Fay Young

curiosity about the ways of the world

Silent greetings from Mars

Women may be from Venus but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the occasional trip to Mars. On a dreary, rain-smeared midsummer night, I land on a sociable planet light years away from Brexit Britain, and find the perfect holiday poem for my husband. Continue reading

SAY Award: so Paisley 2021

The Gender Neutral Toilets are warmly welcomed by ‘trans queer’ punk band Spook School though I tiptoe back out to the old school Ladies after encountering a row of urinals.

‘Hello World, welcome to Paisley,’ the smiling face of Paisley2021’s Jean Cameron beams a global greeting from the SAY award screen streamed live from Paisley Town Hall, ‘Enjoy the party. We’re delighted to have you with us’.

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Summer of love revisited in the shadow of Brexit

My mother told her grandsons about gas masks, rationing and blackouts. My grandchildren are too young for stories about the Summer of love, and a generation which did not all die before we got old.

Somehow I just lost fifty years. Where did it go? One bank holiday Monday half a century ago – dear god half a century! – I slipped into a home-made kaftan and hopped onto the back of Glynn’s Lambretta. And off we roared (well, ok, scootered) into an echoing hall of fame. The rest is history, it seems. Continue reading

Seeding success: a new Paisley pattern

Tread softly on the way to Paisley Town Hall; it’s a journey threaded with names of the stuff that made a great civic centre. Here’s Gauze Street crossing the canal. Turn right at Abbey Place just before the road divides between Lawn Street and Cotton Street. And pause.

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The cost of dignity

It should be incredible but it’s only too believable in the dysfunctional state we are in. Headlines in the news stir a moment of dislocation. Where exactly are we? What year is this? Continue reading

Island on the Edge

It’s such a gloriously improbable tale. A young woman on the last day of her holiday on Skye spots an old croft house for sale in an estate agents window. What happens next is the stuff of dreams at the end of a hard working week. Continue reading

Pioneering women gardeners: visible at last

Girls will be boys?  The terms of employment were simple, if a little strange. The first two women admitted to the staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1897 were to be known as ‘boys’ and had to dress like boys too. Continue reading

The revolutionary power of simple pleasures

What kind of times are they, when

A talk about trees is almost a crime

Because it implies silence about so many horrors

Bertolt Brecht

A catalogue in the post. Not so very long ago that would have brought a promise of armchair gardening. Happy hours leafing through pages of plants I was unlikely to grow, winter evenings plotting summer crops; neat rows of common garden stuff in exotic colours: purple beans, black carrots, blue potatoes. I’d mark the pages diligently and forget to send my order until it was almost too late to sow the seeds. Continue reading

My Irish Baby Box is forty years old

When I was expecting my first baby a parcel arrived from my Aunty Rene in Ireland. Inside there was a handmade book with advice on how to stay well during pregnancy and many practical instructions for making everything we would need in the first few months of parenthood. Forty years later it occurs to me this was my ‘baby box’. Continue reading

Talking Turkeys: five poems for Christmas

We closed the borders folks, we nailed it
No trees, no plants, no immigrants Jackie Kay

For west-centric liberals, 2016 has been the worst of all years.  That’s such a constant refrain there’s now an echoing response on Twitter, ‘Stop blaming it on 2016’ is petulant and unimaginative in its repetition. Yet absolutely spot on. Continue reading

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