Balloch House Hotel Open Mic   (in abeyance)

mike taylor frozen loch

December, 2020

December is a month of diverse festivities, celebrations and devotional acts. Ann, George and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone well, whatever their faith, belief or creed.

Below is a selection from some of the regulars at the Open Mic. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Ice on Loch Lomond     Catriona Malan (photo © Mike Taylor)

That was the winter the loch froze over

stealing reflections from the hills,

and laying its pale shawl on their shoulders.            

Islands, feeling they were trapped,

huddled sullen in the cold as the wind

shaved the bracken of their skin.

But the postman skated that squeaking plain

sensing, beneath his blades,

the slow drift of sleeping powan,

bit icicles of breath from his moustache

hid red hands beneath his scarf and laughed

later about how he had walked on water.

Christmas, not the turkey , overdone! (from a memoir – Maria is not her real name) Mary Irvine

Greeting me in her usual enthusiastic, effusive even, way Maria led me into the cool of her kitchen which abounded in cloths – all matching and all displaying the same motifs of seasonal relevance: jolly little fat men dressed in red, or angelic, cherubic children. Red and green flourished everywhere. The curtains had been changed to ‘match’. This theme continued in the living area with a plastic variation of 3D greenery, the same angelic, cherubic children  and a large, kelly-like, jolly fat man dressed in red.  A truly un-realistic tree in one corner dominated the room.  I was conscious, how could one not be, of the flashing lights, rivalling Joseph’s coat, but wasn’t sure, at first, that I was hearing correctly.  Yes, there it was again – co-ordinated with the flashes were the computerised strains of international festive music.

Maria smiled expectedly. I lied. It was Christmas after all.



Children cover your eyes.  I am a grown-up’s pudding.

Dark and tempting

oozing cream

liquered filling

really means

that after babes have gone to sleep

share me with those who keep

late hours

and yes, a little wine to drink with me

dessert of course, ah, can you see

my gorgeous curls which snap and crack

as knife is plunged into my back

and lo I am lifted high and placed

like royalty on doilèd lace.

A perfect circled Catherine wheel

whose chocolate tramlines neatly seal

the flavour of a queenly pud

There is something wondrous about good food

Margaret McGrath

Hogmanay Clydebank         Margaret McGrath

Like Eliot’s three wise men, on we go
up to our knees in winter’s first snowfall
holding our bottles in case they smash
on the frozen slush.
Shoes full of wet snow
slow down the troops
our bags weave to and fro

Looking for taxis instead of stars
snow covered eyelashes, snow covered cars
stiletto shoes, no feeling in toes.

Singalongs waft from nearby tenements
Oh for a drink and some Sloane’s liniment.

Bearing gifts of liquid gold, coal and black bun
Midnight approaches we are down to the wire
Hogmanay beckons and we will miss the fun.

God, send a taxi, my dad cries

Miracle of miracles I see one.

Journey                                Ann MacKinnon

An owl flies,

white against black sky.

Scythe-bladed moon

echoes the wings’ shape.

Stars, fireflies

peek through dark’s cover.

Flakes glide

like owl’s down

and lie, icing

on a newborn cake.

Feet shuffle on

the christened ground.

Frozen tears

on travellers’ heads

as they journey

through snow,

seeking you. 

And another wee poem from Ann to lift all our spirits – emotionally or in a glass!! Stay safe…


Rainbow of Hope

I saw a rainbow today in a grey

sky where clouds hung

like whites on the washing line.

But undaunted the red rang true

and the orange made me pay heed

while the yellow promised hope.

Hope that someday the green

will win through and under a blue

sky we’ll opt for the different indigo,

instead of the shrinking violet.

We’ll come out singing all the

colours and the grey sky will lift.

Balloch Open Mic – Vale Lad ‘Done Good’ - again
Balloch Open Mic: Charlie Gracie

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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