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Journey into the Mist

West Fest 2012

West Fest

Janice Galloway
An Evening with Janice Galloway

I was lucky enough to be asked to host the West Fest literary event 'An Evening with Janice Galloway,' on the 7th of September. Janice is a multi award winning Ayrshire author, hailed by critics as being part of the Scottish Renaissance. She read from both volumes of her anti-memoirs: the first, 'This Is Not About Me', is a moving account of growing up in the Scottish town of Saltcoats whilst her second, 'All Made Up,' takes us from childhood into teenage years, has just won the SMIT Scottish Book of the Year. Both books are filled with a dry, ironic humour which provides a sharp contrasted with the harsh realities of growing up in a family where secrets were normal occurrences.

The audience swung from laughter to near tears and back again several times during the readings as Janice's perceptive and forgiving descriptions of her childhood unfolded. After the readings she answered questions from the audience and demonstrated, in her responses, the same humour and emotional generosity which pervades her books.

Talking about her experiences at Glasgow University in the seventies she described how Scottish writers were denigrated, by Scottish lecturers, as not being 'world class' and how Hugh MacDiarmid, from the Scottish Studies Department, decried women as being unable to write. She was therefore a failure not only for being Scottish but also because she was a woman and thus she started her career not as a writer but as a teacher.

Janice is one of those Scottish writers who provides a counter narrative to the traditions of English literature, which has, like most so called British culture, tried to assimilated Scottish National identity under a banner which is really an expanded notion of Englishness. Hopefully those ideas are gradually being eroded.
Crichton Writers 2010

'I remember, I remember ...'
memoirs of some lively times

Wigtown Book Festival 2010
Anni Telford at Wigtown Book
                          Festival 2010
Reading the short story Luftwaffe
at the Wigtown Book Festival 2010
Short Story in Word Format
The Turtles Of Rhinn  Download

The Turtles of Rhinn
Short Story in Word Format
The Turtles Of
                            Rhinn  Download


Muscles bulging like ripe plums
he snorts out an icy breath.
In the byre
warm scents of testosterone and dung
embrace the senses.
His strength fulfils the promise
of sun’s winter song

Collected Threads
                            Threads published 23rd September 2009
To my Grandmother's Corsets

Angel skin and whalebone.
You pinched her in
until her waist was as narrow
as her ambitions.
Constrained her horizons
as well as her breath;
she could not run
until the last irrevocable bolt.
Who could have guessed that such soft chains
could bind so hard? She threw you off
at the same time as her husband.
Holding you up in front of the mirror
I examine the fit.

My Great Aunt

As strong as spinsters' knickers , my Great Aunt
Was there for me, the better to defy
The slings and arrows; all the foul mouthed slant
Said to hurt and yes, to make me cry.

As soft as my old boots she wrapped me round
With love, and cared for me when others could
Have sliced and pierced; she always made me sound
Taught me to stand foursquare; she was heartwood.

As gentle as the lion which cuffs its cub
She taught me right from wrong; I never knew
The vagaries of life; she was the hub
Round which I turned, a young girl ingenue.

I never said goodbye, I was not there,
A sin of great omission that I'll grant
But she would know the cause and absence bear;
For she was spinsters' knickers, my Great Aunt.

When Flying In From Twenty Thousand Feet

When flying in from twenty thousand feet
I see the hills below me clad in green
Whilst in the depths of winter sleet and snow
Obscures the view that I have often seen

We turn to land and I can clearly see
The place I left your ashes on the ground
A strange goodbye with people looking on
And no words said by any all around

From such a height you'd think that I would know
That you had gone and never more I'd turn
And catch you standing gazing up the brae
Or crouching in the heather by the burn

Yet still I hear your voice and see your face
When walking amongst strangers on the street
Or sense you just behind me and I turn
When flying in from twenty thousand feet.