Open letter to Gerry Butler

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Dear Gerry

Twenty-five years almost to the day since your mythic departure from Scotland. Twenty-five years since we parted company and my life was turned on its head in ways even you could not possibly imagine. You helped make me the person I am today, so for that you have my heartfelt gratitude.

Thing is, I really need your help. Over the past seven years, I have written a memoir that is nearly ready to publish. It’s one of those stories that has to be told and you are the inciting incident. As with any inspirational memoir, others will benefit from it, only I don’t have the resources to iron out some of the legal issues.

I am so sorry to go public with this but my circumstances dictate that I have to. In the spirit of self-healing, please will you at least read it? I have just published the first two chapters on my website here. For what it”s worth, there’s also a trailer here.

Yours in good faith
Morgan

THE LOST SECRET (first two chapters)

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For reasons that I won’t go into here, I have decided to scrap any attempt to sell my ‘mini-book’ on Amazon. Why it’s only two chapters and only on Kindle needs too much explanation. Instead, it is available here via the link below. This may be temporary, it may be permanent, I don’t know. We’ll see where this goes.

You can read the first two chapters here.

Although this offering is free, donations are gratefully accepted.

The Silver Crown

Just finished rereading The Silver Crown by Robert C O’ Brien, which I first read in 1979-80. Can’t make up my mind whether to review it or not, since I’m way more interested in how the symbolism influenced my moral choices at the time. Turns out it’s the missing link I didn’t know I was looking for and I know myself even better now than I did in 2020 …

Go on, try it. Reread that book that’s been bugging you for years (the more obscure and forgotten the better). You never know what treasures you might find.

Water’s Edge

3 November 1974

DINNERTIME. He should have been home by now. Sent out to look for for my little brother, I checked out his most likely haunts, asked around, until I found myself tiptoeing on the edge of the Old Pier thinking the worst. The tide was high, only a foot or so from the level of the stonework, the water so vast and grey. From that vantage point, I had a good view of the shoreline in front of the Dunollie Hotel and the Garage, but not a brother in sight. The temperature was dropping fast and my tummy was rumbling. Just as I pondered whether I had done enough to justify going back to the house now, an invisible pair of hands shoved me into the drink.

Feet first, I plunged into the dull ebb. Within seconds, panic had engulfed my senses, eradicating everything I had ever learned from Mrs Weir. The first ascent back to the surface seemed to take an eternity; every attempt to come up for air and scream at the top of my voice only increased the likelihood of being pulled back under. With every gasp, my efforts felt more and more futile.

Matchstick people streamed from around the Garage and the Dunollie. Voices. A loud splash. Then a pair of strong arms taking hold of me and pushing me into the waiting arms of someone else standing by the water’s edge.

I recognised my rescuer straight away. The owner of the Harbour Grill, still in his chef’s whites, had saved my life. By the time I was delivered to my parents, my brother had showed up. After dinner, I was treated like a princess and tucked straight into my parents’ pre-warmed bed.

What a way to start my birthday. Tomorrow I would be six.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

Company of Me

MANY people are facing their demons for the first time. Those of us who have had a head start in this department can be thankful that to a degree, we were prepared for the solitude, anxiety and soul-searching that lockdown inevitably entails. I guess this is why so many fight tooth and nail for the right to hang out with the crowd, perhaps not so much because they are selfish but because it is the only way they know how to shut up their inner demons. They are literally afraid of ther own shadow. So much as it is tempting to judge, just remember what’s at the back of it when you see people flagrantly breaching COVID restrictions.

As for confronting your demons, athough it is not without pain, it’s not as bad as you think. Once you get to know them, it can actually be quite satisfying. At least that has been my experience. Think of it as a team-building exercise (Storming, Forming and Norming)!

Splash!

1973

AS A family, in those days we sometimes did fun stuff. Occasionally, we went on day trips to places like Dunvegan Castle or Armadale Castle. School summer holidays usually meant going further afield to Glasgow and Inverness, the former to see relatives, the latter to engage in a grand shopping spree for clothes. This Autumn, we might get to pick hazelnuts beyond the Faerie Knoll again. And if the weather was really nice, we might go swimming at Aiseag Beach.

My favorite swimming haunt, though, was the deep freshwater pool at Black Park, not an adult in sight. All the kids used to go there in the summer, armed with enormous rubber tubes procured from the guys at the local garage, who were only too willing to get rid of them. We could just as easily have swum in the sea but at least at Black Park you weren’t likely to be stung by a jellyfish.

Then, of course, there was Mrs Weir. Like a whirlwind, she blew in one day with her inflatable indoor swimming pool, to make way for which our classroom was cleared of desks and chairs. I knew I looked ridiculous in my mum’s ill-fitting blue rubber swimming cap but my self-consciousness didn’t last long. I was so at home in the pool, I felt like a mermaid. A water baby.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020



Big

1973

MY hair still hadn’t grown back. The scabs itched like hell; I couldn’t but claw at them like I had nits. At least I didn’t have to wear those horrible bandages any more.

Until now Daddy used to take my little brother and me to work. The road to the quarry at Kyleakin was a rollercoaster and hanging around the big Howard Doris dumper trucks with their huuuge wheels brought a constant sense of excitement, if not outright danger. We somehow managed not to get killed and Daddy’s work pals didn’t seem to mind our presence.

The short life of Spot, the little mongrel pup we had been given not even months ago only to lose him to the wheels of a neighbour’s car, was fresh in my thoughts. I missed his sharp little fangs nibbling at my fingers, the distinctive puppy smell that lingered in the house for days after he was gone, the curious lining of the inside of his mouth that reminded me of salmon.

The headmaster’s baldy head loomed as I crossed the classroom threshold. Solemn, bespectacled and so much bigger than me, he cut a forbidding figure behind his lectern. It wasn’t just his beady eyes that put the fear of God into me, it was running the gauntlet of being stared at by the Big Ones.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

A Toddler’s Tale

1968-1972

MY EARLIEST memory is of crying for my mother from a cot in a dark room. She never came. My second is of having crawled under my parents’ bedclothes and becoming trapped. Only this time my cries were heard. The third is of batting a faded green plastic telephone off the side of my pushchair. And I was a frequent visitor to the hostipal, not because I got my finger stuck in a dodgy tap, swallowed a penny, got a plastic bead stuck up my nose or chased the budgie until I fell out the window but becauss the nice doctor in Inverness made me wear pink eye patches that smelled funny. In the twilight of my toddlerhood, I thought that the light attached to the wall was a plant and that in order to understand what you were saying in another language, you first had to speak English.

Summer 1972

THE DAY we moved from our dickensian Harrapool cottage to a modern Limepark council house, I must have fallen asleep in transit. The shock of discovering stairs for the first time and not knowing how I had got to the top had me perplexed for hours. With three bedrooms and a proper bathroom, our new home was a palace.

I have very little memory of my maternal granny or my aunt coming all the way from New Zealand to stay within days or weeks of the move. But I do recall the visit to Aiseag Beach on a hot summer’s day, when I dropped a hermit crab down Daddy’s swimming trunks, and our wee holiday in Edinburgh. Daddy stayed at home, while Mummy, my little brother, Grandma, Aunt Judy and I stayed at the guest house on Castle Terrace. We rode the donkeys at Portobello Beach and watched Mary Poppins at the cinema, with lashings of yummy ice cream thrown in. In those days a spoonful of sugar really did help the medicine go down.

Grandma and Judy might even have turned up before we moved, or maybe we were still moving our belongings weeks later, for I could swear it was in the old house that Mummy taught me to say ‘Super-calla-fragll-istic-expi-alli-docious’.

6 October 1972

THE BIG lorry had a tipper on the back. On our return home from Daddy dropping off a load of sand in Inverness and visiting Mummy in hospital, my brother and I sat in the passenger seat. Whether we wore seatbelts, no idea. Probably not.

We stopped at the Cluanie Inn, where I wolfed a bag of salted peanuts and a glass of lemonade. Daddy had his usual pint and whisky, then we were on our way.

The peanuts an’ lemonade, then being hoisted back into the truck, are the last things I remember prior to all my senses being assaulted by the semblance of an almighty drill ploughing through the right side of my skull. Then the distant sight of a red Maxi that stopped to take us to the ferry … my baby brother and I sitting in the back seat clutching hands and staring out the window … the sensation of blood streaming down my neck … whimpering like a lost puppy … the ambliance waiting to take us across the ferry.

I teetered on the edge of consciousness. The lady with the soft platinum hair took my hand.

“Mummy.”

“No, dear, I’m not your mummy.”

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

NATIVIDAD: Chapter Six

nativity

IT IS 1961. Tensions between Cuba and America are at an all time high and an Englishman and his heavily pregnant Cuban fiancée flee New York for their lives. The Cubans just want the baby. The Feds just want the Englishman. Who knows what the CIA want …

I’ve written this ‘modernisation’ of the Nativity in a biblical style to give it a more ‘genuine’ feel. It is not a political tale and is not pro-this or anti-that, so don’t be put off by the revolutionary backdrop, which is necessary to the story in its symbolism.

It’s more ‘realistic’ in biblical format here.

CHAPTER SIX

MIDNIGHT came and the babe left its mother’s womb to utter its first cry and to the sound of much rejoicing.

From her belongings, Eva took a headscarf bearing the single star on red of her motherland, and in it she swaddled her newborn.

Then she laid her in a drawer filled with hay and blankets, saying “For unto us a daughter is born. And her name shall be called Emanuelle, for she entered this world on the same day as our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And Agent Young pulled a gold coin from his inside coat pocket and pressed it into the infant’s hand.

And Rodriguez drew from his pocket a cigar but pressed it instead into Percy’s hand.

Then Special Agent Armstrong took from his coat pocket a small flagon of whiskey and pressed it into Eva’s hand, saying “Verily, that is the best I can do.”

Percy and Eva thanked them for their gifts. Then Percy whispered to Eva that he would raise the babe as if she were his own.

And Agent Young said “But she is your own.”

And Rodriguez said “It is true. Behold her eyes. And behold her nose.”

Then Agent Armstrong said “While you were away, our eyes were on your house. If she had deceived you, we would have known it.”

Young and Rodriguez voiced their accord, for all he had said was true.

Knowing for certain now that he had falsely accused his beloved, Percy wept.

Then the three agents conspired amongst themselves in order that they might tell their masters the same story.

Before the three men bid Percy and Eva farewell, Armstrong said to Percy “You do know that this is not over”.

And Percy said to him “Indeed.”

And within the hour an ambulance came to take mother and child to the safety of a fine, warm hospital bed.

THE END

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2017

NATIVIDAD: Chapter Five

nativity

IT IS 1961. Tensions between Cuba and America are at an all time high and an Englishman and his heavily pregnant Cuban fiancée flee New York for their lives. The Cubans just want the baby. The Feds just want the Englishman. Who knows what the CIA want …

I’ve written this ‘modernisation’ of the Nativity in a biblical style to give it a more ‘genuine’ feel. It is not a political tale and is not pro-this or anti-that, so don’t be put off by the revolutionary backdrop, which is necessary to the story in its symbolism.

It’s more ‘realistic’ in biblical format here.

CHAPTER FIVE

AND it came to pass that the light did shine through the window and betray them.

A voice from beneath them cried up “I know you are there. I am come to help you.”

And when Percy asked why he should be believed, the voice said “I say unto you I am coming up now.”

And when he had ascended, Percy saw that it was the man in his dream. But before Percy could smite him, the stranger put down his weapon and held forth his badge so that Percy could see under whose authority he had come. He was a special agent of the CIA by the name of Armstrong.

And when Percy asked why he was here, Agent Armstrong said “It is classified”.

At that moment the birthing began in earnest.

Then it came to pass that the Cuban and the Federal agent were below them and gunshots could be heard.

And Percy heard the Cuban say to the American that he only wanted the child; the American to the Cuban that he wanted only the Englishman.

But when they heard Eva’s screams, they took pity on her and conspired to cease hostilities.

So the American cried up into the loft to offer their assistance. And once they were ascended into the loft, they put down their weapons and introduced themselves as Comrade Rodriguez and Federal Agent Young.

To be contnued …

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2017

Shadow in a Nutshell

Imagine living in a world where mobile phones were non-standard, each one different from the next and using every functionality in ts very own instruction manual. Then imagine a world where the technology was surplus to requirements, for within the collective human psyche lay all the apps we would ever need.

* * * * *

In addition to all the hardware necessary for basic life, most humans arrive into the world with various components that allow them to process and store equally various forms of data. Not only do we usually incorporate a built-in camera, mic and speaker system, we have other cool sensory devices that allow us to taste and smell.

The human operating system comes complete with a range of awesome apps that enable us to survive, communicate with one another and hopefully thrive. However, the suite that we are born with is as unique to us as our fingerprints.

Some things come as standard, of course. If you imagine the file manager as your psyche, then the desktop, where we tend to keep all the programs and files we use on a regular basis, would equate roughly to the conscious part of your mind.

Just as we don’t know the half of what is available to us on our mobile phones, they say that we use only 10% of our brains and that was even before the technology existed. Could that be because most of our functionalities are languishing in the Recycle bin?

Dumbing down

Society is only interested in those apps that are of value to it, for instance mathematical, scientific, literary or linguistic ability. Where present, these are cultivated at the expense of everything else. The rejection of anything that does not support the prevailing economic paradigm is policed unwittingly, sometimes ruthlessly, by our family and our peers.

The standardisation process begins at the earliest possible opportunity. By the time we reach elementary/primary school, we know all about what ‘it’ is to be a boy or a girl. We are subsequently introduced to a host of other opposites. Something is either good or bad, strong or weak, beautiful or ugly, big or small, nice or nasty, smart or stupid – in-betweenness is viewed with scorn. We are trained to pigeon-hole even ourselves and this can occur in any combination of postives and negatives.

This is how some of the apps we were born with get deleted or fall into disuse, either because other people don’t ‘like’ them or we don’t. As we grow older, whole experiences join the ‘forgotten’ scrapheap. Over time our Recycle bin becomes so congested that our entire system slows down. Thing is, and this is the real kicker, these deleted files are still running and they’re more powerful than if they hadn’t been rejected in the first place …

This is why we’re all so f**ked up …

Welcome to the world of the Shadow, the term Carl Jung used to describe the repressed part of the human unconscious. According to his theories, in order for wholeness to be achieved, the psychic opposites must be reunited and resolved, in other words healed.

Factory Settings Plus

Nobody was born ‘weird’. The environment that we were born into made us that way. We are all unique, only the ones who are better able to standardise are rewarded and thrive.

If you discovered that a whole side of you existed that you didn’t know was there, only visible in thoughts, acts and feelings that you were hesitant to own, and if you knew that by reintegrating these discarded elements of yourself, you could restore your software to a higher-performing state, would you not sign up for the adventure of a lifetime?

NATIVIDAD: Chapter Four

nativity

IT IS 1961. Tensions between Cuba and America are at an all time high and an Englishman and his heavily pregnant Cuban fiancée flee New York for their lives. The Cubans just want the baby. The Feds just want the Englishman. Who knows what the CIA want …

I’ve written this ‘modernisation’ of the Nativity in a biblical style to give it a more ‘genuine’ feel. It is not a political tale and is not pro-this or anti-that, so don’t be put off by the revolutionary backdrop, which is necessary to the story in its symbolism.

It’s more ‘realistic’ in biblical format here.

CHAPTER FOUR

WHEN they arrived there, not a soul was to be found, the doors and windows were locked up and twilight was nearly upon them. So Percy, knowing the place from his boyhood, found them refuge in the mews behind his friend’s dwelling house. He looked about him but there was no sign yet of their pursuers.

And once Percy had found a lamplight, he went up into the loft with it, knowing that even though it would guide their pursuers, they had no choice.

And he made for Eva a bed of mattresses and blankets that were packed away in a chest. And once he had made her comfortable, he gathered all manner of implements so that he might defend them.

To be contnued …

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2017