The rain in Carntyne

I’m walking home from the hospital in the rain along Edinburgh Road in Carntyne. Grey, overcast, a storm ahead and with no way to prevent my partner’s decline, nothing to stop it happening. Human beings are weak and we are small, we are powerless and at the mercy of the elements, the forces of nature, the cycle of life and death.

He’s not getting any better, he’s not going to get better. The words go round and round as if repetition makes them easier to accept. The end is not imminent, it’s not today or tomorrow, and we will bring him home – but vascular dementia is terminal, and terminal illnesses terminate. Every day that passes brings the final day closer, the last bridge to cross, the last chapter of the story is being written, and today I realised I am already mourning for a life that is draining away like the water that splashes on the roadway.

They say that the secret of wisdom is to learn the difference between the things you can change, and the things you can’t, and what you can’t change you must accept, however painful. And this is one of those things that cannot be changed. Sometimes it hurts so bad, it sears the soul and scorches the spirit. Yet you must accept it like the Carntyne rain. Every day another little bit of the life we have together dies. and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, no dam that can hold back the stormy waters of grief. A black hole of uncertainty looms beyond the fear. I keep walking in the Carntyne rain and tears mingle with the sky and the clouds, going home to an empty heart. This is what hopelessness feels like.

I would do anything to change things, to make him whole, to stop this happening, to restore the man I love. The English man who taught me how to love and who freed my heart from the prison of cynicism. I’d sell my soul to Satan. Worse, I’d even vote No. But there’s nothing that can change it, no cure, no remedy. All there is is heartbreak and acceptance, resignation – but no regrets for a life well lived. And so I know I will keep walking through the cleansing rain, carrying a bundle of precious memories that nurture and sustain – his gift to me.

In the cloudy sky above the East End, moisture condenses around a particle of dust liberated long ago from a distant hearth where people loved and laughed and told stories around the fireplace. It gains mass and a droplet is born. The droplet falls through the air, slowly at first, then gaining speed it sets itself on the trajectory that defines the life of a raindrop. It dances in the breeze, it curls and twists and falls. It splashes on my head, drips down my neck. You are alive, it writes in cold rainwater along my spine. You feel. You have become aware. Feel the things you can change and change them, the raindrop says.

The rain washes off the Naw stickers that appeared on the lampposts after the Orange Walk. The Carntyne rain on the British parade.

And then I grow angry. Angry at those who tell us there is no other way, who insist that we cannot change things that can be changed. Angry at those who choose hopelessness, who coccoon themselves in the comfort of cynicism and think that it makes them wise. The wisdom of the fools who don’t know the difference between the things we can’t change and the things we can. The fools who protect themselves with an ersatz umbrella of bunting and parades and the PR smiles of a Prime Minister who isn’t paid to care, the narrow horizons of those whose only aspiration is to feel superior to those who have less than themselves. The chained souls who believe their foolishness is wisdom.

But some things can be changed. We can weave words and cast spells, we can work magic with words which evaporate the cynicism. There is a better way, the rain says. The druids and druidesses of Scotland are changing the world with their message of Yes, conjouring up a Scottish rain of words to wash away the dust of three hundred years that lodges in our eyes and blinds us to our own potential. The magic incantation of Yes, the glamour that reaches deep into the soul and powers the heart and feeds the brain. I feel at one with myself and with the rain. And I know that life is good and precious. Too precious to waste on the false gods and fake authority of a Parliament far away.

Yes, says the rain, as it casts out the hopelessness like a demon expelled. Crushing the cringe and washing it away down the stanks along the Edinburgh Road. It cleanses and it makes us whole. And the rain says – choose to live your life, choose to make a splash, choose to water the soft grass on the roadside verge where the flowers blossom in the summer. Choose to drink the sweet water of choice. Choose to fill the rivers that flow to the sea and begin the cycle of life.

I stand in the rain by the side of the road. Yes is a life well lived. Yes is a life without regrets for what might have been. You don’t regret the things you’ve done, you only regret what you could have done but didn’t do. Live without regret, take your destiny into your own hands and own it. Define yourself or be defined. I stand by the side of the road and listen to the rain. The skies over Carntyne weep with joy for hopes that can be made real.

Yes means taking your fate into your own hands. It means recognising the things you can change, and taking action to change them. Take the power and own it. Take a leap of faith in yourself.

Yes means being alive and powerful like the rain in Carntyne.



85 comments on “The rain in Carntyne

  1. Morag Martin says:

    Thinking of you at this awful time. Thank you for your witty & honest posts. You have been a source of inspiration to many. Independent Scotland will be a better place for people like you. Thank you.

  2. bobsinclair2014 says:


    I just don’t know what to say. You are living through your hardest days and still you provide inspiration for us all. None of us can understand how you feel – we have all had our personal hard times but they are just that – personal to each of us.

    Never forget though, that we love you and are here for you when you need us.

  3. Norman Martin says:

    Exquisite lines on the agony of parting. We are indeed with you, and comfort you both.

  4. Albaman says:

    You have a way with words, which we do not often see today.

  5. bearinorkney says:

    Not as badly off personally as you Paul, but my wife isn’t very well with emphysema/COPD and I’m hoping that she pops her clogs before me and she probably will in all likelihood. I’d rather I should have to suffer the pain of losing her than she should have to grieve for me. It isn’t much consolation for you I know, but it somehow makes me feel better.
    Thinking of you and don’t become too depressed ……….it comes to us all.

  6. JimW says:

    Powerful writing, Paul. Hang on in there. YES needs you and No Better Together Thanks has nothing to compare.

  7. A Greater Stage says:

    I can only repeat what’s already been said, you’ve inspired many (myself included) and Scotland’s future is better thanks to you. There’s a lot of folk who you’ve never met and possibly never will all thinking of you.

    Just holler and we’ll be there.

  8. WRH2 says:

    What you have written Paul makes me aware of the depth of your sadness and feelings of loss and yet you still write lines that encourage us to work for Yes. You still see the bigger picture. I too am lost for words but as Bob says, do remember how much we think of you and love you,

  9. CyprusJag says:

    Thank you for the inspirational words of hope in, what must be, the most dreadful personal circumstances. I’m praying for you and your partner.

  10. hiorta says:

    Thank you. Can I suggest that Life, conscious Life is unending and indestructible. Our meagre senses have a so finite range of perception.

  11. alex mckechnie says:

    Everyone reading wee ginger dug knows and think and thinks about you both at this time dementia is a silent killer but keep the memory you have its yours for ever. We all wan to be with you both at this time take comfort form the many new friends you have made over the last few months with your word that also will never end.

  12. Tris says:

    Deeply moving post. I doubt there is one of us that has read that without tears in their eyes and even if we don’t know you personally, we know you through your writings.

    And you’re a friend, and so is your partner.

    There’s nothing people like me can say to make this any less utterly ghastly than it is.

    But take comfort from the fact that you love and you are loved. You and Andy share and have shared something wonderful. You’ll always have these memories. And he’ll always be with you.

    I hope he’ll soon be home so that you can look after him.

    Thinking of you


  13. Papadox says:

    Thanks for sharing that with us Paul, 30 years ago I was at the end of a pretty hopeless life, to die would have been a blessing.
    An old man as rough as a uncut diamond taught me a wee prayer to try and help me.

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    I said that’s all right for you Davy, but a don’t believe in God. God is whatever you conceive him to be, said he, I still don’t know who he is. But I still say my we prayer regularly as troubles arise.

    You are an inspiration Paul and one that I
    Know has changed my life for the better, and I thank you for that.

    Andy is where he needs to be at the moment Paul and your there to help him, what more could you ask.

    Aw the best to you and Andy I think of you both often.

  14. Catherine says:

    Thank you for all your work for Yes. Take care.

  15. nancyburge says:

    Despite personal difficulties which would have many of us lesser mortals on our knees, you still manage to connect with the outside world. Your wisdom continues to inspire me and many others , I am sure.
    Proof of this is that I am going to do an NHS talk this week in Dunvegan and more are planned on Skye. (Blog post to follow when I have polished it up.)
    So please don’t stop writing such amazing and powerful pieces.
    My best wishes to you and Andy – and of course the dug.

  16. Stoops says:

    I am so sorry Paul. I watched my mother die a slow, painful and undignified death last year and I know your feelings of hurt and frustration. I wish you every strength that you need in the days ahead. You are not unloved.

  17. You are a wonderful writer Mr Kavanagh, its’s been an education to read Wee Ginger Dug.

  18. Trebor says:

    Ach …

  19. You have woven words, Paul, Magic words and phrases that have helped many of us through the annoyances and frustrations, the fabrications and blatant lies of this campaign. Your posts have made us see the funny side, and given us a laugh to lighten our moods.

    Sadly, we can’t do the same for you. All we can do is send you both our good wishes and to say our thoughts are with you. Life can be shitty at times, but at others it can be flaming brilliant. Hang onto the memories, all the good times you shared, these will always be with you.

    Your post brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. As always you express your feeling so wonderfully, and we are honoured to share your thoughts.

  20. I wish you the strength you will need, and I thank you for the hope you give.

  21. JGedd says:

    What is parting you and Andy is cruel and inexorable, but I hope that your own fortitude and all the supportive comments above will help to sustain you. You have touched many with your writing and we are grateful.

  22. Hector says:

    Just want to send you lots of love and healing.

  23. oldnat says:

    Like all your friends, I’m thinking of you at this hellish time.

  24. MoJo says:

    You are an inspiration and your words always touch the heart – because thats where they come from. You show us every time you write how to be brave and present …..and how to craft something beautiful and useful even from the depths of pain….That’s how and why we must all vote Yes for you and Andy and all the others who have done their bit because they care.
    A No is nothing short of a denial of our human condition here in Scotland – and anywhere in this troubled planet
    Yes of course life hurts if you are really passionate and engaged in the world and with the people who share it but – if you stop caring , what’s left?
    As you say – we only get one shot at this , so time to grab life with both hands and give it our best shot……. YES …..
    I wish you and Andy all the best for your remaining journey together, I know that every moment will be very precious. Your love is a blessing which has inspired everyone and no one can ever take that away……

  25. Morag says:

    your love and loyalty to your partner is glorious; your poetic prose is testimony.

  26. […] The rain in Carntyne […]

  27. jdman says:

    How can we help to reduce the pain Paul? is it possible? should we even try?
    In your pain you still find it in yourself to give succour to the falterers like me , I leave you a stronger person than when I joined you, for that you have my eternal thanks.

  28. diabloandco says:

    Ach Paul! Life can be so hard and cruel.
    Thinking of you both and can only add my thanks for your wonderful writing in times of such stress and sadness.

  29. vronsky says:

    Your writing here will always be a very eloquent memorial to your partner.

    Some time ago I was diagnosed with cancer and told that my chances of survival were not very great. I had to come to terms with this somehow, and find a way calm myself and get on with what life might remain. What I found mysteriously comforting was the story of the Zen master who was eventually persuaded to visit a dying student. He attempted some clumsy words of comfort, adding ‘…although we do not know what it is that is dying….’ I’m not remotely religious or mystic but somehow I found this strange thought comforting. Maybe it will help you.

    I’m fine now, by the way, and that was 15 years ago.

  30. maybolebuddie says:


    Another inspirational piece…. I sincerely hope on the 19th Sept. we rise together and see a new dawn for an independent Scotland, although there may be a little rain along the way.

    I hope and wish that you continue your posts after the vote no matter the result as the difference you make and have made to peoples lives through your writings give much succour.

  31. macart763 says:

    Sometimes all you need do is simply hold a hand and be there.

  32. Illy says:

    I’m no wordsmith, but if you need cheering up, remember that *no-one* gets out of life alive, so all you ever have is the time before then.

    Reading that back, it’s not coming across quite how I mean it. Hopefully you understand the intention.

  33. jdman says:

    I couldnt leave it at that,
    I felt your strength was being usurped/stolen by people (ME) you hardly/dont know.
    When I spoke to you for a few minutes at the Counting House, I felt myself in the presence of a truly special gentle-man and felt uplifted for having met you,
    I went out into the garden after leaving my first post and watched the fog lift and the sun come out warm and welcoming and thought about your words and took comfort in my will to go on and win for you for Andrew for all the people who cant fend for themselves for whatever reason, whether it be grief, mourning, disability,unemployment,

    Andrew may never have met any of us, but I feel able to say that he is in our prayers and dearly pray his journey will be short and painless, he is fortunate indeed to have a person of your immense capacity for love to endure with him the travails he is encountering
    When the time comes to fight the demons Paul you will have an army at you side, ready and willing to endure with you and Andrew to the end.

  34. Jan Cowan says:

    I don’t think I have ever read clear, honest and poetic expression such as yours, Paul. I only hope that writing down your emotions helps you to cope with the physical pain of loss.

    Many, many people are thinking of you and Andy.

  35. Cag-does-thinking says:

    It’s a hard walk that long one in the rain after that kind of news. There’s a lot of reflection at that point, it’s confirmation of something we already know within us and it’s the first part of the grieving process. I am minded of the Arab phrase for such things which goes something along the lines of “May it pass quickly” although I’ve always thought it should be “May it pass gently”. These are terrible and difficult times for you but I applaud the inspiration you have been to all of us these last few months. This could have been a po-faced dry political debate which never engaged the public, but your writing makes me laugh, at myself, at our stupidity and the stupidity of others, and it reinforces daily my belief that we will become an independent country. Then we wil be dancing in the rain.

  36. mogabee says:

    I don’t know where you get your strength from, but fervently hope you can continue to tap into it for the long term. Losing someone close is awful, my thoughts are with you both.

  37. Jeannie says:

    Paul…can’t put it into words …just a sadness in my heart for you. Your writing, from your own heart, is so beautiful. Thank you.

  38. Rookiescot says:

    Sir, you trully are an inspirational man.
    My thoughts are with you in these difficult times.

  39. Indigo says:


    Your post some weeks ago recounting Andy’s dream many years ago of a wee ginger dog and living in an independent Scotland was one of the most impactful and memorable things I’ve read in this campaign. He had a clear vision and you are helping to manifest that vision with writing that is indeed magical in its power. Thank you, to both of you, and may the weeks that follow be gentle and as you and he want them to be.

  40. Nana says:

    Not the first time I’m moved to tears by your words.

    Heartbreak is an invisible affliction. No limp comes with it, no evident scar. The heart is broken all the same.
    ~ Thomas Lynch

  41. david says:

    We are all walking home with you, Paul. And better for your company.

  42. Morag says:

    There’s another Morag above who seems to have said it for both of us.

  43. McTim says:

    Paul, I don’t really know what to say other than that I was very moved by this beautiful writing and by your determination not to let the trials of life get you down. A big hug for you and Andy. Hang in there and keep cherishing your time together. x

  44. Christopher Carnie says:

    God you write beautifully, Paul. I hope it rains again today.

  45. Paul. I can’t begin to imagine how tough it is for you right now but that fact that you can still deliver words that pass hope and strength to others in the midst of such an awful situation speaks volumes of your own character and inner strength. I hope you continue to stay strong, pal.
    We can all take comfort from the healing rain that is coming to cleanse Scotland of the ills that have blighted her for so long.
    For the first time next month, you collectively have control over the situation. All I can do right now is fly my wee car flags and chap doors in the last few days but if it means I can do. my bit, let it be so. If it’s a Yes, I’ll be right on home over the border to help in whatever way I can with the rebuilding of my country! Let’s build a new land where love of our fellow beings and our environment takes precedence of the love of money and material objects.

  46. Noirin Blackie says:

    Waw. I have only just discovered this website and already feel part of something very special. Ditto to everything said above. My thoughts too are with you both. xx

  47. There’s really nothing I can add beyond the comments above. Wee Ginger Dug is always my first read of the day, by turns funny, inspiring and, as it’s been today, moving. It’s astounding how much encouragement you give to so many of us while going through such tough times yourself. My thoughts, like everyone else’s, are with the two of you.

  48. hektorsmum says:

    Paul you are right in saying that there are things we cannot change, death is one of them and none of us, not even the Queen gets an opt out on that. We all come with a notice to terminate. When we are young we just do not understand it, as we age we do. All we can do is hope that we get what we want from this life and accept the end which comes to us all. I think I lack your strength Paul. We lost my Husband’s mother to dementia last November, in the end death was kind, she slept away, had breakfast and went back to her bed on a Sunday Morning and that was her. A blessing for her and what she had suffered.
    I wish that both you and Andy are together for as long as allowed, but Andy did one thing, he gave you Ginger to be both comfort and something else for you to care for, he certainly knows you well.
    You are writer who can bring happiness and pathos and inspiration and that is why we love you. Take very great care of yourself, we know you will of Andy, we need you to get us over the line.

    • macart763 says:

      Paul has a rare talent for inspiring confidence and motivating people. I think he’s done that for a great many people.

      I also think its a good thing that sometimes people get to return the favour.

  49. Sending thoughts to you and Andy at this sad time…my mum is living/dying with secondary cancer and I feel much of what you’re expressing. Your words are beautiful & true. I hope that Andy’s pain is controlled and that your precious time together is as long as can be.

  50. Robert Jardine says:

    I might have some very positive input with respect to your partner’s condition. Please get in touch because the outcome need not be so bad. I am a kinesiologist and also trained in GNM.

  51. arthur thomson says:

    The loss of hope is the greatest loss of all. Thank you for time and again renewing my sense of hope. Love to both of you and the dug.

  52. Beautiful piece. I’m so sorry. Thank you for touching my life; you’ve made it more meaningful.

  53. JimnArlene says:

    Moving, eloquent and inspiring. A tear, a wry smile and quickening heart. All of these things, I felt reading this post. You are, as has been said, a true inspiration and weaver of words of the highest calibre.
    Our thoughts, of hope and friendship, go out to you and Andy; not forgetting the dug.

  54. Teri says:

    Paul, we are with you all the way sending light, love and healing to both of you. We will be here for you when you need us, just as you have been here daily making us smile.

    Know that our love and thoughts are with you and know, too, that Andy will still only be a whisper away, watching over you and guiding you.

  55. So so sorry for your pain. Sending you both love, hugs and prayers.

  56. Red Squirrel says:

    I am so sorry for the sadness and pain you are going through. With tears streaming down my face I am overwhelmed by the beauty and love in your writing.

  57. cuddyback says:

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light
    Un abrazo…

  58. Capella says:

    How quickly life passes. Though everything changes and everything passes, it is still a blow when the certainty of death touches our own lives. Your writing is so immediate and true that I feel deep sadness that you are having to suffer this pain of helplessness. Because we also have to let people go. And knowing that we all share this experience doesn’t make it less painful. But I hope it makes it less lonely. The comments above are testimony to great affection and support flowing to you from your everyone who reads your inspiring blog.

  59. I’m with Red Squirrel wi this, I love reading your writing, laugh till I cry sometimes….but this touches the heart. I reckon ye have all your supporters at your back mate, ye’ll no be alone! Sometimes ye may feel alone, when it is like the world is against you, but your blog, for Scotland and for your partner, for the love of both, and the wee dug, shine through like a beacon that gives us all the courage to keep moving forward.

  60. wee e says:

    Wow! Searching for words, here. It resonates at a level I didn’t know existed.
    Most of my adult life I’ve thought the principle, the morality of independence was sound. But… Suddenly I get what it’s really all about.
    Inspired. Thank you for writing it.

  61. Paul, I lost my wife to cancer at the appallingly early age of 56. It was like waking up in a ship to find that the engines had stopped, the crew and passengers disappeared and the compass whirling uncertainly.

    No point in steering in any direction as none offered anything better than any other.

    At least you have an object in sight. Channel your rage into the Yes campaign. Get the Sunday Herald to publish this piece for starters.

    Make the most of what time Andy has left. We’re all thinking of you both.

  62. michael says:

    Oh Paul, just so sorry to hear this. But so proud of you for the way you have responded. You are a hero of our movement.

  63. Blizzard says:

    Paul, your words are by turns moving and inspiring. Your humanity shines like a beacon through your prose. May all our thoughts comfort you and give you strength.

  64. Just outstanding. Tears for what has been and what may be.

  65. For a Dancer says:

    I’ve been reading the wee ginger dug for a while now but this has moved me to comment. From the heart to the heart was how I described it to a friend. If more people read this there wouldn’t be so many undecided out there.

  66. This is your most touching post yet Paul. I’m crying. God bless you both. My thoughts are with you both xx

  67. Tom Berwick says:

    I feel that if I cry at the obvious heartbreak of a stranger who through his posts make me feel like a friend then I know I am right when I hope for a society where we all care a bit about the lives of the next man and woman and child. I am right when I want to vote YES for the future of my nephew, my niece and my great nephew and the children of my cousins and friends. I am right to want to vote YES to live the latter part if my life in a country that will make the right choice, not for selfish individual needs, not for the ideas of my fitba team, nor my religious or lack of religious upbringing but for hope, and unity and fairness to all. You are a man who at his utmost and total lowest, still looks forward. I wish my friend it could have been with your love by your side, complete and whole, but many of us will be standing with you in spirit and like mind.

  68. YESGUY says:

    My thoughts are with you Paul.

    I had a hard time reading this and am still unsure how to comment. Most of it has been said by everyone else.

    Your blog has lifted us so many times and we all know the pressure you are under as well. Yet you still reach out with your words and we all hear them.

    Hear this Paul and Andy.

    You are not alone. Your both in our thoughts and prayers and if you should ever need anything all you have to do is say the word.

    We will be there with you.

  69. Vestas says:

    I guess the wee dug will be getting longer walks soon.

    My dad died of the same. Pneumonia is what it said on the death certificate but he’d had dementia for a few years & bed-ridden people usually go with a lung-related illness.

    Chin up – your Englishman would be so pleased to see what you’ve done here.

    Hope he goes easy.

  70. erruanne says:

    all our love and respect to you and your partner.

  71. I was in the same rain yesterday. You have made something overwhelming and unstoppable into something powerful and poetic. Inspirational doesn’t seem an adequate enough word for what you have written.

    Thank you, your words are stuck in my head forever.

  72. Jayne Calderwood says:

    Powerful and moving , thank you for sharing your personal heartache.There is also and massive amount of love and hope in your words and I found solace in them.
    Love and hope to you and your partner and thank you again

  73. ecruden says:

    This is beautiful.

  74. BlueTiles says:

    I don’t normally comment but I felt I have too.

    You have my deepest sympathies, Paul. I can only echo what others have said. Your words and insights have been a breath of fresh air in the maelstrom that is the indyref. Reading about what you are going through has brought a tear to my eye on many an occasion and this post has me in a flood. I don’t know you personally. I wouldn’t recognise you if you walked past me in the street, yet I feel distraught that I can offer nothing other than words to what you are going through.

    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you well with the time you have left with your partner. You are an inspiration and my thoughts are with you both.

  75. Bigbricks says:

    My thoughts are with you and Andy (I’m not religious, so no prayers!). Your posts have moved me to spluttering laughter and the verge of tears. I don’t know of any other blog which is so open-heartedly honest, nor, on occasion, so lyrical.
    You’ve done more than most of your readers can have done to advance the cause of independence. You need to take whatever time is needed for your personal life: we’re not here just to work (I feel a ghostly skelp from my granny as these non-Calvinist thoughts escape me). Gie the dugs lugs a clap and be very proud of what you’ve achieved

  76. Clootie says:

    …draw from the memories of the good times.

  77. Glassbenmhor says:

    I am so so sorry door you my dear, but I am also proud for you as you have made me proud. As I too look out of the window upon the rain and wipe a years from my eye. You have given your partner an amazing legacy, your sorrow Carntyne and the rain. I’m proud because I have little doubt that this will be read in schools for years to come. So sorry for you and a big Thankyou to him for making you give us …… Carntyne in the Rain. Thankyou.

  78. Rosemary says:

    I went through this a couple of years with my mother. You need to be extra good to yourself, Paul, and remember that you are loved.

  79. AuldGranny says:

    I am so glad that you found each other. You are both in our hearts

  80. gavinhunter says:

    Reblogged this on The one who doesn't believe in dogs and commented:
    Very very touching.

  81. Shirley Nott says:

    I hope we meet some day. I have a huge hug for you, and enormous gratitude for all you have done and continue to do, especially considering your circumstances.
    (And, I feel pretty certain we would have a lot to talk about…)
    Wishing you strength and peace.

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