In John o’Groats Marilyn is ready
for the fray, fresh lipstick, folded pink
napkins, polished counters.
And her namesake pouts from on high.
One scoop or two? She’s ample
with vanilla, frivolous with fudge
frosting when the Orkney ferry men
drop by for cones and the latest crack.
The easterly ripples the canopy stripes,
keening like the piper from the pier,
The Pentland Strait froths whirlpools
of café au lait on the rocks.
End to Enders celebrate, guzzling
champagne, taking turns taking
photographs under the signpost.
By lunchtime Marilyn’s low
on peaches and cream, high on rum
and raisin. She pops out for a fag,
sits on her bench in the car park reading
War And Peace as Stroma disappears into haar.
Herring gulls scout for wafers at her feet.
A bus full of Germans reverses past
the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, clockwork heads
turning her way. Mizzled tourists queue
but Marilyn is oblivious. The wind surges
and her skirts swirl like a snow flurry.
A sudden gust and she rises, bench and book
and all, up, up high into meandering skies.
Note 1:- John o’Groats is a small village on the far north eastern tip of Scotland with spectacular views out to the Orkney Islands. It’s a landmark destination for tourists, many of whom wrongly assume it’s the most northerly point of mainland Britain. In fact, a remote spot named Dunnet Head is the most northerly point and is located about 15 miles west of John o’Groats. ‘End to Enders’ is the phrase used to describe the many determined folk who journey like pilgrims, sometimes on foot or by bizarre means, from Land’s End (Britain’s most southerly point) to John o’Groats, a distance of 874 miles.
Note 2:- ‘Crack’ or ‘Craic’ is a northern term meaning gossip, news or chatter.
Note 3:- Stroma is a small abandoned island, part of the Orkney group.