The dog named Black Balls watched
from a safe distance as Ivan shoveled
manure at Tundra Corner. Stripped
to the waist, sweat beading his grand
moustache, lush despite his eighty years.
When he found the gold ring he stopped
dead, yelled ‘охуеть!’ and then ‘соси хуй!’
The hens fled to the moonshine shed.
The vintage wedding ring, twenty two carat
and inscribed forever, lingered like winter
sunsets in the empty Heinz soup tin
where Ivan kept his razor and comb.
One morning as he waxed his Stalinesque
twirls before the tarnished mirror
he finally decided on the rich widow
with the plump rump from Paradise Farm.
Note:- I am unsure of the accuracy of the Russian swear words so if anyone can advise their help would be appreciated!
It was not an ordinary day.
The east wind sparked salt and I awoke
to dreams of the unicorn. My old bones
rolled the waves and the falcon’s shadow
shifted. I knew what I must do.
Down Fast Eddie I chased the Dragon’s Tail,
surfed by leafy isles, rested in deepening
pools a while, glimpsed churches, spiraling treetops,
salmon swimming through castle walls.
I passed beneath Ness Bridge unseen.
It was the end of an ordinary day. So at So Coco
the waitress wrapped sweet fancies in tissue twists
as the last customer licked cappuccino
from his lips. At The Mustard Seed the chef marinaded
for dinner. At the Victorian Market they folded
tartan as gates clanged and the clock chimed.
In Falcon Square the piper belched away his ale
saw my passing. No-one saw the unicorn
Note 1:- The Loch Ness Monster is a mythical aquatic creature reputed to dwell deep in the cold waters of Loch Ness near Inverness in Scotland. There have been numerous sightings and photographs showing a curvaceous beast rising out of the grey waves.
Note 2:- The unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. A statue of a unicorn is located in Falcon Square, a landmark in the centre of the city of Inverness.
Fish and chips is a traditional English dish that has been popular with the working class since the mid nineteenth century. The idea of hot, fried fish sold from street stalls may have been introduced by French, Spanish or Jewish immigrants. During World War 2 it was one of the few foods not to be rationed and many believe the availability of such a comforting meal helped sustain working class morale through the intense bombing raids in the cities.
For those of you who have never been lucky enough to try this tasty dish, it consists of white fish (usually cod or haddock) deep fried with a golden crispy batter together with fried chipped potatoes. It can be served in a variety of ways; with salt and vinegar or tomato sauce, mushy peas, pickled onions or bread and butter. Originally the fish was cooked in beef dripping but most outlets now use vegetable oil. Despite concerns about the health risks of fried food and the sustainability of fish stocks, fish and chips remains one of the most popular take-outs, particularly in the north. Until the 1980s the food was traditionally wrapped in old newspaper so you could catch up on current affairs while you ate your supper! A childhood day out at the seaside was never complete without getting fish and chips on the way home.
On the 25th January each year Scottish people celebrate Burns Night with whisky, haggis and bagpipes. It’s a special day to honour Robert Burns, the eighteenth century romantic poet, lyricist and political commentator. Most of Burns’ writing was in Scots dialect and he is revered in Scotland as national poet and cultural icon. He was a man of the people, an early socialist and is sometimes referred to as ‘the ploughman poet’. As a non-Scots living in Scotland I find his poems fascinating but a little impenetrable. His songs are more accessible and to commemorate Burns Night I’m posting a YouTube link of Eddi Reader (former lead singer of Fairground Attraction) singing a beautiful version of My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose. I’ve seen Eddi perform several times and she has tons of charisma and a great voice. Hope you enjoy.
And for those of you who don’t know what haggis is – it’s a traditional Scottish dish…not for the squeamish or vegetarians as the main ingredients are offal (sheep’s heart, lungs and stomach) and oatmeal. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never had the courage to try haggis as I’m not much of a meat eater. Apparently it’s delicious…