Sunday, 25 December 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Da Night at Christ wis Boarn

A lass, wis gaen ta cry,
ta Bethlehem cam, weary an makkin maen,
an fan dey wir nae wye
ta lay her doon, for aa da beds wis taen.
Da lodgin-mistress said
da byre wid hae ta du dem, till da moarn:
dere, twa clean windlins spread
athin an empty stall, Goad’s Bairn wis boarn.
A peerie whaig, wi a starn
athin her broo, wis tied apo da waak,
an, inbye i da barn,
wi sleepy peesters, hens upo da baak.
Whin aa wis ower an düne
da Midder’s een droopit in sweet relief;
Joseph sat winderin on
dis marvel at wis nearly past belief.
Dan suddenly, da lift
wis filled wi light an singin fae abüne! –
as Pretty Dancers shift,
sae moved da singers o da heevenly tüne,
an whin dey aa wir geen,
doon da lang hilly gait da shepherds cam,
winderin what hit might mean –
an ane wis kerryin a ting o lamb.
Dey cam in trow, an bent
afore da Infant in a glüd o light:
intae demsels, withoot a doot dey kent
hunders o years wid hear aboot dis night.
Stella Sutherland.
Photo Cathar Memorial, Minerve, Languedoc.
By Alistair.



Friday, 11 November 2016

In Memoriam. One Hundred Years On

Written For Private D. Sutherland
killed in action in the German trench,
and the others who died

So you were David’s father,

And he was your only son,

And the new-cut peats are rotting

And the work is left undone,

Because of an old man weeping,

Just an old man in pain,

For David, his son David,

That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,

And I can see them still,

Not a word of the fighting,

But just the sheep on the hill

And how you should get the crops in

Ere the year get stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,

And I was his officer.

You were only David’s father,

But I had fifty sons

When we went up in the evening

Under the arch of the guns,

And we came back at twilight - 

O God! I heard them call

To me for help and pity

That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,

My men that trusted me,

More my sons than your fathers’,
For they could only see

The little helpless babies 

And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,

And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,

They saw their first-born go,

But not the strong limbs broken

And the beautiful men brought low,

The piteous writhing bodies,

The screamed ‘Don’t leave me, Sir’,

For they were only your fathers

But I was your officer.

E. Alan Mackintosh

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Galaxy Song

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs.Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the 'milky way'

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide

We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth

Eric Idle.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ You've Got A Friend

When you're down and troubled,
And you need some love and care,
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me,
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
Soon you'll hear me knocking at your door

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

Carole King
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Sunday Posts 2015/In an Artist's Studio

 One face looks out from all his canvasses,
   One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans;
   We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
   A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,
   A saint, an angel;--every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
   And she with true kind eyes looks back on him
Fair as the moon and joyfull as the light;
   Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
   Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

Christina Rossetti

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Accountancy Song

It's fun to charter an accountant
And sail the wide accountancy,
To find, explore the funds offshore
And skirt the shoals of bankruptcy!

It can be manly in insurance.
We'll up your premium semi-annually.
It's all tax deductible.
We're fairly incorruptible,
We're sailing on the wide accountancy!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Centenary Of The First Day, Battle of the Somme 1916

To the 51st Division

High Wood, July-August 1916

Oh gay were we in spirit
In the hours of the night
When we lay at rest at Albert
And waited for the fight;
Gay and gallant were we
On the day that we set forth,
But broken, broken, broken
Is the valour of the North.

The wild warpipes were calling,
Our hearts were blithe and free
When we went up the valley
To the death we could not see.
Clear lay the wood before us
In the clear summer weather,
But broken, broken, broken
Are the sons of the heather.

In the cold of the morning,
In the burning of the day,
The thin lines stumbled forward,
The dead and dying lay.
By the unseen death that caught us
By the bullets’ raging hail
Broken, broken, broken
Is the pride of the Gael.

E. Alan Mackintosh

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ For Orlando

England is a cup of tea
France, a wheel of ripened Brie
Greece a short,squat olive tree
America is a gun.

Brazil is football in the sand
Argentina, Madonna's hand
Germany is an Oompah band
America is a gun.

Holland is a wooden shoe
Hungary, a goulash stew
Australia, a kangaroo
America is a gun.

Japan is a thermal spring
Scotland, a highland fling
Oh, better to be anything
Than America as a gun.

Brian Bilston
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Sunday Posts 2015/ Culloden Moor - seen in Autumn rain

Full of grief, the low winds sweep
O'er the sorrow-haunted ground;
Dark the woods where night rains weep,
Dark the hills that watch around.

Tell me, can the joys of spring
Ever make this sadness flee,
Make the woods with music ring,
And the streamlet laugh for glee?

When the summer moor is lit
With the pale fire of the broom,
And through green the shadows flit,
Still shall mirth give place to gloom?

Sad shall it be, though sun be shed
Golden bright on field and flood;
E'en the heather's crimson red
Holds the memory of blood.

Here that broken, weary band
Met the ruthless foe's array,
Where those moss-grown boulders stand,
On that dark and fatal day.

Like a phantom hope had fled,
Love to death was all in vain,
Vain, though heroes' blood was shed,
And though hearts were broke in twain.

Many a voice has cursed the name
Time has into darkness thrust,
Cruelty his only fame
In forgetfulness and dust.

Noble dead that sleep below,
We your valour ne'er forget;
Soft the heroes' rest who know
Hearts like theirs are beating yet.

Alice McDonnell of Keppoch
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ The Messengers

Arriving late sometimes and never
Quite expected, still they come,
Bringing a folded meaning home
Between the lines, inside the letter.

As a scarecrow in the harvest
Turns an innocent field to grief
These tattered hints are dumb and deaf,
But bring the matter to a crisis.

They are the messengers who run
Onstage to us who try to doubt them,
Fetching our fate to hand; without them
What would Sophocles have done?

Muriel Spark
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/Helen Keller

In the dark,
Found light
Brighter than many ever see.
Within herself,
Found loveliness,
Through the soul's own mastery.
And now the world receives
From her dower:
The message of the strength
Of inner power.   

By Langston Hughes

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/Emeralds and Black Diamonds

Lie down lass, lie down, in sage green meadows
Your blouse flouncing open, in the teasing breeze
The meadows, feel so cotton, this time of season
Come lay beside me lass, and sense th' softness

Open field, sweet honeysuckle....arouses my yen
Shamrock blades in sparkle by th' mid-noon sun
No clouds abide our scape of choice, to pleasure
Again i ask you lass......come lay you down by me

Come close my love...these hungry emerald eyes
Beg to stare into your warm, black diamond eyes
Take my hand in bond, lov', and let me asure you
That Emeralds and diamonds....never fade away

Frank James Ryan.
Photo By Alistair.     

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Sleep Weel.

Sleep weel, my bairnie, sleep.
The lang, lang shadows creep,
The fairies play on the munelicht brae
An' the stars are on the deep.

The auld wife sits her lane
Ayont the cauld hearth-stane,
An' the win' comes doon wi' an eerie croon
To hush my bonny wean.

The bogie man's awa',
The dancers rise an fa'
An' the howlet's cry frae the bour-tree high
Comes through the mossy shaw.

Sleep weel, my bairnie, sleep.
The lang, lang shadows creep,
The fairies play on the munelicht brae
An' the stars are on the deep.

Murdoch McLean

Meaning of unusual words:
munelicht brae=moonlit hillside
her lane=alone
croon=wailing song
bogie man=ghost
bour-tree=elder tree
shaw=flat ground at the foot of a hill

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Valentines Day

Sure Proof

I can no more describe you
than I can put a thing for the first time
where it already is.

If I could make a ladder of light
or comb the hair of a dream girl with a real comb
or pour a table into a jug...

I'm not good at impossible things
And that is why I'm sure
I will love you for my ever.

Norman MacCaig. 1968
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ Let Me Die A Young Mans Death

Let me die a young man's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I'm 73
and in constant good humour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an all-night party

Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a young man's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death   

Roger McGough.
Photo By Alistair.  

Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/what did you learn in school today

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free.
And that's what the teacher said to me.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It's always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

Tom Paxton
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/Summons to Burns Nicht

KING GEORDIE issues out his summons,
Tae ca his bairns, the Lairds an Commons,
Tae creesh the nation's moolie-heels,
An butter Commerce' rusty wheels,
An see what new, what untried tax,
Will lie the easiest on oor backs.
The priest convenes his scandal court,
Tae ken what houghmagandie sport
Has been gaun on within the parish
Since last they met,—their funds tae cherish.

But I, the servant of Apollo,
Whase mandates I am proud tae follow,—
He bids me warn you as the friend
Of Burns's fame, that ye'll attend
Neist Friday e'en, in Luckie Wricht's,
Tae spend the best—the wale o nichts ;
Sae, under pain o ha'f-a-merk
Ye'll come, as signed by me, the Clerk.


Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Sunday Posts 2015/ The Rose

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose.

Bette Midler
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Sunday Posts 2016/ A Wee Cock Sparra'

This comic poem was an annual entertainment for New Year when I was growing up. The Scots dialect of the non-gaelic regions was always only heard on TV in a comic situation, not taken seriously, except in a work of Rabbie Burns. I always thought it was strange that the language I spoke everyday with friends and family and had grown up with was something to be laughed at in 'polite' society. At school you could earn a prize one day for reciting Burns and get belted the next for 'not speaking properly'.

Thankfully that situation has slowly changed but there's a long way to go in recognising and rescuing the diversity and heritage of a native tongue.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Life. Changes. Everything...

So a new year arrives and we look ahead with renewed anticipation but no clarity of vision for who can truly predict the future. New Years resolutions are made and quickly broken but life moves on in its inexorable course for better or worse, for richer or poorer. Things change and things stay the same.

Things have changed for us recently. We've made decisions and brought to fruition plans to make the present easier and the future better by selling up and downsizing from a large detached house to purchase outright a small, semi-detached house at the top of the village we've lived in happily for nearly fifteen years. No more mortgage payments, no more stress and worry about making ends meet and no more hefty bills for heating such a large house from liquid petroleum gas, which had proven to be fiendishly and painfully expensive. Many Winter nights in our last house we simply couldn't afford to heat the place and instead added layers of clothing and climbed under duvets together to watch TV from the couch and venture out from the warmth only when necessary. It's wasn't a comfortable or dignified way to live but financially we had little alternative. But that is behind us and life moves on.

Of course there are small sadnesses in leaving the place we'd spent nearly fifteen years in. A house we shared for the majority of that time with two marvellous little characters in the shape of our cats Bailey and Jess. The gave us many smiles and me more than a few tales for the blog, especially back in the days when I had plenty of nothing but time on my hands after being made redundant. I spent many late nights and very early mornings blogging away accompanied by one or other of them, either prowling close by or draped in a more intrusive way across whatever I was trying to do. I often think of and miss them but life moves on and part of that process is loss great or small. Life teaches us to appreciate moments and cherish memories.

I'll miss the garden too. I enjoyed prowling around its private corners, often barefoot when weather allowed. I'll miss the fruit trees and their annual gifts of pears, plums and apples and I'll miss my friends in sparrow squadron as I came to call the argumentative families of the commonest birds here, but I'll miss those many other visitors too, birds who could always rely on a feed or a drink from spots around the garden and who in return gave me hours of shared companionable curiosity. I won't miss the amount of work needed to maintain the garden though, especially the effort needed to cut the hedge that stretched across the front of the house and drive before turning down to the road. That was a job I came to hate.

I'll miss my pal the old pear tree that stood at the front of the house and dripped its leaves and sometimes its fruit across the roof of the car as we'd pass under coming up the drive. A gentle touch like a comforting caress that said "You're home now." I came to appreciate its rough character and what it must have stood witness to in what we found to be about 125 years of its life. It must have seen some changes but surely also saw that in our ancient village, much also stays the same. People come and go - I was undoubtedly only one person in a chain of others who had tended and cared for the old tree, many perhaps like me who came to cherish her ability to listen well and keep her council and my worries told in confidence. I hope that there is now another in the chain who will appreciate and enjoy her and keep her in good fettle as I tried to do. I would be upset to hear she came to harm but life changes everything and my ability to influence that is passed.

I won't miss our old house, although I will definitely miss its space. Somehow I never thought of it as anything other than a house despite my attachment to the site it occupied. We had lots of great times there but I never felt attached to the house. I never thought of it as 'home'. Maybe because we had always spoken about moving on at some point I never made that emotional connection, unconsciously protecting myself from feeling any loss over it. Who knows?

So we moved on. Now we have a house at the top of the village. Oddly, an older house but in a newer space for while our old house was newer it stood in an old spot while this is an older house but in a location of newer houses. Having said that we have a house from the 1700's just three houses away but that too is new compared to our old near neighbour of Sparrow Castle with its foundations from the 1200's. Now instead of nestled in the heart of the village we stand at it's edge and look out to sea over the heads of most of the village.

The 'new' house isn't old. It's only 60 years old and for all that time was lived in by one lady who lived independently here until well into her nineties. The house is small but well cared for and has a feel more appealing somehow. It needs time, money and effort invested but we can do that. In the few weeks we've been here it's begun to tell us its story and perhaps to hint at what it could be. We in turn have listened carefully and changed our ideas completely from what we thought might be done initially. There's still space to build a two story extension at the side but apart from that we will be less disruptive and more respectful of what we now feel is the integrity of the place. The garden is much smaller and made to be looked after by someone elderly. It will change. We can let it grow into something else. It too will tell us in time what it should be and that will no doubt be different to what I now think it could be. Time will tell and we will listen. In the time we will be here we will appreciate and we will cherish. Birds will be fed and at some time down the line fruit will be grown. I may try and get a cutting from my old friend The Pear Tree. It would be good to let her see new things. It would be good to still have her to talk to and shelter the new arrivals who arrive hungry or thirsty.

While many things change much abides.  A new year begins and we look forward with unknowing anticipation to what may be. We make plans but who can knowingly predict the future.

Life changes everything and nothing at the same time.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...