Posted in poetry

hashtag #GetTalkingPoetryChallange

I don’t do the new years’ resolution thing at Hogmany, it always seems to be a little untimely for big life-changing promises of good intentions, generally fueled by new year celebrations & alcohol-infused euphoria.
That said, and quirky as it may seem, I do have a tendency to make affirmations of intentions for my forthcoming year around the Chinese new year. Spring festival feels, at least to me, to be more in tune with the beginning of the natural year in the northern hemisphere where I live, or maybe it is just how my own biorhythms and energies begin to attune to the promise of spring and natures rebirth.

Anyway, this year my primary affirmation was to push my personal barriers & challenge my social anxiety to try and rebuild my confidence and try to get out and mix with other humans.
The first step was to go back to a writing group I’ve attended on and off over many years, I am comfortable there, familiar with the environment and the tutor is a trusted friend.
I was enjoying being back at writing group, and with a little encouragement decided to send some poems off to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2020 Ayrshire Poetry Competition, and was looking forward to attending other SMHAF events with my friend in May, as step two in challenging my social anxiety.
Then as the great bard said, ” The best-laid schemes o’Mice an’ Men gang aft agley,”

Along came COVID-19, lockdown, and social distancing. Life as we knew it canceled indefinitely.

Like most people, I’ve now worked my way through most spring deep cleaning tasks.
Unarguably my mental health has yoyo’d since lockdown began, I suggest most peoples have by now, It’s ok to not be okay.
It’s a myth that having social anxiety and being used to isolation makes it easier.

Yesterday I found myself on the precipice of mind- bland, which for me is never good, as mind-bland teeters on the edge of the abyss to madness.
I shared my mindset on twitter.

Later, I got a wee motivational reply from my writing group tutor, and later still, a lightbulb moment, as I stared out the window across the waters of the Clyde when my mindset shifted from bland to plan.

Sure it’s disappointing that the SMHAF 2020, and all festivals and social gatherings are canceled, but that doesn’t have to mean we can’t still enjoy poetry, raise awareness of mental health issues, ( now more than ever our mental health is important as we all face these difficult social changes affecting life as we know it). As Ant and Dec keep telling us on the telly, it is important & good for our mental health to talk.
So, my lightbulb moment idea that took me from mindset bland to plan?! ….

Inspired by the SMHAF poetry competition theme “perspectives ” is, a get talking mental health poetry challenge.

TO GET INVOLVED ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS;

1. write a poem. (The theme is ” Perspectives” & how that relates to Mental Health, interpret as you wish)
2. Upload a recording of yourself reading/reciting/preforming poem
3. tag 5 people you invite to challenge
4. post & share with hashtag #GetTalkingPoetryChallange

To start the challenge I’ve re-edited and tweaked my canceled entry to the SMHAF Ayrshire poetry comp, which was inspired by the Get Britain Talking campaign, and my 5 nominations go to,

  1. David Mclaughlan  @davidwordworker
  2. Ruth Anderson  @RRudiB1
  3. Kate Lindsay @KatieL251
  4. Tracy Harvey @Tracyanneharvey
  5.  Mkuu Amani @tocarbne

I hope they will rise to the challenge and get involved.

Poetry has long been a great influencer of social change, RAISING AWARENESS AND HELPING break down the barriers to understanding and tackling social issues and taboos that stigmatize and prevent good mental health.

SO, let’s GET POETIC! and #GetTalkingPoetryChallenge.

https://youtu.be/4rXsV0Ap0CQ

Grenfell tower fire

It been a while since I posted anything here, and I certainly didn’t expect to be writing about such a tragic event like the Grenfell tower fire in London this week.

I had been basking in the joy and blessing of my new granddaughters birth on the 11th June, and had just returned from dropping my youngest son at Glasgow airport , he and his girlfriend had flew in to meet his elder brothers new baby and were heading back to Spain where they work after a very short and happy visit.

It was around 4.50am when I switched on the tv while having a quick cuppa before heading to bed, and saw the blazing invero of the tower block and I was brought back to earth with a thud , filling with horror , tears and emotion for all involved.

I’v experianced a house fire, twice in fact.

The first time was when my daughter was about 3 and 1/2 years old and we were living in a tenement on the Maryhill rd above the chemist where the fire started.

My daughter had got up during the night and came to my bed, the firemen told me later, it had probably saved her life as the fire had started in the back of the chemest below her bedroom , her bed was black with soot and smoke damage, and the fireman said had she been in it she would have been unlikly to have survived the smoke inhilation, the whole house was smoke damaged , that smell, it lingers and becomes a trigger.

The firemen were great , they woke me , got us out the house and also the other neighbours in the building. We were lucky and greatful not just for the job the firemen did saving our lives, and our home , but the kindness of the old couple who lived accross the street, who took us dressed in pyjamas with bare feet, in till we were checked over by paramedics , giving us blankets and phoning my dad to come get us and take us to my mums.

Years later when my eldest son was about 2 years old we were living at the high flats at Cedar st, where I grew up, and where my parents lived.

It was the fire in my home  that night, I remembered when I watched the Grenville fire unfold on tv.

The fire that night stared in my baby sons room,  a portable tv, I used to leave on for sound, which I felt kept him company, had caught fire.

It was around 11PM, I’d just got out the bath and was about to do some  ironing, & watch “Cell block H”, my dog began behaving strangly, agitated, and when I went to see what was bothering him,the fire alarm in the hall began to ring. As I reached the top of the stairs I could see the smoke coming from the babies room.

I remember running down the stairs and grabbing him out of the cot, then to my daughters room and waking her, getting them both out the flat, handing my daughter the baby, telling her to go down to there grans on the 5th floor, not to panic, to tell her gran to phone the firebrigade. I was kinda in auto pilot,  we lived on the 11th.

Neighbors came to help, they had already phoned the brigade, wee Jonny Linch , my hero, a lad of about 13 years of age. He ran in to the house , shouting

“Were’s yer cats june?”

Running up the stairs before I could stop him , in a flat black with smoke already filling the hall way , as I soaked towels to lay accross the bottom of the door of the room where the fire was, having already turned off the main power box supply.

It was terrefying, Wee Jonny Linch, came back down the stairs ,

” I open the veranda door for the cats” he said. ” we need tae get the fuck oot a here”

By then the fire brigade had arrived, and as they opened the bedroom door with big sheilds up, the window blew out, but these heros soon had the fire contain, under control and out.

No one was hurt, although there was extensive smoke damage . The children were taken Yorkhill childrens hospital to be checked for smoke inhilation. Where they were met by partner who had been working  at the time. I was taken to The Western Infirmary, accompanied by Charlie the local beat policeman, an aquaintance through the dance club I ran for local kids. He who had just finnished his shift and offered to keep me company at the hospital while I went through the blood test and waited for the all clear. I was greatful, for his comforting reasurances and kind words during those frightening , anxious , caotic initial hours after the incident.

It probably seems strange , but I don’t remember the date of either of these fires I experianced. Nor  do I remember what I had been doing early on the days they happened.

All I remember is the fear, the anxciety, the smell, and the stinging eyes from the smoke. I remeber the proffesionalism of the emergancy services and what they did , their bravery.

I remember how Charlie,  who went above and beyond the call of his duty..

I remeber the kindness and concern of neighbors who offered support and well wishes in the aftermath of my badly smoke damaged home.

I , we , were lucky, and as I watched the towering inferno that was Grenfell, I was taken back to that night at  Cedar st, and tears rolled down my face for those resident at Grenfell, those lucky enough to escape with their lives, and those who sadly didn’t.

I thought of all those people accross the UK who will be affected by what they’v seen unfold these last days , those who live in high rise building , and now think

“There but for the grace of god , go I…”

I know the flats at Cedar street are presently undergowing refurbishment, and I  think of them, because even over 20 years on Cedar st, is dear to me, it was home, where I lived on the 5th floor as a child and teenager ,where my partents lived most of their lives.

I think of all high rise  resedent accross the Uk who will be fearful of the state and risks that may be there and the effect recent events will have on their minds.

My heart bleeds for those who have lost everything in the Grenfell disaster, because let their be no doubt, this is a distaster, and I am greatful to all the heros of the frontline services ,and indeed, the ordinary people of the community who remind us of the importance of compassion and community, and compasion in the community  .

Most of all I pray that steps are taken to ensure this never happens again, in the UK or anywhere else, and as a UK Tax payer I demand a full tranparent inquiry and that those responsable for risk assesment and saftey who failed the resident of Grenfell tower are held accountable and brought to book.