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The new normal?

We humans are amazing! We can adapt to whatever life throws at us, even if it is sometimes harder than others.

My daily walks now include a bottle of hand gel, for after I've opened or closed a gate, even though it's miles from anywhere. It feels like a wee bit of freedom's been taken away though, and some days I just opt for walks where there are no gates. I suppose we'll just get used to wearing masks too! The trouble with masks though is that they hide your smile.

So the weekend brought mist and rain, and the gardens heaved a sigh of relief, as did the gardeners, briefly. Lets just hope the rain remembers to stop though, I've kind of got used to going out without a waterproof jacket. That's definitely not normal!

Today I want to share a poem by the wonderful Liz Lochhead -

The Spaces Between.

The boy is ten and today it is his birthday.

Behind him on the lawn

his mother and his little sister

unfurl a rainbow crayoned big and bright

on a roll of old wallpaper.

His father, big-eyed, mock-solemn, pantomimes ceremony

as he lights the ten candles on the cake.

Inside her living-room

his grandmother puts her open palm to the window.

Out in the garden, her grandson

reaches up, mirrors her, stretching fingers

and they smile and smile as if they touched

warm flesh not cold glass.

More than forty thousand years ago

men or women splayed their fingers thus

and put their hands to bare rock, they

chewed ochre, red-ochre, gritted charcoal and blew,

blew with projectile effort that really took it out of them,

their living breath. Raw gouts of pigment

spattered the living stencil

that was each’s own living hand

and made their mark.

The space of absence

was the clean, stark picture of their presence

and it pleased them.

We do not know why they did it

and maybe they did not either but

they knew they must.

It was the cold cave wall

and they knew they were up against it.

The birthday boy is juggling.

He has been spending time in the lockdown learning

but though he still can’t keep it up for long

his grandmother dumb-shows most extravagant applause.

She toasts them all in tea

from her Best Granny in the World mug, winking

and licking her lips ecstatically as they cut the cake,

miming hunger, miming prayer

for her hunger to be sated.

The slim girl dances and her grandmother claps

and claps again, blinking tears.

Another matched high-five at her window.

Neither the blown candles or the blown kisses will leave any permanent mark – unless love does? — on them on this the only afternoon they will be all alive together on just this day the boy is ten.

Glasgow, Scotland. April 2020

Stay safe folks.


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