Monday, October 23, 2006

Willie McMeekin is Dead

I return from Menorca to find that Willie McMeekin, ex-desert rat, drystane dyker, carpet bowler and general all-round character is dead. I was once commisioned by the Arts Association here to do a piece on a larger than life figure and Willie fitted the bill in every way. For the 30 years I knew him, Willie was proud, clever, hilarious and, in equal measure, an utter rascal. His tales were endless, fascinating and a genuine bridge to a rural past that you can only see now in history books. Newspapers only dwell on the deaths of the 'great and good'. I thought Willie both great and good and take solace still in his perennial parting shot: "The land is ours!" here's the poem I wrote about him all these years ago:


“Drunk or sober,
yon man could pit a carpet boul
or a keystone richt oan the button.”
Willie is nodding modestly
in the Fleshers’ Arms,
70 proof, if he’s a day.

Willie doesn’t age.
Like his dykes, he weathers.
He hasn’t lost his hair,
but mislaid it in an absent minded way:
it’s strung up there somewhere
on the rich topography of scalp
as thick as ever, but vitrified,
as impenetrable as his handiwork.

Below it, creases run
through the skin
like dry river beds.
There are hard callouses
round the smile
that defines and defies his history.

His face is a map
and like all landscapes
is variable.
Willie hasn’t always been good.
I think he predates such concepts.
He is both sides of a very old coin.
The man is Galloway.


McGuire said...

This is a well honed poem.
Real meat in the lines.

It conveys your respect and admiration very well.

Willie sounds like are rare malt of a man!

Particularly:'Willie doesn’t age.
Like his dykes, he weathers.'

keep up the good work Hugh...

dick jones said...

Difficult to write a pen portrait so that the reader wishes they'd known the subject. This succeeds admirably, both in content & style.

shug said...

Cheers Dick. Nice of you to say so. A lot of old characters seem to be dying off here.

Stooshie said...

Yes, & you're not one of them are you? Sorry to hear about Willie. I can't think of him without thoughts of Irene's crisp tightneck collar intruding, buttoned up beyond the gizzard. I last had a drink & a chat with him before Ali's funeral in the Barrel in Jan/06; a man with baffies in the pub, the hair of Don King & the crackling tones of grass on fire. Wha's next? Will you write a poem for Drew? The way it's going, I see The Book of the cDead as your next title, Drumsleet's third best poet.