The Dean of Drumnadrochit



Woody and I
parked my Lambretta
beside the village hall.

From here, as if in Vietnam
we could clamber up the hill
through a muddy undergrowth
and down again unseen
behind the hotel staff quarters.

I was the burning romantic one
The Outsider, the Dean of Drumnadrochit
the Brando of Ballachulish
Woody was the rough lad from The Isles
tall and crinkly round the eyes
as if his whole 17 years of life
had been an unexpressed joke
he was waiting for a chance
to laugh at.

He wanted to join the RAF.
and I would be a writer.
We made a solid pair
with a purpose…..
absurd it was
but lacerating ourselves for first lust
in a black September night
was a suppressed laugh
and a uniting influence.
It was also absurd
and beyond discussion
that the hotel management
didn’t allow visitors in the maids’ rooms.
Predictable and unacceptable….
(the silly old reactionaries)
and it gave us the bond
we craved.
I had seen The Guns of Navarone.
Woody, who often watched TV
was familiar with Milk Tray adverts.

Dressed in black polo-necks
we fell into ditches
and whispered and signed
and covered each other
down through the dimly moonlit brambles
to the cottage where the girls were.

We knocked furtively
and the door was opened fast
by Lindsay
who was sliding chocolates
between her ripe red lips
and who giggled
and flashed her black eyes
over my shoulder
in case the boss was watching.

It was somehow recognised
that she was mine
though there was no reason
to presume this
except we had already kissed
at the Barn Dance.
She was vivid
in tight
blue denim flares
white shirt
on white breasts
red scarf
below lipstick.

Woody was whisked
to another room,
and I followed Lindsay
like a dog follows
someone with a stick
as she chattered
with  gleaming teeth
opened two cans of export,
sat us on the couch
and kissed me violently
with beery breath
and an Aberdeen accent. 

Lindsay was good at snogging
on couches.

All the time we kissed and groped
and rolled in her long black hair
she was telling me about Maurice.
Maurice, an older taller boy
who went to more dances
was apparently
the world’s greatest lover.
Maurice, a bit of a smoothie
but wow was he good in bed.
Not sure if she liked him
but hey she certainly liked his loving.
I listened to this
as we clasped each other close
feeling a mixture
of libido
and terror
at this simultaneous rejecting
and receiving.
Why did she talk about Maurice?
I was ready to give her my passion,
my love even
and the desire hurt
even more than the jealousy.
I had an aching in my heart
and in my crotch,
and it seemed that night
that there was an aching

she said it
because she was a sex-maniac who didn’t care
because she was falling in love with Maurice
and I would do meantime,
because she just wanted me to be unsure
in order to control me,
she said it because she was a sadist
because someone had told her to say it.
she didn’t mean it
she did
she thought I was too


I heard giggles and squeaks upstairs
then cans opening
outside in the hall,
a laughing Woody
came in with more beer
two chambermaids
and a joke about it.

We were flushed under a blanket,
breaking our wrists to reach each other’s genitals
though she was muttering something
about a Bloody Mary
which I presumed
I didn’t understand
because I wasn’t a Catholic.
We buttoned our waistbands and flies
and I put Lindsay’s red scarf round my neck
muzzling into the last warm
hormonal fragrance of it
and left, still wearing it
for the cold assault course up the hill
beer swinging round my belly
long sighing murmurs below it
and a dark excitement
circling my abdomen
by the harsh route
back to the community hall.

Once out of earshot
Woody was loud and proud
about his victories and acquisitions,
though I suspect he didn’t believe
in risking unwanted pregnancy either.
(Penetration was of course
out of the question
because no contraception
was foolproof)
None of that expected laddish
irresponsibility for me,
you wouldn’t catch me
at a shotgun wedding,
or even wielding an unlicensed weapon
I was a principled, old-fashioned boy
or was I perhaps
not only stiff
but scared stiff?

Surely Lindsay hadn’t  actually
done it with Maurice, had she?
I could believe it of Maurice
but surely not her,
girls just dont do that, do they?
(Not any girls that I know anyway.)
Then Woody said something smutty
about Lindsay
and I glowed with pride silently.

On the way home
the Lambretta skidded on gravel
going round Carr’s Corner.
I lost control and Donny Mc.Phee, the builder
from Torlundy was coming the other way
with a full load in his dumper truck.
Donny had to take therapy for years
and was never the same again.
I left intensive care after 10 days
and made a full recovery.
Woody lost an arm,
both legs were almost severed
and he lay screaming under the truck 2 hours.
He never made it to the RAF
and decided to become a writer
which he learned to do with his left hand.

I joined the ambulance service
and kept Lindsay’s red scarf
for the next ten years
sniffing it occasionally
when I felt like a memory.
Eventually I threw the wool fabric away
but stored the red scarf inside
my personality
where I’ve carried it
into my eighties.

These days
I watch TV alot
with my wife of 40 yrs.
I shuffle out of the bathroom
with a yellow stain spreading on my trousers
slump on our couch
and wonder about
the future of my grandchildren.
I think about matters
of philosophy
religious belief
and the great

Most of all
I worry about Maurice









Sunrise in Angus

There was a halo of glistening moisture
around her radiant yet subtly shaded anus, shaded anus.
It was like one of those exquisite dewy sunrises
you sometimes get on the North East coast
usually in early to mid May,
though sometimes as late as June
if there’s been a long hard winter
as I’ve noted during hiking holidays in Angus….

That’s a place of worship and a sanctuary I thought
so I put my tongue in there
and sang
All Things Bright and Beautiful























My lover
wearing nothing but a hat
improvised from palm leaves
and turbanesque in shape
barbecues fresh sea bream
with the grace of a sultana.

She passes nothing but remarks
calls me dickhead, runt, alcoholic
five times a day
under her minaret
but is she sexy?
Oh yes….you bet !

She has the true grit of emery
if you rub against her long enough
you become smooth, French, polished.
A principled uva-pesca-vegetariana sultana
without her my every morning
would be a pig’s breakfast
of Stornoway Black Pudding
and offal, offal.

She’s disapproved, derided
disdained, disputed and disliked
since the day we first met
but do I love her?
Oh yes….you bet!






















One Place Where Everything Ends Up

For that
and his stupefying passion
he was glad gorgeous and grateful
and then came hatred
as sure as darkness
creeps around a planet.

Once while clearing or cleaning
or somesuch
in a voice riven with
a craving for control
She said “It would
be good to have one place
where everything ends up”
Oh wouldn’t it just…….
That place was hatred






















Mary Jane

was plain but plucky
plug ugly but lucky in life and love
a seizer a chancer
when they first invented
the go-go dancer
in a pub called Canny Mans in Morningside
a place where the ladies of Grange
are at home and range, long and grey
rectangular as granite
and sex are bags for putting coal in
such was the elocution there
during the sexual revolution where,
on a giant cakestand
Mary Jane, broad of frame
and game became
half-dressed and gyratory
and the Canny Men of Edinburgh
a little masturbatory

Outside a Giant Poodle sniffed and quietly led its
mistress back to the conservatory






















At Last to Have Time for Flossing!

I’m hard-bitten
and long in the tooth
though plaque
has taken its toll
For 60 years
I was unhygienic
but now
I’m on a roll

Back then
at night no time…no time…too eager for love
next morning…too keen on the day
but now
I could floss for Scotland
once I’ve had my cheese souffle,
malay satay, congee, pate, steak flambe, cassoulet,
onion soup gratinee , chicken liver parfait
with sauce veloute then sweet cafe au lait
and my wickedest way
with Eve’s Pudding






















Wigwam Women

Think I’ll go see the Wigwam Women
they feel what I feel,
covering ground on purple evenings
when there’s a mist

I kayaked the love affair rapids
and out on the lake of forgotten pain
made camp on happenstance island
then came back again.
At the inconvenience store
I couldn’t get ammo, beans or meal
now I need to see the Wigwam Women
need to heal.

If I rode out now past the empty claims
and fossils and rusting bogeys upturned
to the wildfire free valley
where no boats are ever burned
where the hunting’s still good
and the gathering is real
I’d see the Wigwam Women
They feel what I feel
They feel what I feel























The village was vivid….
daily with its laughter
cream, chocolate and the fruits
of long summer days….
There were cricket matches
ale yards and tomfoolery
and girls in dresses
sewn from life fabric
the kind you dance in
remove to bring children in
bring children up
make children tidy and clean
and helpful

Then squat and beetly
Dudgeon came along.
“Hi Dudgeon” , we all said
and his reply
an arrogant petulance
without love or Toblerone
or chuckle in a sleeve
chilled us
we all agreed it was
not just high dudgeon
but dudgeon of such altitude
we’d have needed
the oxygen of publicity
the crampons of spin
to get near him
so we left him
up there
where the air
is thin
























Her voluminous handbag,
the belly of a small dead cow
dyed Buckingham Green
was not clean
it held fluff, stuff like
the sacks and crumbs
of bygone sandwiches,
squashed figs, pork scratchings
earrings, ringtones,
a phone somewhere
that could never be found,
a can opener from a time
when ringpulls didn’t exist. This
was just in case….
























Arab Spring

At first I was all for it….
a revolution? Why not?
I’d gone east when it started
and coming home
the city was changed,
quiet, tanks blankly
staring on corners
snipers on the roofs
and I could not reach my wife
Nasreen…untouchable… perfect jewel…..
fear made me impotent
my sons were unmade
I was alone in the night
and this was the price of freedom…

Then the TV showed
the rebels frying a human heart
with smiles and a joke
I vomited
unable to accept
but little choice ….

Now I’m a good revolutionary
though I scratch my head sometimes.
My mate Sharif feels the same….
he’d make a good foreign secretary
what with his languages
and so on.

I still remember the TV though
It was like Eid….
where you slaughter a sheep humanely
then skin and cook and eat,
celebrate with your loved ones
except with this
the human was skinned first
kept alive as long as possible
while the nurses in burkas
sliced him with scalpels
saying this is the flesh
the flesh of a rat
and Sharif was there
with a gun…..

I’m sure he’d make
a good foreign secretary….
what with his languages
and so on
and me,
I’ll start a human resources company
come the summer
























they call me….that’s
short for shelluva man
an empty hushk
a shadow of my former shelf
when I relished
a shcotch egg sherved with shauerkraut
(delish that dish)
but I don’t mish it….
now in thish multifasheted
a helluva lot easier than fullova…..
jusht feeling
shod all….
big O
wedding ring
toilet seat
hula hoop
lightly fried egg
wait a minute…
I’m feeling shomething…























When she threw the toast and
much of it lodged in my right ear and
a crunchiness developed
in my hearing and
something dripped
from my nose
peanut butter perhaps
I resolved always
to avoid
this kind of thing
at breakfast


















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