I have lived in a supported housing, in Northeast Scotland, since July 2018. It is a beautiful place to stay, and the carers are all good, lovely people. Broadband is fantastic, and it enables me to do virtually everything online from my academic studies to writing books to ordering groceries. Being a bit of a tech-head, I use technology to make my life easier, such as voice recognition devices to keep me entertained and to switch on the lights.

 

I need a lot of care, and all the carers are so kind and we have a good laugh. Because I rely on them to do everything for me, we have a special relationship. I trust them empirically. Of course, I find the whole situation strange at times—having others look after me, especially since I cherished my independence so much and assumed, like most people do, that I would always be able to look after myself and live independently.

Life is unpredictable at the best of times. You never know what’s around the corner. You learn to adapt, and what might have seemed strange becomes your new normal. Over the passage of time I have found an inner tranquility and acceptance of my new reality. I understand that others must look after me instead of me looking after myself. Admitting to yourself that you need more help than would normally be the case is the first step toward living your life to the full. Life is what you make of it!

One of my greatest achievements is earning three university degrees in Science from the Open University. This photo was taken at my graduation ceremony, a day that will always stand out as a highlight of my life. I encourage you to set the bar high for yourself and dream big. You can do it!

 

 

Iain M. MacLeod

wheelsgalore100@gmail.com

Open University

__________

 

Educator of the masses without societal barriers

All coming together in a common unity

Society’s class statuses hold no governing rule

Instead passion and enthusiasm and eagerness

Advancement and achievement and pride objectives

Giving hope to the dejected and dreams to dreamers

In a voyage of discovery to explore unforeseen worlds

 

The OU largest educator of disabled

Societal barriers of preconceptions

Imbecilic condescending supercilious chains are broken

 

My beloved OU is there in dark and joyous times

Non-judgmental of physical imperfections

Neural achievements are the only criteria

A constant when life becomes overbearing

Access with no barriers and an addicted student

True equality and not just meaningless sound bites

 

Opportunity of sameness is refreshing in its parity

No diminishing of educational standards

Same TMAs and EMAs exasperated expectations

Same frustrating neural stress and pleasurable thrill

Equality at its finest with no barriers

 

In a world of uncertainty and fakery

The OU is a shining light to show the way

Few can follow the leader though try but fail

Educator of the masses and destroyer of myths

Restoring confidence and hope to ultimate success

 

Iain M. MacLeod is the published author of two books and an advocate for disability access and inclusivity. Iain's books are 10 Seconds That Changed My Life and Wheels Galore!

When I lived independently in my own house in beloved Fochabers, a lovely village in the Northeast of Scotland, my favourite spot was looking down The Spey, a source of great solace, peace and tranquility. I spent a lot of time at the Memorial Gardens gazing at The Spey flowing past. There is a bench on the grassy bank to invite people to sit and enjoy the view. I loved sitting next to it in my electric wheelchair. That bench inspired me to write the poem “The Seat”. I wondered one day how many people sat on that bench enjoying the same view that I loved. On nice summer days, I loved to watch the kayaks and canoes meandering down the river.

 

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Fochabers

__________

 

Driving away that Friday night heralded a new chapter

Late September weather transition merged

Friday night Fochabers, Saturday Inverness

 

Not realising the empathetic pull of the village

Bonds deepen over the rolling years

 

House crafted and tailored to suit

Doors marked are characteristics of hidden happiness

Satisfaction of ecstasy a gauge of blissful contentment

Contented dwelling is testament of pride and fulfilment

Unconscious realisation of singleton reality

 

Wheeled freedom represents solitude tranquility

Aimlessly chaired wandering naturally rejuvenates

Physical barriers of normal chains are briefly broken

 

The northeast village unaware of personal happiness

Spinning striped recognition being inner contentment

In a world of uncertainty and insecurity

Fochabers restores clarity and peaceful satisfaction

 

The Spey a source of great joyous pleasure

Looking down the undulating waters of restoration

Calming qualities of tranquility soothingly washes

In an act of contemplative meditation

A neural confusion to placid peacefulness

 

The Seat

__________

 

Picture framed between trees

Overlooking the flowing Spey

Salmon forms the migratory dance

Canoes weaving their way eastwards

The seat is witness to all habitation

Exposed to all weather elements

From snow to baking heat 

Patiently wait for its next passing viewer to sit

Generations finding solitude and comfort

Retired GPs to Londoners seeking romance

All searching for inner peace

Lost in contemplative pondering

Admiring the picturesque scenary 

 

Mind drifting and reflecting

Troubles being purified

Amidst the uninterrupted continuous rush

Reflecting on life's strangeness and tragic woes

Finding peaceful calmness and inner tranquility

Glassic-Gibbon wrote "the land endures"

But, the seat endures

Restoring rationality and peacefulness

Unknowingly the Spey surges past

Unaware of its regulating serenity

The Wind

__________

 

Ripples of icy-cold water swirls down the Spey

In an act of abeyance to the icy December wind

Bowing respectfully to its master's superiority

Preponderance ascendancy and pre-eminence

Bone chillingly cold, yet strangely invigorating

Glacial rawness on your face

Blasts of the Northerly on your cheeks

Artic chill penetrating through the layers

Eyes-smarting and nose constantly running

Cocooned in synthetic down

The icy wind blow down the Spey

Little sign of life in the water 

The banks looks bare and baron

Distant landscapes lie bleak and deserted

Shortest Day heralds balmy summery warmth

The Spey

__________

 

Majestic sounds of the water flowing past

Streaming over rocks in a fluidity of forcefulness

Salmon leaping on their migratory journey

Canoes weave their way to their destination

 

I sit in reflective solitude

My beloved Spey soothes and washes and cleanses

Picturesque vistas and flowing, restores neural calmness

The waters inspire as well as rejuvenate

Neural synaptic connections intertwine galvanised thought processes

 

My beloved Spey swirls and surges on its journey

unaware of its comforting tranquility

I was born in Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland and spent many happy summer holidays at my Granny's croft cottage there.

Some days, when the weather was perfect, I ventured to the old cow shed at the bottom of the croft, or to my favourite place, the water well, which was situated about halfway down the croft and had a small gray stone arch covering it. It had the best spring water I had ever tasted, or probably ever will taste.

The water was always cold all year round. On hot summer days the water was so refreshing. We would take enough well water with us to make tea when we went to Loch Grinivat, where Granny had her peat-cutting bank.

I miss my Stornoway holidays with nostalgic reflection, but I particularly miss the cold sweet water from the well.

 

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Callanish Stones

__________

 A land shrouded in mystery and an ancient past

People worshipped celestial Gods

Offering of ritual appeasements

To improve body or receive spiritual forgiveness

Callias respectful of their ancient past

Stone circle in praise of astronomical wonderment

The village gracious courteous of centuries past

Their achievements and pious reverence

Stones of a past civilization erected in homage

Their mystical significance remains lost in the past

Ancestral ancestry impregnate my DNA

My time capsule to the past lies biologically hidden

The linerage will end with me

 

Stornoway Gael

__________

Madainn mhath and Feasgar math

Gaelic phrases of my youth

In a land of ancient tradition and cleared people

Sheep over people

 

I lie in the sofa bed, in a Laxdale living room, watching the magenta skyline

Watching, through the four paneled windows, the sodium silhouette of Stornoway

Land of my nostalgic reminiscences and pride

Berthed Sullivan ready to return to Ullapool

Right lies Stornoway Castle standing guard over the island

 

Laxdale, a few miles north of Stornoway

Up the cluthan and to the right

Tar roofed white cottage with lovingly crafted peat stack

Long days cutting peats at Loch Crinabhat

Eaten alive by midges

Tea made from ice-cold well water, best ever

Crackan biscuits, hard insides and brown outer

Superbly delicious with butter and jam

An anticipated treat

 

Recollections of a bygone age

Brown corrugated cowshed at the bottom of the croft

Once a sanctuary of bovine activity

Now a refuse for feral kittens

 

Walking down the starran for adventures

Green wire-meshed gate; end of a stony dirt track

Protection from the outside world

 

Running down the croft

Before becoming a member of the lifelong club

Asian flu robbing a boy of his childhood and adulthood

 

Instead succumbing to societal vagaries

Relatives reminding of this loss

“I remember when...!” only served to frustrate

Early years of forgotten blankness

 

Now, on the downward spiral, a time to reflect

Long summers of distant memories

Rose tinted views of idealism and utopian perfection

Though it might not have been

The desire to go back to Stornoway does not appeal

Reminiscences are historical recollections of the past

Always will be proud of being a Gael and of my heritage

 

Scotland's Hills

__________

 Scotland's hills of towering majestic magnificence

Brings memories of wonderment and magnitude

Deceptively deceiving in their imposing splendour

Glen Coe draws the brave and foolhardy

Osmotically drinking-in the atmosphere with each breath

Captivated with their impressive grandeur

Buachaille Etive Beag and Bidean nam Bian and Meall Dearg and Sgórr nam Fiannaidh

Guardians of a massacre centuries past

Climbers climb being mesmerised by beauty

Some triumph and some do not

Remain encapsulated in a world without end

Hills of tranquility and seductive elegance

Geology often overcomes biological endeavour

 

Patronising Perceptions

__________

 The figure sits in his own small world

Bereft of sense and neuronal connections

How graciously society bestows accolades

Readily the crown of physical imperfections honoured

Broca's area damage just adds to the patronisation

Educated to write their names

"After all that's all 'they' will need"

The professionals procrastinate

Preaching Fruedian misguided nonsense

In a world of psychological bombastic bureaucrats

The figure sits thinking about his thesis and possabilities

Lost in his world of higher educational attainment

Higher than the procrastinating professionals

Who want to take the praise and credit

Personal endeavour the only driving force

 

Lady with the mystic smile

__________

 *People move to the side, let the wheelchair through* security said loudly

Shuffling of feet; parting of the waves

Symbol of recognisable difference

Da Vinci's Mona Lisa still magnetically draws

Osmotically drinking in the picture

Lady's smile and charisma

Shrouded in mystery just adds to the fascination

Who was she? What was the connection?

Centuries pass and theories speculate

The conundrum continues

The Louvre is home to Mona Lisa

Her far removed from Italy

Now, being spied upon in a conspicuous capital

Solitary hinging for all to admire and marvel

Small in presence through tall in populous recognition

Eyes following in an act of seeing observation

 

Old school yard

_____

 Weathered building boarded up

Unknowing of past years of educational achievements

Visitors unaware of childhood dreams

Abandoned and neglected

Unsuspecting testiment to the past

Children played and laughed and loved together

Not caring about the world and its introspective hoarseness

Unaware of life's multipicity of layered carpeting

Labelled boxes of physical imperfections

Lifelong barriers of barrage and unfulfilled aspirations

Those were the days of untarnished minds

Unconcerned and carefree childhoods

Indifferent about the world and the future

How the labelled boxes would hamper and hinder

Days of uncluttered purity and innocent childhoods

Distant recollections in a sterile environment

Decades pass and memories become transient

Old school yard slowly fades into the mists of time

 

Autumn colours

__________

 Crimson reds and rust browns and lemony yellows

Interspersed amongst a lime canopy

A waterfall of multi-coluored descending leaves

Multi-coloured branches

Remembrance of dearly departed

Overlooking the Spey

Guarded by the flowing water

White horses forming swirls

Water glints in Autumn sun

Like leaves falling from the trees

Blanketing the soil in readiness for Spring

 

Sanctimonious Hypocrisy

__________

 Rotationally geocentrically orbiting the earth

Milky Way of infinite empty space

Revolving ball of humanity and caring sanctuary

A world of righteous duplicity and perfection

Hypocritical impurities and puritanism

The latest teabag or the seasonality of the weather

Designed to show the simplicity of character

Subliminal Darwinism is purposely disguised

Survival of the fittest ensures differentation continues

Denial rigorously refuted with epitaph proportionality

The world continues to spin on its axis

Caring do-gooders still speak of new teabags

Simplistic patronisation still judged on Biracial appearance

Spontaneity will never be without character familiarisation

Species propagation assured and superiority maintained