new boots and pantisocracies

What Nicola Knows

Worrying about Nicola Sturgeon’s sleep
keeps me awake the night before the general election.
Three to four hours a night, she tells us on the radio.
I wake at three, wondering if she’s up.

I get her sorted: Vote first thing, then pep talks
for candidates. The afternoon’s for sleep.
She slips off her stilettos, lies fully clothed
on the bed’s shiny cover. Her tights crackle with static.

In her dream she’s riding a long-legged horse
through an avenue of trees. She’s so high up,
she can’t hear the men who are holding the reins.
One is chastising the horse for stopping.

But Nicola doesn’t mind how fast or slow she goes.
She’s never seen inside the canopy of trees before.
She’s surprised to find that she can identify each one –
elm, beech, ash. Birds too – chiffchaff, bullfinch.

When Nicola wakes, she feels more…

View original post 77 more words


Poem for my little brother, all grown up

After a recent visit from my 6 foot 2 younger brother, I had another look at this very old poem, written when he was a shy, lego-obsessed 10-year old. He’s now 26! Still mysterious, but quite lovely.


I was nineteen when you were born.
Waiting for you shortened that first scary
winter term away from home.
I saw you only hours old, little brother,
two weeks late; wrinkled skin, big feet.

You can read the rest of this poem about his growing up, on

New poems

I’m very pleased to have two poems in the latest edition of Agenda – ‘Moving on’ and  ‘Dreaming You Want me Back.’ Here’s one. You can read the other at Or buy the magazine and read lots more, better poems by other folk! 



It’s one of those dreams – you finally realise

you love me and shouldn’t have let me go.

Your other life hasn’t worked out.


I’m inside your narrow boat.

I forget you might be dangerous,

like the risks of smoking to my heart.


I’ve come back to remonstrate

and I’ve got to see it through.

You’ve offered me a second-hand marriage –


watching the news with tea on trays,

washing up left till morning,

going to bed at different times.


It’s a deal I can’t help wanting –

to be sitting in bed with you, our bed,

looking at the black sky through the hatch.


To stop myself I talk too fast, too loud.

I wag my finger and tell you in a pompous tone

that’s not what love is about.


Instructions for library staff – a trip back in time

Tales of One City

All workplaces have their rules and procedures for staff, and libraries are no different.

We recently came across a volume of old staff instructions, and some of them are so odd that we had to share them with you.

How about this for starters:


Our procedures for new members of staff have changed over the years as well:


And woe betide you if your essay was written in a slovenly hand:


That would be me shelving books then…  though I’d have to treat the dusty ones properly and not be ‘foolish’:


Look out for more historic staff instructions soon, including guidance on dealing with young people. And ‘foreigners’.

View original post

Domestic Relations

2013-06-20 09.23.27



poems by

Diana Hendry, Kate Hendry & Hamish Whyte

Monday 18 May 2015, at 7.00pm
Golden Hare Books, 68 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge,
Edinburgh EH3 5AQ (0131-629 1396)

Diana Hendry, her daughter Kate Hendry and her partner Hamish Whyte present an evening of poems about family and family members in all their various guises and relationships.

All three writers are Edinburgh-based. Diana as well as a poet, with several published collections, is a Whitbread-winning children’s author. Her latest collection is The Seed-Box Lantern: New and Selected Poems (Mariscat).

Hamish is also an editor and publisher who runs Mariscat Press. He edited the anthology Kin: Scottish Family Poems (Polygon/Scottish Poetry Library) and his latest collection is Hannah, Are You Listening? (Happenstance).

Kate’spoems have been published widely and her first collection will be published next year by Happenstance.

This is the second in a series of poetry readings organized by Golden Hare Books in collaboration with Mariscat Press of Edinburgh (

Tickets for this event are free and can be booked through Eventbrite.

How we’re rescuing our photograph collection with a hairdryer

Tales of One City

IMG_4429Edinburgh Libraries is home to a collection of around 100 000 photographs.

We want these pictures to be seen by as many people as possible, so back in 2007 we started digitising photos and uploading them to the Capital Collections website.

But would you believe the everyday hairdryer has become an integral part of the process? Here’s how.

We discovered that many of the images had been mounted using sticky tape and in some cases the glue was starting to mark the image.

Around 80% of the collection was affected, many more than we could ever afford to have conserved by a professional.  Fortunately the glue had not yet seeped through to the image on most of the items but we needed to take action quickly.

Working with EDFAS (Edinburgh Decorative Fine Art Society) we recruited a dedicated team of volunteers who have been using a relatively low-tech tool to help remove the…

View original post 405 more words

The Moth International Short Story Prize 2015

Short Story Ireland

cover-15The annual Moth International Short Story Prize is back and accepting entries until the closing date of June 30th, 2015. There’s some great prizes for this competition including €3,000 for the winner and a 2nd prize of a writing retreat at Circle of Misse. The three winning stories will also feature in the autumn 2015 issue of The Moth.

The word limit for this competition is up to a maximum of 6,000 words which is wonderful for those writers whose stories don’t fit neatly into the usual 2,000 to 3,000 limits of these types of competitions.

The entry fee is €12 per story and the competition will be judges by Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart.

You can read “Emily” by Mandy Beaumont, the winning entry from last year’s competition here.

View original post

Bertram Ltd. of Sciennes

Tales of One City

Bertram Limited, Sciennes was founded in 1821 in Edinburgh and soon developed into a major manufacturer of papermaking machinery.

Brothers George and William Bertram set up a workshop near Sciennes with a few machines and a small forge, later moving to new, larger premises around 1859 to a site which it was to occupy for over a century.

St Katherine's Works

Bertrams was a very family orientated company where you’d find several members of the same family working alongside each other. They produced The Bertrams Family Magazine where in each issue, were published photos and articles about the company’s many social activities and sports teams.

Bertram Family Magazine

Our collection has been made possible thanks to Bill Hall who followed his father and uncle into the Bertrams workplace and who shared with us many of his own personal photographs taken throughout his family’s time there.

Staff on roof of Bertrams Bill’s father, Joe (top row centre) and Uncle Willie (top row…

View original post 15 more words

New poem published

Northwords Now issue29cover

I’m running late for work. The baby needs
a nappy change. In the still-dark morning
I lay her on the bed. You sit up,
as if it’s your birthday and you’ve been waiting
for this one present, which I place on your lap.

Read the rest of my new poem, recently published in Northwords Now, here.