Thursday, June 21, 2007
He comes out of the bath. He’s 52 years old but feels more. His little daughters are sitting in front of the television, learning Spanish from video tapes, a set recommended by a top educational psychologist to boost their brain capacity a hundred times, and so expensive his wife’s parents had had to buy them.
“Hola Papa” says the 3 year old, “Tengo hambre. Me gustan las uvas.”
Her older sister doesn’t turn round.
“Y a mi me gustan las uvas” she adds, however.
On the screen a green monster drones on in a guttural snarl. Although the man has tried he has never been able to make out a word it says. Dressed in a T shirt and boxer shorts he looks in the mirror and wonders how he got so fat. In the kitchen his wife drinks coffee and orders shoes for him from a catalogue for a business trip he’s not really going on. I thought you could mow the lawn this morning she says, while it’s dry.
Outside, birds sing and hop doggedly round the small neat garden. He stabs the mower forward through tufts and channels. Above a mass of purple flowers he cannot name, grey chimney pots and clouds march on to the end of the world.
He thinks, as he does sometimes, of walking by the cold water of a sea loch. He thinks, as he does always, of an excuse to go for a drink. Back inside the house he treads on a small plastic toy which breaks in two. Carefully he puts it in his pocket and makes for the front door.
Quien eres tu?” his girls sing, crunching their grapes with perfect little white teeth,
“Quien eres tu?”
Monday, June 11, 2007
A fine and jolly evening in Edinburgh on Thursday on the last leg of the Strange Bimbo Tour. A good reading in the Poetry Library to an audience of luminaries such as Stuart Conn by Drumsleet's two greatest MAKARS, followed by 3oo pints of apple juice in the pub across the road in the company of Shug Hanlan, author of the hilarious 'Hi Bonnybridge', his pal Ted and the impish Tam Jardine. As usual Shug I and I found ourselves reminiscing about the famous four horse yankee which brought in £400 for a 10p bet away back in 1976. The names of these glorious beasts should forever resound in history: Tree Tangle, Fisherman's Cot, Master Upham and Spanish Tan, or 'Spanish Tan 8 lengths clear' as I like to remember it, as these were the joyous words we heard as we stepped inside MacBets in Willowbrae Road, the first three horses having romped home at extraordinary odds on the TV earlier. Such times will not come again.
Back to the south west now for the weekend where I will supervise my 'Dark Days in Drumsleet' float for Guid Neighbours from a bunker a mile and a half away. On such occasions a strategic overview is essential.
Fathers were good to my pals
lectured them about cash
then bought them flats,
deplored their morals
but flitted them from place to place
at dead of night.
Oh my Dad’ll go spare
they’d cheerfully admit
as they phoned for loans.
At such times
I would remember my own
and his two pieces of advice:
how to remove your bayonet
from an enemy’s ribcage,
and how to disarm a maniac
coming at you from the stairs.
They thought their fathers weird
for having cardigans,
I thought mine odd
because he’d talk to men
who’d burned alive in 1942
and because of other things
I’d watched him do:
vault walls three times his size,
or sprint along a busy street
to punch my Mum. When he went,
it left a hole as a trepan might.
I have no idea where he ended up
though I knew he would live long,
as mad folk do.
Years down the line
I received a sentence or two,
written in his cramped
and delicate monkish way,
I wonder, it began,
if you remember me…
This poem and many other damned good ones are available from my new collection 'Strange Bamboo' (Shoestring Press). If you wish a copy and can't find one in the shops yet please contact me.