Category Archives: FiFi Loves

In and out

FelicityFox
The nurses huddle around their station clasping their cups, nattering quietly. In and out, the sound of her breath; still and rhythmic as her bird’s chest moves up and down. Watching and waiting. Silence descends. I hold on to every breath, willing her to take another, in and out. Her chest rises and falls, slowly pushing up again, holding on.

Round and round I go outside the washhouse at 46b Storrie Street, just below the flats, where houses are built on houses. Not like ours, where there is no sharing. The green lawn is stretched out in a square stopping from tenement to tenement, each are dark and grey. The concrete slabs in the middle of the green, away from the shadows of the trees is a perfect flat patch for riding.

“Again Rose, again, that’s it.”
“Hold the bars straight, straighten up will you or you’re going to fall.”

Even then she was old; widowed. She was on her own. She wasn’t from these parts, her pursed lips and quick words gave it away. Her wool skirt sat below her knees, she wore sensible brown court shoes, the kind grannies wear, and her Arran cardigan hugged her broad shoulders. She was stronger than any of the others. She had more secrets. Her hands grabbed the seat as she pushed me off on the path as the wind slapped my face. I steered into it, again and again. Clasping the handlebars and trying to steer, not to fall under the weight of the heavy, thick metal bars. She’d bought it from the shop. Her shop where she unpacked and re-shelved the bags left on the doorstep. The bike belonged to another. The seat was too high, but I’d get good use out of it, and the wheels, a little stiff, Dad would oil these. The colour wasn’t mine either.

“Her breathing is getting heavy, Mum.”
Long and slow, she clung on. Mum can’t hear me as she’s watching hers. Holding every breath, in and out, I follow her lead, waiting for the next exhalation. It’s slow and hard to hold on as I gasp to follow her. In and out, she slowly makes it like the one before. I’ve never listened this intently or waited this patiently. I’ve never held her. Curled in the bed, she lies to one side. Small and frail, and waiting. Her hands clasp under her head with beads entwined around her fingers. Her long limbs tucked beneath her and her broad shoulders huddle into her chest. Her hips poke from beneath the white sheets, while the monitors bleep in and out. A drip hangs from her vein and she clasps what’s hidden in her hand. She’s waiting and when I call her name, she hears me. Trying to speak, I silence her with shushes.

“Again, come on, do it again.”
“No point doing half a job, Rose. Again.”
“That’s it, steady yourself and for goodness sake, straighten yourself up.”

I leaned to the left, then quickly to the right, steadying myself.
I’m doing it, I call.
“Concentrate!”
“You’re an awful one for not concentrating.”
“If you fall off and scrape your knees, your mother wouldn’t be happy. You’ve got a feis today.”
“I’ve got it, Nanny.”
“See!”

“I love you, please wait.”
She’s slowing down. Her breathe is slower, shallower. I can’t hear her.
“Do you think she can hear me, mum?”
“Do you think she’s still here?”
“Gran, it’s Rose. I’m here.”

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Beatitudes by Felicity Fox

We dream…

Blessed are the Tories, theirs is The United Kingdom.
Blessed are the Bankers, for theirs is a big fat bonus.
Blessed are the Rich, for theirs is no longer 50p in the Pound.
Blessed are the Super Rich, theirs is called tax avoidance.
Blessed are the Frontbenchers, there lies the problem.
Blessed are the Lords, for there will be no reforms.
Blessed are the Rockstars, they will have titles bestowed upon them.
Blessed are the Royals, theirs is the Civil List.
Blessed are the Media, for in their hands the truth lies.

By Felicity Fox

Horse_Glasgow

wee yin by Felicity Fox

Wee Yin
Wee Yin

I’ll be at the wall,

Just agree to what they say.

Not long till break time,

We’ll get a game tae.

Put your arm around him,

Don’t tell him what to say.

What do you mean, I stay all day?

Can’t I do a half day.

I’ll go tomorrow,

How long do I stay?

Meet me at the playground,

At the wall, just along the way.

We’ll be playing at the cages,

It’s not as bad as they say.

Hang your jacket on the peg,

Pick your feet up when you walk.

The teachers are the bosses,

Just listen to what they say.

Meet me at the wall, wee yin

It’s just another day.

You’ll be fine, now hurry, go away!

Big brother will be waiting.

See you at the wall, half three you say?

In my hand he held my heart

My love
My love

In my hand he held my heart

Silently I was crying inside. But my son’s entourage was an unusually welcomed distraction, deflecting from the highly anticipated event, the first day of school.

No wonder my son looked slightly on edge, with so much build up. I think he was starting to believe that we were giving him to the Missions. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve said goodbye, but for some reason, this one magnifies that this is the first of many to come.

We all know the stories, but when it’s your own story, it’s raw. And I felt alone.

Well, I would have if my over-the-top, noisy, Italian, and brash father-in-law had allowed me to lament in the moment. But no, he was a running commentator on the day’s event and how my emotions were stacking up. My mother was adding some realism, years of experience as a school teacher; my husband was nonchalant; my mother-in-law was reminded of her boy starting school, but was on a strict warning not to cry, so she looked like she’d sucked a few lemons, straining to hold it together. The circus ensued with the little brother pleading to join the big one. And after a few poses for Facebook, show’s over, and it’s time for school.

In his hand, he held my heart. And we walked on.

I was more nervous than he. Schools do that to you. He hardly spoke, but I knew he was assessing the situation. He does this. And all I wish, is that his teachers get to know him like I do. I haven’t totally lost my sense of reason, he’s still a five year old. I’d have thrown him through the doors when he was two, when the thought of Boarding School didn’t seem so bad, but not today. He is perfect and I won’t be told otherwise.

In my state of delusion, we made it through the grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and the flash photography. But I saw no one. So consumed by holding his hand and steering him through. There may have been tears and tantrums but we walked silently on.

My nerves grew. I wanted the transition to pass seamlessly. Because you see, I thought he was starting next week and today wasn’t the day for my son to realise that his mother’s still looking for the parenting handbook.

My fly by the seat of your pants approach suits me, but my son needs everything just so. I had to step up and make him as proud of me as I am of him. Ok I got off to a bumpy start, wrong class. Though, I was sure it was that one. The relief when I found his peg and hung up his jacket. If I could have ripped the thing off the wall, I think I would have. I was raw.

Never have I felt so happy yet so sad.

P&RBut there were no tears. I wouldn’t do that to him, I had the rest of the afternoon after all.

And as I’d expected he turned and I let him go. To make new friends, have good days and bad days, dreams and disappointments, and to start making stories of his own.

Cherishing the ladies

Saturday night’s performance by Cherish the Ladies in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall lived long into the night, as in true style, the sessions continued into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Will ye go, lassie, go?, sung by 2,000 Glaswegians; Kathleen Boyle’s almost haunting rendition on the piano; the drumming of the Bodhrán; the step dancing in all its forms; Cathie Ryan’s voice bringing the past into the present; and Joanie Madden’s penetrating flute playing and sharp wit, were just some of the highlights to this most beautiful of evenings.

It was the rawness of talent, where the ladies, and of course, male musicians and dancers too, made the most intricate pieces look seamless as they weaved their way through the concert and into the consciousness.

Memories flooded back and a pride in Celtic music and dance that is sometimes eclipsed by the razzle and dazzle.

The stage was set like any session in the bar; chairs in a half moon looking out to the audience, with the talent taking centre stage, where only the lighting is a feature. The concert had the fluidity and courage to go off script, welcoming talent on stage and making the audience as much a part of the performance as those that they were spectating. There was a Celtic connection.

Returning to the stage to celebrate 20 years since they first played in Glasgow, it was no surprise the show was a sell-out. It was standing room only, but Glasgow’s a small town, so it wasn’t long before we were sitting.

The music carried the audience along, mapping the journey of the emmigrants, and I thought of Mary. From the sad songs to the love songs, to Scotland’s Bard and his Red, Red Rose, the wonderfulness of music and dance weaved in and out.

Mary would have loved this night.

You can’t describe the rhythm of the dancers as they make music with their feet, or the energy they bring, or the poise in their carriages. It’s something you have to see and you have to feel. It is art. But Mary would never have called herself an artist, an Irish woman, an immigrant, a cherished lady.

Storytelling, dancing and music, and I am back in 46B Storrie Street. We’re dancing, there’s an accordion playing, the smell of homemade bread, singing, and Mary. I see her in every song, in every step and in every memory, in all that is good, weaving in and out of every day and in every Celtic connection.

The crowd are on their feet in a standing ovation, clapping and cheering and yes, we are cherishing the ladies.

To watch Cherish the ladies

To find out more go to Cherish the Ladies

 

 

 

Lullaby

Lullaby
Lullaby

Cuddle into me tonight,
Close your eyes and take flight.
Rest your head,
It’s time for bed.
Sighing deep, love complete.

Whispering you’re not alone,
Nestled safely in your home.
The need to write and not forget.
Love is here,
Hold me near.

By

Felicity Fox

© Felicity Fox I am love
© Felicity Fox
I am love

13 Lowfield Road

Etched in my memory is 13 Lowfield Road.

Too young to understand or judge, writing to you I sent my letters.

Kept in your pocket one after another, and I kept writing.

On the day you died one arrived, but you will never know.

Rolling your ciggies, sitting close, sneaking out of mass for a half.

13 Lowfield Road.

Walking past the letter box, I think of you.

With nowhere to send my letters.

Kind and gentle you were.

Never speaking, always words on a page, and how at ten I never knew.

News of your passing met with tears and misunderstanding.

No more letters would I send.

Sitting on your couch I see you rolling your cigarettes, and a ten-year old

beside  you.

There’s a stale smell of smoke, braces and a stick, but they don’t see you like I do.

13 Lowfield Road, the place I sent my letters.

© Felicity Fox