Friday 8 July 2011

Full Circle

I really didn't mean
To get like this - '
And in the next few lines
I shall change from
Being hopelessly in love
With a feeling
I don't even know exists
To aimless wandering
Around like a tortoise
Called Fred
Who lives in a house
On his back
'Neath the dewy dandelions.
And I shall come in
From the cold unknown
To the warmth of home
And run through dreams
Of maybe one day love
To a solid semi-detached
Affair with pound signs,
Where I buy the drinks
And the talk and the scent and
The time until
The time you call,
When I'll come running
And I'll take you home
And start again.

November 1976


Wednesday 20 April 2011

One more for the fire

So you burned all your love-letters?
Oh dear, are you really that cruel?
Have my eyes deceived my mind?
That I saw only what I wanted to see?

Maybe they were mere teenage dreams,
Written on school-book paper.
Maybe they were just gentle words,
Simply written as your heart dictated.


Maybe they were mere teenage dreams.
But, oh, how we must dream.
Maybe they were just gentle words,
But far better than spoken lies.

Sometimes written words tell
More truth by far than words spoken;
Maybe you were loved more dearly
Than you knew or could understand.

So you burned all your love-letters.

If truth is to be burned then -
I love you.
And here's one more for the fire.

4 October 1976  

Thursday 14 April 2011

Nice Surprise

It is very difficult
To open both palms
Before the excited wide eyes
Of an expectant child
When you've nothing to show.

How can you stop
The tinsled tear,
That grows to a raindrop ,
And trickles down the window
Pane on the little face?

You take him in your arms
And hold him close;
You tell him it'll be all right,
And show him the beauty
Of the world around him. 

You watch his little eyes
Mirror the sunshine,
And marvel at the way
His little fingers reach out
To touch the clouds.

As if we knew
That from up there
We are all very small,
Like little children,
Hoping for a nice surprise.

I have little to give
You cannot already find,
But let's pretend
That there may be something -
And maybe get a nice surprise.

4 October 1976


Tuesday 29 March 2011

Tomorrow Never Comes

How long will it last -
A month, a year, a day?
It may be soon past,
When all there is to say
Is: "I wonder why we ever..."
Or: "I'd like to know who..."
Or: "Were we really together...
"Just us and me and you?" 

So just in case
Let's make quite sure
That no-one ever says:
"They could've done more..."

Let's do all those things
We shouldn't but want to
Before the red robin sings
And snow falls onto
Our hopes and covers them
before we have chance
To seek and discover them,
Let's have one more dance.

Whilst the music still plays
And let us be the ones
For whom everyone says:
"Tomorrow never comes."

But today stays right here,
as you should, my dear.



Sunday 27 March 2011

Moonshine and Mountains

from three be four
a fading photograph
burst splendidly into youth and lies
back in the heather so soft
to soothe the ache at the very roots
of the young pine
more than just the peak pointing higher
than neap tide waves would warn
more than just the only song beneath
the sound of coming storm
so much but a year can but
yearn for one by three in all
clutching carefully clover four-leafed
shall the seagull shadow die
cast in the first night of day
only the one eye can perceive
only the seagull can know only
no-one can be sure
only memory free from wise men's 
lies can believe

8 August 1974


Wednesday 23 March 2011

First Day

"Er, excuse me, I am supposed to report to staff department at 9 o'clock." I said in that terribly polite tone one uses on the first day in a new job. I had battled my way through a pair of ancient swing doors into a dark green marble-walled, marble-floored and marble-ceilinged vestibule. One of the walls had a hole in it through which peered a pair of spectacles.

The reply came as rather a surprise. Not that I really expected the little gentleman to say "Och, laddie, jest yoo be waiting there fra wee while," but I did expect a little tartan flavouring. "If you would like to take a seat, sir, I'll ask someone to come and collect you." said the spectacles.

I sat down and stared at a magazine called SMELSA or something like that and spebt ages trying to figure out what the title meant. Just as I had given up hope and was reaching for what could have been a gaelic edition of the Financial Times, a gentleman came bustling down some plush red staircase and remembered my name at me.

"I'll take you to the department where you'll be working," he said.

"Good morning," said I, which seemed a pretty stupid thing to say in reply but it wasn't a bad morning for the time of year and it didn't matter anyway as He Who Came Down The Red Stairs was half way towards some more swing doors.

When he opened them I realised why there were so many doors about. Behind them the carpet came to a grinding halt and ahead stretched a long narrow corridor, painted a digusting shade of yellow or brown, and no more Red Stairs anywhere.

Bustling Man suddenly dived into one of the doors which, luckily, opened at about the same time. I expected to see one huge desk with a tiny one nearby, the former occupied by a quill-penned, bespectacled, dusty Thin Man and the latter covered in leather-bound ledgers, topped by a tea caddy with a sinisterly vacant expression on the seat behind. It wasn't that bad at all. there were a number of leather-bound ledgers here and there, and it did take a minute or two to wind my way around a maze of desks, but it didn't seem a bad place to start office life.

The Departmental Manager had practically stood to attention when Bustling Man walked in. "Must be something to do with the Red Stairs," I thought. However, despite seeming to do something nasty to his knee in the process, he smiled pleasantly at me before muttering something about St. Patrick.

He went on to tell me all about the Computer and what it didn't do - therefore what I had to do. I couldn't remember whether I'd said Good Morning but as he was doing such a good job explaining how The Computer didn't I thought it best to look intelligent.

the rest of the day was spent shaking hands with Mister M and Mister A and Miss T and Miss M, who later turned out to be Freds and Berts like the rest of us, trying to find room for an extra desk, dicovering where the canteen staff hide the roast beef and staring at some green stripes on white paper with black blotches here and there. (I later doscovered that this was Computer Print Out paper, not new wallpaper as it had looked like it might have been.)

Just as I had learned which way up the main File Interrogation (Vee hav vays?) Schedule should go, the place caught fire. At least, I thought it had caught fire. Everyone disappeared in a way not unlike those girls on a David Nixon programme. "Ah, it must be quarter to five," said I. It was. (Why on earth the bother with the Big Ben rehearsal every Monday morning I do not know as it seems abundantly clear that everyone knows exactly how to get out and to do so extremely quickly already.)

As i went out I glanced up at the Red Stairs. Bustling man was coming down, accompanied by Big Tall Smiling Man. "Of course," I thought, "must be another way to the canteen. Wouldn't believe they were the chefs, to look at them, though." I soon learned that they weren't but it was an interesting thought at the time.

Actually the canteen deserves some mention. Not because it was all that exciting, but it was the only other place I had been all day. It was Upstairs - hard grey stoney ones for the likes of normal staff. But there was no haggis. No haggis. I mean, after travelling 400 miles for a job bring in not much more than £2.50 for each mile in the forthcoming year, there really should have been haggis.

Summer 1973 Two years after starting my first full-time job in Edinburgh, I wrote this article for SEMLAS the Society's in-house magazine.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

This Is A Party Political Advert ...

Since we came to power
Without scratching the bath
Prices have in fact only quadrupled
Free with ten thousand packet tops
Noise levels in most cities have dropped
Snap, Crackle and Pop
Unemployment is no longer a problem
Because this powder really works
More housing is being planned
Weetabix the builder tra la
Meat prices have risen somewhat
No, it's soya bean!! It's soya bean!!
But petrol has stayed level
Ah but don't 'ee knock it all back at once
Jim lad, I mean, Mr Callaghan
Costs less than other leading brands
Does go on a bit
Easier than any other gloss paint
However we shall make sure that
It even protects you from tropical heat
By Spring next year
The gum that really lasts
We shall have won the battle
Against even ground-in dirt.


16 August 1973 One of my favourites.