Skin Deep

We used the train. We got a return ticket. On the way back we boarded, planning to get off at a different station and then taking a walk. The passengers in the cabin around us twitched nervously. They were all young and black – perhaps Pakistani.

As we were zipping along, I began to wonder if this kind of public transport apartheid was the norm, and had we inadvertently upset the status quo. A young girl kept turning around to look at us. I smiled, trying to be as mummy-ish as possible. It was all very uncomfortable.

We stood to get off at our stop, the train waited a short while before easing in to the station.

Then I clocked him. And he – me. Us.

I didn’t mean to stare of course, but he certainly meant to stare at us. My child was oblivious at that point. staring at his phone.

The train stopped. Eight of us got off – all white -except mine -a streak of Roma in his appearance. He was ahead of us all.

I didn’t recognise him – not his face. But I did recognise the uniform. The bomber jacket and jeans, the haircut. That walk. He was tall. His jacket filled with the breeze and billowed as he strode along, turning and looking at us.

I had clocked him, and he had clocked me.

Hang back a bit I said. There’s a Naz in front.

We hung back, as did everyone else. Intimidated by his aggressive presence.

He wouldn’t do anything in public said the young man with me.

He wouldn’t care I said.

We can beat him up if he tries he said.

I didn’t bring my knuckleduster and switch-blade knife. Hang back I said.

Two sets of stairs over two sets of  rail tracks. He stands at the bottom lighting his cigarette. Watching us. I bristle. To get to the busy road without a stand-off would be good.

Everyone pretends to look busy on the steps, a couple go for the lift.

He carries on, walking as broadly as he can, shoulders wide apart. Arrogance, no I wouldn’t call it that. Pride – nor that. He looked round again with purpose as he headed left over the bridge. At this point no one wanted to be directly behind him, so we took over.

He went left. We went right. Standing at the busy crossroads we had made our escape and he kept on walking further and further away.

H.A.T.E. not L.O.V.E.

Love not hate.



The Gift We Gave Ourselves

Yes, I’m still going on about music tuition and how fantastic to see Scotland on Sunday  is leading a campaign in favour of free music tuition at schools for all children.

Now at week three and with comments from Nicola Benedetti and Karine Polwart previously, this weekend’s edition looks at the benefits of music on a personal, social and educational level.

But why in the 21st century are we having to prove that music education matters. Surely with all that is around us, that is obvious?

It is very sad to see local authorities making profits on charging children, and before anyone says that is alright. It is NOT. State education should be FREE, all of it. The threshold at the moment to receive free tuition is extremely low, an awful lot of families don’t fall in to that category.

The opportunity a free music education gives at school to an individual, groups, communities is huge. That investment pays off massively over the years as children continue with instruments and join bands, orchestras or just play solo.

Music is a gift we gave ourselves. It should always be a gift, passed down from generation to generation. It should not be used to make profit from children’s creative needs and desires.






What is your idea of paradise?

We’ve been thinking about it over the last few days as we look to a new future.

This is bliss for me:

A walk on a Sunday to a gallery or two in the rain. Appreciating a cup of tea and a scone after the chill of autumn.

A west coast beach, a blue sky and not many people.

The heat of an Adriatic summer, days in the sea and reading on the rocks.

Being with people with open minds and hearts, kindred folk with big souls.

Waking up to snowflakes and a white garden, a silent road.

Being in the throng of a crowd at a gig and soaking up the energetic atmosphere.

Sharing meals with our favourite people, a game of chess.

A boat to sail.

And music music music