Hello again

On Saturday, I went to the Hello Again Show at Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham. This is the story of Neil Diamond through his songs. Neil Diamond was a great favourite of my mum. She had all his CDs and once, when her house was broken into, was more distraught that they’d stamped on, and broken, one of the CD cases than anything that may have been stolen. We played Hello Again at her funeral in 2017. This poem is about how a song can touch us and bring back memories, happy or sad.

Hello again tears start to fall,

cascade to music’s rhythm,

slideshow casts a shadow,

reaches pain of loss

and all the days, the months

years now fall together,

implode to a single song,

hello, again, hello.

© Liz MacKenzie

The photo is my mum, taken in 2016

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Snail mail

On the eighth of the eighth, 1988, I ordered a kettle. Over the phone; in those days there was no internet superspeed shopping. I was exuberant as I hadn’t had a new kettle since 1960 and the naughty wee thing had finally conked. I suppose it had lasted well. It was my first electric kettle and I was so proud of it; I used to smile at myself in its shiny copper coating. My 80s one was to be a tall, slim model; a Morphy Richards.

Having ordered it, I somewhat forgot; life events took a rather odd turn and I continued to use the old hob kettle I’d inherited from Gran. On the eighth of the eighth 2008, exactly 20 years since my order, the kettle arrived. It actually had a hand-written apology note for the delay. I guess that’s why they call it ‘snail mail’ these days?

©️ Liz Mackenzie

Life for Dummies

(Inspired by a line from the poem, Entirely, by Louis MacNeice – “if we could get the hang of it entirely it would take too long”.)

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You’ve turned this page because

you want to know about life,

the meaning of which philosophers 

philosophised for all the years

before you. You crave the answers

that form meaning to embed

in your every step, that run

through every vein, pumped by 

the rhythm of your heart’s beat.

 

You could ask – someone, anyone

and await their tidal waves, or

blankness of faces not knowing.

You could read every book, and

this book and that, listen to

all the radios. You could travel, 

your feet touching far places,

and mysteries, religions, beliefs.

 

Or you could stop.

And listen.

To life.

And then you will know.

© Liz Mackenzie

Not the foot of the Dee then?

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Here’s five facts about Footdee: 

  1. It’s an old fishing village by Aberdeen harbour 
  2. There’s been dwellings there since medieval times
  3. Architect, John Smith designed Footdee’s cottages in 1809 to rehouse fishermen
  4. It is known, by locals, as Fittie 
  5. Though many believed the name Footdee referred to ‘foot of the Dee’ it is actually a corruption of a dedication to St Fothan

So armed with these facts, why visit this tiny place? It has the Silver Darling restaurant, a nod to the old Scottish name for herring. There’s an obelisk, Scarty’s Monument; you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a memorial but it’s really the ventilation shaft of a disused sewage point. The war memorial commemorates Footdee folk who died in first and second world wars. The roundhouse was the former harbour master’s station and the marine operations building is shapely in gleaming glass. 

All these pale to nothing when you meet the enchanting network of cobbled walkways hosting quaint cottages and quirky sheds. It’s said upcycling gave birth here long before television shows claimed its popularity. Rusting mangles and fishermen’s boots host flowers and trailing plants; lifebelts become the means to name a shed. It’s a time stands still, steeped in history (almost) hidden gem.

How had I missed it in the 60 years I’d been visiting Aberdeen? I spoke to my  aunt, the Aberdeen oracle who’s lived in the city since she was five. Her face lit up. “Fittie? I love it. We used to go there often, walking round each path admiring the little cottages all dressed up.” If you’ve been, you’ll know what she means. If you haven’t, don’t overlook this  fascinating, model village style piece of social history. Can you resist? 

©️ Liz Mackenzie 

Front Runner

Today, at my creative writing group, we did a short writing exercise whereby the person next to you gave you a word (any word) and you had to write no more than 50 words, starting with “I love you” and incorporating the given word. All a bit valentine’s day, thought I; I don’t ‘do’ valentines day but, ever game for a writing challenge, here is my offering with thanks to Elizabeth for a lovely word.

 

Front Runner

I love you snowdrop, you peek out when 

all is grey and Christmas is over.

You’re a front runner

the prelude to Spring

 

You don’t announce your arrival with

a fanfare, just shyly say, “hi”.

You are my hope

my dare to dream defender

 

I love you snowdrop

© Liz Mackenzie

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Photograph taken at Hodsock Priory Snowdrop Walk on 17 February 2019