Document 511

The Boddamers' Monkey

Author(s): Sheena Blackhall

Copyright holder(s): Sheena Blackhall


The Boddamers' Monkey (Traditional)

Eence a ship sailed roon the coast, an aa the men in her wis lost
Barrin a monkey up a post sae the Boddamers hanged the monkey oh

Durra ma doo ma doo ma day
Durra ma doo ma daddy oh
Durra ma doo ma doo ma day
The Boddamers hanged the monkey-oh

Noo the funeral wis a gran affair, aa the Boddam fowk wis there
It mynt ye on the Glesga Fair fin the Boddamers hanged the monkey-oh

Noo aa the fowk fae Peterheid cam doon, they thocht, tae get a feed
Sae they made it inno pottit heid fin the Boddamers hanged the monkey oh

Tradition goes that a ship ran aground during the Napoleonic wars, off Boddom. The only survivor was a monkey which the Boddamers hanged; thinking it was a French spy, but gave it a Christian burial anyway. In the past, to rile the inhabitants of Peterhead and Boddam, other North Easters would inquire 'Fa beeriet the monkey?'

Lilac Buss in a City Lane

The lilac buss wis drookt wi dyew, richt sweet the blackie wheeplit,
An ilkie tlooer wis hung wi bees that ower the petals treetlit.

The lea-lang Spring the buss wis thrang, wi teenie spurg an robin
Fae perfinned boughs their tweetlin sang ower leaf an lawn gaed throbbin.

There wisna ony note that jarred in thon sun-droggit neuk,
The sleekit cat curled in the shade drew in her killin cleuk.

The siller trails o sliddery snails, fin nicht brocht oot the meen,
Glimmered aneth the lilac buss, gowd starnies shone abeen.

A littlin, thirled tae widlan wyes I lued thon secret dell.
Fit bairn noo seeks the lilac buss an spins tales tae itsel?

Albert Terrace
The first reference to Albert Terrace is dated 1849. When the street was newly laid out it was called Rubislaw Crescent, but in 1861 Prince Albert died of typhoid fever at Windsor Castle and presumably as a mark of respect, in 1869 the little street was renamed Albert Terrace. Ironically one of the first cases reported in the Aberdeen typhoid epidemic of 1964 was a resident of Albert Terrace, as was the writer of this poem.
The street is now protected by conservation laws to preserve the listed buildings. The iron railings, removed during WW2, have now been replaced. It has retained its Victorian character up to the present day

Only the birds can decipher the paving slabs
Cracked hieroglyphics.

Black railings stand like guardsmen on parade.
Gas lamps overlook grease- glossy shrubs
Luxuriant busbies, blossoming cockades.

Door knob and letterbox wear brassy stniles
Behind their public face, each house is locked.

New buyers strip the wood and fireplace back.
Victoria's amused. The servants run on electricity.

In Memoriam: Ian Alexander Middleton. Born Aberdeen 10:5:40 died Brazil 10:2:99

There's steps in the snaa this nicht.
Mebbe ye traivelled the laigh road hame
Frae yer marble mortuary slab in a fremmit hospital's wame.

Yer bedroom licht is on. The wye it shone,
Like a lowe throw gurly seas efter ye left,
Smittit bi Ambition, youth's disease.

I staun an watch it, unner the dreepin trees.
The new fowk's shieled the sna.
Mynd foo we eesed tae sterve wi twa, three lumps o coal?
Wis't thrift that draye ye awa? The drooth fur advancement?
Or doonricht scunneration tae the foun o Aiberdeen an forty-echt mile roon?

Faither wheeplit pibrochs, mither, psalms.
The tunes yer fite hauns played war Bartok, Chopin, Brahms.

The antrin caird ye sent, took pride o place.
The polished pianie held yer ghaistly face,
Lang efter ye'd forgotten kith and kin
Jist names fin ye war fillin forms in.

For thon auld scrats, auld sairs, there's nae remeid.
Brither, sae far frae hame, sae cauld in bluid.
The tune is ower, closed pianie, blawn seed
Bar ae last note. The lyke wake fur the deid.

House in Affleck Street

The house like an eaglet sits in its stone eyrie
A cloud on its head, a magpie in each ear.

A brown door catches its breath,
The harbour tang sneaks underneath
Over the welcome mat that's hardly worn.

Cool slates walk down the roof in steady order
Like Japanese sardines
The hedge is a thrush's playpen.

Over the Zen tannac, over the rat-run road
A JCB is straining at its gears
Wandering willies pour through concrete cracks.

A gull zips over a flyover.
A yellow oil ship slithers from the dock
A Virgin train is humming in its grooves.

Everything's leaving,
Desperate to be off

Lecture on a Simmer Evenin'

Bricht yalla dots rin doon the spikker's tie,
Like cat's een set atween his grey lapels
His wirds skinkle an glent like shoals o haddies
Flashin their abstract tails, a wirthy trawl.

Mair nur the lecture clammers fur sole attention.
There's a clattervengeance o soun aroon the quad,
A squallach o scurries argyin ower a pie.

Ma richt ee lichts on the delicate raxx o trees,
Breirin bonnily ower the Simmer lawn
Ma left is takkin tent o the blackboord's scrattins.

This auncient university breeds din.
A cooshie croos, stoot buits crunch graivel,
Labourers are howkin up the slabs.

St Macbar's Gate, Evening, July

Confetti has drifted away from a bride's veil
Tissue bells roost on tombstones
Paper horseshoes gallop over grass.

Cathedral cross is a crow perch.
Down in the worm arena,
Rose petals tumble like aristocratic heads,
Culled in a bloody coup.
A yew forms stalactites that creep into the clouds

Razor wire protects religious glass
From smash and plunder.
Daisies close their doors,
Invisible clocks wind down.

Slackening jaws unhinge. In woody quarters
Sycamore roots in time will drive their point
Straight through a flesher's eye.

A dog rose periscope rises from the mould
Sharpens its thorns on the air
A scissor-grinder whetted by the rain.

Old Aberdeen

A yew tree slides its shadow over stones,
Parishioners, like pews, have worn away.
A granite skeleton gives birth to bones.
Red leaves hang from knotty boughs, like rags.

A Moslem family walks towards the park.
Dead congregations fertilize the loam.

Cruickshank Gardens, Winter

Cold pond's a puckered mouth of wrinkled ice
Dead leaves are laminated to the grass
The Machar Bell clangs through the tinny air
A whining plane cuts circles in the sky

Dead leaves are laminated to the grass
Stripped bare, black dripping trees are candy-twisted
A whining plane cuts circles in the sky
Five snowdrops tremble delicate and chilled

Stripped bare, black dripping trees are candy-twisted
A sparrow scuds along on sturdy wings
Five snowdrops tremble, delicate and chilled
The snarling, traffic rushes like a sea

A sparrow scuds along on sturdy wings
Cold pond's a puckered mouth of wrinkled ice
The snarling traffic rushes like a sea
The Machar bell clangs through the tinny air.

Cruickshank Gardens, Summer

Crazy paving leads to a sunk Gethsemane.
A lily swings its polished pendulum.
Flowers are cutlery on a table of leprechaun green.
A poppy core, pungent as snuff,
Has petals of crepe paper, an old man's skin.
A thrush is yodelling swmner.
A bouncing tit tobaggans down a slope.
Water lilies glow like butter lights.
Deep in the pond, limp as liquorice, a black leech hangs,
An accordion looking for music.

Tadpoles canoodle in the hatching soup,
Newts swivel their tails like curved propellers.
A tiny frog goes blip, misses the mark by a leg.
Forget me nots, spectacularly blue,
Wear collars of Maypole green.
The sign says 'Do not walk upon the grass.'
The potting shed is dark with possibilities.

Bridge by a Housing Scheme

No-hopers are throwing stones,
Smack in the centre of the cold current.

The sky is grey as slop.
A fly is caught in a web,
A note stuck in the throat of a rotten harp.
Rust is slowly eating the spars of the bridge.

The slimey wooden slats splinter and rot.
Between their chinks, a slab of Autumn air
Lies on the leaden lid of the scummy waves.

A jogger pants towards a mugger's haven.
Behind a shed, boys picnick upon dope.
The wind rattles the ribs of a plastic bag.

A guard in a yellow jacket prowls his kingdom,
The throaty bark of his dog is fierce and raw.

One by one, the city lights come on,
Small Chinese lanterns wobbling on the water.

Rubislaw Quarry

A hard birth fur a toon,
Blastit, drilled, rived fae this steen wyme,
Scoored an scrattit bi the fower sizzens.
Quarrymen, blawn stoor, gien wye tae buzzards.
Dunt o mallet, chisel, rasp o saw, sooked tae the foun o silence,
In yon blaik lug that's open tae the sky.

Gulls swey like pearls alang a roosty cable
Necklace o seabirds string the dizzy drap
Jig like washin ony blaw sets flappin.
Ilkie neuk reams ower wi birk an bracken.
Barbit wire keeps suicides awa.
The man-made lochan' s lowrin slatey-grey.
A landin dyeuk snags ripples ben its face
Somelike a teir on fifteen denier nylons.

Brig o Balgownie

The bridge is almost exactly as it was in Byron's day, when he terrified himself by thinking that Thomas the Rhymer's prophecy applied specifically to himself:

Brig o Balgownie, wight is thy Waa;
Wi a wife's ae son, an a mare's ae foal,
Doon shalt thou faa.

Six white feathers curl like questionmarks.
A woman unpegs washing, flaps a sheet.
The river has its life, and she has hers.
She puts to flight a bobbing duckling fleet.

The bridge span is a stoney bishop's mitre,
Over a troubled pool, as deep as doubt.
That arch has borne the weight of centuries,
Miller and wheelwright, jogger, roustabout.

Walkers inspect the livery of the town,
The leopard, castle, motto on the plaque.
Meanwhile the bridge stares resolutely down
Into its drowned self, shimmering and black.

Gulls break from parting continents of clouds,
Breeze blears the slow, queer water's twisted face.
Driftwood snags reeds that tug downstream like hair
Grey scudding waves like fins of salmon, race.

A student's loud hulloo rings through the air.
A panting dog jigsaws towards a root.
A trout-leap is a wobbly up-tossed coin,
The crunch on sand is a lone walker's foot.

A leaf floats to the sucking, swaying sea.
The bank's a twist of serpent, woody braids.
A beetle stalls. An indecisive path.
Juggernauts growl on distant carriageways.

Those incandescent moons in lamplit trees,
Spill creamy cargo through the darkening leaves.
A heron finds a parking space to sit
Neighbourhood close he's watching it!

Salute tae Twa Makars
In memoriam, Alastair Mackie & Ken Morrice

This nicht I wauk ma lane alang
The brig atween twa warlds
The nearer side is thrang wi sang
Tae thon far bank I'm thirled.

Twa ghaists like glisks o glamourie
Like fireflauchts in the mirk
They cry me ower wi mony's the smile
Far deidly watters lirk.

Their poems upon the prentit page
Will jink the coffin braisse
Bit wit an virr, throw kirkyaird smirr
Are nocht bit stoor an aisse

Ae makar tuik the written wird
Tae peint byordnar scenes
The tither wis the quater chiel
His currency wis dreams

The first wis derk as he wis fair
Gaed mony's the hairt a rug
The ither wis the quaeter chiel
Poored wisdom in ma lug

Throw this heich windae in the North
Gey near the Auld King's Croon
I'm thinkin on the eildritch road
That leaves this granite toon

Wheesht! In the tinklin o the tide
The sabbin o the sea
I hear thon twa, that screived sae braw
Cry wistfu, ower tae me

Twa makars snippit frae oor mids
There's nane can full their space
An since their wae-gaun fae this airt
The toun's a dreicher place.

Former Cinema: The Odeon Cinema, Justice Mill Lane, Aberdeen 1932-2001

Here, trodden tabbies, splats o seagull keech, pattern the grun, far Arctic breezes wheech
Bi tenements, far doos convene in pairties, tae keek at the Art Deco o the Thirties.
Setterday momin magnet, post-war boomers,
Bairns matinee... white socks and navy bloomers,
Douce quines frae Broomhill, Hardgate, Ferryhill,
(Weel shod in leather sheen frae Watt an Milne)
Jyned loons frae doon the toon. A gallus crew, we tradit insults, staunin in the queue
Wi lugs, nebs, chikks an hauns turned icey-blue, gaberdines buckled ticht in expectation,
Wi sighs an cat-calls o exasperation. Sic rinny snoots, jug-lugs, an scabby knees!
A puckle pence bocht cowboy fantasies, as quines wi flashies showed us far tae sit
Led on like miners doon a tarry pit.

Nae Roman in his thrillin amphitheatre enjoyed an entertainment ony sweeter!
Tomato sauce congealed insteid o bluid, yet still we grat fin peintit Indians deed.
A warld o black an fite, a simple code. Villains war coorse, war booed, an overload
O raw emotion. Ye cud skirl and cheer. Heroes war gweed. Each baddie raised a jeer.
Nae back seat fummler's undercover lust, spylt the hoorays fin King Kong bit the dust,
Tore doon the tinsel stars o makkie-on, set there bi Hollywod fur littlin's fun.
An fin ootbye, the clouds war gray and teemin,
Inbye we'd dry like kettles hett and steamin.

On stage, the screen's great lirkit curtain rose,
In ripplin silk, like can-can dancer's bows.
Wi oos an aahs, we aa grew quate an chawed
Oor sherbert dabs, while pirates puffed an blawed.
Unseen projectionist in his wee room,
Shot film frae camera-gun, across the gloom.
Fired pictur efter pictur on the screen...Spacemen an giant squids in Aiberdeen!
A rinnin ream o dreams in waves o licht, poored ower wir heids, an gript us wi delicht,
While usherettes selt ices cauld an sweet, could melt the steeny hairt o Union Street.
Peroxide quines wi lips as reid as rasps, wi corrugated perms an waists like wasps
War saved frae monsters. Foo we'd stamp an scream,
Afore we rose an sang, 'God Save the Queen!'
An shuftled oot, een-dazzlit tae the sun...
A magic palace thon, the Odeon!

Zoo Building

Drawers of jaws and claws,
A mummified mausoleum.
A mortuary of owls, stuffed feathers, painted props.

Skulls, like jewellery, lie in a glass case.
Ivory skeleton hangs, a coral doll.
Butterflies are pinned down.

Each polished cage, a stitch up of dissections
Embryo fledglings float in formaldehyde
Like fruit preserves.
Hat stands of birds of paradise do not sing.

Hedgehog, dead as a foot scraper gathers dust.
A soup of polyps swim in vinegary limbo.
A sperm whale swings in its chains.

A squirrel's seams are showing,
Its paws like flattened spiders.
Frozen Polar bears are fashion mannequins,
A winter haute couture of claw and cream.

A deer is wearing a coconut's dry coat,
A throttled adder hangs from a thin noose.

Only the tiger captivates, swashbuckling tiger
Sleek as a chaise long, bearing its head like a rajah
Only the tiger pads softly out like a thought,
Like a snowflake settling into the nest of my mind.

Pet shop Fish

Fish in a tank. Furious gills
Like millwheels rearrange water

Parking Squirrels
In Glesga squirrels hae a hing
In Aiberdeen they skyte up trees like wildfire.

Grampian Police HQ
Grampian Police HQ was built in 1972 in an area which has long been associated with the administration of city justice. In 1394 King Robert III granted a licence to build a Tolbooth in the Castlegate and the last public hanging took place there in 1857. There are 63 operational cameras in the CCTV room which monitor an average of 600 incidents per month in Aberdeen city centre. The Control Room on the 6th floor handles 800 incidents per day. It is here that incoming calls are graded and prioritised for maximum efficiency. The cells are situated at the bottom of the building, 27 male cells, 4 female cells. Here, too are holding cells which house between 20-30 prisoners prior to their appearance in the sheriff court.

The justice skyscraper
Sits in the laptop o the clouds

Incomers, ootcomers
Shoppie-doors, heid bummers
Watched ower bi the ark-angel ee

In the founs o the biggin, doon in the twilicht sunks
(Like Hitler's bunker plaistered wi graffiti
Scrawled bi the dowp-eyns o deid fags)
Are hoosed the toun's unwinted:

hoose-brakkers, tattooed or pockmerked
din-makkers, pierced or bleached
gear-takkers, burly and gurly
skelpers o wives, teethless an eesless
chorers o cash an grab

Harry fae Boxy, Wully fae Tilly
Morality means nix
Fin ye canna see by the thocht o yer next fix.

Yer notion o shoppin's tae takk it
The cycle o need an greed
The bobbies' job's tae brakk it.

Housing Scheme Telecommunications Mast

Three violets, a twisted Twix wrapper, four haggis-pudding dog-turds
A seagull feather (singular, never in twos or fives)
Lie fanned out like a sundial's metal hours
From the giant mast.

The mast has a robot's intestines
A succession of welded toast-racks of grates and drains
Standing on four steel legs, it scrapes the sky
It jags against the eyes, ringed by Auschwitz-wire
(You almost expect the search-lights)
Covered with barnacle-dishes.

Its neighbours are mainly tower blocks.
A belch of smoke is rising like a pyre from somebody's car or garden
A plane's so low you feel you could touch and squash it like a fly.

It is dusk, and the ice cream bird is calling
Lean dogs chase stones across this urban waste:
It's cold. I pull my jacket close, and shiver.

Back Street on a Grey Day

Starlings lasso a sooty chimney stack
Clouds smoulder in the ash-tray of the sky
Leftovers wait in the street for seagull uplift.

A car squats in a lane.
On ageing pads a mongrel hobbles by,
Sniffs lamp posts of pee-gone-dry.

Blossom, like froth from a beer mug overspills
The cat on a windowsill's a yellow postcard
Stella Artois' been flattened by a boot.

Pigeons decide, then undecide, to fly
Phone wires swing with sparrows
A window is a spider web of cracks,
From an open window, someone's singing
Evening will cover the sight
Of six dead flowers in a pot.

Salute tae a Bonnie Fechter, 51st Highland Division:
In Memoriam. Hamish Henderson
Due to his magnificent work of preserving and promoting the traditional ballads of the North East, this song is placed in the North East section. Henderson was much loved and valued by the people of the area.

Fareweel, tho editorials
Tell yer fame ower city an lea
Sangs are yer best memorials
Liltin an lowpin fu brawly!
Fareweel tae mirth an jollity
Scholar-sodjer poet sae braw
Fareweel tae grace an gallantry
Scotland's the puirer withoot ye

Tales ye tuik fae quine an seannachie
Airs fae trench, fae bothy an aa
Screivin sangs o fire an honesty
Best bloody sangster in Scotia!

Fareweel, here comes the ferryman
Weel ye'll ken the ranks that ye'll meet
There's nocht tae pack or cairry, man
Takk the lang rest o the weary
Fareweel the squaddies' champion
Bonnie fechter, richter o wrangs
Jynin yer auld battalion
Stinch in the pages o history

Tinker Gaelic, Cant or Romany
Roon Blairgowrie chasin the tune
Rypin Jeannie's buss o balladry
Berries ye'd hairvest sae cheerie

Fareweel, tho editorials
Tell yer fame ower city an lea
Sangs are yer best memorials
Liltin an lowpin fu brawly!
Fareweel tae mirth an jollity
Scholar-sodjer poet sae braw
Fareweel tae grace an gallantry
Scotland's the puirer withoot ye

Praises cudna bribe the like o ye
Siller coin nur braw O.B.E.
Comrade Captain, bard o quality
Makker o "Freedom come all ye"

Fareweel, here comes the ferryman
Weel ye'll ken the ranks that ye'll meet
There's nocht tae pack or cairry, man
Takk the lang rest o the weary
Fareweel the squaddies' champion
Bonnie fechter, richter o wrangs
Jynin yer auld battalion
Stinch in the pages o history

Bombed an tombed an shelled the infantry
Some micht live bit ithers maun dee
Fa takks the human invent'ry
In the Derk Valley sae drearie?

Fareweel, tho editorials
Tell yer fame ower city an lea
Sangs are yer best memorials
Liltin an lowpin fu brawly!
Fareweel tae mirth an jollity
Scholar-sodjer poet sae braw
Fareweel tae grace an gallantry
Scotland's the puirer withoot ye

Nigg Bay

Near bottle-green pools,
Stoppered with tar and foam
Grass lay waving its knickers
Jolly's a picnic party
Off to swim in the bay

Across the harbour bar
Seals jumped in doubles.

Back Eyn at Bennachie

October wins blaw snell an caal,
As Bennachie shakks oot her shawl,
Aa roon the muckle mountain's raul,
The chitterin birks are blae.

A beech tree like a heron stauns
On ae thin pole. Wi frostit hauns,
A fermer drives ower hairstit lans,
That gloamin's peintit gray.

Yowes graze the girse near tae the been,
Their oo's as fite's a staunin steen,
Far sunlicht steeks its rosy een,
Back o a Meldrum brae.

The duntin o a tractor wheel,
His howkit oot a dubby puil,
Far jeelin dyews o nicht may sweel,
Till cock craa steers the day.

The craas flee ben the derkenin lift,
Atween the widlans, shaddas shift,
The wyvers darn their hames... .
Sic thrift, tae catch their fleein prey!

Frae cloudy laidders, noo climms doon
Each starnie, in her siller goon
As Bennachie pits on her croon
The Samhuinn meen, sae fey.

The Boddamers' Monkey

The Boddamers' Monkey wis dressed in silk
Wi a ruff roon his thrapple sae swanky
He smokit a pipe like a Turkish laird
He'd a watch an a braw strippit hanky

He acceptit an invite tae gyang tae a feast
The Boddamers pickit the venue
Bit fit they omitted tae tell the puir beast
Wis that he wid be served on the menu.

Faldy's: A Buchan Ferm, New Deer
Tune: Oh Gin I war far the Gadie rins

Oh the New Deer braes are green an fair,
Sae green an fair, sae green an fair
Oh the New Deer braes are green an fair
Far the yowe lies doon wi the ram

Ben the showdin hey takk the road inbye
Takk the road inbye, takk the road inbye
Ben the showdin hey takk the road inbye
Fur a cheery news an a dram.

Far the aipple stauns in the kailyaird neuk
In the kailyaird neuk, in the kailyaird neuk
Far the aipple stauns in the kailyaird neuk
Wi its fruit in ilkie haun

New Deer, New Deer, the win blaws clear
The win blaws clear, the win blaws clear
New Deer, New Deer the win blaws clear
Far the sky boos doon tae the grun

There the linties sing an the doos takk wing
The doos takk wing, the doos takk wing
There the linties sing an the doos takk wing
Ower the rigs o New Deer lan

The Braes o Ballater
Tune: The Corn crake

Fin first I cam tae Ballater twis in a swaddlin goun
The lullaby that gart me sleep it wis the riveries soun
Far laricks sweesh in gloamin's hush at ilkie hill's derk foun
An ay the yoam o fir an pine it fullt the muirs aroon

Gean blossoms faa, saft breezes blaa far linns lowp ower the scree
Mang dyewy glens an misty Bens in yon sna-cled countrie
The erne's kingdom raxxes oot ower aa that it can see
The deid sleep lichtly in their staas alang the banks o Dee.

The city steer, the traffic din toon mall an yuppie bar
They gar me lang fur lochan' s cweel aneth a Heilan star
They gar me lang fur loch an fir bi Muick an Gairn an Mar
For oh, they're aa the warld tae me the Braes o Ballater

Lament fur a Brither
for Charles Middleton Ritchie, born Ballater 1929, died Oshawa, Canada, 2000

A Heilan fir across the faem, wis lately felled - the low road hame.
He wis the choicest in the glen, the kindest and the best o men,
Skirp o the Scots Diaspora, that swallt the lochs o Canada.

In Scotland, geans drap wreaths o bloom. A thoosan weety birk trees greet.
Forget me nots lie tashed aroon, as Spring creeps oot on cripple feet.
Beech branches in their timmer tomb, wyve shaddas far dreich arches meet.
Sma speedwells chitter in the gloom, far wyvers wummle in the peat.

A dipper bobs an skuffs the brun, his hame reams ower wi sun an wave,
Sae braw, yet aa ma hairt can haud's, the wintry sorra o the grave.
An aa I see's a lowered kist, an aa the years atween, we've missed.

Forgie me, fur nae haun o mine, cud drap the stoor abeen yer broo,
A warld awa, far yer cauld clay, is held foriver captive noo.
The braid Atlantic rins atween the Mither kintra, an the New.
I fand a feather on the muir, free o the yird, in its wa-gaun
A bonnie leverock, warbled clear... Brither, yer sowl wis in yon sang.

As the Crow Flies

Crow flies in its wings
Its red heart soars
It is two black oars
Sailing over a lonely Glenmuick shieling


Roon Banchory whins
There's blustery wins

In Maryculter
Rain dreeps splooter

Far pinewids staun
It's aywis gran

Braemar Gaitherin

Skirl pipes, skirl ! Yer braw bit sang sets howf an clachan dirlin.
The warld an his wife this day in borrowed tartan's birlin.
Thrang throw the toun, ower cassies croun, Clan plaids, roon queats unfurlin.

Baith freemit bluid an furreign creed wauk brither-like, wi brither
Ye'd think that wars hid niver been sae weel they mell thegither!

The stooshie rages ben Braemar, like burn that's big wi spate.
Gee-gaws an tartan trinketry are set at ilkie gait.
Like dandelion wauchts o oo, Kyndrochit's fame will traivel
Fin tourists hamewird wing their wye an thochts an gifts unraivel.
The human tide o nations grows, the clash o claik's unkent,
Bit, kent or unkent, pooches teem...their gowden siller's spent.

Far frae the steer o Games mineer, the Clunie trysts me doon.
A single leaf drapt on the waves, sits glentin, green on broon,
As sae, this day will haud the fore fin ithers dwine aroon.

Larick an rowan saftly showd, the clouds flit ghaistly ower
The muckle mountains o Braemar. Her glory, an her pouer.

June bi the Cluny

In ilkie sheugh there's gowden flooers, in shadda-dappled Heilan booers,
The macroscosm's abstract face, grows beard an fuskers in this place.
Blink-bonnie sunbeams glisk and glent, birks cweel aneth a rainbow tent,
A kelpie's mane's foriver tossed, ower mossy steens wi spray embossed.

Waves mirl in pirls o hinney-broon, far Cluny cowps her cargo doon,
It plinks in puils, a tinklin bell, or thunners, blaik's the Earl o Hell
Gaun ram-stam ower a reamin linn, far ants merch oot frae emerald whin.

Yowe's winter oo is tirred wi shears, in ilkie tree the birdsang briers,
A buzzard cercles, heich's a steeple, derk merles in widlans, wheeple, wheeple.
Like quaichs o malt the Cluny showds, as eident swallaes lowp the clouds.
Far wyvers hing lace wabs, hett fir langs fur a shooer o weety smirr.

If ghaists creep back tae haunts they've lued, in this green tapestry I'm shewed,
The gloam wi perfumes rare is blent, wild thyme, wi peace an pleisur, blent.

Minimalist's Guide tae the Dee
Inspired by John Hearne's 'The Ballad of the Buchan Lady', performed on 25th October 2002, Event 43 in the Doric Festival (2002)

breenge-bubble breenge-bubble breenge-bubble
heather-muir bee-bizzin win wheep win wheep win wheep
sky-braid sun-caller sky-braid sun-caller sky-braid sun-caller
Clouds waucht heich an cauld Clouds waucht heich an cauld
Birks are showdin swete an green Birks are showdin swete an green
Steens staun stinch steens staun stinch steens staun stinch
Glisk-glimmer glisk-glimmer glisk-glimmer
Lowpin linns are wummlin thrang wi troot Lowpin linns are wummlin thrang wi troot
Peat-weet glaur clag peat-weet glaur clag
Fite waves wallop skelp inno pit-mirk puils Fite waves wallop skelp inno pit-mirk puils
Swack an blythe the bonnie sahnon sweem Swack an blythe the bonnie sahnon sweem
The brig stauns siccar The brig stauns siccar The brig stauns siccar

A Sang o the Western Isles: Tune: Men O Harlech

At thon hell hole in the Heilans, ashtray's reemin, soap dish, teem
Hotel keeper's heich on hashish, aa the laavie paper's deen
Mirror's crackit, bins are stappit, mould is on the TV screen
Sae the news reader's face is green.

Paper's beilin aff the ceilin, only hauf the fire lichts up
Ootside naavies' drills are dreelin. Last guest's teeth are in the cup
Taps are broken, a luv token condom's lyin in the neuk
Richt abeen the veesitor's buik.

Lichts are fused an carpet's chittered. Scurries skreich an car horns maen
In the bidet keech is skittered. Hornygollachs choke the drain
Tabbies trampit, lino mankit, spider on the windae pane
Wyvin moosewabs in the rain.

Brakfest toast is bleck as charcoal. Bacon rasher's hard's a crisp
Sleep is shattered. Howf is hotchin. Hauf the bar's three quarters pissed
Rug is skyrie reid an firey (curry stains the hoover missed)
Here's far aa yer Nichtmares tryst!

written during an exhibition at Aberdeen Arts Centre, 1999, 'Wild Wet and Wonderful, a celebration of Scotland's boglands' by Scottish Natural Heritage.

I am a child of the bog. I am sphagnum, yellow as jester's bells,
I drink the dew from a thousand secret wells.

I am a child of the bog. I am the purple heath.
I am the royal road with the black, black bog beneath.

I am a child of the bog. A sleepy, scaley rope.
I am adder, the forked tongue that sleeps on the slope.

I am a child of the bog. I sting, I bite.
I am the tiny midge, cloud dancer, sharp and bright.

I am a child of the bog, the gossamer dragonfly.
My shimmering wings are mirrors that catch the sky.

I am a child of the bog. I am the slithering newt.
Here, is my alpha and omega. Here, I lay my fruit.

I am a child of the bog, the staring owl
My hood of feathers frames me like a cowl.

I am a child of the bog, the ancient otter,
Threading my fish-fuelled way through the land of water.

I am a child of the bog. I have a crown of thorns
I am the stag. I flee from hunting horns.

I am a child of the bog. I soar, I sigh,
I am the goose skimming the weeping sky.

I am a the mother of all. I am the yielding peat
I am birthing bed, and tomb, where all bog-creatures meet.

Tyrebagger Earth House

Entering the earth, one chink in the pitch-black roof
Lets sky stream through a musty shaft of light
Lets trapped clouds dance in the den.
The eye in this dark socket blearily fills with stars.
Creeping night is Lucifer, cast from his golden throne.
Fox could lie here in his hot red coat
His ribs like clarsach strings, thrumming a bloody tune.
Here, he could rest, lulled by the rustling spruce, the hush-a-bye beech
And watch fern wave its cockscomb crest at the den's mouth.
High in trees the raven rides the wind.
The owl with her bowl-shaped face scoops up a mouse.
From the great heraldic shield of wood and wind
An oak steps out in livery of green.

The Ythan Pearl: from an Ythan legend

A glimmer in pearl eence bedd in a mussel's briest,
(The Ythan's towes are ticht on the bairns it lues)
An lang an lane it sat in its wattery reest,
The sweeshlin waves flew ower like a flicht o doos.
Ae simmer's day, a smuggler gied a-dookin.
He spied the mussel. Raxxin wide its mou,
He took the Ythan pearl, pooched an keeped it.
Wird cam wi the derk that nicht that a ship wis due.
The lugger, Crookit Mary wad lan a cargo,
Saxteen ankers o gin for the smuggler's crew!
Gulls flew fite fae the caves o the craggy coastline,
As a hidden gauger, quate, his cutless drew.
She rowed like a ghaist neth the stars, the Crookit Mary,
Sweyed neth the meen, cross spars wi sail claith hung.
The smuggler chief wi his band wauked stealthy forrit,
Gaugers raise fae the dunes an the trap wis sprung.
The clash o clubs an cutless. ..the shot o a gun.. .
The rypit pearl rowed ooto a deid man's haun.
The tide swypt in an roon tae the wytin Ythan,
Some ferlies born o the sea, sit ill on lan.
A glimmer in pearl eence bedd in a mussel's breist
(The Ythan's towes are ticht on the bairns it lues)
An lang an lane it sat in its wattery reest,
The sweeshlin waves flew ower like a flicht o doos.

Dyke in a Clarty Airt

Liftin the tatties, reets an yirdy wames,
Back o the dyke, twa-fauld wi an auld tin pot,
(The dyke that wis bigged lang-syne bi rag-nailed thoombs
The dyke that keeps the girse fae the kailyaird plot)
The cottar wife his a girth like a ban o gowd,
Far the unbom bairn growes slow as kneadit dough.
She dauchles bi the dyke tae dicht the stoor
Fae her waddin ring, wi its precious, haly glow.
The waddin ring. A dyke baith strang and stoot,
Keepin twa luvers in, the warld, oot.

Sharny beets bi the door, fire teased fae aisse.
Day's eyn, the scrat o knives, their twa plates teem.
Toozles rugged fae her heid bi a preenin caimb,
Veesitors due the nicht, aa maun be clean.
The fusky bottle will kittle the antrin blether.
Pairty fur fower. Her man, new tae the tether.

Scrat o a needle skytin ower vinyl.
Sab o a cowboy crooner soughin a tune.
Bairn in the belly lies like a puddock's spawn,
Anither quine, wi the cottar dances roon.

Ye makk yer bed ye lie on't. She watched him flirt,
Throw the wee smaa oors wi a chaip-like bit o skirt,
Gart the gowden ring on her haun bit yalla dirt.

Ta-ta, we'll meet ere lang! The derk sweeps doon
The cottar beds, tae dream o a stolen fummle
His wife gaes oot tae teem the orra pail
Back o the dyke, far dreams aroon her tummle.

Cheenged fae a thing o grace, tae an iron ban,
The waddin ring burns hett as a cattle bran.
Bide fur the bairn... At mendin, quines are deft
Bit love an likin packit their bags an left.

Eggs an Bacon
Tune: McGinty's Meal and Ale. A modern cornkister, based on an actual news report

Twa grumphies in the toon o Keith war bocht tae keep as pets
Bi a wifie wi a gairden fa consulted wi the vets
Fa said mowers micht be eesefu kyn bit pigs war better bets
At chawin up the greenery as tidy as can be
Weel she took them hame an coddlit them on sweeties cakes an candy
Man, they chawed awa at nettle: shaws an daisies fine and dandy
At lowsin time they sloked their drooth on Irn Bru an shandy
Fish fingers an a puckle chips sweeled doon wi Typhoo tea.
Fowk waukin past the gairden caad the grumphies Eggs an Bacon
Twa brakkfasts in the makkin gaun aroon the gairden raikin
Bit fin they didna fit their pen, harsh measures they war taken,
Tae loss the extra inches sae they'd fit the piggery.
They war dieted an exercised an sent tae takk aerobics
Wi some wifies frae the Rural, bit the soos war claustrophobics
An Bacon vowed she'd raither bide at hame an read her comics
Than lowp aboot in leotards fur aabody tae see.
The SSPCA cried in tae hae a consultation
Thinkin Bacon wis bulimic an that Eggs hid constipation
Till the wifie that first bocht them roared oot loodly in vexation
'Takk the twa o them awa at least a hunner mile fae me!'
There wis ads in Lanely Hairts Columns, programmes tae the nation
The pair war seen on corners wearin bowties an carnations
Bit finally it hid tae be, tae stop the consternation
They war destined fur Cullerlie ferm, a grumphie's B and B.
Noo Cullerlie is the placie far they foster funcy breets
There are educatit peacocks, there are hens wi bandy cweets
Eggs an Bacon war sae creashie that they didna fit the seats
O the trailer tae convey them tae a life o luxury,
A jeep wis hired bit it broke doon fin Bacon caused a stooshie
Fin they tried tae shove her backwyse in, an jobbit her bihoochie
Oh a skirlin soo's an affa soon, she roared till she wis plookie
Ay it tuik a month o Setterdays tae cairt them ower the lea.
Ye'll hae heard aboot the latest in genetic engineerin?
Ay, they've bred a pig wi attitude, that's unca gleg at sweirin
An I'll tell ye far its cloned frae, tho it's mebbe nae endearin
It's a cross wi Eggs an Bacon an a tiger caad Machree.
If ye ging inby the Rowett, far professor chielies potter
Ye'll see Eggs upon a platter makkin noties wi her trotter
An Bacon's got a PhD in foo tae makk a sottar
They'll be gruntin in the chat-rooms on the internets tae be!

Aikey Fair
Inspired by the painting 'A Scotch fair,' by John Phillip. Sung to the tune: Fa saw the 42nd? Although the painting was set at Aikey, the artist added fictitious Highland hills to the background.

Fa saw the Heilan sodjers?
Fa saw them merchin there?
Fa saw the Heilan sodjers
Catch recruits at Aikey Fair?

Some fowk cam tae coort an cuddle,
Some tae daunce an some tae stare,
Some fowk cam tae buy or peddle,
Pots an pans al Aikey Fair.

Fa saw the fermer's cuddy
Turn an pit doon its lugs?
Fa saw the bar-fit laddie
Pairt a pair o fechtin dugs?


Fa saw the auld wife steerin
Broth, wi a muckle speen?
Fa saw a plooman speirin
Fur a kiss frae cripple Jean?


Fa heard the tinker singin?
Fa heard the calfie lowe?
Fa heard the bagpipes skirlin
Roon the fair on Aikey's howe?


Fa tuik a dram o fusky?
Fa's lad got fechtin fu?
Fa's kittlin Sandy's lassie?
Fa will pye the piper noo!

Fyvie Castle

Castles hae secrets nae man kens, o ancient curses, kills and rings,
O armoured knichts and ladies fair, o wheelin hawks wi ootraxed wings.

Tammas, the laird o Erceldoune wis skeeled in gifts o prophecy
An fur his comin, seeven lang years tile yetts o Fyvie stood ajee.

The fairy fowk hid trained him weel. Sae steeped wis he in witcherie
That fin True Tammas crossed their path, even the heichest booed the knee.

Fin he drew near tae Fyvie's haa, weel saiddled on a midnicht steed
Forked lichtenin closed the castle yetts bit deil the raindrap wat his heid.

He cursed the rigs, he cursed the towers, quo 'Hapless shall yer mesdames be
Fin ye shall haud within yer waas, steens fae this neuk, unhaley three.'

The first steen's in the lady's bower. The Ythan haps the secunt steen
The third bides in the aludest tower an it is hid frae mortal een.

Seeven hunner year hae passed an gaen since first the Rhymer cursed the lan
Nae direct heir can Fyvie hae till aa three steens thegither staun.

The Charter Room has kept it safe, the weepin steen, seeven hunner years
For should its greetin niver cease, Fyvie wad droon in its gray tears

Castle Fraser

At gloamin time the muckle trees in April weir their branches bare,
Strippit an scourged bi Winter's wheep. The jeel o nicht is in the air.
Their reets rin deep aneth the grun, ben the braid mantle o the lan
Fit ghaisties fusper in their lug, through the deid oors afore the dawn?

The lowe inbye the castle haa burns bricht, bit nae fur sonsie laird
Tho brods inbye the auncient waas, wi wine an plenishin's prepared.
Noo fowk fa sikk tae pree the past, its grace an grandeur, come fae far
The history towrists heeze like bees roon Castle Fraser's hinneyjar
Ile magnates full the seats o chiefs, an dollars fuel the castle fire
The hawk that flichters throw the wids pyes little heed. He's nae fur hire.

The Huntly Gaitherin (2000) Tune: The Hash o Bennygoak

In the year o the Millennium I cam tae Huntly toon,
Wi coontless nationalities frae aa the warld r oon.

Chorus: Oh the Gordons, the Gordon, nae winner they are gay
Frae Haddo Hoose tae Huntly brocht the siller in the day.

The Farquharson frae Finzean cam tae Huntly in his car,
The Gordon and The Farquharson sat doon withoot a war.

An eagle in the falconry wis fairly mystifeed,
Tae see the chief o Gordon wi its feathers on his heid

Tile Queen Mither reached a hunner sae they fired a puckle squibs,
A collie dug got sic a fleg it lowpit frae its ribs.

There wis Scots frae San Diego, Singapore an Khatmandhu,
An a puckle kilted Incas wannered ower frae Peru.

It wisna rainin raindraps, bit paratroops on towes,
They dumfounert twinty grumphy an a pair o puzzlit yowes.

On the muckle bouncy castle littlins stottit roon like baas,
Whylst famous personalities wis signin buiks in staas

There wis oatcakes, hamebakes an Mrs Baxter's soup,
An a new liqueur they poored ye frae a teenie whusky stoop.

There wis hot dogs, collie dogs an daschunds weirin spots,
There wis even Geordie Byron coortin Mary Queen o Scots.

Oh the Bogie it is bonnie an the Deveron it is braw
Bit ye've rypit aa oor siller, sae it's time we war awa


Bi Huntly's ruined castle waa the Deveron trinkles doon,
The starns that glimmer in the nicht like jewels aroon her croon.
The foggy steens staun stinch an quaet, roch waves aroon them knell
Some like the cloor fan Gordon micht cud shakk the throne itsel.
Noo Huntly's muckle keep is teem, an sae, in borraed claes
Mummers assemble flesh an bluid on ghaists o derker days.

The Styx Rins Ben Balquidder

Tapsalteerie doon the burn
The craikin craa an the turnin wirm
The smoodrach snaa an the tummelt cairn
Whummlin doon wi the lauchin bairn

Heelstergowdie ower the linn
Fur an feather an fang an fin
The faschious wife an the birsslin deil
The scholar priest an the eident cheil

Boats an biggins an grains o san
Fae Auchtermuchty tae Samarcand
Gae wallopin aff tae gweed kens far
Wi a soo, a doo an the Norlan star

Map & compass are dinged tae nocht
The burn can neither be stopped nur bocht
Tho whyles it dwaums in a derksome puil
Up it gaithers wi breenge an sweel
Pitten an eyn tae clishmaclavers
Canty blethers an halflins' havers.

Bide on the bank an ye can wave
As the hale jing bang lowps inno the grave
It winna be lang ye'll murn an greet
Thon ferlies thrang ye'll quickly meet
Twa blinks o an ee an yer life is ower
A nochtie wheech o stramash an stoor.

Late Evening, Loch Voile

The mist has swallowed the forest like a shark
Alders are elderly cailleachs,
Hunched beneath a wicker creel of reeds

A straying ewe bleats weakly
Clouds float overhead
The sky is weeping
Day's agendas drown.

Balquidder Blackie's perspective

Soft small rain sits lightly on my back
Like glisten on an umbrella
I am a cloud creature
My world is wind and wet.

I swoop beneath the leafy see-saw beech.
My toes are thin forked twigs
That I bounce up from.
My tiny retina's an eclipsed moon
I am familiar with stars as trees I shall not visit.

When I open my beak to pour the music out
I fill an empty moment up with song
The echo from the glen tells I'm alive.

Down by the path I hear the huge gate click
I bolt for the sky's embrace
Retreat into the air.
Within its silence, its acceptance
All that's me will shrink
Into a dot.

Shrine Room in a Glen

Meditators enter the holiness of silence
Where the heart in its red nest
Drums its no-sound lullaby
Shushing the birds of worry
Into rest.
Eyelids drop like leaves
Signs and visions ripple behind lashes.
The room is still, is cool with quiet breathing
Bliss shines in copper bowls
Mist-thoughts rise,
Dissolve and float away.

Two clogs, four boots, six sandals
Sit at the shrine door, vessels filling with thrums
Of morning's noise.

Mountains bleat. Nettles squeak. Rhodendrons cheep.
A green pool parps and hums.

Evening, Dhanakosa, Balquidder

I walk in silence, parting long green grass
A bird sings in a tree in the high wood
The grass closes. My footsteps disappear.
Oak is a great cathedral, a moving ikon.

A bird sings in a tree in the high wood
A cloud drifts like a swan across the sun.
Oak is a great cathedral, a moving ikon
In shadow, secret insects swarm and hum.

A cloud drifts like a swan across the sun.
The wind smudges the glass of the still loch
In shadow secret insects swarm and hum.
A leaping trout hangs like a silver scythe.

The wind smudges the glass of the still loch
I walk in silence, parting long green grass
A leaping trout hangs like a silver scythe.
The grass closes. My footsteps disappear.

Sidmooth at the Ploy

The Sidmooth sea is stapped wi fowk, like aipples dooked at Halloween.
They bob in ilkie wattery neuk. They news tae femmit an tae frien.
They slap their wymes wi candy-floss, grease-rowed fish suppers an ice cream.

Skitterin gulls dive-bomb the stan, far juggler, fiddler, seannachie
Stept fae some Mediaeval lan recrank the wheels o pageantry.
A da, like some pied-piper drake, leads dreepin bairns fae ocean's bree.

Couples haud hauns as if they thocht the ither hauf micht blaw awa.
Chaip seaside gee-gaws selt an bocht, vanish fae shops like April snaa
The birsslin sun nailed tae the lift's the orchestrator o it aa.

The Sidmouth Festival
tune: The Lincolnshire Poacher

When I came down to Sidmouth town, it was a marathon
I sat on a train, a bus, a plane and a ten mile traffic jam

Chorus: And what's to do on the Devon coast? I asked the folks about
Oh go down the quay to watch the sea and the tide go in and out.

I sat me down on an English lawn some carolling for to hear
Through the hullabaloo a Frisbee flew and I nearly lost an ear

They sang a song of a famous ram with horns that reach the sky
But an English lamb can fit in a pram so I knew that for a lie

Folk come in droves they're peculiar coves with beards and hairy legs
They lie on the grass both lad and lass a-drainin cider kegs

You can rattle your can or your old bodhran or whistle and stamp your clog
But you'll need to carry a plastic bag if you exercise your dog

So here's to the Morris dancing men all wreathed in bells and smiles
No need to ask where their venue is you'll hear them coming for miles

Oh I'll go back to my Scottish kin and I'll take them by the hand
On English ground no midge's found it is the Promised Land.

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Information about Document 511

The Boddamers' Monkey


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Word count 8148

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Self: Limited Edition / Thistle Reprographics
Publication year 2004
Place of publication Aberdeen

Text type

Other Collection of poems


Author details

Author id 112
Forenames Sheena
Surname Blackhall
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 16
Upbringing/religious beliefs Brought up Protestant, now Buddhist
Occupation Writer and supply teacher
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Aberdeen
Region of residence Aberdeen
Residence CSD dialect area Abd
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Manager of Deeside Omnibus Service
Father's place of birth Aboyne
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Private Secretary
Mother's place of birth Aberdeen
Mother's region of birth Aberdeen
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic Yes Yes Yes Yes Elementary. Gaelic choir. Poetry.
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes