Da Last Plesiosaur


Eftir aw dat fechtin,

aw dat movin an hidin an listenin an warnin,

we fund dis lang deep dark loch

awa up idda Nord

whaur at lang last we’d be left tae oorsels,

left in peace.

Or so we thocht .



Oot o da blue



dis muckle chukkie da size o da mune

cam  thunderin doon,

dis muckle stane 

cam whudderindudderinspludderin doon

wheechin us aa,

da hale shebang o us,


wheechin us aa in ae fell swoop

                             cept me

                                            aa cept me

                                                                    aa except me

*     *     *     *     *

Aa dat wis lang syne,

lang lang syne.

Nooadays A cannae even see

bit still

fae time tae time

A poke ma heid oot o da waatir

oot o da cal dark  waatir

an mak a sort o saft lang moanin soon




bit der’s niver ony anserin caa,

niver iver.


No dat A expect der tae be.

No dat A’d ken whit tae dae

if der wis.

Naebdy bides der noo


haunted house Shetland crop


Na, nae noo

nae fiddly Aladdin lamps
tae magic awa da darkness;

Nae driftwiddy fire 
tae shoot oot o ilka lum
up intae da velvet-black, spairk-spangled sky
inna flickery, aurora shoor
da cauld
an da damp

an nae bible-black, knapdarlicht kye
tae wrap lang pink tongues
roon skooshy clumps
o sappy green gerss
tae pu an munch an pu an munch
an munch
an pu.

Nae bonny, bouncey bairns noo
tae skip barefitted,
slaphappy as der day wis lang

ower endless barricap-dotted fields
doon tae and intae
da fish-flashin, selkie-skulkin, boat-bobbin sea.

Na, nae noo,
nae noo.


100_2739 BRecently I went to Lanzarote to do some research on the painter/politician Cesar Manrique as well as a spot of sunbathing.
I stayed at the Beatriz, outside Costa Teguise, and was given room 225.
How that number brings back memories!
My father was a GP. Perhaps because of his profession, he was inclined to spend as long as it took when meeting someone which meant that somewhere along his chain of  arranged meetings for the day, someone had to suffer.
As often as not that someone was me.
This may explain my obsession with punctuality – my own, not anyone else’s. I remember all too clearly the agony of waiting,  the nightmare dread, the sense of abandonment once the time for our meeting had passed without a sign of him.
Now, to avoid putting anyone else through that ordeal, I invariably arrive at least five minutes early for any appointment, no matter how important or unimportant. In fact I worry more about being on time than about the appointment itself, how I look, what I’m going to say, what sort of questions I might have to answer……
When I was ten I went with my father to Paris and on our last day there he arranged to meet me at 12 o’clock outside the main doors of Notre Dame. (All  this was way before the mobile phone came into being – one of the first presents I gave my daughter!)
Anyhow 12 o’clock came and twelve o’clock went.
No father.
Panic stations…..
At half past I started counting the number of people who passed me coming from the right,  having told myself that he would appear before I had even got as far as 30.
30 came and 30 went .
No father.
Should I leave the big doors and walk round  to see if he was waiting for me somewhere else? What if as soon as I wandered off, he arrived and went off looking for me? How would I get to the airport? Should I try explaining my problem to the gendarme who was standing with his back to me only a few yards away?
As well as counting I now filled my mind with how I would explain my problem to the gendarme. Excusez-moi, monsieur. J’ai perdu mon pere. Aidez-moi, s’il vous plait. Je suis…Je ne sais pas….Je pense que….
If I stopped counting or stopped rehearsing my speech, I didn’t know how I would cope, what I   –
The gendarme wandered off, giving me a passing look.
What I would do, in Paris, abandoned, no money, no –
225      and there he was, not even hurrying, smiling his usual smile. There’s a little cafe near the Metro station where I used to sit with your mother and watch the world go by, he said. Fancy going there?
I nodded.

That was my father. And Paris? I’ve never been back.


Aber 6

Time Passes

Time passes.
Ab 9
an anxious woman in white
stands on the river bank waiting
don’t worry about me, she had said cheerily
as they rode off into the sunrise
enjoy yourselves
and they didn’t
and they did

Abb 2

Time passes.
The three horses 
one white
one brown
one chestnut
bring the the three daughters
safely back
to the rock in the river
where the woman in white
is no longer waiting.


the picter


o years an years ago
at a roup in whit used tae be
st mary magdalene’s  kirk
(noo the vertical world climbin centre)
I bocht this  pentin
that I still like
a street wi a garij an a big hoose
an in the backgrun
a kirk steeple wi a clock
(10  past 10)
it wis signed d adamson
nae capitals d adamson jist like that

fowk asked
whin they saa it on ma wa
is yon nae thon kirk
jist aff the perth road
next tae the ryehill surgery?
which is whaur I thocht it wis masel
when I bocht it

but it wisnae

in fact it wisnae dundee ataa
or aa thae ither places that wir suggested
it wisnae perth
nor wis it letham
nor kirrie
nor caputh
it wisnae  friockheim
it wisnae crieff

I searched them aa
ilka weekend fir twa/three months
till I began tae think
d adamson hud jist imagined it
pentit it oot o his heid

it’s aye the hinmaist pooch i yir jaiket
whaur ye fin the keys

last friday
I hud tae collect a dug
fae the osnaburg bar in forfar
an ther it wis
ahint the osnaburg
ther it wis
starin me i the face
the vennel wi the big hoose
the garij an the railins
the kirk steeple i the backgrun
an steerin bi a photo o d adamson’s pentin
I fund the very spot whaur he’d stood
(or sat)
a thae years ago
tae pent his picter
ma picter noo

naethin hid chinged
jist the time on the clock.

Understanding Stones

This is the Craw Stane standing on its own above Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. The carving below the salmon  is called the Pictish Beastie. What it means nobody knows. The stone is either a boundary  marker or a memorial plinth.

These are what’s left of a stone circle near Kirriemuir in Angus. It marks a burial site

These are gneiss stones  which  form an avenue leading to some central significant location.


These are the Callanish Stones in Lewis which form a circle round a central pillar and are part of a lunar clock.
Local tradition says that giants who lived on the island refused to be converted to Christianity by Saint Kieran and were turned into stone as a punishment. Another local belief says that at sunrise on midsummer morning, the “shining one” walked along the stone avenue, “his arrival heralded by the cuckoo‘s call.” This legend could be a folk memory recalling the astronomical significance of the stones.

And full circle – back to Rhynie’s Craw Stane…..The cows in the field  find the Craw Stane an ideal rubbing post and it is in grave danger from theme


things on their own

(especially old things)

look sad, dejected,

no longer fit for purpose

(to use the current buzz phrase)

well past their sell-by date    ……

not waiting impatiently to be used

but waiting submissively to be wheeled away

to their scrapyard in the sky

or just waiting

for the relentless rust of Time

to get on with

the job it does so well.

dogs,  on the other foot,

are patient waiters…

or most of them at any rate…

(this  collie for example,

with only ears alert)

although some

(like this arch-backed anorexic  Edinburgh whippet)

stand shivering,  quivering,

body, face, eyes

alert with  the awful  fear

that he-(or she)-who-must-be-obeyed

has gone away


never to return..

leaving them purposeless…


(A bit like us really)


 Hooded girl in black…waiting….stork-like….the misty Tay Bridge vaguely in the background……

   Woman in a red dress…….waiting  in a windy shop  doorway                        



on her mobile on a chilly rainy day….waiting with pursed lips

for……the rain?……time?…….me?……to pass…..

and the patient hooded girl in black……still….. stork-like

w  a  i  t  i  n  g    for   something   to    happen….

At least the bridge has come back; surely that’s something?

No it isn’t. And don’t call me Shirley.