Elderflower wine

I’m running, flying, up the back track in the dark after Erica. My head’s spinning like the stars. The trees are just dark giants laughing down on us in our crazy, drunken escapade. I don’t know where we’re heading, or even if we’re together. I know she’s not fleeing from me, but neither is she with me.

The wine wasn’t ready, really. Some house kid stole it from her mum, still in the carboy, and donated it to the dorm full of teens. Among those pert-breasted girls, adolescent hippy dudes and alternative oddities, I too drank my fill. The sediment churned in the glass as I sat on the mattressed floor and made vain efforts to be included.

In the morning, it’s a scene of vomit. Buckets and washing-up bowls and ice cream tubs litter the floor, like boulders in a maze.

June steps into the room, a wry and patient smile of fond tolerance on her lips and in her eyes. “Let’s get this cleaned up,” is all she says. No reproach.

“June… June… I really like you,” is all I can manage. The alcohol still has its hold.

It’s true. Perhaps more than any of my cohort, my peers, I prefer one who’s one of their mothers. Hers would be the arms to hold me.

I’m just a child. This adult striving isn’t yet for my world. Perhaps just a mother to hold me.


And no, I don’t know who you are, distant person who “is now following” me. Your words appear on the screen, striving for love, to matter, to be heard.


It’s a big world, and it’s an almost infinite history. So many heart poets, each of us in our fragility, our insignificance, and seeking significant other.

I really only matter deeply to less than a handful of folk. That’s the simple truth. Perhaps it’s everyone’s truth – give or take a factor or two.

So, what? Live with it? Celebrate it? Cherish, really see, savour, each moment in the presence of the ones who care?

It would be so easy to look at this infinity of tweets – this enormous electronic nest of hungry young mouths, clamouring to be fed with attention and love – and to judge, to despise. But no – that’s life, that’s the manifestation of longing, that’s what each of us (perhaps?) honestly, basically, feels. It’s just a little hard to admit:


I can dress myself up in sophistication, and could despise or mock the others, and I could feel silently overwhelmed by the infinity of other souls who diminish me to a pointless dot with “You are here!” like in the Douglas Adams vision.

But no.

Let’s just accept it. Each tweet, each click, each screen swipe, each browser refresh – it’s just looking for love.

Kilted sheep addresses the haggis

Dieter stands up among the now-drunken crowds with his hand up a sheep-puppet’s arse. It’s one of those moments where it seriously could go either way.

In his endearing, yet pronounced, German accent he begins:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!

The kilted sheep ventriloquises, looking almost as perplexed as the wider company, and making a mental note to re-examine its family tree as a matter of some urgency. However, the Bard will not be silenced, and nor will the puppeteer. Exhibiting manual dexterity rarely seen its hooved brethren, the sheep grasps the huge and freshly sharpened dagger, and at the climax, plunges it deep into the bowels of its innocent, albeit now evidently more distant than previously imagined, cousin.

The haggis volcanoes its oaty eruption onto the steaming plate, entrails spilling, and the fabulous aroma rises to the sky. With charged glasses smelling of Highlands and peat, we rush for our plates and queue, disorderlyly, for a piece of the felled prey.

Golden-orange neeps have been bashed. Tatties mashed. The haggis stabbed.

All’s well that ends well.


The kids have crowded round in the tall, darkened room. Lame jokes are told, muffled behind plastic masks. I hand out sweets and money.

“Would anyone like some of this? It’s a dragon’s heart!”

I tear open the pomegranate melodramatically, juice spraying, and the garnet-encrusted centre is revealed. A few dare to eat the sweet, seeded drops, discarding bitter yellow substrate. Only later do my children relate that one of the party fled the house in terror.

Finding the deer skull… Walking into the hillside woods, along the forestry track. I’m hungry for solitude and quietness of mind. Breaking off the trail, I descend into the conifers, expecting nothing, just wandering and being with what is.

She’s there on the brown, dead needles, like a pale jewel set on dark velvet. I gently lift her up and carry her home, feeling somehow she’s part of me, some wild and fragile soul spending solitary hours enjoying simplicity among the trees.

Since then, at Samhain, she keeps me company through the festival of the dead, of ancestry, of the endless line of souls we watch as we walk backwards into the future.