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I chose Leah for this project because I love the connection she makes with others. I love how she has from a young age had her own business and continued to grow through this journey during her life.
I was a regimental child. My Dad was a soldier and so I was born in Belfast then lived in Germany, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cambridge all before I was ten. On our final posting we lived In an army barracks just outside a beautiful wee village called Longstanton. Our school had an animal enclosure with peacocks and rabbits. There was an outdoor swimming pool and huge rugby fields. There was also a duck pond surrounded by beautiful lazy willow trees. My favourite thing to do in my childhood, when I lived there was ride my bike with my best friend Ashling. We would ride all over the village and in the surrounding countryside. We could climb trees and run in the fields. We loved watching the geese migrating at the end of summer. I always remember this. The patterns they made in the red sky. It truly was a time where I felt pure joy, love, safety and contentment. My Dad left the army when I was nine and we came to Glasgow to live as that’s where both of my parents were from. Our first house was in Govanhill. I went to a new school. The building looked like a prison to me. A giant Victorian, sandstone square. I remember being taken to the classroom with my parents. It was like being thrown into a freezing cold pool. It was so incredibly different from the quaint school I’d gone to before. The class was doing an arithmetic test, sitting at their desks two by two. It was silent. I hated the environment immediately. I felt so intimidated. There were very few smiles as I walked in. Many glares. These kids looked so different to the ones where I had lived before. I remember feeling afraid. I remember my Mum and Dad smiling and waving goodbye and smiling and waving back but with my eyes I was screaming please do not leave me here. My apprehension was justified as I found my feet in this strange new place. The kids were really tough. Street wise. They spoke in this fast Glaswegian slang that I could hardly understand. I was mocked and laughed at for words I didn’t know. I used to get humiliated if ever I tried to join in conversations or if I tried to tell a story. I quickly learned how to speak like them in a desperate attempt to fit in. But I couldn’t fit in, I was good and kind. I was ‘soft’ as they would say. By the time I got to secondary I had become more streetwise and able to keep my head down and fit in as much as possible. I was terrified on my first day at secondary school because I had been so traumatised by changing schools when I was younger, however I soon found that secondary was a much better place for me. With a much more diverse group of people. Although they were very much in groups. Some kids were ‘Posh’ some were ‘Nerds’ and some were ‘Neds’. I found myself somewhere in between all of these. For the most part I was able to use humor to keep the neds entertained but I was also clever so I could chat to the posh kids too. The nerds were always left out but I would always try to be kind to them. I didn’t ‘fit in’ to any of these groups though so I found it very hard to find my own identity. To understand who I was. I had always sung. Ever since I was little. But in secondary I joined the choir and studied Music and Solo Voice, I learned to sing properly and I loved it. We didn’t have a drama department but the music kids would do plays so I got to do drama on stage then too and Ifell in love with the stage from the first moment my foot stepped into a wing. I was home. When I think back on my time at school I realise that my whole life I haven’t quite ‘fitted in’ to a specific stereotype or ‘box’. I love such a huge variety of different things. I love mainstream comedy but I also love Greek Tragedy. I love Scrumpy Jack Cider but I also love Bollinger Champagne. I love a Mcdonalds but I also love a chateaubriand steak. I love Take That but I also love Mahler.When I look back on that girl trying to fit in with the rough kids and worrying so much that I was ‘soft’ like they said for not wanting to be naughty. I’m so glad I didn’t cave. But ironically, I’m also glad I was thrown into that class with them. Because looking back I can see that they didn’t have it easy. Some of them were just like me, head down trying to survive a day with the really scary kids, the aggressive kids who I now understand were just frustrated and angry. They probably had a really tough home life. I think having had the idyllic setting and then the opposite end of the scale really taught me about people and their environments. It helped me to have a real understanding of different types of people and also how to understand human behaviour. When I left secondary, I studied Acting and Performance at Langside College because I knew there was no other job I wanted to do. There I found not only myself, but my people. I was suddenly around creative, expressive people who loved adventure and wore their hearts on their sleeves. I learned that by being an Actor you can tell stories and by carefully using your craft, you can control the responses of those listening. You can become a puppet master of emotions. And when folk come to watch my comedy shows, they’re laughing because I’ve told them to. I’ve set the laugh up for them. They’re not laughing AT me. They’re laughing WITH me. I am bringing them joy and they are giving joy back to me. If only they kids from Primary school could’ve realised there are so many more ways to be entertained than by mocking and bullying. They could have been so much happier.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve also learned about the law of attraction and realized that I’ve been trying to practice that for as long as I remember. I just didn’t know it. I feel like this is a bit like my ‘Faith’ now. Rather than following a religion, it’s like a moral code that I’ve always had built in to me, I just wasn’t aware. I’ve become aware of the power of crystals and reiki healing. Mindfulness and meditation. These are all really important things in my life now. Now I am happily married, still living in Glasgow. The city that once intimidated me is now the city I call home. It’s a city I love. I think a massive reason I feel safe in my city, is probably because I did experience such a tough area of it in my youth. I rarely feel intimidated on our streets and I think I do have part of my childhood to thank for that. I’m very proud to say I come from Glasgow. I think we have the best folk in the world in our wee city. It really is a great place.
I am proud to have built up my own business from the age of nineteen and battled away in a competitive industry and done really quite well. If I haven’t moved to this city and gone through that traumatic change in my life, I really don’t think I’d do what I do now. I don’t have any regrets only positive hopes and dreams. Self-belief is everything to me. And if I’ve learned anything on my burl on this earth it’s to truly not worry so much about what other’s think of you. You do you. Let them do them. If I can try as hard as I possibly can to be the very best version of myself most days, then I’m pretty happy with who I am and what I give to those closest to me and my small contribution to the world around me
~Leah Macrae ~
~ I am light ~
For more information on this charity please click here
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