I’ve been meaning to write this post all week. Tomorrow the poet Hugh McMillan is coming to Moffat to share with us his sometimes dark; sometimes positive; always sharp, rhythmic and witty world view. The Mr’s band will set the tone with their transnational mix of blues, folk and rock & roll, and I will read some stuff, before McMillan takes the floor.

Last Sunday The Mr. and I performed some new work commissioned by the Annan Harbour Action Group for their Ebb and Flow project celebrating the fishing industry of the town. I’ll start my set with three of the poems I wrote for that, with The Mr. accompanying me on his guitar, then I’ll mix things up with some old (much laboured over) stories and poems, and some new experimental work. While searching through my stash for pieces to read I realised my older, and thus polished, work is all about lonely women. And as I don’t want to send the audience to too dark a place I thought it best to risk sharing some new, less honed, fun stuff. When I say fun I mean in a sound sense rather than a content one, I’ve been doing a lot of what Paul Klee called ‘taking a line for a walk’ recently, playing with language, sound and imagery: juxtaposing, this is much fun to do, I only hope it’s as much fun to hear.

Here’s one of the lonely women stories, I wrote it while still a student but it took a long time to get right. It was published in Wigleaf about this time last year (I think):

Wood Counter
Shiny but empty.


She oils the wooden counter. For this, she uses a viscous, hybrid oil ordered from Denmark. It’s a job she’s attended to – daily at first, now monthly – for almost a year: layer over layer, each one taking twenty four hours to dry, the room rendered unusable. Ensure the area is well ventilated.

She pours the oil onto the soap clean surface, and works it in with her bare hands, as if it were a Kobe beef cow. Her fingers push and pull in circular motions, until no one could claim she’d missed a bit.

Tomorrow, when the wood has sucked up all it can, she will work it to a lustre with a silk camisole, once the conceit of her wedding night.



3 thoughts on “Performative

    1. It worked! There were two clear favourites, both of which I’ll share here sometime after tomorrow – which is set to be an unusually busy day for me: training all day in Dumfries I’ll get home just in time to go to my first Community Council meeting; I seem to have become a pillar of the community!


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