Thursday 8 June 2023

Pat Sutherland Ahoy

With great sadness Water Story bid farewell to our dearest Pat Sutherland on Wednesday morning, 7th June 2023. Pat has valiantly and repeatedly battled the return of her cancer, using recent years to live life brightly and immerse herself in writing. A breathtaking collection of her poems have been gathered in an anthology, pulled together by Giovanna MacKenna, Kay Ritchie, Debbie Macrae and Sukhema (Larry Butler) of Playspace Publications. We are eternally grateful to them for wrestling Pat's words into print even as our hearty succumbed to the "incubus" that has pursued her for so long. Although Pat didn't make it tot the launch she did hold her anthology in her hands, ever modest about its contents but happy, we believe, that we had succeeded. 

 Here is a link to Larry's (Sukhema's) Playspace site where you can buy the anthology if you wish - £9.99 - significant profits will go to Lapidus Scotland so your support is much appreciated. But the main reason for purchasing it would be for the sparkle of lifely delight that drips off the pages... Pat's writing has always been an inspiration, her "show don't tell" is achieved with subtle but determined pursuit of verbs over adjectives... see how it's done.

This is Pat's granddaughter on the cover of the book.

Pat's "Sic a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation" after Burns

Treasure Tree by Pat Sutherland

I tied a ribbon to a treasure tree;
the ribbon was my hope, 
a pot of years the treasure. 
Diurnal ribbons
lustrous silk and satin
joined the dance
of leaf and ribbon 
on the treasure tree.

Envious empty branches 
leaned down to whisper,
More ribbons, more years 
- and in my anxious search 
I squandered dwindling time,

till one naked twig
remained, grey among  
rainbow garlands
winding in the wind.

fitting as in fable,
one ribbon graced
my store,
one coil of crimson promise,
watchful, waiting.

The twig beguiled:
No more ribbons, no more years!

I saw the twig, unadorned
among its gaudy peers;
I saw the ribbon 
waiting to become itself.

My palm enclosed it.

I thanked the tree 
for my traded years,
wound the last 
bright hope
through the tendrils 
of my hair;

tied it
in a perfect bow.

Reflections and Messages

Below are some reflections on Pat from Water Story and other writers, some of which were shared at the book launch on 4th June. If you'd like to share something please email me and I will add it to the post. (Cap'n Bev)

from Pene (a scribbler):
Pat was one special lady whose calm and kindly presence was always felt within the room.  And she has left us such a gift - her own words in print.
I’m sad we won’t be together again in person, but know we shall always carry Pat with us and look forward to absorbing more of her memories as we read through her anthology.

Sukhema's from the launch:

All is well
for Pat Sutherland

O body swayed to music, O brightening Dance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance
WB Yeats
Even when receiving bad news – 
a terminal diagnosis,
you see the           beautiful

mixing minor and major keys
your metaphors weave
a tapestry of joy and woe 

as William Blake well knew – 
the only way to live
as if every day         the last 

but this present moment lives on
to become long ago

as you craft words 
from a treasured past

from Stevie
She was a gentle, thoughtful, quiet 
     unassuming lady who had a real gift for 
     vividly expressing, life, times and seasons
    through her wonderful writing. 

from Sandra
I am so sorry to hear about Pat’s passing. She truly was a remarkable wee wummin. And she had a writing craft and natural ability that some folk can only dream about having. Poetry and creative writing was etched into her bones and tattooed on her heart. She’ll truly be missed. One such poem that springs to mind for me was her Brexit poem. A parcel o rogues. So funny, true and she hit it home. 
RIP Pat and enjoy writing for the heavenly Angels. 

Giovanna's from the launch:
Creating a poetry collection is extremely hard work, mainly for the poet! 
But Pat did not flinch from it. 

Since August, Kay, Debbie and I have supported her in: 
sifting through her extensive back catalogue of poems; 
choosing those she most wanted to see in print; 
editing each poem into its best existence; 
shaping how the book itself would look and be experienced by you, the reader; 
considering how the poems would flow through the book, how they should sit on the page; 
creating images to work with the text and, 
finally, to the cover itself - which you can see has the perfect image of Pat’s granddaughter, Eilidh Sutherland O’Brien. 

Once that work was done, we took to proofreading, and proofreading, and more proofreading! 
Until, at last, we had a completed manuscript that Pat - with her exacting standards - can be proud of. 
And I believe that’s what we’re celebrating today. 

I saw Pat on Thursday and when she held this book in her hands she lit up with pleasure. 

Kay's from the launch:
I first met Pat about 5 years ago when I gate-crashed scribble in the kibble. She was elegant, intelligent and observant but when she read her poems she could surprise and sometimes shock. Her poems revealed the wilder, rebellious, mischievous but always the caring woman she was and through her writing I’ve learned of her many adventures. A traveller, she loves nature, loves people and celebrates them with her words - sometimes serious, often humorous but always full of love.

So I am delighted to hold this collection of her work, about her life, in my hand. It’s been a huge privilege to work with her on her book these last few months and to read a couple of her poems today although nobody can read them like Pat herself.

Bev's from the launch:
Our Pat
such a gentle soul, mild mannered 
but with grip on rectitude, injustice 
such a passionate pen on the way things could be done
should be done 
not with stamp and shout but with words
verbs harnessed to the stuff of life
eyes and heart always open
open hands under a cherry tree

at last we have her words writ down to savour
but was it any wonder
that a woman for whom who life so burns so bright
might regularly, on the barge, set fire to the croissants

from Kate:
Such sad news of the loss of a beautiful woman. Please send my love to Pat’s family at this sad time.

from Catrice, Maryland, USA 
Pat was a pleasure to know. And though I didn’t know her well, in our brief connection, she was a warm person, funny, full of life and a talented writer. Pat will surely be missed by all who knew, met, and loved her. Truly a special soul to have graced this planet. Wishing her soul eternal peace.

from May:
Aw. So sad. I will miss her cheery  welcome aboard the barge.

from John:
Such a sad loss, such a beautiful, kind lady.

And finally, I took to the Clyde yesterday after hearing the news about Pat. That woman who loved water felt very near... and so dear. Bon voyage our Pat, with love from Cap'n Bev

It's the bottom of the tide.
the Clyde cannot decide if it be sea about rise 
or river flowing west to find the isles.

Coal tit chicks chirrup in the trees, 
fluff among a leafy breeze, deny the cease of life
that witnessed all so bright.

It’s the bottom of the tide
and our beloved Pat
has this morning died.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

100th Water Story ~ January 2023

We realised it was three whole years since we had gathered on the barge... how appropriate to be back there again for our 100th celebration, albeit poignantly with some precious members too ill to come and some challenging diagnoses swilling about among the (mostly alcohol free) mulled wine. 

Oh yes, there was writing as well as feasting!

I really love this pic where Cap’n Bev is telling stories as usual, Helen’s wondering what on earth she’s on about, Angie is planning something evil and John, May and Pat’s bums are really starting to feel the cold!

Huge thanks to Navvies' Barge for hosting us; the barge is looking wonderful.

Thanks to funders
Lapidus Scotland gratefully acknowledges the support of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership's "Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund" (managed by Impact Funding Partners).

Saturday 12 November 2022

Water Story 21st October 2022 ~ Luss & Inchcailloch

Sea Lines

This was our theme today with Cap'n Bev hunting out a number of prompts from sea poems (courtesy of the anthology "Poems of the Sea"). We had the splendid factual commentary by Archie Waters as we travelled around Luss and the islands weaving magic from the lyrical inspiration of the lines of famous poets (see below).

one port, methought, I like they sought ~ clough

lies a calm along the deep ~ goethe

past the houses, past the headlands ~ dickinson

the beacon in the storm ~ hugo

the masts with all their rigging ~ longfellow

the winged galley flies ~ pope

far as the breeze can bear ~ byron

this is the end of the whaleroad ~ lowell

break at the foot of thy crags ~ tennyson

desolate shores with  mighty swell ~ keats

uplifted, and secure with beaked prow ~ milton

before him only shoreless seas ~ miller

moorings, the bleaching quay, the heat ~ merwin

a tall ship and a star to steer her by ~ masefield


And now for some of 


"A tall ship and a star to steer her by"
by Debbie Macrae 

She stood at the bow of the ship.
All others behind her,
aiding her mission, 
awaiting her command. 
She had to be the Captain. 
She knew she mustn’t fail,
as the tall ship set sail.  

Being at the helm steadied her,
empowered her. 
She took calming breaths of sea air 
and became the compass,
steering the ship towards her star - 
her one true guiding light
Ready to fight
the monsters from the deep. 

As she navigated the dark waters,
the brilliant luminescence from the star above,
gave her focus and purpose.
The surface
of the water, glistened in the starlight,
reflecting her determination
to sail on unscathed into another day. 

“break at the foot of thy crags” ~ Tennyson
by Cap’n Bev

How to sail my sweet yacht 
on waves of otherworldliness
how to tug at the stays
slacken sails when the blow is too strong
how to watch for the swell
the lift and the roll that are not my control.

All that's for me is to sail this live sea
for good and for bad 
just to be surely afloat on my own tiny boat
 and not break at the foot of the crags.

Pulp and Perpetuity
by Cap'n Bev 
(this new poem was used to introduce the session, encouraging all to keep questioning rather than fixing on answers)

The pen presses down in pulp and perpetuity
commits new truth to strident strokes of black and white
yet even as I write the verity evolves
to new and different understanding
mutates to something else quite inconceivable.

Who are these that lay down law?
In tablet and in tome, perception pinned to fact
an attempt to hunt down truth
end its movement
eat its organs
stretch its hide on tenterhooks
let it dry to brittle parchment on which they write...

the story!

how fast and ferocious was this animal
how powerful the hunter who caught and slaughtered it
ate its heart and meat till they were full, replete
and stronger all the more because they know the animal
know it all

Around the fireside
the children feel their bubbling questions burst unanswered
find no pause to ask about the beast
was it beautiful
what did it eat, could we eat the same
how magnificent was its movement
and when you looked it in the eye
could you find the question
to which our answers are all blind?

Thanks to you all ...

... for your heartening feedback as always!


Thanks to funders
Lapidus Scotland gratefully acknowledges the support of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership's "Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund" (managed by Impact Funding Partners) and, of course, Cruise Loch Lomond.

Water Story 7th October 2022 ~ Tarbet to Inversnaid

With waves of flu assailing our regular crew we had a very small turnout today, valiantly arriving at Tarbet pier even as Glasgow disappeared in a deluge of rain. Within minutes of our departure the sun came out... as is always the way with Water Story!

Our focus today, in the sloppy wake of presidential disaster, was POWER.

And now for some of 


Well nothing has come in as yet but as we prepare for the xmas perty on the canal Maggie has reminded us of this:

'Oh the Crinnan Canal for me;
I don't like the wild raging sea!
T' would be too terrific to sail the Pacific
Or sail to japan or Figi - 
 I don't fancy leaving my bones
in a locker beside Davy Jones!
The big foaming breakers would give me the shakers -
the Crinan Canal for me. 

The Crinan Canal for me;
from sea terrors there you are free
There's no shark or whale that would make you turn tail
or quiver or quake at the knee.

Aye, the Crinan canal for me 
it's neither too big or too wee
You can sit in its locks while you're darning your socks,
or drinking a nice cup of tea...'

Thanks to funders
Lapidus Scotland gratefully acknowledges the support of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership's "Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund" (managed by Impact Funding Partners) and, of course, Cruise Loch Lomond.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Water Story 12th August 2022 on Loch Lomond

Only pictures can describe the day we had on the water thanks to Cruise Loch Lomond

Many thanks for the photos Deb!


And now for some of 


lets be having it sweeties!

Thanks to you all ...

... for your heartening feedback as always!

Thanks to funders
Lapidus Scotland gratefully acknowledges the support of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership's "Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund" (managed by Impact Funding Partners) and, of course, Cruise Loch Lomond.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Noren Haq Water Story 26th Febrary 2022

Noren’s session was a gift for our hardworking writers with some sound advice to some of the shining stars who are heading into the rough waters of the publishing world. She focused on her experience of three common problems that writers face:
  • the pressure to write perfectly
  • lack of confidence
  • isolation that often makes writing more daunting.

"Finding a writing community is vital to keep you going when things get difficult. There are many ways of doing this via writing groups and events." Here are some links offering advice and support that Noren has found helpful during her writing journey:

Screenwriter Sarah Dollard on writing:

"Write. Write every day, in one way or another. If you don’t love writing, then choose another dream. Sometimes writing is hard. Sometimes it’s the worst and you hate it and you hate yourself, and you think you should probably stop for the good of all humanity and maybe make cabinets instead because at least cabinets are useful. Those feelings are normal, don’t worry. But if you go through all that guff and still wake up the next day and love writing all over again, then you’re a writer. Congratulations/commiserations."

Glasgow Women’s Library is an amazing place that provides generous support to writers. Here’s a link to their events and learning opportunities page:

Writing a play? Find support at:

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing to help and encourage you to get your novel written:

Twitter is a brilliant place to connect with other writers and find new opportunities, competitions and mentorship programmes. It is also a great place for joining in writing prompts. 
The following writing prompts used in the session were taken from @MirandaKeeling

1) Man on the bus: I’ve just missed my stop. What an idiot.
Woman: That’s nothing. I once got off the plane in the wrong country.

2) Woman in a bar: The restaurant sacked me today.
Man: Why?
Woman: I dropped a pizza. Face down. From a spiral staircase. Onto a bald man’s head.

3) A green-coat-wearing woman at a bus stop shoots an imaginary, two-fingered gun, twirls it and puts it back into an imaginary holster.

‘where’s ma pizza’
by Kay Ritchie

my stomach cramps
my head thumps
rap   reggae   hip hop
as I hop over handbags
negotiate chairs
answer cheek
then this idiot
bald as a coot
hoots up the stairs
‘where the fuck’s ma pizza’
and his table cheer & 
I think ‘spill a beer down his front’
instead, before I even get there
I’ve tripped   ripped my shoe &
tipped a pizza   
down the spiral stair
down onto his head
where there once grew hair &
I can’t repeat what he said
or what I said
but all I know is 
I’m now unemployed
my stomach still cramps &
my head still thumps

Thanks to funders
Lapidus Scotland gratefully acknowledges the support of Scottish Book Trust,
Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership's "Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund" (managed by Impact Funding Partners).