Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Theosyphillis Suicide Rumour Shock

Devastating news. Someone with an enormous amount of nasal hair reliably informs me that the clothes of poor Theosyphillis Neill have been found on the beach at Palnackie, alongside his crutches, which had been inserted into the sand like a giant V sign pointing at the heavens.

There are few outward signs of grief and mourning in Drumsleet as yet, however, not least because this is not the first time that Neill has attempted to escape his many creditors by feigning death, notably when he claimed that his head had exploded at high altitude during a walk in the Lowther Hills. The man is incorrigible and I am confident he will re-appear, as he always does, on the day my salary enters the bank, the comforting click of whatever surgical appliance is currently supporting him echoing, like Blind Pugh's limp, along the High Street.

Neill's death does not augur well for the proposed weekend I am supposed to take later in the year with him and MacDuff. To be honest a hill walking weekend in the company of one man who can't walk and another with chronic vertigo never seemed a particularly viable prospect. I recall the last time I accepted an invitation to a trip away in the company of a regular drinker from the Tartan Bunnet, the famous Eric Moodiecliffe (he of beloved memory). We were driving past Loch Lomond, Eric at the wheel, when we narrowly avoided a head on collision with a giant milk tanker. Swerving into a ditch, Moodiecliffe turned to me with a beatific grin on his face. "That was close" he said, "Thank **** I woke up up in time."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fine Literary Debate in the Tartan Bunnet

Shunning my usual custom of weekday abstinence from alcohol, I spend the evening in the courtyard of The Tartan Bunnet which is fast accruing the reputation of being Drumsleet’s premier literary salon, a magnet for writers and artists and those who enjoy the cut and thrust of well informed and exquisitely presented debate. In the Bunnet a man may relax among his intellectual peers while sipping from a pint glass of Arran Sweater Premium Budget House Whisky and listening, between porky scratchings, to the soft peal of bells from St Graffiti’s, summoning the faithful from across the river to evensong.

Present on this occasion is Theosyphillis Neill, holder of the Drumsleet Tattie Scone patent, Tesco Willie, First Gulf War veteran, Dean o ’Jones, Green Spokesman for the Galloway Independence Party, and, notably, MacDuff, ex-marine and prototype for the first Territorial Army Cyborg Killing Machine. MacDuff is in fine form, having spent the afternoon in the company of Theosyphillis Neill on a bus tour of some of Galloway’s finest herbal allotments.

The rapier like badinage begins almost at once. “Order, Order” shouts MacDuff, jabbing a finger at Tesco Willie, “What *****ing age are you ******ing meant to be anyway, you ****? How could you have ******ing fought in the First ******ing Gulf War? You’re only 19, you *****ing lying *****

This is the penetrating and passionate analysis that has resulted in the Bunnet being listed on the net as one of the ‘Top 10,000 places to be in Scotland on a Rainy Sunday Night.’
MacDuff drains his tumbler then addresses the table with a knowing sneer.

“What’s the population of Scotland?”

“5 million?” Theosyphillis tentatively suggests.

“5 *****ing mullion?” roars MacDuff, You fat dozy ****** Any ******er knows the *******ing population of Scotland is ******5.12 million!”

I sip from my Dubonnet aware that I am listening to one of the Bunnet’s finest verbal jousts, comparable only, perhaps, to the rarified flyting between MacDiarmid and MacCaig in the ‘Little Kremlin’ in Edinburgh 50 years ago.

“What’s the gaelic for Clatteringshaws?” asks MacDuff grimly.

Neill shrugs.

“You pathetic ******er” screams MacDuff, pounding the table, “You ignorant *******ing twat. Call yourself ***ing Scottish? You ****ing piece of ****ing ***** To think I died for ******s like you!”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You can't keep a good poem down.

Dear Jane

I had a poem for you: a giant metaphor
that had the line ‘the hills still wear

the thin smile of home’, but near Tyndrum
a man ate it. He had been drinking

packs of organic oatmeal stout,
the kind you get in tartan shops,

and had grown unnerved, increasingly,
about the timberline, often leaving

the train to stare distraught
at distant mountain tops. When he ate

the poem he seemed calm for a bit,
but then was violently sick.

I suppose that was a metaphor too,
but not the one I wished for you.


The first part of the Easter Holidays found me in my ancestral and spiritual homeland spending part of a windfall from the ALCS (may they and their photocopiers be forever blessed). I was also on the hunt for the final pieces to the collection Hugh Bryden and I are bringing out in June. Beautiful days in Mull. Re-visited where we scattered my mother's ashes (top picture) then had a very large Highland Park in the Keel Row. Stuart Paterson tracked me down, of course, as our livers are twinned.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just occasionally

something happens that is genuinely life affirming. People will know that I have been critical at times about aspects of Drumsleet, but I was lucky enough to be at Hampden Parkthe other day and see 10,000 folk from the town united in a paeon of spontaneous and good humoured joy. It was a genuinely moving occasion. Well done Queen of the South.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The 15th Poem

Am still searching for the 15th and last poem for my upcoming project. I had one called the '3 o'clock shadow' which dealt with the boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands in reality and imagination but unfortunately Stuart Paterson ate it near Crianlarich.

Never mind, the search continues. See you in a week or so.