Sunday, July 10, 2022

Her Sister's Shadow by Catherine Wimpeney


 Greater Manchester DCI Kay Harris is haunted by the memory of her sister's recent suicide. Concerned for her mental health, her superiors  push her into taking some time off. Kay retreats to her family's holiday home in the Scottish Highlands, taking with her, Ava, a young woman she prevented from committing suicide. 

Wimpeney is a former mental health nurse and qualified psychotherapist, and used her experience in writing this thriller. The subject matter is fairly heavy, including issues around expectations of women in the workplace, bullying at work, mental health support and trauma recovery, but the book is lightened by a good sense of humour.

As a birdwatcher, I liked the frequent bird based similes that Kay used to describe things, eg "Their phones rang intermittently, like robins marking territories". I was disappointed that this disappeared from the book quite quickly, though perhaps that was a deliberate attempt to add to the sense of Kay's deteriorating mental health. 

It's an engrossing read, though slightly uneven (and perhaps could have done with better editing). Definitely worth reading if you're interested in the issues.

Her Sister's Shadow by Catherine Wimpeney, published (2021) by Northodox Press, a publishing company committed to books from the north of England.  


Disclaimer: I won this book in a competition on Twitter

Friday, July 01, 2022

Poetry in the Chess Cafe

“Poetry is like chess” the old man said to me.

He was sitting in the corner of a diner
looking vacantly through the window
at the sunlit city street.

“Not only in the sense” he continued quietly
“of the length of time you need to think.
But also there's an instinct -
the right move or the right word
can arise it seems from nowhere
and inspiration is all around.
For example, I am no past Grand Master
so why do I talk of chess?”
He looked downwards at the floor
where the black legs of the diner chairs
stood quietly on black and white tiled squares.

“Perhaps we are but pawns” he said
“but that is just the starting point
for another poem another day.”

He nodded briefly at me
then turned his gaze back to the street.

Previously published as part of the Ekphrastic Challenge in response to the painting The Poet, by Lily Prigioniero (Italy, b. USA) 2021

Monday, March 14, 2022

Inch House

I'm looking forward to leading some nature walks in Inch Park in the early summer. I recently had a guided tour of Inch House, which houses the Inch Community centre. 

Inch House is based on a traditional Scottish tower house, built in the 16th century. 


New wings were added to the building in 1634 and again in the mid-18th century. In the 1890s, additions were made round the courtyard in Scots baronial style, giving the building its current appearance. 

Later additions mostly were very sensitive to the original style of the building - look at how the newer chimney piece in the background here echoes the shape and detail of the older chimney piece in the foreground (click on the photo to enlarge it and get a better look at the detail)

The building contains many well-preserved rooms, complete with special features such as 17th century fireplaces, decorated ceilings, window shutters and carved wooden door surrounds, 


as well as original stone garderobes (toilets). A very narrow spiral staircase leads to a turret, where (apparently!) you can get magnificent views across Edinburgh. (I had to admit defeat on this staircase, I've hated tiny spiral staircases ever since a childhood visit to a lighthouse!)

Edinburgh Council bought the building in 1946. It was first used as a primary school, and then in 1968 converted into a community centre serving the local Inch community. As well as being a community centre, the building offers practice space for a number of local bands 

You can find out more about the building here.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Not in Our Name (a found poem)

There were mutterings that each day grew louder,
signs and portents that we refused to believe.
Local militia were organizing and drilling
getting ready to answer the call should it come.
Not that people thought that it would come.
They believed, as they hoped,
that something would be done to prevent war…….
As for those others who prophesied and prayed for it,
who wanted the vials of God's wrath uncorked,
they got what they wanted.
Their prayers were answered;
the land was drenched in blood.
But for the most of us
we did not.

Found poem from:A Virginia Girl in the Civil War, 1861-1865: Being a Record of the Actual Experiences of the Wife of a Confederate Officer: Ed. by Myrta Lockett Avary

I originally posted this found poem for Read Write Poem, four years ago, but it seems very relevant to today's situation.