“I WANTED TO DRINK THE SAN IZAL”

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“Beside the sink there was a dark green bottle of disenfectant the name was in big red letters on the label. SAN IZAL. And in smaller letters under a red cross was the word. Poison. That had been spelled out to me with a warning to leave it alone.

I unscrewed the top and sniffed at the San Izal. I loved the smell of it a smell you could just about bite. I wanted to take a sip but it was poison. If I swallowed it I would die. My father said when you died that was it. Finsihed. My mother said you went to heaven to live with god.

The feeling was centred in my stomach and had something to do with the picture. I wanted my mother. I held the book close to me and crossed once more to the sink. I wanted to drink the San Izal.

I wanted to write this post centered around this story by Alan Spence. I Myself have been feeling sucidal because of current events in my life. I think feeling sucidal is a natrual thing that all humans feel. Maybe I’m worng. In this story even a young boy feels the urge to drink the San Izal and kill himself. This perhaps has to do with his enviroment  he talks about the outside of his house being a wasteland “I could see our street and another leading off it down towards the docks. Rows of grey tenements , a factory , a wasteground”  so perhaps he is suffering from poverty. Something enough to drive the masses to the bridge.

In this story I like Alan spences dipiction of what depression does to you. We see this in the example of when the boy eats a peice of bread. “Mechanically I picked up the bread I had left on the table and took another bite , chewed it to a dry pulp sweet sugary grit between my teeth. I Couldnt finish it , threw the last hard crust in the bucket” This shows that the boy feels to low to eat and the bread is tasteless to him. Alan spences attention to detail is also amazing. In the sink lay a knife I had used , still streaked with margarine. I turned on the tap , let the rush of water splash over it , but it didnt come clean , it was still smeared , the cold water clinging in globules to the blade. I think this image is also symbolic of how the boys feeling. It shows how hopeless he feels at his situation. And which in turn is driving him to drink the San Izal.

He also talks about wanting his mother. “I wanted my mother “  Almost as if the lonliness is enough to make him drink poison. At the end of the story all is resolved when his mother comes home and grants him safety from himself and the feelings hes had. “I heard my mothers key turn in the door and she was here she was home. The tears came now. I couldnt hold them back. ” His mother is symbolic of saftey and comfort and manages to sooth the boys distress.

 

 

 

Irn Bru

He woke his body crumpled on the floor his limbs stiff. A warm stream of light that fell through a gap in the grimy curtains onto his toes was the only part of his body he could feel. He rose to his feet unsteadily reeling slightly placing a hand on the solid white walls. He wore only his pants and a dirty t-shirt. He could feel the worn stubbly stained carpet beneath his feet. It was early November and the desolate flat was deathly bitter. He reached for his jeans on the floor clambering into them desperate for some warmth. The bottom of them was covered in dry sick. He rubbed his pounding foggy head and new the headache was the result of more than the cold. He stumbled through to the kitchen of the flat where he had been squatting. It was already littered in crack needles and food packets from the previous visitors and some rat droppings due to an open hinged window. He reached for a half drunk plastic bottle of Irn Bru and some aspirin. Swallowing three pills down heavily with a slug of sickly E numbers. He grabbed his smashed up iPhone which had a little charge, and scrawled down to her number. It dialled each ring hollow. She answer it was her voice. Her sweet slightly fatigued voice. “Hello” she said hesitantly as if she knew it was him. “Stace it’s me !!” he said his voice sounded highly strung in the empty flat. There was a heavy sign on the other end “stop calling Rebus I’ve told you this or I’m going to call the police. Your harassing me” she said tiredly. “we need to talk Stace I know I’ve messed up in the past but I can change I promise just let me come back let me see jack he’s my boy I’m aloud to see him” he said desperately. “Why” she spat. “what good would you do him” there was a pause her anger fizzling out. “I supported you for years rebus. I swept your drinking under the carpet I handed you money I even did nothing when you bruised me up, I can’t do that anymore not when you lost your job I can’t support you I told you that. “ she said in a tone of hopeless despair. “I’ll change stace I promise. I’ll get a job I’ll make money I’ll provide for you and not spend it on drink you have to believe me” He begged. “no you won’t!!!” she screamed “you don’t care not about anyone but yourself do you not think I struggle do you not think we all do but I still do it” she said. “ I was ill stace I’m sorry….” He tailed off. “so what” she said “do you not think we all are do you not think I wanted to go to sleep forever when you left but I can’t because I’ve got a son to look after and bills to pay you twat” she spat. “please stace” he soothed. “don’t do that” her voice cracked “don’t pretend to be the strong one” she shouted “you’re a weak selfish man John there’s nothing more to it” she rung off leaving the line ringing emptily in his ear. He through the phone at the wall in anger so the battery fell out and clattered to the floor. He fell against the door no longer able to support his body. He wanted to be dead. No he didn’t that wasn’t it he feared death just like any animal. He just had an intense craving for relieve. He looked out the windows at the sun dancing upon the roof tops. A thought came to his mind from when he was a boy. Sitting with his grandfather beside the electric fire the old man sipping on his pipe. “At one point you realise John when you strip it all back theirs no such thing as failure it doesn’t matter where you are on the status spectrum or the buggered things you’ve done or the people you’ve hurt the people who are scared of failure and scared of success so they stay stuck they’re the only failures in life. Their the ones who get depressed and turn to drink and sex and religion and drugs and violence to block it out. They’re the ones who will die in fear. The world isn’t safe John or pleasant but there is a way to find some content. And that’s to never give up.”

Aunt Julia Analysis

:Please note this is my own interpretation of the poem by the writer Norman MacCaig and may not be correct.

Aunt Julia Is one of my favourite poems by MacCaig. Its quite a melancholy poem and has connotations to death. Yet MacCaigs depiction of his Aunt Julia is a very fond one.

Stanza one

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
I could not answer her —
I could not understand her.

In this stanza we are introduced to the main character of the poem Aunt Julia. We are told that she speaks Gaelic this immediately tells us there is a communication barrier. “I could not answer her – I could not understand her” This for me also has connotations of death “I could not answer her ” shows his desperation and grief and also shows us that MacCaig perhaps feels guilty about his relationship with his aunt that he never really understood her and never will understand her.

Stanza Two

She wore men’s boots
when she wore any.
— I can see her strong foot,
stained with peat,
paddling with the treadle of the spinningwheel
while her right hand drew yarn
marvellously out of the air.

In stanza two the opening lines are “She wore men’s boots when she wore any” This shows that she is perhaps a very tough woman who almost takes on a mans role. “I can see her strong foot stained with peat” This reveals that the character is a woman of the land. “Paddling with the treadle of the spinning wheel while her right hand drew yarn marvellously out of the air” This shows a more domesticated side to Aunt Julia. This is a skill heavily associated with island life – Harris is famous for producing tweed. The word choice of “Marvellously” shows the young MacCaigs admiration and fondness for his aunt. The use of the present tense throughout this stanza creates a sense of immediacy and shows how vividly and readily he can still access these memories.

Stanza Three

Hers was the only house
where I’ve lain at night
in the absolute darkness
of a box bed, listening to
crickets being friendly.

MacCaig decides to open the stanza with the word choice of hers. Which shows his affection for her and the bond they had. In the absolute darkness again has connotations of death and reiterates the theme to the reader with the darkness being symbolic of death and despair. It has links to the final stanza where Aunt Julia is “Silenced in the absolute black”

Stanza Four 

She was buckets
and water flouncing into them.
She was winds pouring wetly
round house-ends.
She was brown eggs, black skirts
and a keeper of threepennybits
in a teapot.

The writer uses personification and metaphors in this stanza to connect Aunt Julia to the landscape and objects. MacCaig connects his aunt with mundane domestic objects which symbolise her simple minimalistic lifestyle. “She was winds pouring wetly round house-ends” This connects his aunt to nature and is also perhaps symbolic of his despair.

Stanza five

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
By the time I had learned
a little, she lay
silenced in the absolute black
of a sandy grave
at Luskentyre. But I hear her still, welcoming me
with a seagull’s voice
across a hundred yards
of peat scrapes and lazybeds
and getting angry, getting angry
with so many questions
unanswered.

The main theme of death is shown in the last stanza. There is a bitter despair to MacCaigs tone. He uses the word choice of “Silenced” to suggest perhaps Aunt Julia lived her whole life in silence isolated by the communication barrier and her geographical area. “In the absolute black” Is again symbolic of death.

 

 

August

The lethargic traipsing days of august
Signify the winding down of summer
And stirs up past memories of youth
To the forefront of our minds.
For our soul to replay and scrutinise.
As we walk in a constant state of stupor in the time between
Rising from sheets and covers.
In anticipation of returning to them again.
To pick through moments of the past with a thin tooth comb
Like burning bleach against bare skin
and then releasing suddenly.
let go to drift as rich green leaves
and be picked up and shepherd listlessly by the breeze.
The bitter remains of them only conscious to us as a distant sour smell from the drain at the end of the street.

Seagulls trail the polluted grey sky above
Their silhouettes, plump fully grown and of the purest white
Catching the corners of the sky with their wings, slicing through the polluted grey clouds
To reveal sacred patches of the clearest blue.
In seaside towns.
In the inner urban towns, sickly and diseased
Their bodies Decaying on top of plastic bus shelters
Stragglers One-day closer to death.

A Collection Of Fag Butts Short Story (Part 2)

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Jack Walked across the site. Dirt and rocks crumbling beneath his steel cap boots , the ground he walked on dusty and uneaven. He leant down heaving up a few bricks and sliding them under his arm in a routine manner. He stumbled across to where the house was being built and began to lay. Spreading on a layer of grey murky cement and then placing the brick on top. This was the filling of time in his days. His life one brick on top of another. The mundane repetitivness enough to keep insanity and fear at bay. The soothing relieve of money into the bank account at the end of the month ; enough to allow the objections to slide. To worn down by austerity to read a newspaper , to take an interest in politics. That life couldnt be his , comfort , clarity , security. Hope. Even if he deserved it.

He allowed his thoughts to drift off to an image of his partner. Her slender figure which made him tingle with animal desire , her charming smile which drew you to her like a moth , her flattering laugh which could make you giddy. Yet now she was gone. As quick as a memory. In a box in the ground a future erased ; a life extinguished like a naked flame. How someone could be standing next to you ; merged into every part of your life and the next minuit had disapeared was completly incomprehensible to Jack. He still expected her to be their in the place he had last saw her. A disorientation that it was impossible that he could never talk to her again , laugh with her again. Hold her in his arms and feel protected for one small moment in a world no one was safe in. He still carried the greif with him like a dusty old scarve that made each breath thick , heavy and difficult.

Most nights he spent alone , lagar can in hand the echoey flat only an empty shell and not something he could call home. Possesions scattered like a shrine , items that could never belong there anymore. Without her he was nothing. A one sided coin. An empty side of the bed. A shadow of a life. He stuffed it with booze and oven chips , saturday football matches and news at six. Mundane things. Things to keep killing time. To block out the fact he was alone in the world. Survival was necessary. Living was painful , unbearable , hopeless. Yet death scared him. Like it scared most men. So he carried on. One brick after another.

A Collection Of Fag Butts (Short Story Part 1)

dave-coulter-builder

He Leant against the brick wall. Th dry tabbaco floating over his lips and eveporating into the air. The process of the chalky smoke being inhaled through his mouth into his lungs , destroying little parts of him gave him the sense of twisted pleasure and relaxation. It formed a mask , against the guilt , fear and bitterness. It was a satisfactory action , to twist the slim pale ciggeret between his idle fingers. Knumbing the agitation and despair he felt. Despair as an adult wasn’t like despair as a child it paralised you steeped into every corner of your mind like cancer , dulling it.

“Jack for frig sake” his friend called to him his voice broad and masculine the tounge of the building trade. A language created as a dry attempt to keep at bay the vulnrability the men felt when they lay in their beds at night darkness cast over them , their children sleeping contently behind a door only a few steps away and the knowledge that the strength of their body was the only thing protecting them from drowning in the hands of the state. “Come on you aint got time for a cig I need this job finished today” his pal grumbled. Him eyes were heavy and worn his mind fatigued his body run down , like most of the boys. “Al…right” Jack moaned. Rumination was a fault Jack despised of himself. The inability to just accept and get on was a weakness he’d been torchered by all his days and bitter envy grew in him , of those who could escape the grasp of it.

Keep Warm – Prose

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Set 1915

 

She sat in the draftee bus station her knees trembling slightly the mettle bench beneath her cold against her thin stockings and skirt there were only a few others around her. One man sat to her left his eyes looked threatening. Angry. As they darted from one spot to another anxiously but his tattooed arms were too thin his shoulders hunched, his frail body crumpling around him. The station smelt of damp linoleum and urine. A draft came in from the open doors the building offering little warmth against the cold. She stood up stiffly and shuffled out of the building the light making her eyes stumble to grasp the outline of shapes. She peered at the times displayed on the shelter at her bus stance. There was only one other woman who stood there. She looked in her fifties her face yellowed and worn, wearing a heavy duffle coat puffing wearily on a cigarette. She stood as if she didn’t have anywhere particular to go. Like most at the bus station did walking around listlessly from the shopping centre and back only for the sake of being around other human beings. It was that or the confident of your own four walls that gave enough allusion of safety to make a soul go mad. There was a bakers in the shopping centre with a café that sold cheap cups of tea, so she decided to head up there. Trailing back through the station and up the hill past the labour exchange and bookies. She passed woman with prams, and some with children too young for school or off absent. To most children would bring joy yet here it saddened her. Children brought into this, what sort of life would they live? What sort of life was there anymore?

 

The man at the bus station stood up and approached her as she walked out. He was thin and bare headed and his skin was pale with a sickly yellow tinge to it. She made brief eye contact with him, only to instantly regret it. “excuse me you got any change for the bus “he asked stopping her and holding out his hand. His wrist had a prison tattoo on it a permanent marker of his inadequacy in society.  Ann backed away feeling taken aback by his presence and uneasy in his company. “na sorry mate” she lied and walked on quickly relieved to get away, feeling his piercing empty eyes follow her.

 

She approached the cafe counter slowly. The place was deadened and gloomy there was no other customers apart from two middle aged women who sat tucked away at the window. “how can I help you luv” The woman at the counter asked. She ordered a tea and iced bun fumbling with her purse and handing too much change to the woman, who tipped a shilling back into her hand shaking her head slightly. She chose a small stained wooden table near the window in the light, so she had a clear view of the buses as they taxied in and out. The woman brought her tea over to her placing the metal pot, china cup and jug of milk down in front of her. She thanked her, and got a warm smile in return as the woman turned and walked back behind the counter. She picked up the pot her hand trembling slightly from the weight as she poured the steaming liquid into her cup. The women sat a few tables in front with their backs to her. One of them had a strong broad accent and was bitching loudly about woman from her work. “I don’t ken how they can let her do that job , she should nea be a carer,  I heard one of them pissed themselves and she just left them sitin in it for a week , and now she’s  aff  te work for the cooncil” “Yeah” the other replied. Ann poured the milk into her tea watching as it spread out polluting the translucent liquid. She raised the cup to her lips taking a gulp it was milky and warm the way she liked it and seemed to sooth her tired body and mind.

 

Dead Souls Ian Rankin Review

 

Ian Rankin Dead Souls is admittedly the first book I’ve read this year. Yes, I know that’s quite bad but this book was a bit of a slog to get through. Ian Rankins great prose allowed me enough stamina to finish it cover to cover though which I’m quite proud of. However, in all honesty, the plot of this book I found just slightly confusing. Usually if a writer’s style is disengaging It’ll put me off a book, but Ian Rankins Prose is so engaging and humorous he could literally write about drying paint and I would still read it. Dead Souls is the tenth Inspector Rebus Novel the follow up book after his most popular break through sensation Black and Blue. I think throughout reading this book I was perhaps guilty of comparing it to Black and Blue and it may have affected my enjoyment of it. As the annoying thing about great writers like Ian Rankin who write huge series is you always end up comparing their work to other work they have produced and sometimes not everything is as strong, yet individually it is compared to other writers.

The book centres around the theme of paedophilia which is a sensitive issue in itself and hard to enjoy reading about although I respect Ian Rankin as a writer for not shying away from these topics. The book starts off in the setting of a Zoo when Rebus spies Darren rough an old convicted paedophile he recognises. He then pursues Rough and it gets taken to court. In court Rebus is shown up as Rough has served his sentence and is no longer guilty so inspector rebus had no reason to chase him. Flaws like this prop up throughout the book as Rebus is worn down after a recent accident involving his daughter that left her paralysed. This makes him appear more vulnerable in this book. The book also involves the theme of Suicide and starts on an unsteady foot after the suicide of Jim Margolies a colleague of Inspector Rebuses In the police force. His suicide is out of the blue so the question runs throughout the book of wither it was suicide or murder. Darren Rough was also one of the last people to see Jim Stevens alive so we are very suspicious of Rough. Rough Is one of the main characters in the book. He has been brought into the local area Rebus Works in, in Edinburgh because of a case involving his own abuse that he went through as a child in care. This makes the reader have mixed feelings towards him and its interesting how Rankin always creates such controversial characters that are never easy for the reader to have black and white good/bad feelings towards. In turn making his characters appear more human and their actions have more shades of grey and be more realistic raising the question in the mind of the reader of can horrific crimes ever be justified? Darren rough is housed in a council flat near a kid’s playground and Rebus leaks this information to the press. Another slip we witness from Rebus. Residents in his housing block find out about Roughs identify and become angered. Knowing their fears over Darren Rough will be ignored by the authorities they take matters into their own hands and witch hunt Rough smashing his windows and smearing shit on his door and harbouring the desire to kill him. This again makes the reader have slight controversial sympathy towards Rough. Rebus then has to make up for his actions and allows Rough to stay in the safety of his flat. However not long after this Rough goes missing and is later found Murdered (Spoiler Alert!!)

Quite a few murders and suspicious Deaths Happen Throughout the book.

  • Jim Margolies
  • Darren Rough
  • An old case of a girl (A niece of Alan Archibald)

Alan Archibald is another character who comes into the book, and is investigating the murder of his niece and suspects Carry Oaks of being the murder. Carry oaks is the main antagonist of the book and the one suspected of murdering Rough and Alan Archibald’s niece. (Note: A lot of the main dramatic scenes involving these characters happen in the last part of the book and we find out what happened to everyone so it really is worth holding on even if the middle of the book did dip a little.)

Another Dramatic part of the book happens when Rebus Is away in cardenden visiting an old girlfriend from school Janice. (Throughout the book, we get a few scenes of nostalgia over Rebuses old life this could perhaps be with him getting older) When he returns his house has been broken into and white paint written on his walls saying “his girl cop murdered oaks” this is unsettling as Rebuses partner patience was in the house at the time.

At the end of the book Oak ends up murdering Alan Archibald because he is investigating him. This is a foreseen tragedy as Rebus was there at the time as they had walked up to the hills where Alan Archibald’s niece was murdered believing oaks was going to give them information but instead leads the into a trap. This is another flaw of Rebus as usually he would have prevented this, but it makes him seem like a flesh and blood human who makes mistakes. In the last two chapters of the book, the story is resolved.  There is another battle of between oaks and Rebus and oaks gets caught in the end although he gets very close to murdering Rebus. We also find out the Suicide of Jim Margolise had to do with incest as his father had caused the suicide of his sister as a child due to abusing her, and his father had also abused Rough. Jim Margolis was so terrified of having the desire to abuse his own daughter that he killed himself. Oaks also was one of the ones who abused rough and is the one who murders him as he becomes scared that he is going to say something as they are investigating his childhood abuse. Over all it’s quite a good book and I think I grasped most of it if I didn’t I think that may be because I’m a weak reader and not because of the writer himself. I would suggest giving it a go though and definitely Highly recommend Ian Rankins books. (Although it wasn’t as good as Black and Blue in my opinion but still very good)

Favourite Quotes:

“Men liked to have their little secrets and tell their little lies. They liked to have a sense of illicit.”

“It was all shit Jim, remember that till the day you die”

“That’s how it is these days Rebus no one gives a shit”

 

 

1st Of July ( A Poem For Everyday In July)

I’ve decided I want to produce a poem for everyday in July in an aim to write more. Hope you enjoy.

 

1st Of July

I walked the paths of the Glen at three o’clock

Through the shadows of the trees.

Up towards the towers of the abbey

And the tired Cobbled streets.

 

I’m becoming a woman

I feel it in my bones.

The gnawing fear.

The mission of self-preservation from the sharp edged cold.

The constant battle for survival that haunts the old.