celebrating and creating our own LGBTQ+ history in honour of Sheila McWattie

Archive for February, 2017

day eighteen



Train ride fly by of graveside significations,

Grief contains you Son, Brother and Grandad,

Spelled out in faded blooms,

Alone now, they wilt in holes of tired oasis and copper, while you journey on.



JJ 16.1.17


day seventeen

When walking over Muddy fields

by Majikle


Start slow,

Keep your eyes on the baby steps low

Do not look too far ahead

instead, plod on

Know you will get there

Find stones and tree roots to press

your careful feet into

Follow the dogs for high ground, not pigs

they look for hollows to wallow in

Scan the sides for elevations

however small

And don’t take the bramble’s jokes

personally at all

When climbing up a muddy bank

follow the footprints you know

Steady as you

ninja go.




For more work:



day sixteen




I don’t know you.

So I reach.

I touch.

You sigh.



You kiss.

I sigh.

I melt.

I shout my release.

Sometimes you cry.


On discovery of a deeper love.

We are content.

For a lifetime of this.


I look.

You smile.

With your messy hair and wet cheeks.

I know you now.



Meg Merrillees, LLanbrynmair


day fifteen



Look look the pussy willow’s out!

And we wallow in memories,

Hanging them on the delicate whiskers

Silhouetted against the sky.


Blue of course as it always was:

Cycling round the common blue,

Snatching bucket and spade blue,

Jumping on the swings blue.


Our film starts off with them

With the sun straining through bars

Then wafting on the willow

That we took to teacher.


And left low and bare on the nature table

Wood and wall paint brown

Kicked desk and floor brown

Loathed suit and uniform brown.


Blue now is locked behind the park rails

Brown invades our lives.

For us now the swings must be still

And you and I dare not climb trees.


Look look the pussy willow’s out!

And we wallow in memories

Hanging them on the delicate whiskers

Silhouetted against the sky


our film continues

as we carve through

into adulthood

forging new maps


Powerful sunsets ending passionate days

Discovering our strengths days

Creating our own paths days

Being our own boss every day


Undertaking new journeys

The swings now vibrate

As we jump and rock on them

We not only scale trees, we shake them

and crack ceilings


The pussy willow is OUT and proud!





Sue Sanders, Broadstairs

day fourteen



of these sorrows,

Spoke out my heart


They have been many

And they have been weighty


And the gap between them



They are part of me

But they are not me


And then appeared a magpie

Flash of turquoise

Between the sun and the branch


Just the one for sorrow


A shower of griefs

Rain down

Rain down


My heart cracks open


To contain this new, unwelcome sorrow


A flight of swallows

Takes to the sky


Towards a horizon steeped in grace.



Nicola Lytle, Brighton

















day thirteen


Oi feminism, don’t tell me how to have sex and where’s the accessible toilet?

I’m afraid of losing my famous sharp humour whilst trying to get academically serious to understand what is the deal with feminism and sex these days? Usually I go with appropriately sexualised humour and near enough academic perspectives. This time I felt it’s kind of too important, so I went for trying to properly research it. Oh my gosh these academic words, this is way worse than my GP, when I was trying to talk to her about sex she said ‘well don’t worry, you can’t shock me, I’ve heard it all’ so I said ‘yeah but I haven’t said it all!’

I was a bit shy, medically desperate but cheeky and full of my own importance so we got by!

Staying true to my insouciance and starting with some tales of the medical model and my some would say inappropriate, level of linguistic charm with my gp here we go..

In advising me on sexual practices to stay healthy in a changing body, how does she know which lube is the best or which latex gloves? Hmm..

Let’s start with a bit of othering, what am I feminism? The disabled, person with a disability, disabled person, long term disabled, sick, chronologically challenged? dying? well we’re all dying for fucks sake! I don’t know, lately I think I’m a person with a disability, and for speed, disabled. Describing the full range of my intersectionalities, which I’m not sure I’m allowed, because I am not black and it was a black women who first named the term specifically in the context of oppression of people of colour, as a northern minority world white person, do I have to linguistically watch my step?

I am economically impoverished, dependant on the state, born in Wales, raised in Yorkshire by a middle class mother who was herself born in Wales, but if you are middle class that sort of doesn’t count. And my father, well if you see him you could ask him because I’m not sure, he did run away to sea at 16 to escape a violent father but the rest is another story..

Anyway back to the issue at hand.

I’m one of those butch dykes who battled patriarchy to the point of being allowed to study woodwork and not wear a skirt to school in my teens. I skimmed my mother’s ‘Spare Rib’ had a decade of political activism once I hit 25 and ‘came out’ to become the stunning butch dyke I am now, and then we all thought it would be getting better.

Well I’m not speaking about the bigger picture of how feminism is getting on with ‘smashing the patriarchy’ but in my 30’s I was diagnosed with a shitty disease so here I am in my 50’s, a lesbian with a disability.

It has been bumpy coming to terms with the lived experience of personal change which means there is loads I can’t do any more. Physically the world is the disabling factor, along with able-bodied people’s attitudes, assumptions, fears and ignorance. I did used to think it’s ok feminism has got my back, but the thing is, it hasn’t.




day twelve

Trip of a lifetime – part four

 Lel Meleyal


The pain was savage. A simultaneous combination of scalding heat and razor cut cold tearing at his skin. His breath came in agonising choked gasps. The icy water into which they each had fallen, immediately drained him of energy and his hiker clothing and boots, so practical for land, became leaden weight in the freezing water.

Bellowing in pain and fear, coughing out iced water in retching sobs he reached for the red inflatable floating freely close by. Josh was not in it. Panicking Quinn scanned the water line screaming out.

‘Josh!, Jill! Where are you? Fuck, please… Please God, where are you?’. His words bounced off the walls of the canyon. He heard a birdlike cry and whipped his head round in the direction of the noise. In the distance, he saw the other inflatable. It too was empty. Close to it was a mound in the water and it was moving. Quinn was confused. The picture was all wrong.

‘Jill I am coming, hang on’.

Quinn swam toward the floating mound. Swimming was as slow as through a strong current though the glacial water was calm and flat. Hypothermia had already begun to develop. Every stroke aged him a hundred years.

Kai was strapped to his mothers back. The cloth sling had kept him with her. Jill was floating face down in the water, and in raging grief, Quinn instinctively knew she had chosen to save their son. She had made sure he was out of the water the only way she could. She was dead. Kai was feebly mewling. Feverishly Quinn grasped Jill’s body. He could still smell campsite wood-smoke on her clothes.

‘Its OK Kai, I am here…. I am here…. Its OK, its OK’.

The sling was tied tightly. Stability was always important when carrying a baby on one’s back but never more so than when in the inflatables. The sensible precaution was now adding to the nightmare. The sling was a large rectangular cloth that wrapped around Kai’s body and tied at Jill’s waist in a large knotted bow. Quinn had to reach under her body to get to the gathered cloth but water-sodden, the knot had become tight and hypothermic confusion made its untying as complex as a fiendish Chinese puzzle. He dived under the water, again and again, each dive sapping energy and strength. Kai’s quiet cries had stopped and his small balled fists had started to become a mottled grey.

‘Jill I am sorry, I am sorry – please God someone help me!’

He had no choice. He had to turn the body over to undo the knot. It was the only way to free Kai. He would need to do it quickly and get Kai back to the shore.

‘I have to leave you darling. I am so sorry. I love you’.

He rolled her body over making barely a ripple in the water. As she turned he saw that her eyes were open and reflected the crisp blue of the sky above. Quinn’s wracking sobs filled the valley. Kai was under the water now and he had to act quickly but the swollen knot now being pulled with the weight of the child refused to give. It held fast and took all of the energy Quinn had left. The cold water enveloped him and he slipped into the now still and calm crystal clear depths.

On the shore- line, three miles away from the next nearest human being, now shoeless four year old Josh stood shivering and crying uncontrollably.

‘Mum, Dad, where are you? Mum? Dad?’

day eleven

Trip of a lifetime – part three

 Lel Meleyal


The scenery was almost unreal. Filmic and perfect. The trees were vibrant, luminous greens of emerald and lime, the sky a turquoise cloudless blue, the canyon sides obsidian black which became navy under the rays of the sun. The air smelled freshly of pine and a hint of wood smoke hung in the still air. The spectacular and huge panorama was reflected in the seemingly bottomless lake headed by a magnificent, breathtaking glacier a short distance away. They stopped paddling. Jill smiled

‘Its always like seeing it for the first time’.

They were used to the eerie noises and understood that although it never looked much different, the glacier was fluid and ever moving. It cracked and creaked and groaned. Once Jill had said it was as if it was gently speaking in tongues but today Quinn thought it sounded angry and fierce. Both felt the same urgency to get moving across the half mile of the lake.  The glacier issued a long and low rumbling growl. The sound increased like a pebbled wave breaking on the shore. A whip-like crack filled the air of the canyon, startling birds out of the trees. Slowly, gently but majestically a wall of the glacier, thirty foot across and twenty foot high broke free and began to slip into the lake. Iceberg like, the majority of the sheet ice slid gently into the water but the top third crashed like a felled tree, slapping the water hard.

The first wave was relatively gentle. It was just a hilled swell followed by more in evenly spaced rippled succession. The inflatable bobbed and Josh laughed as Quinn’s hat fell off and into the water. His laugh echoed across the lake. Quinn turned excitedly towards Jill, kayaking just behind

‘Wow! Did you see that?’

Jill did not respond. Her shoulders were tense. She looked anxiously towards the camp, just a few short metres away.

‘Quinn, quickly, quickly, paddle toward the shore – hurry!’.

Momentarily Quinn was confused. He did not understand the fear in Jill’s voice.

The rippled swells from the glacier fall had made their way, quietly and gently towards the shore. As they met land they bounced away, like disturbed water in a bathtub and moved towards the ripples still coming from the ice fall. Where they met their combined force caused a turbulence. Not that of a storm, or even the passing of a motor boat but as Jill had immediately understood, enough to turn the inflatable kayaks.

‘Get the kids out of the water Quinn!’.

day ten


Trip of a lifetime – part two


Lel Meleyal


It wasn’t very long before the van became more of a shed than a home. They had been told to expect Alaska in the spring to be muddy, wet and unappealing. It was anything but. Unseasonably warm and quite stunningly beautiful they wild camped in the mind-bogglingly vast glacier field national park where the nights lit by starlight were even more beautiful than the daytime. The family camp expanded till the van was only used to sleep in when there were signs of bears being nearby. Josh had become bear poo expert in camp. The road trip stalled right there and both Jill and Quinn had never been happier. Until the winter months at least, the Alaskan tundra had become their home.

The inflatables only weighed four pounds each and were the size of a handbag when deflated. So far no punctures and they were easy to inflate. Initially, they had a foot pump but realised that with a little perseverance it was possibly simply to blow them up and this meant not having to carry the pump from the base camp – two days’ hike away – to the lake. To date, she always had the blue one, and he the red. Similarly, she carried Kai, and he took Josh. Just as they left most of their temporary camp in place when they left the shore-line, they would leave the kayaks, still inflated on the other side. In the year they had been living in the wilderness, they had never come across another human being so they did not worry that their belongings would be taken. They had once come across another camp and although apparently abandoned, they too did not take anything. They did use the shelter for an overnight stay though and hoped that should someone find their camp, they would feel free to do the same.

Once on the other side of the lake, it was a three-mile walk to the small town – the nearest populated habitat. They had visited three times so far to stock up on provisions and to telephone Cora to let the family know that they were fine and hadn’t been eaten by wolves or bears. Despite not seeing any other people when in camp, the small town of Hourecno welcomed them as if they were expected friends from their very first visit. Quinn remarked on the townspeople’s interest in their trip. Jill suggested it was less than interest and more likely to be patronising of an English family trying to find meaning in their lives while the towns young people were desperate to leave. Still, they were certainly friendly and helpful, and Jill was glad to have the opportunity for some unhealthy treats while they were there. Josh was growing so quickly he needed new shoes – again. He probably needed his hair cut too. In fact, they probably all did. They were starting to look like what Cora would call ‘new age travellers’. She reminded herself to visit the chemists in town for some child-friendly pain killers as Kai was now teething.

They carried the inflatables to the water’s edge. Quinn helped Jill get in first. As she carried Kai on her back, the craft was aft-heavy and if she wasn’t seated just right she got a lot of nose wag which made it harder to steer. It also meant that she could step in from dry land which meant she didn’t get a wet bum from water carried into the seat well on her shoes which was a bonus. When comfortable, he pushed her off and she floated into the glass still, crystal clear water. Next Josh was lifted into the red kayak and Quinn seated himself. Initially, the inflatables had been a challenge but it had not taken long to master and with a few paddles they were on their way.


day nine


Trip of a lifetime – part one

Lel Meleyal


Kai eagerly searched for his mother’s breast. Although the air was crisp and sharp, Jill was snug and content in her thick down sleeping bag. She would need to stop feeding him soon, but for now, as Kai suckled greedily she allowed herself a moment of tranquility: It wasn’t a life for everyone and indeed when they first announced their decision both families were aghast. Her Mother had pulled her to one side to ask if she was in her right mind. Quinn had looked so beautiful that day – masculine, rugged and handsome. He explained the plan carefully – they were going to sell their house, put belongings into storage and go exploring the wilderness in a camper van for a couple of years.

‘But Kai is still a baby and Josh only four! How on earth will you cope?’

Quinn’s mum was perhaps the most difficult to appease. Jill knew she had never really bonded with her but Josh adored her and she adored both he and Kai right back. Jill knew her angry tone covered up the profound anxiety she felt at losing her grand-babies.

‘It will be fine Cora, think of how much they will learn and the fun they will have – and of course, you can meet up with us along the way.’

In reality, Cora was only saying out loud what Jill herself had thought endlessly about but Quinn’s boundless enthusiasm for the project was infectious, and so here she now was, under the tree tethered tarpaulin listening to Kai’s gentle snuffles alongside the awakening dawn. He could be impetuous – she was the more cautious of the two – but somehow they balanced each other out perfectly. He was right about the trip. It was an adventure.

‘So Josh, why do we dig a deep hole?’

Quinn had always been clear that their adventure must be one of living with the environment, not taking from it. He was keen that the children developed both respect and love for nature and he was proving to be a fantastic teacher. Jill was so proud to hear Josh explaining that it was important to leave no trace in the wilderness and grateful to hear that Josh understood its importance in keeping wild animals away from camp. Their close encounter with the magnificent and terrifying – but fortunately not hungry – Grizzly bear was one she was not keen to repeat.

Alaska was supposed to be their first stopover on a year-long trip which was to take them on route to Canada and then through to the US down to Uruguay. Only, it didn’t happen like that. They collected the van bought on the internet. It was small and a bit more scruffy than expected but comfortable. They collected the provisions also ordered in advance and got straight on the road. ‘The wilderness’ had been their destination. It thrilled them both that coming from Sussex in the UK they had absolutely no idea what a wilderness really was.

‘What if one of us gets ill?’

Jill was the one who thought about the problems while Quinn saw the opportunities.

‘It will be fine, stop worrying – this is an adventure!’