Mary Irvine’s Blog: The End of Summer

for blogs 030Research – good and bad bits!

Haven’t written much of late. Have been transcribing tapes of interviews in connection with my biography of Margaret Harrison. I love the interview part and the reading of the transcripts. It’s the bit in the middle I dislike. Wish I could audio-type. Have also been chasing up people who promised info: by email and hadn’t yet delivered. That was productive and have now spoken to lots of people over the ‘phone and got loads of information through which I now have to sift.

In particular I have been collating info: on the Iona to Canterbury Pilgrimage for Peace which took place in 1981. Margaret and Bobby completed it on a tandem. And, a writer’s dream, they both kept diaries! Great, as it does give me very differing slants on the same event. As do all the accounts given by the many other pilgrims, now all over the world, which I have so far managed to track down with the generous help of people wishing to honour a very special lady. Although now 96 and very frail Margaret’s commitment to peace is still as strong as ever.

Leven Litts Writers’ Group

The Leven Litts are back after their Summer break. Very pleasing that we had new members. We usually have a topic (not compulsory) each week for members to interpret how they will. I append two I wrote as examples of diversity of thought processes!

The End of Summer

‘I love you honey but the season’s over.’

Susie wasn’t really surprised. She knew it never really had had a chance. It wasn’t just the family being against her. She understood that. She wasn’t one of them. She was a complete outsider. Not one of them in any way.

Susie had met Toni when he came into her parents’ hardware shop. He was totally
unlike the usual customer. He was young and handsome for a start. And he wasn’t buying anything. He was giving out flyers advertising the show. His black, black eyes holding her pale blue ones he also gave her two free tickets.

’You can bring your boyfriend.’  

Susie didn’t have a boyfriend. She went to the show alone. When the circus left
town Susie left with it. She tried hard to conquer a simple tumbling routine so she could join the family troupe but Toni soon told her,

‘You aren’t supple enough. We’ve all been tumbling from when we could walk.’

So she became an elephant girl. Dressed in a diaphanous costume, smiling at the crowds as she conquered her fear of heights, she sat astride one of the giant beasts as it lumbered nightly round the ring.

She felt she was letting Toni down. All the other elephant girls doubled up as acrobats, tumblers, trapeze artists. He constantly re-assured her but now the summer season had finished. The circus was going into its winter quarters. The circus could not carry dead weight.

‘I love you honey but the season’s over.’


Harvest Time, Harvest Home, a time of praise and joy – hopefully, hopes of a good harvest, thanking our deities for their bounteous gifts, a final celebration as we hunker down for the winter.

But what of another harvest? The one no-one wants to make a decision on whether or not this harvest will take place. The harvest of human organs for transplant. For this to take place and maybe give someone the chance of sight or a completely new life – possibly just life, someone’s loved one has to die. At a time of grieving, relatives are approached to make a decision on whether they will allow ‘the harvesting’ of their loved one’s body parts. Not the best time to be making a rational decision.

In the UK the donor has to be declared cardiac (the majority) or brain dead. In the case of the former, if the selected organ is deemed healthy then the removal has to be made within minutes of the donor’s demise. (DCD – Donation after Cardiac Death). After that the organ becomes unusable. Whatever the decision made the trauma on the people giving or with-holding permission will be great, and may forever remain with them as regret or even guilt for not choosing the alternative. Possibly, in more recent times, the relatives may be aware of the deceased’s wishes, who may also be donor registered. In most cases families will agree to donation if they are awareof the wishes of their relative. However, some may object on ethical, moral or religious grounds. Specialist medical teams will explain the whole scenario but the family have no legal right to over-ride the deceased’s registration for organ donation.

Transplanting from a living donor has different ethical, moral or religious issues. This article refers only to harvesting from the deceased.

A small percentage of deaths are brain dead donors (DBD) and these are preferred by the medical fraternity. In effect  a declaration of ‘brain death’ means that the machines keeping all the organs working can be left on while the harvesting takes place. Thus the organs are harvested from a functioning body, although the donor is technically dead. After organ harvesting the organs are usually rushed to destination for emergency transplanting or preserved for later use or study. This latter means that they will not be transplanted into another person but may be used for research.

We hear of organs being taken for research without the knowledge or permission of relatives, illegal or forced  transplants, organs being bought and sold like so much meat.

There will always be the unscrupulous but, whatever our wishes it would help those we leave behind if we made those wishes expressly clear, before we shuffle off this mortal coil!  
(That’s my Bard, Ishbel, not yours!) This cryptic comment refers to the fact that when Ishbel quotes ‘The Bard’ she means Rabbie Burns, whereas I mean Shakespeare!                                                   

Mary Irvine: Writer's blog – Dog sitting, friendship and writing
Mary Irvine's latest blog: A Loch Cruise and a Literary Interlude

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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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