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TITLE
'Stac Jenny' (3 of 4)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_NG_STACJENNY_03
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Alison Napier
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1486
KEYWORDS
poem
poems
literature
competition
competitions
writing competition
writing competitions
story
stories
audios
audio recordings
recordings

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'Stac Jenny' was one of the 'Highly Commended' entries in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Alison Napier, from Lairg.

To celebrate Highland 2007, Scotland's year of Highland Culture, the theme was 'Highland Spaces'. Judges for the adult prose section were Scottish writer Margaret Elphinstone and Ann Yule, Convenor for the Neil Gunn Trust.

The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.

'The bundle used to cry, a fierce wail that stunned and stopped my fractured heart and wrenched lumps of rage from under my thin shirt and hurled them into the sea. The bundle used up all the life I had, and that I would have, and absorbed the love and the longing into her weak blotting-paper frame but it was not enough. The bundle was taken from me and I know I put up a fair fight. I screeched and screamed and hurled my rages at everyone who dared come near; the world was astonished at my strength. They came too close so I fled, a nightmare flight in ill-fitting shoes and a heavy leather coat, clutching my bundle, clanking robotically in my useless suit of armour, stumbling on the sheep-shorn machair arms legs heart all broken up and breaking down as I head for the waves, and nurses in blue and doctors in white, disguised as breakers, just smiled or so it seemed, and took my sunshine away. You'll never know, dear. I searched, I did, I searched in vain. Sorry. I do recall an unseemly scuffle.

But scuffles come and scuffles go, come and, go, as tides rise and fall. Soon the echoes in my hollow spaces diminished and I returned to the address I had given as home to the home-breakers. The diminishing returns of stac Jenny, I explained to my neighbour who still brought me rabbits, only smaller now. He smiled, baffled but brave, coming and going, as if it mattered.

I have chopped the pew up into kindling. Now I sit alone on a deckchair. I have reclaimed the Best Room, the one at the front where I was not allowed to go, and I sit on a deckchair because the armchairs have mice living in them. And no mouse ever lived in a deckchair. This much I know.

I have a knife and I sit on my deckchair and I whittle and carve, shavings scattered round my feet. So far I have made thirty-seven tent pegs, each one carved into a nine-inch tall thin doctor or a nine-inch tall thin nurse. I hammer them into the ground around my house to make sure they are working. They are working. And I have carved a spurtle with a mermaid figure head, her hair flies out behind her and her chin is raised in defiance and her eyes stare blankly out across the boiling seas in my porridge pan every morning.

I have walked the moors, the mad moines, those wide open spaces that share their skies with deserts and steppes, with prairies and plains, I have walked and walked towards all the horizons with my wheelbarrow pram and crept down into deep dark ditches and clawed at the buried bleached branches poking out of the peat, the fossilised timber that waits for me in the trenches. My nails bleed and my feet are rotting and sinking but I drag the limbs out and push them home, whispering and singing. Then I wash each one in a tin bath-tub in the kitchen, with hand hot water, a clean rag and scented soap, tenderly and lovingly, cotton-buds into all its secret private places, I soothe the bruises and I ease the twists and gnarls, I wrap it in a towel-blanket and hold it close to me, rocking it to sleep, humming a lament. Once they are stilled I lay them to rest outside by the sentry rowan and they are warmed by the summer suns and cleansed by the winter winds. When the weather allows I take my deckchair outside and I sit and polish them with the finest sandpaper and massage them with linseed oils. In this way I know they will stay with me forever and indeed they do.'

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'Stac Jenny' (3 of 4)

2000s

poem; poems; literature; competition; competitions; writing competition; writing competitions; story; stories; audios; audio recordings; recordings

Am Baile

Neil Gunn Writing Competition (audios)

'Stac Jenny' was one of the 'Highly Commended' entries in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Alison Napier, from Lairg.<br /> <br /> To celebrate Highland 2007, Scotland's year of Highland Culture, the theme was 'Highland Spaces'. Judges for the adult prose section were Scottish writer Margaret Elphinstone and Ann Yule, Convenor for the Neil Gunn Trust.<br /> <br /> The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.<br /> <br /> 'The bundle used to cry, a fierce wail that stunned and stopped my fractured heart and wrenched lumps of rage from under my thin shirt and hurled them into the sea. The bundle used up all the life I had, and that I would have, and absorbed the love and the longing into her weak blotting-paper frame but it was not enough. The bundle was taken from me and I know I put up a fair fight. I screeched and screamed and hurled my rages at everyone who dared come near; the world was astonished at my strength. They came too close so I fled, a nightmare flight in ill-fitting shoes and a heavy leather coat, clutching my bundle, clanking robotically in my useless suit of armour, stumbling on the sheep-shorn machair arms legs heart all broken up and breaking down as I head for the waves, and nurses in blue and doctors in white, disguised as breakers, just smiled or so it seemed, and took my sunshine away. You'll never know, dear. I searched, I did, I searched in vain. Sorry. I do recall an unseemly scuffle.<br /> <br /> But scuffles come and scuffles go, come and, go, as tides rise and fall. Soon the echoes in my hollow spaces diminished and I returned to the address I had given as home to the home-breakers. The diminishing returns of stac Jenny, I explained to my neighbour who still brought me rabbits, only smaller now. He smiled, baffled but brave, coming and going, as if it mattered.<br /> <br /> I have chopped the pew up into kindling. Now I sit alone on a deckchair. I have reclaimed the Best Room, the one at the front where I was not allowed to go, and I sit on a deckchair because the armchairs have mice living in them. And no mouse ever lived in a deckchair. This much I know.<br /> <br /> I have a knife and I sit on my deckchair and I whittle and carve, shavings scattered round my feet. So far I have made thirty-seven tent pegs, each one carved into a nine-inch tall thin doctor or a nine-inch tall thin nurse. I hammer them into the ground around my house to make sure they are working. They are working. And I have carved a spurtle with a mermaid figure head, her hair flies out behind her and her chin is raised in defiance and her eyes stare blankly out across the boiling seas in my porridge pan every morning.<br /> <br /> I have walked the moors, the mad moines, those wide open spaces that share their skies with deserts and steppes, with prairies and plains, I have walked and walked towards all the horizons with my wheelbarrow pram and crept down into deep dark ditches and clawed at the buried bleached branches poking out of the peat, the fossilised timber that waits for me in the trenches. My nails bleed and my feet are rotting and sinking but I drag the limbs out and push them home, whispering and singing. Then I wash each one in a tin bath-tub in the kitchen, with hand hot water, a clean rag and scented soap, tenderly and lovingly, cotton-buds into all its secret private places, I soothe the bruises and I ease the twists and gnarls, I wrap it in a towel-blanket and hold it close to me, rocking it to sleep, humming a lament. Once they are stilled I lay them to rest outside by the sentry rowan and they are warmed by the summer suns and cleansed by the winter winds. When the weather allows I take my deckchair outside and I sit and polish them with the finest sandpaper and massage them with linseed oils. In this way I know they will stay with me forever and indeed they do.'