If it’s good enough for a Dame

I wrote this short story a few weeks ago, following another writing ‘challenge’ at the writing course I am going to where we were invited to write something in response to images of people with tattoos. I dedicate this story to my friend, Gwyn, who has been feeling very poorly; I’m thinking of you, Gwyn and hope you enjoy the story.

“Doris, what is THAT?” Bert exploded, his face moving from white to puce quicker than you could say colour chart.

I was in the bath and he had seen fit to interrupt, again.

“That, Bert, is a tattoo,” I replied, stating what I thought was the obvious.

“I can see that, woman but what the hell is it doing on you?” Puce now scaling down to purple-violet; curious, I’d never imagined that colour on a face before. “YOU CAN’T HAVE A TATTOO,” he bellowed.

“I can, Bertie dear, and I do,” I said. “Judi had one at 81.”

“Judi, Judi, who in all of the devil’s horns is Judi?” Sputtered Bert. I was reminded of our old Morris Minor back in 1972.

“Dench. Judi Dench. Dame bloody Judi Dench.” I answered, trying without 100% success to remain calm.

“Oh, her,” Bert muttered. “Well, she’s a flaming actress.”

“I am well aware of that, Bertie,” I said, not without a touch of the pedant. “What does that have to do with the price of making your own pickled onions?”

“Where did onions come into it?” Bert now sounded puzzled, though this was not an unusual phenomena.

“What about the Grand Children?” he said, resuming his position of (imagined) authority.

“What about them,” I responded, now giggling. “They’re hardly going to see it – there – are they?”

“Humph, no, well, mmm; hardly the point is it Doris?” Bert was now struggling to maintain any cogency to his argument.

“I mean what were you thinking of, love?” he went on, presumably thinking the gentle approach might endear me to him.

“I was thinking, Bert, of me; that’s what.” I said firmly but without any unkindness.
“62 and a half years we’ve been married and 62 and a half years I’ve gone along with things. I’ve gone along with your going out every Saturday night and getting back late and drunk. I’ve gone along with your precise meal requests; roasts on a Sunday, chops on a Monday, Shepherd’s Pie on Wednesdays, sausages – always Lincolnshire sausages – on a Thursday, and fish on Fridays. I’ve watched football and Top Gear and a seemingly never ending stream of The News. I’ve gone to sodding Skeggie every sodding year since we were engaged and stayed in the same sodding guest house with the same sodding landlady who treats me like something stuck on her shoe, whilst cooing and purring over you. I’ve looked after your kids. I’ve taken every dog we ever had over the past 62 and a half years for 3 walks a day. And that’s only the half of it, Bert. So, yes, I was thinking of me.” I finished abruptly.

“But what about if you get wrinkles?” His attempts were getting lamer now.

“Wrinkles? I’ve already got a map of the world written over my body, doused liberally with stretch marks, liver spots and every other bump, line and blemish that comes with age.” I retorted.

“Oh well,” Bert sighed; he knew he’d got nothing else. He was an old car, out of petrol, with no water in his washers, or oil in his engine. “Do you think I should get one?” he questioned, his eyes showing a mischievous glint I had almost, but not quite, forgotten.

“How about a Posh to go with my Becks?” I replied, kissing him on the cheek. “Cuppa tea?”

© Liz MacKenzie


Pride in Writing

As a writer, I enjoy the act of writing for writing’s sake but it is always an honour when someone else enjoys my work enough to publish it. This happened to me this week. A few weeks ago the Vita Brevis Team liked some writing on my blog, so I had a look what they were doing and discovered a new-ish site offering writers the chance to be published and readers the chance to read some great writing – poetry and prose.


The piece I have had published is called ‘If’; it was inspired by some lines from one of my favourite Christmas Carols, In The Bleak Mid Winter and uses a ‘technique’ I picked up at my creative writing class this year. The poem is about my mum who is very much ‘present’ in my thoughts this year – she died on January 10th 2017. I was struck, when my sister and I sat with her in the last few days of her life, how very peaceful she was and how I wished she had known it would be like that as she had always been very anxious/ fearful of ‘illness’. The piece is, therefore, dedicated to her and to anyone out there who may fear illness and death; it can be peaceful and the ‘slipping away’ often described.


To Vita Brevis who published my poem, thank you so much. I truly appreciate your time and effort in promoting writing and being willing to consider a wide range of writing. Visit:



If …

If she had known she was not to be in

pain, would her life have had the

breadth of more life? A freedom from bleak

thoughts that haunted and caught her mid-

breath? Would she, instead, have embraced her winter

waiting and watching as autumn leaves fell frosty

toward Earth with the lightest kiss of winds

lifting, transporting, as she softly made

her voyage from life to death without a moan …

© Liz Mackenzie

3 December 2017

Inspired by the Christmas carol “In the Bleak mid Winter” and the “Golden Shovel” approach to writing a poem

To see you one more time

The good thing about being part of a creative writing group is the challenge to write ‘on the spot’. For me, this gives the chance to go with whatever first comes to mind within a specific theme. Today’s challenge was to write something starting with, “All I want for Christmas …”. I did go with my first thought but couldn’t read it out; too raw. I can, however, post it here.

All I want for Christmas is to see mum once more, and for last Christmas not to have been … the last. Would she speak with dementia wit after Christmas lunch with her party hat on and her plate empty? “What are you doing for Christmas, dear?”

Cheers, mum x

©️ Liz Mackenzie

Clustering 2

This is my 2nd piece written in response to a ‘clustering’ exercise. (See Snapshot Memories) I decided to use as many of the words from my cluster as possible.

”Its all a game to you,” I snap. “A joke, a play; me at the station, you on the train.”
My words bite, like car park crocodile teeth. I ache to lose my voice, to stop breathing fire like a dragon; to hold back time.
”Let’s go for lunch,” you say; “Sandwiches and Earl Grey Tea.”

And I know you’ve forgiven me, again.

©️ Liz Mackenzie

November 2017


Today I learnt something new to inspire writing; clustering, which I can best describe as a ‘mind map’ leading out from a central word. The word for today was, “snap”, from which two memories emerged, linked by strawberries.


Snapshot Memories


“Gramma, strawbees”

Little legs pump by

Out the door

Down the garden.


He is two

And a half

With summer’s innocence

Red on his face.


I travel back

In time to see

Our dog barking

Leaping back and forth.


Yapping, yelping

What is it girl?

Dad’s wallet lies still

In the strawberry patch.


©️ Liz Mackenzie

23 November 2017

A thought for today

Sometimes, you’re offered a topic on which to write that is a challenge, a chore even; other times yet, a topic that, in one word, sees inspiration pouring from your veins. Today was the latter; at writing ‘class’ we were asked to consider the topic of ‘migration’ and 4 hours later I’ve already written 3 pieces; here’s one of them.

Migration 2

No one will object if I cross the border from England to Scotland, my spiritual home, much as my dad crossed from his homeland to England in the early 1950s. There will be no forms to complete, no nuances of language lost on my foreign mind. I will not have to prove ability to work, good health – mental or physical – or justify my rationale for this move. I will be one of many who traverse UK countries with the liberty of migrating birds, creating history’s footprints.

A line from a song enters my thoughts; those outspoken, proudly broad-accented twin Proclaimers:
“We’re all Scotland’s story and we’re all worth the same.”
It tells, like Ellis Island, a winding, weaving tale of migration; it speaks of hardships and struggle to reach a destination, lay down roots.

I return to thoughts of my dad, alive yet stripped of speech and movement. I watch Andy Stewart with him on YouTube; another song, a different yarn. This one touches my heart like a single tear; the soldier who longs to return to the “hills of home”. In dad’s eyes, I see that yearning, the knowledge of what will never now be, and we don’t need words …

© Liz MacKenzie
9 November 2017

If you want to hear/watch the two songs on YouTube, the links are below.