Writer's Notes

                                  Writer's Notes   -   Index

    Oct      2018         EDWINA TAYLOR      Mary Mary
    Sept     2018         KATE GORDON         The Sunday Post
    Aug     2018          PETE MARRISON     The Ubiquitous word GOT.
    July     2018          PETE MARRISON     Brothers in Arms.
    June    2018          PETE MARRISON     It's never too late.
    May     2018         ANNE O'NEAMUS.    Infestation.
    April    2018          KATE GORDON.       Away From It All               
    March  2018         MYRA DUFFY:          A Writer’s Journey 


                               Mary Mary

"Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? "

"Funny you should ask that," says Mary " I've been having  so much trouble with rabbits. I shall have to take a  gun to them. They are playing havoc with my silver bells and cockle shells. I tried putting wire netting round, but they still got in. How? I don't know. It's as clear as mud to me. Then to make matters worse, a poor wee spring lamb got caught up in the wire. It was thrashing around when I found it and was quite terrifying the little maids all in a row.”

 "Anyway, where are my manners? I'm prattling on here like a soap opera and you are no doubt gasping for a cup o' tea."

 "I thought you'd never ask." says I, "But no,  I  need to dash.  I've just had an idea for another short story."

Edwina Taylor

                                  The Sunday Post                                  Sept 2018

Growing up in Scotland in the fifties and sixties, the Sunday Post was part of the culture.

This newspaper, published by DC Thomson was founded in 1914 but until 1919 it was an extension of the Saturday Post. In January 1919 the first edition of the Sunday Post as we knew it was produced. News was not a big feature of this publication and as young people we were not too interested anyway in boring old politics or news. The first page we turned to was the fun page where we could catch up with The Broons and Oor Wullie. It is hard to believe that these characters are still on its pages today. We knew the Broons intimately. From Maw, Paw and Grandpaw to the bairn who probably is still a toddler. The family lived in a tenement flat at 10 Glebe Street, Aucenshoogle. When I started my nurse training in Glasgow Royal Infirmary I was amazed to find that there was an actual street of this name right across from the hospital. I knew there was a place called Auchenshuggle as it was near where I lived. Unfortunately  I never did meet any of the Broons. The Broon’s house looked like my granny’s room and kitchen and Maw Broon looked liked many a granny at that time. I am not sure how a family of eight plus parents managed to live in that house. Grandpaw had his own house. I wonder why they did not farm out some of the family to him. 

     There were all the stereotypes among the Broons; Daphne, the plain one, Maggie, the glamorous one, Hen, a big drip of a man, Joe, who actually looked quite good, the twins, and the bairn. Horace was the geeky, clever one with sleeked back hair and wee round specs.They were a normal family,the boys working, the girls going out dancing and maw keeping the house. A recent popular publication is Maw Broon’s cookbook with recipes for good Scottish home cooking. The highlight of their year was the visit to the but n ben somewhere in the countryside where they would cope with midgies and all the other  inconveniences experienced by a family from the city. There was usually a problem or a dilemma at the start of the story which would be resolved in some way by the end.

     Oor wullie was next. Wullie was a bit of a scallywag and seemed to spend a lot of his life sitting on an upturned bucket. He was always in dungarees and had fair hair which stood up in spikes, so he is right on trend today. When he wasn’t doing this he was getting up to some sort of mischief with his pals, Fat Bob Wee Eck and Soapy Soutar. Their arch enemy was PC Murdoch. Their favourite mode of transport was their cairtie which in my neck of the woods was called a geggie. Along the bottom of the page it said, Oor Wullie, Your Wullie, A’body’s Wullie. You might remember that but I wonder if you remember Wullie’s surname?

Answers on a postcard please.

Kate Gordon

The ubiquitous word GOT.

When I was twelve years old, our English language teacher, Mr Glasier, insisted that we never use the word ‘got’ either verbally or in any of our essays.

One of my unfortunate classmates was called John Gott. Mr Glasier never forgave him.

It is a chameleon of a word. It means something different depending upon its surroundings. Occasionally, it is very difficult to replace.

      Common parlance.
I’ve got to leave you now. 
                               Your wife’s coming up the drive.
                                                       I must leave you now.  
I’ve got back ache.             
                               I’ve decided to take a day off work.
                                                       I have back ache.
I’ve gotten me a busted back.
                               I’m from West Virginia.
                                                       I done gotten me a busted back.
I’ve got rhythm; I‘ve got music.                   
                               I’m cool.
                                                       I’ve got rhythm; I’ve got music.
I got there before him.        
                               My car’s faster than his.
                                                       I arrived before him.
I got engaged.
                               Will it all end in tears?                 
                                                       I became engaged.
I got an engagement present
Lucky me!
I received an engagement present.
I got the short straw.
                               Unlucky me!
                                                       I picked the short straw.
I’ve got a good idea.
                               Well I think so!
I’ve thought of a good idea.
They got me to join.
                               They twisted my arm.
                                                       They persuaded me to join.
I got to drive a Ferrari
                               And crashed it!
                                                       I was able to drive a Ferrari.
They got the culprit.
                               He was a bad guy.
                                                       They caught the culprit.

It really got to me.
                               I’m easily hurt.
                                                       It upset me.
I got that from my father.
                               It’s in the genes.
                                                       I inherited that from my father.
I got first place.
                               I was the only one competing.
I won first place.
I got a first class degree.
                               I am a brain box.
                                                       I was awarded a first class degree.
I got Physics at school.
                               I remember none of it.
                                                       I studied Physics at school.
I got a taxi.
                               I was on expenses.
                                                       I took a taxi.
I got you.
                               I heard you the first time.
                                                       I understand you.
I got you.
                               You are about to fall.
                                                       I am ready to catch you.
I got a new car.
                               Well it’s almost new.
                                                       I bought a new car.
I got lucky.
                               I won the lottery.
                                                       I was lucky.
I got off the train.
                               Mind the step!
                                                       I alighted from the train.
I got off scot free.
                               I had a good lawyer.
                                                       I was found not guilt.
What has that got to do with me?
                               It wasn’t my fault.
What has that to do with me?
     I got a hole in one.
                                    I’m a lucky golfer.
                                                            I hit a hole in one.
     I got me a grizzly.
                                   I hunt bear.
                                                            I shotten me a grizzly.
     I’ve got a new coat on.
                                    And trousers!
                                                            I’m wearing a new coat.
     We’ve always got on well together.
                                    He’s rude to everyone else.                                                    
                                                       We have always got on well together.
I got away with it.
                               I was lucky.
                                                       I escaped by the skin of my teeth.
                               I have caught you.

Imagine having to learn English as a foreign student; that’s just gotta be a nightmare. 

Pete Marrison 

PETE MARRISON          Brothers in arms               July 2018

Two late middle aged gentlemen in morning suits are queuing at Buckingham Palace to receive their MBEs. 

 "Haven't we met before?"
 "Maybe; your face seems familiar. You're not in the Arms Industry by any chance?"

"Well yes, I'm getting a gong for designing this new laser guided anti missile missile, but I don't remember your face at any of the Defence Fairs."

 "No, it wouldn't be that, I'm in the biological warfare side. Different shows."

 "Could we have met at university? I was at Cambridge -  Porterhouse College".

"I was in St John's; so no reason to have met.” 

 "It was the late eighties.”

 “Wasn't that the time of the peace rallies?"

 “Yes, and I was one of those young idealists!” 

 "Ah yes, so was I. Now I remember. Weren’t we in the same police holding cell overnight?"

 "You're right. Then next morning, at the magistrate’s court, we were bound over to keep the peace."

 "And we have."

       PETE MARRISON        It's never too late        June 2018

I was in my late seventies and I was bored. I needed something to do other than walking, golfing and messing about in the garden and workshop.

Yes, I read a bit on rain days, but there are too many of those days.

For several years I had been thinking about ‘writing’ as a hobby. I’m a slow thinker.

In December 2015 I saw a short advert for a writing group in the local library on Thursday evenings. I phoned and then met Laura at the library.

“The group has stopped until after Christmas,” she said, “but come to out first meeting in January.  Meanwhile let’s pick out a few seasonal words and you can try writing a short story which includes those words.”

Below is that story:-

                                                       Writers Block

Laura said “Write a story about Christmas including ‘Red, Holly, Elves, Scrooge and Snow’ ”.

Well that set me back on my heels. I had only come along to talk about writing, not to actual do writing. However, better make the best of it; you never know, it might be good for a laugh.

Where should I start? The mind is a blank. Should the structure be top down, bottom up or middle up down (MUD). The mind was totally confused already and yet I was still on my way home from the Library. Maybe I should stop trying to think and just let the ideas come to me.

A week goes by and I start realise that the ideas seem to be passing me by on the other side of the street. OK then leave it all to the subconscious; let it work out a story. Think of the five buzz words last thing at night and by morning the solution might be there.

Another week goes by and yet another strategy had bitten the dust. Maybe I’ll just have to get down and do some work. Perhaps concentrate on the perspiration and go easy on the inspiration. At least I do know how to start – ‘Once up on a time’.


Once upon a time, a miserable, but hardworking young gardener called “Scrooge” noticed that during autumn, if the weather conditions were right, the leaves of the holly tree had a tendency to curl up and then change colour and became a variety of attractive shades of red.

He morosely observed that this more frequently happened when there were night frosts, sunny days and not a lot of wind.

For many years he tried to vary the growing conditions in his garden to try a fool the holly trees into thinking it was cold but sunny or warm but wet and other strange weather quirks. All to no avail.

In his garden were some old worn out and chipped ornamental Goblins and Elves and the unhappy Scrooge suddenly remembered that the Elves had been chipped out of limestone blocks. Within seconds the first Goblin had had its head chopped off and ground down into powder and that powder had been worked into the roots of one of the young holly saplings. Scrooge’s excitement soon died away and he eventually forgot about the limestone.

However, about six months later, it was coming up to Christmas and one morning young Scrooge awoke to see snow on the ground. Feeling even more miserable than usual, he started to sweep away the snow and as he did, he noticed something red lying on to of the snow – some sort of leaf maybe. His heart flipped, it was just at the side of one of the holy trees, in fact the very tree where he had sprinkled the limestone dust. He looked up and saw that the whole holly tree had red tinted leaves.

He also glanced across at the headless Elf and the Goblin next to it which seemed to be winking at him.

Maybe it was the thought of Christmas, the miracle of the red holly or just the beauty of the clean snow, but Scrooge felt his melancholy fall away and a smile glued itself to his face and his soul.

Several months later, this revitalised and still happy Scrooge met a nice young lady, they married and eventually, a beautiful baby girl was born.

Scrooge and his wife and baby Holly lived happily ever after.

                                     THE END

When I read it out to the group a few weeks later, the consensus seemed to be that although the preamble was OK, the actual story about the Red Holly and Elves was rubbish.

The main thing was that I enjoyed writing it.


ANNE O'NEAMUS           Infestation               May 2018       

            The current spell of good weather is to blame for this plague. 

            It's a ubiquitous, pestilential, annual infestation. 

            Beetle-black bodies glint iridescent in the sun.

            Shiny-capped heads dance in the light. 

            Whether single or in clusters, the whirring sound signals their presence.  

            Yes, summer means cyclists.

                                KATE GORDON.       Away From It All          April 2018

I have just spent a few days in the lovely Trossachs with no internet or mobile phone. I am sure my fellow writers will be thinking that I will return with some wonderful pieces inspired by the tranquillity and beauty of my surroundings. They’ll be wrong.

I did go with an empty notebook which remained unopened, and some pens which were used only to fill in the Herald crossword. It is amazing how much time you can pass just observing the world around you. 

Some wee sparrows were building a nest in the guttering on my balcony and I whiled away a good few hours watching them fly in and out with their little beaks filled with straw and bits of garden debris.

A herd of wild goats foraging among the bushes had me reaching for the camera. I failed to get a decent picture but did get a close up of their ferocious looking horns as the beasts came up and peered in the window at me.

Another thing I watched was some rubbishy daytime television. I told myself that this is allowed when you are on holiday. So, not a lot of writing was done. However, before I left home, a short spell of unwellness prompted me to write this.

        Fur Ye

There’s nae sich thing 
if ye’re a wumman.
Everythin is yours,
fae the totties tae the dug.
A the dishes
an the mugs,
the hoover an
the waashin machine.
You’re the queen o
a ye survey, inside an oot.
There is nae nae doot
who belangs tae the gairden
an a it entails.
Even the snails
are yours.
If ye ever hiv the flu
an the ither hauf
has tae dae the chores,
ye’ll get an hourly bulletin,
tae make sure it’s sinkin in,
Ah’ve wiped yer flair,
 hoovered yer stair,
watched yer weans,
cleaned yer drains,
cut yer hedges,
weeded yer edges,
fed yer cat,
ah’ve done a that

Happy Easter to all at Erskine Writers.

Kate Gordon


MYRA DUFFY:       A Writer’s Journey     March 2018

I joined Erskine Writers in 2007 and quickly found how supportive everyone in the group was to a ‘new’ writer. Although I wrote when I was a child and had had a lot of non-fiction published over the years, I was coming back to fiction after a long absence and the help I received gave me the confidence to proceed. 

If you can’t manage to come along to the meetings, held on a Tuesday afternoon at the Bargarran Community Centre, you can become a postal member and access information through the website.

You will have the opportunity to try all kinds of writing from short stories to poetry to flash fiction.
Although I now write novels, (mostly cosy crime set on the Isle of Bute) I continue to write poetry and short stories. I’ve uploaded one of my flash fiction stories below.

For more information visit my website www,myraduffywriter.com or find me on Facebook and Twitter @duffy_myra



I don’t want to think about that holiday, how it ended. We’d set off in high spirits, so in love.
     ‘A little villa by the sea,’ he said. ‘Just the two of us. We can chill out, enjoy the sunshine, away from the hustle and bustle.’

     There was only a moment’s hesitation. He must have known I’d been in love with him for years, would have done anything for him.

     ‘What about your wife?’ I said.

     ‘She thinks I’m going on a golfing holiday with the lads,’ he grinned.

     How could I refuse? It wasn’t only because he was my boss that I’d fallen in love with him, though it was hard not to love him. The gifts of expensive clothes, the jewellery hand-made to order: he was a man who always got what he wanted.

     The weekend was all he promised. We swam in the turquoise blue sea, ate at little secluded restaurants, made love under the stars. He said he and his wife didn’t get on, but he couldn’t leave her. She was the one with all the money.

 On the flight home, he was distant. ‘Perhaps we should cool things for a while,’ he said.

     We collected our bags in silence, as though we meant nothing to each other.

     At the newspaper kiosk, the headlines screamed, ‘Wife of well-known businessman murdered.’

     He gave me no sign, just put me in a taxi and turned to leave without a word.

     It was then I realised. I wasn’t his lover. I was his alibi.
©Myra Duffy 2018