I am sitting behind the George and the sun is splitting beards of cloud. I am alone: I have instructed Mustapha the heavily muscled Turkish ex commando turned hairdresser to discourage the visits of itinerant thistlemilk salesmen and despondent poets, for I am preparing for a truly feudal occasion. Tonight the Clan Chief of the MacMillans is to visit Galloway and I am to read poetry to him and his kinsmen in Castle Douglas. As the position of the Clan Bard has been vacant since 1392 it is in a sense an audition. If I get the job I will of course be claiming more than 600 years of backpay which should amount to a lot of sheep. I am in a bit of a quandry about what to read, as my verse seems too scabrous and inconsequential for such an august occasion. I should of course have written an Epyllion or at least a wee Terrastich in celebration of the man's lineage and fame* but my only poems that mention the McMillans are the Culloden poem (below) and the World Book of the McMillans. I shall read both, of course, and the job of Bard will probably go by default to that charlatan Ian McMillan who was too busy reciting doggerel on radio 4 to apply for the job in the first place.
The World Book of the McMillans
Dear Hugh McMillan,
you have been selected by our clan computer
to receive a copy of
The World Book of the McMillans $149.95
(including unique hand painted coat of arms).
Have you ever considered, Hugh McMillan,
your family ties and heritage?
In these pages, Hugh,
you will bear witness to the heroism
and industriousness of your ancestors
and learn about the forebears
who shaped the history of the world,
like Fergus McMillan, the 8th man of Moidart,
Hector ‘Steamboats’ McMillan,
the inventor of the 12 Bore Scrotal Pump Beam,
Brian ‘Big Shuggie’ McMillan,
Golf Caddie to the stars,
and many many others,
though probably not Archie McMillan
who died of silicosis
or James and Colin who drowned in the Minch,
or Straun who drank himself to death
in that corner of the Central Bar.
To bear witness to that kind of thing,
it costs a bit more.
*As a postscript did you know that Anaclasis- getting things not quite right in your poetry- is an actual poetical technique? Must dig out all these anaclastic poems.