
he's thought about dropping his studies, going back
to his family, his parent's farm. Peter's knack
for getting it wrong had earned him more than a few
black eyes, cut lips, and yet he never quite knew
how he caused offence. Not that he's thick
(five highers and prizes for mental arithmetic)
but Gav had summed him up the time he said
"Dae ye mind how in primary school it was aye the red
haired weans that used tae smell? Well look at Peter -
he'll clear the bar if he sits beside the heater."
And we all knew Gav had got him just about right
true or not, he looked as if he might . . .
something about him, puddingy and greasy,
to picture him seven years old was all too easy.
Another Monday night. Groups filter in -
medics in noisy jackets swanking gin,
the rugby crowd, pouring it down their necks
and over their heads, and lying hard about sex,
and over in teuchter corner, Tonald McPhail
and his brother and cousins discussing whether an ale
is properly called a beer, and whether God
intends a man to drink, and Wullie Todd
the Orangeman with a voice like Owen Brannigan's
who can't see past his bigoted shenanigans
and doesn't know the sash his father wore
was worn through some fifty years before,
and Peter in his place, a permanent fixture
gathering round about him the usual mixture -
homesick first-years looking for any friend,
hardened drinkers wanting someone to lend
a sympathetic ear and not remind them
of futures sneaking quietly round behind them.
Peter was never one for making speeches.
Years of being told to shut up eventually teaches
even the thickest skinned of pudgy boozers
to know their place. There's winners and there's losers.
But something snapped. At dead-on nine o'clock
Peter upped and left. It came as a shock
to everyone, even Peter. He took a scunner
at being who he was, and 'done a runner',
shouting, "That's it, Ah've hud it upti here!"
Pat said, "It's no luk him ti leave his beer
hauf drunk. Ah hope he disnae dae onythin daft
He's no cut oot fur trouble. He's hellva saft".

Something between a moped and a scooter,
all rust and chrome with a seat designed to neuter
even the toughest crotch in the thickest leather,
but Peter's thoughts were a hundred miles from his nether
parts, as he kicked it into life and headed
home; but home was the very place he dreaded.
A single-end in Yoker. His mother and spurious
uncles. She still pretended. It made him furious.
Before he reached as far as Scotstounhill
he's thinking, "Hame? Ah'm buggered if ah will!"
Dumbarton Road, the sunset, and beyond. A
mecca for Peter, another for his Honda,
till somewhere in the region of Garscadden
rebellious dreams of freedom come to gladden
his addled brain. Petrol? A near full tank -
why stop at all? There's life beyond Clydebank,
beyond Dumbarton, and time for a decision.
Gareloch or Lomond? Peter has a vision
of Sunday-school picnics somewhere near Glen Luss.
"Nae question, boys, it's the A82 for us!"
But the sun's going down and there's something grimly black
about Lomond water. He's thinking of turning back
when a truck roars past at a disconcerting rate.
He says, "Best concentrate on going straight".
Now it's become matter of survival.
"The journey's where it's at, no the arrival"
he tells himself and more or less believes it,
or that's the way the alcohol perceives it.
Another twenty miles and Lomond's glum
black depths are in the past. Next stop, Tyndrum.
Except he doesn't stop. Why bother? It's shut,
there's nothing doing here. Keep moving. But
there's a graunching sound whenever he changes gear
that his bones can feel though his ears try not to hear,
and burning oil is a far from welcome smell
when you're far from home on a bike that's far from well.
Dalmally now, and it's shedding sundry parts
jerking along the streets in spits and farts.
None shall sleep within a half mile span
of Peter's progress round Ben Cruachan.
That bike was never meant for the Pass of Brander.
and soon it's scraiching like a clapped out sander.
At last, an easy downhill stretch through Connel
till Peter tries to brake. "Oh Chrlst, the haunle!"
and sure enough, the lever flies assunder.
Swerve. Crash. Swear from somewhere under
a twisted heap of plastic, chrome and rust.
No broken bones, just oil and blood and dust.
A time of groans, a time for taking stock -
"Connel's the back o beyond an it's wan o'clock
in the moarnin. Wan thing's shair - Ah canny bike it.
Thur still five mile tae Oban. Best jist hike it".
The dawn came up to find him on the edge
of town, asleep with his wreck, beneath a hedge.

John's an early riser. He has to be
in bed-and-breakfast season. A cup of tea
at six, then whistle up Bob for his morning walk
across the fields. He likes it. He can talk
about the day ahead, about his plans,
with Bob, who's more than happy to be man's
best friend and bark agreement when required.
A collie's grin can leave a man inspired.
Salt air. Heather and bracken. Stretch the legs
for half an hour, then fry the bacon and eggs
for last night's guests to send them on their way
well fed, well rested. Routine. But today -
"What's up Bob, do you think there's ghosties near
or what? It's half past six. There's no-one here.
You've never carried on feartie-like before,
you daft galoot..." Then John heard Peter's snore,
elsewhere an unremarkable human sound
but eerie emanating from the ground
under a hawthorn hedge. "It's some old tramp
fast asleep in the ditch!" Bedraggled, damp,
unprepossessing as a lump of stew,
Peter woke up, attacking, "Who ur you,
you n yer dug, gettin me ooto ma bed
this time o the moarnin, eh?" John shook his head,
"Sorry. I thought I'd see you were OK,
that's all. Is that your Honda there, by the way?
It looks in need of tender loving care."
"Aye, me n aa, pal. Wur baith the worse fur wear
this moarnin, me n ma bike. It's knacked. Ah'm broke.
Ah'll huv ti leg it ti Glesca n thats nae joke".
"My wife's got a bike like that. I'll tell you what,
I'll give you fifteen quid for it. It's not
a goer without about forty quid on repairs
but I could break it up and use it for spares".
And Peter, seeing no sensible alternative
held out his hand and grunted an affirmative.
John wheeled it home. "Hey, Irene, look at this -
a tenner, from a student on the piss!"
while Peter, in his own eyes suddenly rich,
said, "Bikes, who needs them? Thon wis aye a bitch.
But here we ur wi Oban in easy reach.
Ah might as weel huv a day doon oan the beach".

It's five o'clock on Tuesday and Peter's the first
to the counter, limping, grimy, looking his worst.
Pat nods, "Man it's yersel. How come ye're lame?"
"Oban. Smashed it. Flogged it. Got a bus hame".

Losers take all


(Jester in 19th Century watercolours and lead pencils by Douglas McClure)

Below the blackening sky go I
warily wearily wobbly o
frightened to live and frightened to die
toll bell toll
sick as a parrot covered in glue
languid as leeks in the depth of a stew
who would be me, except possibly you?
losers take all

Doom is the name of the game we play
warily wearily wobbly o
doom by the bushel an acre a day
toll bell toll
death is a mercy so sing it again
show me a pain and I'll show you a pen
wrists in the bath or a surfeit of men
losers take all

Moan it and mix it. Trowel it on thick
warily wearily wobbly o
fate is a pheasant with salt on its dick
toll bell toll
cry me to sleep with my head on a sack
stuffed with the rotting remains of a yak
call me an artist - god knows I'll be back
losers take all


The painting and this poem were produced independently, but seem made for each other.

The Weft

The chorus gave the Hymn of Joy
their everything. The chapel rang.
I wrote a poem today, oh boy:

a picnic trip by charabanc
where some benighted yokel stole
their everything. The chapel rang

to Bach and alien strains. My soul
transported from the little world
where some benighted yokel stole

the sandwiches. They caught and hurled
him through the air and served him right.
Transported from the little world,

I seemed to ride the vibrant, bright
magnificence that bore the great
hymn through the air, and served Him right.

They ducked the thieving reprobate.
The chorus gave the Hymn of Joy
magnificence. That bore, the great
'I', wrote a poem today. Oh boy.

The Big Bunker


The big bunker window looked straight across the yard at its counterpart in MissMcMinn's house. There were actually two MissMcMinns. Their names were NiceMissMcMinn and TheOtherMissMcMinn. NiceMissMcMinn had a dog called Frisky that looked huge when it barked over the wall at us but assumed normal terrier proportions when on a lead in the street. I still don't understand how it did that. NiceMissMcMinn had a reddish-brown coat and a beret and had walked Frisky to the shops every day for a hundred years. TheOtherMissMcMinn wore a blue dress. Always.

The big bunker was where we kept coal and sometimes logs. There were two coal pails and frequent debates about whether they were really coal buckets. The distinction was lost on me. But I knew all about coal and what it was really for. Burning it was a waste. Far better was to go to Roddy's house and make gramophone records out of coal dust and water. I'm sure they'd have sounded just great if we'd been allowed to take them into the house and try them out.

Being quite small, the only way Mum could carry a full pail of coal upstairs from the coal cellar to the big bunker was by taking the handle in her clasped hands, her arms stretched out in front to keep it away from her clothes, in a position that anticipated by some forty-five years Johnny Wilkinson's odd approach to a penalty kick. (Ours was always a rugby house). Derrick, already a natural teacher, would explain that this was the wrong way to carry a pail of coal. "You're putting yourself at a Mechanical Disadvantage", he'd say, and then offer to help, if it was bob-a-job week.

This is the house -



- that John bought. It was built in 1894. John, my grandfather, must have been built a little earlier, but family history was never my forte. By the time I arrived on the scene, all four grandparents had coiled their mortal slips, the house had been flatted and the downstairs (we never called it the ground floor) sold to Mrs Gordon who ran it as a B&B guest house.

Mrs Gordon merits a paragraph. She was born old, with grey hair tied in a bun. She kept two huge carved wooden pipes on the mantlepiece. Sometimes she would chop wood with a hand-axe. She didn't like us climbing the fence, looking for red ants in her rockery, running on the stairs, shouting, or breaking her window even by accident. I liked her.

Though I never knew old John McClure, the house was full of his presence through what he left behind - walking sticks, plate cameras, brass lenses, a set of bowling balls, ivory chess and draughts sets, silver cigar boxes, a strange pewter coffee pot that you could do tricks with by blowing up the spout, clay pipes... Furniture too, but I'd no interest in that. He must have been great.

I lived in the house from 1952 to 1970, my pre-school and school years, and it was still my home-base through my University time, though I stayed in Glasgow during the term. In October 74, aged 21, I went to London and though there was always a bed for me 'at home', I never really lived there again.

About five years ago, when Mum died, my brothers and I sold the old place. I've not seen it since, even from the outside.

On one of my last visits, on a whim, I walked through the house taking a photograph of every window. Not through every window. I didn't open them to capture the view. These are intentionally pictures of the windows, from inside. The outside could take its chances. Over the next few days, I'm going to post these window pictures, one at a time, each with a memory from my early years - a 50's snapshot, if you like.

(The aerial picture is from Google Earth. I like it because it it lends context to the window pictures.)

On the other hand

I've just been billed by UK2.net for £72 for the web-space this site occupies. And that's just for one year. I remember when UK2.net was cheap! As the total size of the site is a few MB (poems are small!) it hardly seems sensible to keep tenure of a couple of empty and costly GB. Maybe that should be the mission for the year - to evict Agnes, kicking and screaming no doubt, and tell her to sign up on blogger like the rest of us.

Mission Accomplished

The new site has turned out very much as I'd hoped. It is very much easier to manage. There's also the advantage that I can add to it or edit it from any online pc. As it's a blog, there's no need for ftp. However, it does leave the question - what to do with this site? I don't want to take it down because quite a few people link to it. And I don't really want to keep it as a mere portal to the other. Oh well, I'm sure in time something will occur to me. It might even revert to its earliest purpose - the website for my C-Change Consultancy - but that won't happen for as long as I'm gainfully employed in the Middle East. Maybe it will just become a random blog. There's originality!

That Picture

The small picture is me, though my hair is slightly shorter now. It's a pencil sketch by my daughter and is the only non-photographic likeness of me that exists, except for a few cartoons that lack the gravitas to oversee a collection of poems. From what I remember I was watching TV at the time, not aware I was being sketched. I was probably pontificating too - TV has that effect on me - but fortunately I've forgotten about what. Be thankful for small mercies.