It felt like January was going on forever, but it has ended
now, thank God!
It’s been an odd month for me all round, lots of writing
work and less performance gigs which have freaked me out slightly. If I don’t
get on stage I tend to be mental, husband says am like a cloven hoofed wolf
prowling the house looking for faults!
My dad decided he wanted new curtains for his windows, so we
bought him some (he picked them and shouted the serial number of them into my
face in the street- he is a bit deaf, still…I nearly bit his face, I hate
shouting). After we delivered them and the new curtain pole, I told him to give
us a few days before we could come up and fix it into the wall. He agreed and
spoke at length about the dangers of an old man going up heights, but as we
drove away, I saw the silhouette of him erecting the ladders through his
blinds! He is a stubborn old bugger!
Ashley and I have been writing hard for a radio show. People
always ask what it’s like writing with your daughter or writing with your mum
and we have always worked together. We did a sketch show at Edinburgh fringe in
2006 and toured New Zealand and it was awesome fun.
She has a great writing skill and am great at saying words
out loud that she can type, she is very professional and I just watch her in
We are not best pals, I disagree with that idea, she is my
daughter but we have very similar yet very different comedy bones and that
works. Also she is much more disciplined than me, she is aghast at how I
prepare for shows, or how I quickly write for newspapers etc…but that’s a
university education for you! As you can imagine I am very proud of her, as is
He just stands back and watches us both banter words back
and forth, he doesn’t speak, he supplies the coffee, makes the dinner, irons
the clothes and calls us ‘His talented girls’ and occasionally adds a word when
we do a read through or he voices his confusion over a paragraph. Its great coz
he has Aspergers Syndrome so when he doesn’t understand something we know an
audience won’t get it either, his mental capacity is a great sounding board.
Every writer should have an Aspergers Syndrome person listen to their ideas!
I am looking forward to my one woman show at Tron Theatre on
Thursday 25th March for Glasgow Comedy Festival, ticket sales are
going great guns!
I am glad January is over; it felt so long and dark.
Last weekend was awesome, Ashley and I decided to head to
London and have a fun weekend. We were both doing Burns poems at a Private
London Club as part of their Burns Night celebrations. Ashley ‘gets’ Burns and
I am not really sure of how to pronounce his work, but she taught me over the
We flew into London at 8am on Friday morning, both of us
exhausted as we don’t do mornings well and I hate folk who fight for elbow
space on the London tube. Some nasty wee man started pushing his elbow right
into my side as he read his paper. Ashley was sitting opposite and glared at
him, whilst making silent angry eyes at me, I waited till he got comfy and gave
him a proper Glasgow dunt (a big shove) right back. He was startled but gave up
trying to stick his arm under my left breast. I felt like turning round and
saying “We will need a lubricant if you get any closer to my side boobs” but
the dunt did it. He had the cheek to look at me as if I was wrong!
Anyway we got to the Crownlawn apartments at Point West on
the Cromwell Road and they were AWESOME, seriously – a huge two bedroom flat
with enormous patio! My niece Ann Margaret was coming down for two nights, but
the poor wee mite was doing the ten hour bus journey as she doesn’t have a passport
or is into flying yet!
Ashley was furiously learning her Burns poem and I was
silently ignoring mine; it will be all right on the night!
Ann Margaret arrived on the Saturday morning after the
journey from hell on the bloody Magic Bus…trust me it wasn’t magic, it was
On Saturday afternoon we all got ready and headed into the
club to prepare for the big meal and the Burns performance. Little did we know
that John Landis and his wife would be in attendance, its one thing winging a
poem in front of a small audience and another doing it in front of a big
Hollywood film director. To make it worse there were a few very famous faces
from the big screen, Ashley stared at me with a pale face and I felt my bowels
do the Macarena!
There were only about 50 people in this small room…so it’s
not as if you can huddle into a corner if you totally fuck it up! Anyway, after
the most amazing Address to the Haggis by a lovely Scottish actor, Ashley was
first up with her rendition of ‘A mans a man for aw that’ and she was really
good, her clear voice and determined attitude saw it through.
I did my poem and some Burns based comedy, as did other
fabulous performers, it was a lovely night. Mr Landis congratulated Ashley on
her lovely poem and chatted to her, he was so bloody nice!
Then we all had karaoke, which Ashley and Ann Margaret LOVE!
They sang, danced and chatted the night away, fabulous stuff!
All in all it was an awesome night out, despite having
nerves performing in front of some famous people!
So I am back home and back working, writing and trying hard
not to think about my colonoscopy next week, but my bowels know its going to
happen and they are rebelling in a way I will never describe in words.
Have loved the cold weather, so much so I went on ‘STV The
Hour’ show and declared my love of the snow, it was funny- to me.
I did have a blocked up nose during the broadcast and was
sweating slightly. The snow has been a double edged sword in my household.
On the one hand, we are all getting cabin fever, on the
other we are all talking more and huddling together.
Ashley and I are writing together, I have to sit in her room
as we do it and I get all distracted by staring at her book collection (why
does she have Dirk Bogarde’s biography?), the bundles of clothes (are they
clean or needing ironed?), why is there make up bottles mixed with bank
statements and a basil Panini? (Should I sort them out?) Things come into my
head and she shouts “Mum, stop looking at my stuff and bloody focus on what we
are writing, we have a deadline!”
I am easily distracted. So after all this week of writing,
learning a new programme on the laptop and dealing with a lump that I haven’t
yet let the doctor look at, I headed up to Bingham Pond on the Great Western Rd
and joined in with a skating/curling event. It was very unorganised yet totally
organised at the same time- nothing to do with the council, this was community
spirit at work- a bloke had gotten heaps of skates for people to have free, a
lovely woman had brought hot food and the kids brought their enthusiasm!
The Bingham Pond was totally frozen over, expect for one big
hole cut into the side where the ducks and birds sat sullenly around a chilly
patch of freezing water.
They didn’t look happy, I have never seen so many emotional,
sad angry ducks- they did look totally disenfranchised. They stared at me,
sniffed and waddled off in a stumpy huff. This was there pond, why on earth why
we walking on their water? What were we Jesus?
I met loads of nice people, drank heaps of hot tea, ate home
made brownies, and did a bit of slipping about, perfect Sunday.
I have been keeping constant contact with my dad, despite
his age he is determined to get out into the slippy ice and snow and damage
“Dad, please stay in, we will come up with food” I said.
“Och, I will be fine, am just off to get myself a newspaper”
Meanwhile I got an ear infection; it made my ear pulsate
with pain. I called the NHS helpline and they directed me to the out or hours
clinic, they faxed them to let them know I was coming.
The clinic was at The Western Infirmary, with pulsating
itchy painful ear I hobbled in.
Husband dropped me off to go park his car, I was sitting
there reading a book and trying to imagine having sex with George Michael (I do
this when I am in pain- it takes a lot of concentration) when I noticed a fat
young bloke snarling and muttering at his skinny young girl friend.
“They cunts should have listened to you Shania, I am gonna
punch that fucking nurse, she is a cow” I could hear him despite my ear being
Great- all I need is a fat dick in a bad mood as my ear
threatened to explode, where was husband?
There was a nice Asian looking bloke opposite me, we both
made eye contact and raised our brows at each other. Then the nurse called for
the Asian bloke- fat acrylic clad fuck wit shouts “How come that paki cunt got
This made me glare at him, the yellow NHS room felt
menacing, and the skinny girlfriend looked at me with pleading sorry eyes. Fat
man huffed louder and answered his loud mobile phone whose ringtone was ‘Rule
Britannia’ I was amazed he liked orchestral music.
“Turn your phone off; it says so on the sign” the girlfriend
spoke mouse like but adamant.
“I am dyslexic and cannae read” he sniggered. I didn’t doubt
it, but I suspect it was illiteracy not even sarcasm.
Then the nurse called my name, just as I was getting up he
snarled “Why is she being taken?”
At this I snapped my head round and said “I had an
appointment faxed in by my doctor, did you? Shut up, you might be able to bully
her but not me ok fatty boom boom?”
He just stared open mouthed and put his head down. I was
only getting seen by the nurse before I go to the doctor. I was out in seconds
and husband was now on the chairs waiting on me, he didn’t know husband was
with me and was complaining about how some woman and a paki got it before them.
I sat beside husband and glared at fatty boom boom.
Husband ignored all the words coming out of fatty’s mouth-
he doesn’t like strangers talking to him, far less racist annoying ones.
Just then a skinny blonde girl and her young spiky haired
boyfriend came in- she was painfully thin and vomiting into a grey hospital sick
“Fucksake Tam, I feel ill” she bleated.
The fat arse immediately recognised what he thought was his
own kind and started telling them how his girlfriend was waiting ages “I am
gonna punch some cunt soon” he spoke gruffly. I stared at him.
He looked away; husband laughed loudly and stared at the
wall. The room felt menacing, the spiky young haired guy looked at husband and
immediately smiled and stroked his blonde sick girlfriends back- he was not
alleging himself to fatty.
Then fatty’s girlfriend was called in by the nurse and as
soon as she went off fatty said “her period is two weeks late fucksake and she
is bleeding clots fucksake and it might be a miscarriage and these cunts aren’t
taking her seriously fucksake”
Husband laughed loud again and stared at the wall and the
said “Yuk” out loud at the ‘clots’ comment. The spiky boy and sick girl stared
at us, the sick girl smiled at me.
“You ok?” I offered some friendship at her.
“I am just pregnant 3 weeks and I can’t stop being sick” she
I told her I had that when I was pregnant and offered her
sympathy she, I and her spiky haired boyfriend all chatted about sickness in
Fatty was left in the cold. Just then his girlfriend came
out and he shouted “What happened?”
She was whispering and didn’t want to share with the group
and they both left in a hurry.
“Maybe she will get away from him?” I ventured and the sick
blonde girl laughed and said “I hope so” we all sat in silence until my name
was called. The upshot is- I got anti biotic ear drops and need to keep using
them. I was glad to get out of that place. The ears are better and am hoping
the thumping infection clears up for London next week.
So Ashley and I are currently learning Burns’ poems as we
are doing a wee turn at The Groucho club for Burn’s night next Saturday. Ashley
is really good at it, I seem to stumble over the old Scots dialect and can’t
quite get my head around it, those odd Gaelic-type words flow from her wee
lips…me? Its like flip flops falling out of my mouth…I need to practice
Both of us are hoping that the snow clears up so we can fly
to London when needs be!
The fair haired woman at the bus stop cried loudly and
turned away as her male friend shouted into her face. He then slapped her
loudly across the head with a plastic bag which I assumed must have concealed a
bottle, for the crack that she suffered made my teeth grind and crush as I
heard the impact.
He stood there, his bald head red with anger, his other fist
trembling in rage and his face contorted into that of a snarling bull dog. The
blonde woman simply moaned and bent over holding her head after the bottle made
contact with her scalp.
“Leave her alone you crazy freak!” I screamed and stepped
between him and the moaning simpering woman. “Don’t say anything.” - The woman
lifted her dazed face towards me, pleading with her frightened eyes. I knew
exactly what she was conveying with her eyes. “If you upset him, I get it more”
is what she was saying. “If you stand up to him, he will beat me worse in
private.” Those feelings stirred up old memories within my furious brain. The
baldy angry man spat at her and ran off leaving us both at the freezing cold
bus stop. The woman refused any words of comfort and help. She jumped on a
number 56 bus and I never saw her again. I used to be her.
I got married too young to an even younger boy who never
knew how to love without fear and violence. He came from a gangster background
- a male dominated family, where women were undervalued and were never really
respected. It took us both almost two decades of anger and abuse to work out
our differences. I was told men don’t change, but I would like to think some
can and –DO. When my husband talks about how he behaved towards me, he is
totally remorseful and has never tried to justify or hide anything he did. He
actively encouraged me to write all the details of his marital abuse in my
autobiography ‘Handstands in the Dark.’ He is still ashamed and can never
understand why I stayed. I know I shouldn’t have stayed but, like many women, I
had many reasons to hang on. None of them right reasons; more like excuses and
lack of confidence mixed with no sense of self worth.
When my husband had tried to talk about his abuse towards
me, no one wanted to deal with it. He knew instinctively that what he was doing
was wrong and needed help to understand what was going on with the violence and
his own mental health and recurring depression that he had suffered since he
was 14 years old. Other people around us assured him that it was the norm.
Society accepted it.
My own mother had been murdered by her boyfriend - Peter Greenshields
- and he never even got questioned by the police, despite being the last person
to see her alive and having been charged for assaulting her previously. My
husband recalls how, back in the early 80s, he tried to seek help from his
family and the local priest about the way he had been beating and mentally
abusing me, he was told “Men sometimes just can’t control themselves and it is
hard when you first get married.” This spurred him into seeking psychological
help from the local health authorities, which became fruitless and left with
him with no other avenue so he went for private therapy. This does not make him
a ‘good man’ but it did make him a good husband who has never forgotten how he
terrorised the love of his life. He still struggles to understand what made him
so unbelievably violent towards me. That is the reason I stay with him: if he
had never tried to understand the anger, or take the responsibility for his
actions, I could never have shared my life with him.
We are now married 30 years and sometimes to this day, when
he shouts, I get a knot in my stomach and cringe at my own vulnerability. He
will never hit or abuse me ever again, not because he has promised, but because
I will never let it happen to me. It takes years to be strong inside after
being abused by someone you love but you do manage it. We have a beautiful 23-year-old
daughter. It is hard watching her grow up. I worry she will be hurt or let
someone rob her of all that shiny beautiful hopefulness she possesses. I can
only try to teach her self worth, self confidence and her father has spoken to
her about how he treated me. There are many testimonials my daughter can read
about women who were attacked and beaten by their partners and all of those
accounts are valid and important, but I think it was valuable for her to hear
it from her father - how violent he was towards me – her mother. My daughter
was appalled at the level of brutality and emotional fear I had lived under
from the man she loves the most in her world and him discussing it openly with
her can only help her reach some understanding as to how to deal with such
situations in her life. We hope.
My daughter, her father and I agreed that silence, shame,
ignorance and acceptance are the some of most basic hurdles to get over when
dealing with spousal abuse. The shame it brings on a woman to have to admit
that the man she loves and chose to marry is the one person who is making her
life a living hell is often the hardest thing to tell people. It was for me. To
this day, I hope that woman at the bus stop with the cracked head got on a bus
and ran away from her violent man forever. Or maybe like me, she waited and
hoped her man would love her enough to stop hitting her only to realise that I
had to love myself first. Both my husband and I changed, it took the two of us
to get therapy to solve it: him to understand what made him violent and me to
understand what made me accept it. It doesn’t always work out like this, I
know, but I always liked happy endings.
And that is why I support a campaign called A Safer World
The second you say you are involved in raising awareness
about the violence women suffer, you can hear some people shut their minds off
from you. Bleeding hearts and sad tales isn’t something people like hearing
about. The reason there is sympathy fatigue over this subject matter is that
folk feel helpless to help and that can in turn be negative about the good work
from the people at A Safe World for Women which is run by The Women for a Change International
Foundation (WFAC) and is a not-for-profit organisation staffed by
Basically the organisation are trying to get one million
online endorsements to help raise awareness about the fear, violence, rape,
abuse and mental torture suffered by women across the globe, they are also
trying to highlight the horror of the female slave trafficking.