Thursday, 31 December 2015

Crivens Jings Happy Hogmanay



As this year ebbs away and we prepare for The New I wish you all the very best for 2016. A very happy and peaceful New Year ain an a'.

Slainte Mhath!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas one and all.





I wish you all the compliments of the season and hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Awra best for 2016.

Alistair.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Dilemma





I want to be
         famous
so I can be
         humble
about being
         famous.

What good is my
         humility
when I am
         stuck
in this
         obscurity?

David Budbill
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Grandmother




By the time I knew my grandmother she was dead.
Before that she was where I thought she stood,
Spectacles, slippers, venerable head,
A standard-issue twinkle in her eyes –
Familiar stage-props of grandmotherhood.
It took her death to teach me they were lies. 

My sixteen-year-old knowingness was shocked
To hear her family narrate her past
In quiet nostalgic chorus. As they talked
Her body stiffened on the muted fast
Though well washed linen coverlet of her bed.

The kitchen where we sat, a room I knew,
Took on a strangeness with each word they said.
How she was born where wealth was pennies, grew
Into a woman before she was a girl,

From dirt and pain constructed happiness,
Shed youth’s dreams in the fierce sweat of a mill,
Married and mothered in her sixteenth year,
Fed children from her own mouth’s emptiness
In an attic rats owned half of, liked her beer.

Careless, they scattered pictures: mother, wife,
Strikes lived through, hard concessions bought and sold
In a level-headed bargaining with life,
Told anecdotes in which her strength rang gold,
Her eyes were clear, her wants as plain as salt.
 
The past became a mint from which they struck
Small change till that room glittered like a vault.
The corpse in the other room became to me
Awesome as pharaoh now, as if one look
Would show me all that I had failed to see. 

The kitchen became museum in my sight,
Sacred as church. These were the very chairs
In which her gnarled dignity grew frail.
Her hard-won pride had kept these brasses bright.
Her tireless errands were etched upon the stairs.

A vase shone in the sun, holy as grail.
I wanted to bring others to this room,
Say it’s nothing else than this that people mean.
A place to which humility can come,
A wrested niche where no one else has been
Won from the wastes of broken worlds and worse.

Here we can stay, stupid and false, of course.
Themselves to the living is all we have to give.
Let this be
To her, for wreath, gift, true apology.
 
William Mclvanney
Photo from family archive.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Remembrance



On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.

Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.

Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.

AE Houseman.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Smokey The Cat



Smokey the cat came from nowhere;
Just whisped in under some door;
Sniffed quietly around
And knew that she'd found
The best place to stay in Bowmore.

She'd arrived at Bowmore distillery
Where the finest malt whisky is made.
There was no welcome mat
For Smokey the cat
But she liked the place - so she stayed.

They say cats have more than one life
With re-incarnation and that.
Whether it's true
All that cat déja vu,
Smokey's a born again cat.

There's something about her that takes you
Back to the Lords of the Isles
When the cats of Finlaggan
Would go scallywaggin'
For miles and miles and miles.

It's the way she melts into the shadows
Or suddenly creeps up on folk
She'll always find you
Slinking behind you
The cat who was named after smoke.

She sits on the sill of the maltings
On days when the weather is nice
And while one eye sleeps
The other one keeps
A lookout for small birds and mice.

Small birds and mice eat the barley
So Smokey confronts them foursquare
But she pulls in her claws
And quietly ignores
The Angels who come for their share.

Felines don't care for whisky
Everyone understands that
But that peaty odour
Beneath the pagoda
Owes something to Smokey the cat.

On Islay people made whisky
Long before it was chic.
The cat from Bowmore
Is nothing more
Than the ghost of the island's peat-reek

Robin Laing

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Love Over Gold




You walk out on the high wire
you're a dancer on thin ice
you pay no heed to the danger
and less to advice
your footsteps are forbidden
but with a knowledge of your sin
you throw your love to all the strangers
and caution to the wind

And you go dancing through doorways
just to see what you will find
leaving nothing to interfere
with the crazy balance of your mind
and when you finally reappear
at the place where you came in
you've thrown your love to all the strangers
and caution to the wind

It takes love over gold
and mind over matter
to do what you do that you must
when the things that you hold
can fall and be shattered
or run through your fingers like dust

Mark Knopfler
Painting: Girl on a Bicycle by Joseph Crawhall.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/The Dolly On The Dustcart



 I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
I can see you're not impressed,
I'm fixed above the driver's cab,
With wire across me chest,
The dustman see, he noticed me,
Going in the grinder,
And he fixed me on the lorry,
I dunno if that was kinder.

This used to be a lovely dress,
In pink and pretty shades,
But it's torn now, being on the cart,
And black as the ace of spades,
There's dirt all round me face,
And all across me rosy cheeks,
Well, I've had me head thrown back,
But we ain't had no rain for weeks.

I used to be a 'Mama' doll,
Tipped forward, I'd say, 'Mum'
But the rain got in me squeaker,
And now I been struck dumb,
I had two lovely blue eyes,
But out in the wind and weather,
One's sunk back in me head like,
And one's gone altogether.

I'm not a soft, flesh coloured dolly,
Modern children like so much,
I'm one of those hard old dollies,
What are very cold to touch,
Modern dolly's underwear,
Leaves me a bit nonplussed,
I haven't got a bra,
But then I haven't got a bust!

But I was happy in that doll's house,
I was happy as a Queen,
I never knew that Tiny Tears,
Was coming on the scene,
I heard of dolls with hair that grew,
And I was quite enthralled,
Until I realised my head
Was hard and pink... and bald.

So I travel with the rubbish,
Out of fashion, out of style,
Out of me environment,
For mile after mile,
No longer prized... dustbinised!
Unfeminine, Untidy,
I'm the dolly on the dustcart,
And there's no collection Friday

Pam Ayres
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ An Australian Sunrise




The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim,
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie’s note was heard,
And the wind in the sheoak wavered and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.

James Lister Cuthbertson

Photo by Alistair.

Meaning of unusual words:
The Cross - The constellation of the Southern Cross, which appears to become lower in the sky towards morning.
The fiery Scorpion - The constellation of Scorpio which contains the first magnitude star Antares, which shines with a reddish light.
sheoak - a tree which is not as heavy and hard as oak (the Englsh settlers declared it weaker than English oak but similar so "She-oak"). It grows primarily in a small area on the south coast of Southwest Western Australia.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ This Bitter Earth



This bitter earth
What fruit it bears
What good is love

That no one shares?
And if my life is like the dust
That hides the glow of a rose
What good am I?
Heaven only knows

This bitter earth
Can it be so cold?
Today you're young
Too soon your old
But while a voice
Within me cries
I'm sure someone
May answer my call
And this bitter earth
May not be so bitter after all


Deborah Cox
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/The Right Honourable Eyelash’s Summer Panic




For readers outside the UK, Andy Burnham is a candidate for the leadership of the British Labour Party. He has a video on Youtube touting his credentials as Mr. Everyman. It is said he is entirely made of plastic, a sort of man for all reasons. There's more info in this article in the Guardian.

Here is Irish poet Kevin Higgins' contribution to the Burnham saga.


This is not the gas
I’d hoped to be passing here today.
I wish I was able to tell you
a government of me

would starve useless
eaters of bacon butties
and deep fried Cadbury’s Cream Eggs
in Dundee and Sunderland
just a little more slowly than this government
is so brutally doing at present;

that under me
every old age pensioner,
like the old lady across the road
who died last year of the winter, will receive
their own personal nuclear submarine.

Sadly, recent polls
have rendered such dreams
politically impossible.
As things stand, for half a vote
I’d happily come around and polish
your baby’s bottom;
play hide and seek
with your pet hippopotamus;
tell you no student should have to pay
for university by going on the game
more than five nights a week;
mow your lawn;
nationalise the railways; or cure 
your husband’s baldness.

Between now and elect-me-day
if you need someone to plant
slobbery kisses on your elderly uncle’s
surprise third buttock,

anything you want, I am it.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ oor Wullie



Fair fa' your rosy-cheekit face,
Your muckle buits, wi' broken lace,
Although you're always in disgrace,
An' get your spanks,
In all our hearts ye have your place,
Despite your pranks.  Your towsy held, your dungarees,
Your wee snub nose, your dirty knees,
Your knack o' seeming tae displease
Your Ma an' Pa.
We dinna care a tuppenny sneeze
We think you're braw.  You're wee, an' nae twa ways aboot it,
You're wise, wi' very few tae doot it,
You're wild, there's nane that wad dispute it,
Around the toon. But maist o a' ye are reputit
A lauchin' loon.  Weel-kent, weel-liked, you're aye the same,
Tae Scots abroad and Scots at hame.
North, south, east, west, your weel-won fame
Shall never sully.
We'll aye salute that couthie name:
Oor Wullie.

Unknown.

muckle=large
towsy=untidy
braw=fine
lauchin' loon=laughing boy
weel-kent=well known
aye=always
couthie=friendly

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Linguist



If we lived in a world where bells
truly say 'ding-dong' and where 'moo'
is a rather neat thing
said by a cow,
I could believe you could believe
that these sounds I make in the air
and these shapes with which I blacken white paper
have some reference
to the thoughts in my mind
and the the feelings in the thoughts.

As things are
if I were to gaze in your eyes and say
'bow-wow' or 'quack' you must take that to be
a dispairing anthology of praises'
a concentration of the opposites
of reticence, a capsule
of my meaning of meaning
that I can no more write down
than I could spell the sound of the sigh
I would then utter, before
dingdonging and mooing my way
through all the lexicons and languages
of imprecision.

 Norman MacCaig, October 1964.
Photo by Alistair
 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ The Last To Leave

                                                   Over The Top {Gallipoli 1915}

The guns were silent, and the silent hills
had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze
I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,
And whispered, “What of these?’ and “What of these?
These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,
Some crossless, with unwritten memories
Their only mourners are the moaning waves,
Their only minstrels are the singing trees
And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully

I watched the place where they had scaled the height,
The height whereon they bled so bitterly
Throughout each day and through each blistered night
I sat there long, and listened – all things listened too
I heard the epics of a thousand trees,
A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew
The waves were very old, the trees were wise:
The dead would be remembered evermore-
The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,
And slept in great battalions by the shore.

Leon Gellert, Australian Gallipoli veteran, 1924


Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Sunday Posts2015/The News Where You Are




That’s all from us.
 
 Now it’s time for the news where you are.
 
The news where you are comes after the news where we are. The news where we are is the news. It comes first. The news where you are is the news where you are. It comes after. We do not have the news where you are. The news where you are may be news to you but it is not news to us.
 
The news may be international, national or regional. The news where we are may be international news. The news where you are is never international news. Where you are is not international. The news where you are comes after the international and national news.
 
The news where you are may be national news or regional news. However, national news where you are is not national news where we are. It is the news where you are.
If the news where you are is national news it is only national where you are.
The news where we are is national wherever you are.
 
On Saturdays, there is no news where you are after the news where we are. In fact there is no news where you are on Saturdays. Any news there is, is not where you are. It is where we are. If there is news where you are but not where we are it will wait until Sunday.
 
After the news where you are comes the weather.
 
The weather where you are is not the national weather. The weather where you are comes after the news where you are, and after the weather where you are comes the national weather. Do not confuse the national weather with the weather where you are. The weather where you are comes first but is lesser weather than the national weather.
 
Extreme weather is news. However, weather that is more extreme where you are than where we are is not news. Weather that is extreme where we are is news, even if extreme weather where we are is only average weather where you are.
 
On average, weather where you are is more extreme than weather where we are.
 
Tough shit.
 
Good night.
 
John Robertson.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Abdul Abulbul Amir



The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Young man, quoth Abdul, has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel, know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk,
Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!"
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part;
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar,
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There's a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And graved there in characters clear,
Is, "Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
'Neath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Percy French
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ I'll Leave The Ocean Behind




I've been out on the ocean
Sailing alone, traveling nowhere
and you've been running on high ground
With just you around
Your heartbeat's the only sound
But I know, once in a while we will find
The sound of your heart beats with mine
And when it's time
I'll leave the ocean behind
 
So I'll look out for a lighthouse
See through the fog, Search the horizon
You'll be like in a movie
Where everything starts; You can see clearly now
But I know, once in a while we will find
The sound of your heart beats with mine
And when it's time
I'll leave the ocean behind
 
Cause I know, once in a while we will find
The sound of your heart beats with mine
And someday, the crash of the waves will be far away
And I will sail in your eyes
'Cause when it's time
I'll leave the ocean behind

Jes Hudak
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Bonnie Dundee




Tae the Lords o' convention 'twas Claverhouse spoke
E'er the King's Crown go down there are crowns to be broke
So each cavalier who loves honour and me
Let him follow the bonnets o' Bonnie Dundee

Come fill up my cup, come fill up can
Come saddle my horses and call out my men
Unhook the West Port and let us gae free
For it's up with the bonnets o' Bonnie Dundee

Dundee he is mounted and rides up the street
The bells tae ring backwards, the drums tae are beat
But the provost douce man says, 'Just let it be.'
When the toon is well rid o' that devil Dundee
 There are hills beyond Pentland and lands beyond Forth
Be there lords in the south, there are chiefs in the north
There are brave downie wassles three thousand times three
Cry hey for the bonnets o' Bonnie Dundee

Then awa tae the hill to the lee and the rocks
Ere I own a usurper I'll crouch with the fox
So tremble false whigs in the midst of yer glee
For you've no seen the last of my bonnets and me

Traditional
Photo by Alistair.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Connections, coincidence and claret

Wood panelling, Barns Ness Hotel.


This is a repost of an earlier post in memory of my Grandfather Sam Robertson who, as a member of the 1/5th Royal Scots Fusiliers moved from V beach to the firing line near Fir Tree Wood in Gallipoli exactly 100 years ago tonight. The next four days and nights would be his brutal initiation into 3 years of life in the front line in WWI.


Hullo there ma wee blog,

I don't have a clue what to call this post as it feels like it might be a bit of a ramble due to it being a late night - currently nearly 2am - and, sitting at my usual place at the kitchen table, I have a wee Singleton of Dufftown single malt whisky by my side. Don't worry though, like me its old enough to be out on its own at this time of night.........almost.

Ah, actually I know now where this is going and why..........

On Monday past we were invited out for a quiet informal meal and get together by some friends in Dunbar. We went to a hotel called "The Barns Ness". In the hotel is a small plaque explaining that the wood on the walls of the dining room came from a ship called the 'Mauretania' which was the sister ship of the 'Luisitania', which was torpedoed at the start of WW1 with horrendous loss of life. The beautifully carved wood was recovered from the ship when it was broken up at the end of its working life.

Nice story, nice meal, nice evening out right?

Aye it was, but it was more than that too.

As I have a bit of spare time on my hands at the moment I have been doing a fair bit of reading. As usual, I don't just read one thing at a time, so currently I am reading Stephen Fry's 'Moab is my washpot', Titania Hardies 'Rose Labyrinth' and John Buchans 'History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers'.

John Buchan, who is best known for the novel 'The thirty Nine Steps' wrote this history, in memory of his brother, an officer who - like my grandfather - served in the regiment. Alastair Buchan was killed in action on the western front, April 9th 1917. This was part of the battle of Arras. 38 Scots battalions including RSF took part in the attack. In British terms, a predominately Scottish affair, with more Scots involved than at Waterloo and many times more than involved in the battle of Bannockburn.



My grandfather survived being shot on 3 separate occasions, was returned to action each time and spent the best part of three and a half years in the front line, first in Gallipoli and then in The Western Front. Family history says he finally badly twisted his ankle on duckboards in a trench and while lying alone but for a couple of others in a tin shed at a field station, suffered an artillery bombardment of several hours. My Grandmother believed it was this episode, incapacitated, cruelly exposed and incapable of finding shelter, that left him with the condition which in those days was known as 'shell shock', but is now known as PTSD or 'post traumatic stress disorder'. From the accounts I heard as a child which were heavily sanitised, he came back a changed man and although was able to function in his previous job as a local postman for a few years, had to undergo increasingly long periods of hospitalisation and ultimately, complete incapacity. All the years I knew him he was bedridden, shaking constantly. Like many others he never received any war disability pension or recognition of his condition as being war injury related.

Much loved, he died in 1967 having lived with his condition for fifty years.

I was eight  - and devastated.

Joining up in early 1915, he sailed from Liverpool on board the 'Mauretania' on 21st May and landed in Gallipoli on June 6th. His battalion of almost 900 men was part of the 52nd division which was approx 10900 strong. The 2 battalions of RSF were immediately put into the line where between July 3rd and July 13th, losses were 4800 men. Early 1916 the campaign was abandoned as a failure.

The regimental history records this episode as follows:

' The losses for the 52nd division were such that for the Scottish Lowlands it was a second Flodden. In large areas between the Tweed and Forth scarcely a household but mourned a son '

and

' Unless one has seen it there is no imagination that can picture a belt of land some four hundred yards wide converted into a seething hell of destruction. Rifle and machine gun bullets rip up the earth, ping past the ear, or whing off the loose stones; shrapnel bursts overhead and leaden bullets strike the ground with a vicious thud; the earth is rent into yawning chasms, while planks, sandbags, clods and great chunks of ragged steel hurtle through the air. The noise is an indescribable, nerve racking, continuous, deafening roar while clouds of smoke only allow intermittent view of the whole damnable inferno '

It cost Winston Churchill, whose idea it was, his post as first lord of Admiralty. {Ironically he was made Commander in Chief of the Royal Scots Fusiliers}

The 2 battalions split, some to Palestine and the rest, grandfather included, to the western front.

Grandpa's story as described to me as a child trying to understand was simply that he was hurt in the big war and that we didn't talk about it. Much later he was described to me as a very brave man who had "gone over the top" on several major engagements. Who knows in reality what his experience was. Not me for sure. But I did experience the impact of that experience. My father helped his Mum look after his Dad every day as we lived nearby.



So before work - like his dad he too was a postie at first - he would go and wash and treat his Dads bedsores. Before he came home he would again go in and take care of any needs that might be required. At least twice a week I too would go to see Gran'pa and while there I would be given the task of shaving him with an old Phillips three headed electric razor. We all had things we did with Gran'pa and shaving him became my role. Being very small, at least when I started, I would have to climb onto the bed beside him and reach around his face while I shaved him, taking great care not to move the wooden frame that held the heavy blankets off his legs. Although by that time Grandpa couldn't speak more than two or three words at a time, I remember well his voice as he ran his damaged hand over his face and found a wee bit I had missed. "Here,"  he would say and I would go back and do that bit again and he would sometimes chuckle, a rumble deep in his chest and his jaw waving back and forth showed me he smiled. Sometimes he got me to go over bits again and again as a bit of fun I think. Job complete, I would carefully dismantle and clean the razor with its special miniature brush and show it to Grandpa for approval before putting it back together with small hands and sliding it back into its case.

Shaving an adult is a highly serious thing for a wee boy you know.

Being so close physically to him so often I remember every crease, nook and cranny of that old man's face. I remember the look in his eye as he watched me shave him or give him his tea in an odd china cup with a spout on one side and a lid on   {In fact I have it still - just a magpie really!}  He seemed able to look right into a wee boys heart. I remember his skin, his hair and his smell; how his face felt as small hands patted after-shave on;  how he would try and hold me as I reached across him at the limit of my balance as I shaved him; how he would wince if I fed him tea that was too hot. I would sometimes lie on Grannies bed across the room from him and we would read silently together, him with a book on a darkwood frame, beautiful and specially made for him by one of my uncles, and me with my book propped on bare knees.

I remember spending a night, being very young and sleeping in Grannies bed, in the same room as Gran'pa, and hearing him moan and occasionally shriek during the night until Gran got out of bed and went across to murmur something to him for an unknown while before coming back to bed with a quiet but commanding "Now, now, you. Back to sleep. Nothing to worry you here. Just Gran'pa dreaming. Just a dream," as she got back into bed herself.

And thats why I found myself thinking of him and of years past on Monday night and silently raising a glass in that wood panelled dining room of the Barns Ness Hotel.


See you later.

Listening to;

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ The Gate Of Hell.


                      
                                                     Over the top, Gallipoli 1915


 Onward led the road again
 Through the sad uncoloured plain
 Under twilight brooding dim,
 And along the utmost rim
 Wall and rampart risen to sight
 Cast a shadow not of night,
 And beyond them seemed to glow
 Bonfires lighted long ago.
 And my dark conductor broke
 Silence at my side and spoke,
 Saying, "You conjecture well:
 Yonder is the gate of hell."

AE Houseman

One hundred years ago yesterday my Grandfather, Sam Robertson, 1/5th Royal Scots Fusiliers and Archibald McKinnon 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers, my friends Bruce and Scot Mathieson's great Grandfather, both landed in Gallipoli within a few hours of each other. These men, part of the 52nd Brigade were shelled on the beach for two days before being sent to the firing line on June 9th. By June 13th 4,800 of them were dead or wounded. A lesser known campaign here than the war in Europe, Gallipoli is marked for its brutality and the particularly merciless nature of the terrain and the fighting. The Royal Scots Fusiliers fought in The Battles of Gully Ravine, Achi Baba Nullah, Krithia Nullahs and The evacuation of Helles.

Ambulance, Gully Ravine, Gallipoli

Jan 1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather. Took over defence of the Suez Canal and then engaged in the Palestine Campaign; Fought Battle of Dueidar, The Battle of Romani.

1917
The First Battle of Gaza, The Second Battle of Gaza, The Third Battle of Gaza, Wadi el Hesi, Burqa, El Maghar, The capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil, The Battle of Jaffa.


April 1918 Embarked for France landing at Marseilles and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Jurbise north of Mons, France. 


Both men lived to come home though both were injured, Archie was shipped home from Gallipoli with a bullet wound to the leg. My grandfather, who survived being shot on 3 separate occasions and was returned to the front line each time, left Gallipoli and served in France by the end of the war. At war's end he suffered a decline from the condition then known as 'shell shock'  {now PTSD}  into complete debilitation, intermittent hallucination and nightmares which lasted until his death in 1967.

History neatly records the fighting ended in 1918. Life is rarely so neat.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ If I could





If I could write words
Like leaves on an autumn forest floor,
What a bonfire my letters would make.

If I could speak words of water,
You would drown when I said
"I love you."

Spike Milligan
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Sunday Posts/ Laws of God and Man



The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbor to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man's bedevilment and God's?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.      

A.E. Houseman
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Sunday Posts2015/ Passing Love



Because you are to me a song.
I must not sing you over- long.
Because you are to me a prayer
I cannot say you everywhere.
Because you are to me a rose-
You will not stay when summer goes.

Langston Hughes.
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Sunday Posts 2013/Minstrel man



Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long?

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry?
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die?      

Langston Hughes
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ On Polling Day



Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.
For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!
Away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses, arise, arise!
We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
And spurn the dust to win the prize!

excerpt from 'L'Internationale'
By Eugene Poltier

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Sunday Posts 2014/ A Birthday Poem





Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.       

Ted Kooser
Photo By Alistair.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ In Memorium




On Friday we attended the funeral of my Uncle, Bill Robertson. This poem was used at the service and many commented on how fitting it was to him. I have never known so many people to say "I wouldn't be where I am now today if it wasn't for him."  Rest in Peace Auld Yin.


Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away.

Summer Sandercox
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/To the Moon



Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ So Live Your Life




So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
 
Tecumseh of the Shawnee. 1768 -1813
 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/The Old Woman



 As a white candle
In a holy place,
So is the beauty
Of an aged face.

As the spent radiance
Of the winter sun,
So is a woman
With her travail done,

Her brood gone from her,
And her thoughts as still
As the waters
Under a ruined mill.

Joseph Campbell
Photo of Tante Margot by Alistair.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Threnody



Lilacs blossom just as sweet
Now my heart is shattered.
If I bowled it down the street,
Who's to say it mattered?
If there's one that rode away
What would I be missing?
Lips that taste of tears, they say,
Are the best for kissing.

Eyes that watch the morning star
Seem a little brighter;
Arms held out to darkness are
Usually whiter.
Shall I bar the strolling guest,
Bind my brow with willow,
When, they say, the empty breast
Is the softer pillow?

That a heart falls tinkling down,
Never think it ceases.
Every likely lad in town
Gathers up the pieces.
If there's one gone whistling by
Would I let it grieve me?
Let him wonder if I lie;
Let him half believe me.

Dorothy Parker
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Villanelle




Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away?
Will time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W.H.Auden
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Untitiled



I wish I could drink like a lady
I can take one or two at the most
Three and I'm under the table
Four and I'm under the host

Dorothy Parker.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ My Little One



My little one whose tongue is dumb,
whose fingers cannot hold to things,
who is so mercilessly young,
he leaps upon the instant things,

I hold him not. Indeed, who could?
He runs into the burning wood.
Follow, follow if you can!
He will come out grown a man

and not remember whom he kissed,
who caught him by the slender wrist
and bound him by a tender yoke
which, understanding not, he broke.

Tennessee Williams
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/I taste a liquor never brewed





I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

Emily Dickinson
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/Learning



 I'm learning to say thank you.
And I'm learning to say please.
And I'm learning to use Kleenex,
Not my sweater, when I sneeze.
And I'm learning not to dribble.
And I'm learning not to slurp.
And I'm learning (though it sometimes really hurts me)
Not to burp.
And I'm learning to chew softer
When I eat corn on the cob.
And I'm learning that it's much
Much easier to be a slob.

Judith Viorst.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Conceit



I heard a winter tree in song
Its leaves were birds, a hundred strong;
When all at once it ceased to sing,
For every leaf had taken wing.

Mervyn Peake
Photo by Alistair

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Changing Paradigms in Education.





No comment or introduction is really needed from me  here. I'd just ask you consider this argument from educationalist Sir Ken Robinson.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Porage Anyone?

A few lines on why I have started another blog called The Porage Diaries.


If I can really remember I called the blog The Porage Diaries simply because I liked the name. I started blogging on it about my diagnosis of type two diabetes. But it didn't last long. Shortly after I lost interest in talking about that so I took those posts down but kept the title. It's been sitting waiting on me for a long time now it seems.

The last few years have been busy and several aspects of life have intervened to take precedence or more honestly to rob me of inspiration or enthusiasm for blogging. Here at Crivens Jings And Help Ma Blog I've kept it going with the odd piece and regular Sunday postings of poetry. During Scotland's referendum last year I was very engaged with politics and the debate about our future. Some of that found its way into Crivens Jings but I was always a bit uncomfortable. It's a personal blog and although politics is personal it's not what I want the blog to become about. There are times when I would like to write about life or other stuff and I'd like to preserve Crivens Jings  solely for that.

So I'd like to write now and again about politics or share articles for other sources. That's going to be at The Porage Diaries. As a committed YES supporter I was devastated by the result against independence last year but like so many others I have to come to terms with the fact that many people, the majority in fact, could not find themselves convinced by the argument for an independent Scotland. They will have had as many reasons for their decision to vote No as other people did for voting YES. I don't blame them for that no matter how deep my personal disappointment may be or my conviction that it is still the right thing.

When ever something occurred that he saw as a set-back or at the end of holidays when we had to return to normality my Dad would always say "Ah well. It's back tae auld claes and purritch the morn." That's just how I felt after September the 18th 2014. Not that this is a reality I want or am prepared to accept as anything other than a temporary measure, but it certainly fits with my mind-set.

So, if this blog in any way charts the days towards a time when Scotland can be independent or improved within the framework of the UK then The Porage Diaries seems like a perfectly good name for it.

Welcome one and all. Please feel free to comment, argue or disagree but do it politely or I will cut you off at the knees. Comments will be moderated.

Porage anyone?


The Sunday Posts 2015/Smile



Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
 
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile

Words John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons
Music By Charlie Chaplin. arr John Barry

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Beautiful she sleeps.




 I stretch slowly as my eyes open, enjoying the feel as muscle slowly tightens to push nights sleep away. Dawn is come and the lovely G is warm beside me. Beautiful she sleeps, her face is perfect peace. Hair, tousled and spread around her, billows softly across jaw and pillow. Beneath, closed eyes stretch long lashes down to kiss her cheek. I gaze in awe at a face so comfortingly familiar yet so exciting and can't resist the urge to reach and push a stray hair from her face. Still sleeping, she frowns and her expression turns soft pout, the gentlest of breathy whimpers crosses her dreaming lips. A hand comes up to touch her nose and, drained of energy, is left beside her face. She shrugs covers closer around her, her other hand touches mine and clasps me instinctively. Connected, I lay perfectly still, watching and content. Smiling, as beautiful, she sleeps.

see you later

Listening to:


The Sunday Posts 2017/ Hush Hush

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin'. Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin'; Dreams of peace and of freedom, So smile in your sleep,...