Keep breathing, keep my eyes on her unclothed body, and keep the hand moving. No thought. Just breathe her in and stay with the movement. No real concern for what begins to emerge on the paper.

It’s like a swaying back and forth, and a circling. The brush lifts and washes itself in the muddying water, and dips in colours, spontaneous as a hummingbird, then lands again on some unexplored, shimmering skin.

How is it for her? Does she feel the fluttering wings, a downdraught of attention adding to the draughts of this spartan yet sunlit space? There’s a moment when our eyes meet – I’m just breathing, allowing the process, and her almost impassive, holding the pose. And yet, in that moment we could both drop it, I the brush and her the pose, and move together… Her hair on my neck, my hands moving, grasping, snaking down her back, onto her bum…

She can see it in me. Her eyes flicker downwards briefly to my crotch, a spark of knowing. I’m pulsing there.

On the paper, a surprise. So many strokes, and such colours, and yet a dance of breath that’s animated, that captures some of her loveliness and a measure of my lust. It is a work of art, albeit a work in progress.

I breathe again more steadily, deeply.

“Is it enough for today, maybe? I’ll get your gown.”


A sneezy light layer of dust, coffee rings, assorted colours of Post-Its with barely legible scrawls. The big, black-framed window on tilt and swivel. Dodgy draught-proofing letting in the freezing air, and the office barely hitting 20 by lunchtime.

I sit too long here on my shabby blue chair, backside numb and fretting with fear of piles. Doggedly wrestling the wares of an information professional.

There’s a story which may well be true. In the other suite, an anomalous desk has extra boarding bodged on, forming a barrier all the way to the floor. Story goes, too many dropped their keys next to Amira’s desk … Or perhaps just one butter-fingered individual. Whoever inherited that one has the solace of well-guarded genitals.

No longer young. Will this daily sitting, year on year, degrade me into some ailing shadow? The magazine copy and countless blog articles promote the stand-up desk, the treadmill desk, and direly warn that sitting all day is just as injurious as smoking.

But the voice inside just says:

Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away

Like the Enya song.

My problem is not sitting on a chair. My problem is a life passing without meaning, of most waking hours chained to a project that that’s tired and tiring.

Granddad shirt

Raspberry fool – the colour – and picked up in some Edinburgh hippy clothing store – collarless granddad shirt. It suits me so well, and in my teenage mirror vanity, I’m satisfied.

Lenora and Pete are visiting, and then, Lenora just on her own, as Pete’s back at Uni. The sun’s hot outside, the green world baking, and scents of golden river water, reeds, and newly-shorn lanolin sheep.

Like the sheep, I’m sweating – but in my case, with awakened desire.

Somehow – a word, a hand touched, she moves to me. It’s way beyond my own know-how or self-esteem, and yet in these hot days, it’s soon done.

We camp up North, north of Applecross – a shambolic bus journey of poorly packed gear – arriving in rain followed by a midge-storm.

In the morning, the confined tent smells of blood and sex, warming in sunrise light. Occasional cars dodge sheep on the road beyond the dyke.

Hand in hand, boot after boot, we climb the rocky, rugged mountain above, pausing by pools.