Tuesday 23 April
Grab a cup of coffee and start puffing my lungs out for Scotland. I've had two and a half fags before the train leaves Queen Street. That must be some sort of record.
Ten minutes into the journey, and the trolley comes round. Twelve o'clock: still a bit early for a drink. Buy one anyway. Once the trolley leaves, this man from Fife starts talking to me. He says he's on his way to Mull just now. I say to myself, great. I'll be stuck with him on the ferry too, and he's probably an idiot. He asks where I'm heading. I tell him I'm going to Iona and it turns out he stayed on Iona for 18 months.
He explains that he came over and did some work with the Iona Community. Once his time was up with them he stayed for a while longer and slept on people's floors and on beaches – said he loved the place so much he couldn't go home. He collected stones when he was there and made jewellery out of them. I start to smell my first whiff of bullshit. This guy, my gut is telling me, is a piss artist, get away from him. But it would be rude to move, so I endure him.
Finally step foot on Iona. I haven't been here for two years, since I was one of the crew on the Spirit of Fairbridge, a boat owned by the national charity I was working for: I promised myself that I would go back every six months, but we're always making promises like that.
Nothing much has changed.
Chops for dinner at the hotel. Disgusting: far too bloody.
I walk along past the ferry terminal to the pub, and sit drinking with some people from the Community. These people come and work for free in a kind of retreat, making and selling crafts and helping around the abbey. They have this genuine love for the island which is apparent in all their eyes. I end up completely three sheets and walk back to the hotel around 11.30. It's pitch black; stumble a couple of times. Fall onto my bed fully clothed and then – blank.
Wednesday 24 April
My hangover isn't that bad, so I manage a fried breakfast of venison sausages, everything cooked to perfection. Then a walk along the beach, where St Columba first landed in Scotland. He was an Irish aristocrat, but gave it all up to become a man of the cloth. Much like St Patrick before him, he wanted to bring Christianity to these parts. He shouldn't have bothered bringing it to Scotland. Look at the problems he's caused!
Find a couple of bits of Iona green stone, one with a lot of marble in it.
I speak to one of the locals here, who tells me that the nearest police station is on Mull. There seems to be little if any crime on Iona, and any crime there is is caused by visitors – shoplifters – and the people of Iona deal with it themselves. I start to get paranoid, thinking she is warning me off.
In the afternoon, I walk to the other side of the island and inspect the ruins of the nunnery, which are in surprisingly good condition. I try to get a feel of what the place must have been like a couple of hundred years ago, but feel nothing, so move on to the abbey. It's very simple, but beautiful in its simplicity. Go looking for the place where the Kings of Scotland are supposed to be buried, but no sign of them: and I can't even locate the grave of John Smith. Across from the abbey there's a field with some lambs being sheared. They're like small children bleating to get out of bathtime.
At quarter to nine I walk up to the abbey for evening service. I'm accompanied by a man from Inverness, who is here investigating an insurance claim; I think to myself, I wouldn't admit that to anybody. He turns out to be a very good religious man, makes the pilgrimage to Iona every year, so it is great to come for work.
The priests/ministers/reverends (I don't know what religion they are: masses are said in the abbey by all religions and all religions go to it – a refreshing approach) take their places. They're not wearing robes. This is alien to me. I was brought up in the Catholic Church and had never seen a priest without his robes. How informal. Everyone at the service anoints one another in turn. The man from Inverness anoints me and I anoint him. For some reason I feel very emotional and want to cry, but I don't. I am more than positive that I have experienced some sort of spiritual peace – or maybe my heart has been touched by an angel.
I lie awake all night thinking of the importance of this event, as I am now calling it.
Thursday 25 April
Shattered on account of staying up all night thinking. Keep to myself on the journey, fall asleep on the train, wake up with someone telling me we have arrived in Glasgow. I go home to shitty Springburn and straight to bed.
Monday 6 May
Bank holiday Monday, which I hate. A Bank Holiday is just a continuation of Sunday, which I also hate.
Tuesday 7 May
Yesterday is over at last. I take wee Stuart to school and head for the shopping centre. Bump into someone who stays beside me. She's being bullied by these young boys who sit in her close and drink, so she's moving next week.
Friday 10 May
Go out with Marie (Celtic Club). We think we've got away with it (as we are barred – sine die
, as they used to say in football), but the bouncer approaches us. He says if we behave we are allowed in. So we sit and have a quiet drink.
Monday 13 May
Take the wean to school and get his report card. It seems my boy is good at most things and socially is quite advanced. This must be a good sign, as he is the youngest in his class.
Saturday 18 May
A party at Marie's. It's going great and most of us are drunk. Then about 12.30am, some young boys – about 18 years old – barge their way into the house, and into the kitchen, and start chopping lines of coke. The guy upstairs is heavy, so he comes down and chases them.
Tuesday 21 May
There are that many things the matter with me I am beginning to think I am a hypochondriac.
Saturday 25 May
The dreaded day: I have now turned 28. Two years away from 30: a frightening thought. I only get four birthday cards and one present, but I’m not bothered. Being nearly 30 isn't something to celebrate. I drink a litre bottle of vodka tonight. To forget.
Friday 31 May
Before the bell rings at Stuart's school this morning, two mothers begin fighting in front of the primary 1, 2 and 3 classes. Jump in and split it up, but my wee boy is crying for me to let them fight. I see genuine panic in his eyes.
Sunday 9 June
Read, watch TV, play with wee Stuart, cook. I feel like a right housewife and I'm only 28. Still, I'm not a teenager any more. Teenagers don't get cellulite and fat stomachs the way older women do.
Tuesday 11 June
On Saturday I was offered a house in Fife – Glenrothes to be exact. I'm going to view it today. All my family originate from Glasgow but now stay in Glenrothes. My dad picks me up from the bus station and takes me to the house. It's lovely. Up and down stairs, two big rooms, toilet, large kitchen and living room. I can't decide what to do. I love Glasgow, but I hate where I'm living just now.
Anne-Marie decided to move to Fife