originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mainliners Mentoring Conference in Glasgow

I get up at 6am to catch a train from mum's in Prestonpans to the Waverley, and then one to Glasgow Queen Street. It's a beautiful morning - bitterly cold, yet not frosty. There's a strange music to my journey... I'm so accustomed to English voices, being surrounded by this old/new harmony is strangely dislocating.

It feels like an adventure; now that's interesting. That's about enthusiasm and joie de vivre - and energy. If you have no energy, everything is too much effort.

Carlton Hill looms on the right, Salisbury Crag on the left. Quick train change, and I'm torn between writing and looking - the familiar crenellations of Princes Street edging the gardens between Waverley and Haymarket, the looming grandeur of the castle rising atop its rugged outcrop of rock.

Linlithgow next stop - this music, I miss. The naming of place; there's a sense of my history encapsulated in the syllables of the names of the landscape I grew up in.

The three tower blocks at Sighthill, by Stevenson College, remind me of Barton Hill. Looking at the roads on the industrial estate, there are vague associations in my memory to something unsavoury but somehow surreal. False memory, dream wisp? This close to Cathcart Place, it's unlikely to be that kind of memory...

The cuttings are a bit boring visually - too fast to take in much of the detail of the plants, although you do get flashes of colour. The cuttings represent the determination of the human will, though - 'we want a train to go this way, so we'll cut our way through if we have to!'

Polmont, Falkirk High, Croy (dozing a lot now, such an early start) and into Queen Street. Underground from Buchanan Street to Govan. Walk from Govan to the Southern General Hospital - a straight road past (Elder?) Park, with emergent crocuses to gladden my heart, and past the maw of the Clyde Tunnel.

It's a great day. Meeting Petra after email and blog exchanges is tremendous fun- neither did justice to the 'in the flesh person'! It's a day about connections and updates. And passion.

There's a lot of passionate people. people motivated to change things, to improve services; provide training, education and advocacy. (these don't come from nowhere, somebody has to fund them...)

Talking of funding, there are a lot of generous people. £195 worth of generous people! Split between the three of us - me, Petra and Sam from the Trust - that's £65 each towards the trek. Petra and I are delighted (by the time she tots up our total, Sam has had to leave).

During the day, we meet people spread along the emotional continuum - but a great deal of anger in particular, which is not a surprise, as the liver is associated with anger.

A lot of inspiration, too, from those who have moved through their anger into a different place, offering help to others...

Again and again, links between services are highlighted, that supporting each other is crucial. We can share so much expertise in networking...

And then it's time to hurtle through the now soggy Scottish landscape on the train, wondering where the day went.

I remember coming to Glasgow for counselling and full body acupuncture, courtesy of my ma... I was really lucky, she was quite a pioneer of alternative therapies - years on, experts in addiction are beginning to advocate their effectiveness in treatment.

I came with my boyfriend for a hit once (what the specialist nurse today referred to as a 'charge', never come across that before - but all the language has moved on, I don't remember 'clucking' or 'rattling' back then either) and was ripped off with cocoa powder (hence the line in 'In the heat of high summer').

Much, much later - twenty years or so - I came up to Glasgow to consult with C-Level, when we were setting up C-Change... I was in a very painful and fragile space then, what little confidence I had shattered post-diagnosis, and yet the timing was lovely; it was mum's birthday that weekend, and we spent some time together... I was delighted with the gift of being able to tack a visit to her onto the Glasgow trip . During the Glasgow part of that trip, my colleague was going to an NA conference, and I was too scared to leave our room at the youth hostel (apart from scuttling to a supermarket for some food supplies) in case I got into a drinking spree in some pub. (Not a weird paranoia; a strange place, on my own, at that time triggered 'autocoping skills' - i.e. seeking company in a pub because I didn't know any other ways of seeking out company - I hadn't learned how to be on my own in the world without alcohol; and Scottish drinking culture is legendary...) I scribbled a poem about being sat in the window like an Amsterdam tart - but up in the Gods of our high-rise hostel, therefore more like a modern-day Lady of Shalott...

This weekend, it's Mother's Day - I'm back in Frome on Sunday, but will have spent unexpected time Friday and Saturday with my mum.

Life has a habit of these odd psycho-geographical cyclic turns. It's disturbing but also somehow healing - as if you reclaim the territory with healthier, more positive memories.

One of the results of undertaking this trek is I have to confront my self-stigmatisation. It's painful, I keep resisting - and maybe combining that with giving up smoking was a little over-ambitious, even for me.

Challenges are good for the soul.

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...