Black Watch Brodick

BBWB 3: A Royal Visit

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A Royal Visit

‘Dame Nature in some frantic mood
Rais’d Arran from the flood
Heap’d up Goat Fell’s steep dragonbrood
Drap’d in a cloudy hood’

Mused His new Highness as he rounds
The cliffs of Holy Isle
& sees the castle from its grounds
Shoot up a campanile

The Dowager of Hamilton
Drove oer from Dougarie
& waits along with everyone
By Brodick’s ancyent quay

The Royal yacht has anchor dropp’d
& in the bay did nestle
All converse in mid-sentence stopp’d
Lungs burst to view the vessel

Out of the classrooms children pour’d
Cloth’d in their Sunday best
His majesty came in & moor’d
Big medals on his chest

Him honeymooning with his Queen
Each shone quintessence royal
Majestical they took, serene,
First steps on Scottish soil

As man & wife, as Queen & King
Then melted into pinewood
The band struck up & children sing
The anthem clear & good

All turneth happy holiday
When flash King Edward came
Kids dashing off with glee to play
In gangs of garden game

A gaggle of the Brodick boys
Race home to Douglas Row
A laughter-cradl’d nest of noise
A nursery flambeaux

Two cottages stand side-by-side
One Stronach & one Fir
Two families – heart, hearth & pride –
McIntyre, Mc’Allister

Tho’ John has almost turn’d fifteen
& Wullie barely six
They will thrice daily reconvene
For japes & scrapes & tricks

Pete Currie’s in their little gang
Ten seconds door-to-door
Today he’s made a boomerang
From a sprig of sycamore

In front of Chas Gray’s Grocer’s shop
Like rosy Rob Roy rebels
Each sucking on a lollipop
With pockets full of pebbles

A letter call’d, ‘the little S’
Off flew ballistic stones
The stanchions rang as in distress
The Grocer shouts his moans

Chasing them out of Douglas Row
Dashing like antelopes
Down to the Big Burn’s open flow
Of sloops & sails & ropes

The play’d at Captains & their crews
On the ‘Speedwell’ ‘Captain Shaw’
Knock’d back the sarsparilla booze
Laying down the Pirate Law

They scrambl’d over mooring chains
& climb’d the spider rigging
Then as a treasure chest contains
Great wealth, they started digging

But futile was that mound of earth
& so them went off elsewhere
A magical melee of mirth
A world without a care

Reach russet stones aspan the Cloy
Drochaid-nan-Cruth its name
Imagination’s greatest joy
Is when its deep in game

The boys were hidden by the bridge
Awaiting Cromwell’s soldiers
Reaching Cnocan Riach ridge
With muskets at the shoulders

Out of the scrub cries hideous,
Rushes the ambushcade
Brutal, pernicious, pitiless
The Sassenach dismay’d

Beyond Kilmichael, thro’ the woods
The boys went foraging
Where moss-green ocean flows & floods
To feed the Faerie King

“Zing – Thud” – a catapult did fire
A stone into a tree
McAllister & McIntyre,
Get off our property”

Said Sarah Fullarton, dour-faced
Ferocious precocious female
Whom panicking invaders chas’d
All the way to Ormidale

Where halteth life, a moment’s awe
The Royal Yacht was leaving
Receding from the teeming shore
A thousand waves receiving

When once again, spontaneous,
The regal anthem sung,
Blending “Send him victorious!”
Over tongues of old & young

BBWB 2: English George

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English George

George Goldthorpe was a handy man
From Barton, Humberside
To Patagon & Pakistan
Has tour’d the Ocean tide

He has a girl in every port
& sev’ral in Ceylon
Where he must go to catch his boat
By morning he’ll be gone

‘Must you depart my heart’s own lad
My handsome Dionysis?’
‘I must! the world is churning mad
In China there’s a crisis

Whose Empress Dowager hath arm’d
Vast gangs of bandit Boxers
No Christians are left unharm’d
Like chicklets amidst foxes

The greatest Countries of this world
Conjoin in common interest
A flag of unity unfurl’d
From North, from East, from West

Austria, Britain, Germany
France, Russia & Japan
America & Italy,
We’ll do the best we can

With lingerkiss he left his love
(Until he meets the next one)
The orders come in from above
‘Men put your best effects on

& represent Britannia!
Look smart among all others!’
When boarding HMS Barfleur
George joins his band of brothers

The night was merry as the fleet
Embar’k from Trincomalee
Rum smuggl’d in a sailors’ suite
The fun was flowing free

‘I’ve got a song,’ George slowly rose
Majestic, like a Djinn,
Whoever wrote it no-one knows
& so I shall begin’

‘Fix him a drink,’ the barman wink’d,
She slumps, ‘make mine a double!’
The blaze-eyes of the firepit blink’d,
The room was full of trouble.

Three sailors from a foreign isle
Rode storms into that bar,
Not knowing that the Prince of Guile,
The Lord of the Morning Star,

Has sent a temptress succubus
& she has been my lover,
Nights long & raw & glorious
Nights one after another

Caught in the webbing of her scent
Slow lashes hypnotis’d them
Her tongue-tip tickl’d with intent
Thro’ lyrics which surpris’d them

She knew their nations & their names
Sung of their secret meetings,
Their lies, their shames, their cries of blames,
Their guises & their cheatings

She held them with a lightning eye
All they could do was listen,
The clock struck midnight, on the sly
The firepit starts its hissin’

‘Its off to Hell for you my boys!’
She heckl’d as the sailors
Heard caustic noise of torture toys
By awful, bawdy jailors!

With sulphur-flash they dissapear’d
Into the firepit embers,
& how each voiceless face appear’d
Nobody quite remembers.

In any port, in any age
Your fate might be my fable,
She lithe & lovely on the stage
& me sat at the table.

The klaxon blares, the rumdregs drain’d
The Navy goes to War
The Taku forts, intact, ingrain’d
Protect the Haihe shore

But Britons better battles bring
Oercoming the defences,
The roads are open to Beijing
Crawling with consequences

The Fists of Righteousness have fled
The Multination mission
At last Red Lantern Zhu is dead
The Empress begs concession

George Goldthorpe’s sailorwork was done
Long shifts of hungry violence,
Under an Oriental sun
He loves the Ocean silence

Next port of call was Tokyo
Silk fleshpot of Japan
Opium! thro’ a milky glow
He met an Arran man

They fell a-friends, soft smilings meet
A promise proffer’d quick
If George e’er moves to civvy street
He’d come & visit Brodick

Where work’s aplenty by the keep
Thro’ forestry fair teeming’
Now off he drifts off in lucid sleep
& interspatial dreaming

Of a quieter existence
On a rare & happy isle
Where at destiny’s insistence
He shall live the fond exile

BBWB 1: A Game Of Shinty

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A Game Of Shinty

Hangovers rage on New Year’s Day
The air was ice & minty
As men & boys step out to play
The anycent game of shinty

They say King Fergus fetch’d the game,
At first, to Dalriada
That sets the Haelan brain aflame
Come on lads, hit it harder!’

Auld Scotia’s sport still grandstand mann’d
That thrill’d the Border Reiver
& on St Kilda’s rocky strand
They’ve play’d it with a fever

Down to the shore, from hill & dale
Roll players from the district
Descending on a sliding scale
The better twelves were pick’d

The captains were twa boyhood friends
Dol Homish & Laird Broon,
Who with a keen & convex lens
Their final teams fine tune

Jock Russel’s cheeks were red & ripe
The Dewar boys were freezing
& Sandy Fraser smok’d a pipe
Like whalesong was his wheezing

With ‘Bualomort’ & ‘Lecamlet’
The twenty-four were chosen
The rest slunk off, when pitchside set
They’ll spend the morning frozen

The goals erected on the plain
The level green beside
The bonnie sandsweep of Strabane
That kisses sea-green Clyde

It was the annual contest
Twyx Brodick north & south
McKay applauds the very best
While McBride’s potty mouth

Encurses scurrilous heckles
Whene’er a player flags
Cusses tosses at soft tackles
Play the game yer scallywags!’

& all the caileags roundabout
With wives & bairns & kinsfolk
Surround each cause with cheer & shout
Those roars all sports convoke

& Sarah Fullarton was there
Her daddy’d push’d the cycle
With shock of flaming scarlet hair
The darling of Kilmichael;

She wasn’t one for dolls & toys
Defining role & gender
Prefer’d instead to wrestle boys
Punch all who’d try defend her

The teams are set, the whistle blows,
The Lecamlet’s attack,
Like gallant tides the ebbs & flows
Of glorious Camanachd

The ball struck by the caman’s curl
As lads, shoulder-to-shoulder,
Do battle honour, heave & hurl,
& still the day swirls colder

The sky death-grey, the air snapp’d crisp
For heatbrief clapp’d the crowd
With each deep breath Will-o-the-Wisp
Did dance into a cloud

When from a slide of Arctic ice
The snow glides down in flurries
Soon slippy surface white as rice
Adds to the sweetheart’s worries

The keep display’d the shouts of men
The game sway’d to & fro
& up around Glen Rosa glen
The combatants would echo

Mecho-an-Laird’ the partisan
Cried, & ‘Mecho-Dol Homish’
Whene’er athletic artisan
A pauky move did finish

Somebody somewhere kept the score
But not a jot it matter’d
Tho’ on the pitch it felt like war
Each time the shins were shatter’d

But afterwards the teeming inn
All niggles would appease
By whiskey bottle & wineskin
A village at its ease

Where little John McAllister
Wee Wullie McIntyre
Pete Currie & the Minister
Were sitting by the fire

You’ll be as strong as them one day,
The Minister said smiling,
Not knowing an Appian way
Was wooden poles stockpiling

Awaiting them & countless more,
The zeitgeist lads alighting,
When first class empires go to war
Tis these who’ll do the fighting!