keeping secrets



March 25th 2014


It was one of those cool, ash-coated mornings, the kind that are good for a job such as this.

The sun, sallow, thrawn, slunk low in the sky.

Down by the burn where Asda and Lidl took the plunge, a sparrowhawk skimmed the trees as we climbed through the fence.

The silence of holding breath.

Tooled up,

strung taut a line in a funereal tone we came to the place in plain sight.

With an L-cut in the earth we buried the stash.

He laughed about Paris in Springtime.

“Shut it “, she snapped tight a cable tie.

The canary grass fizzled in the easterly wind,

from Russia with love.





This may or may not have occurred in quite the way detailed but, one thing is for sure, we did plant some trees.



a luppie o’ tatties






Her Mother worked in the mills,

sixpence a day,

age eleven.


A luppie o’ tatties an’ a hauf loaf.


Her Granddad swung great bales of jute and carried them on his shoulders,

as now,

he picks up his Granny and swings her round

the soldier boy back from Jordan.

Her Dad lost his fingers in the mills machines,

the war, an evacuee aunt.

A London accent too thick to be clear

her Dundonian as foreign

as an Afghan province,

a teuchter,

a dub,

in the wash house wi’ Granny.


10th March 2014.


Tilting at windmills

with hogweed stalks.

Crabby apples

and love-bitten damson.


A Sherlock greatcoat,

a turquoise wink



ice climbing in Glencoe.

But to Angus for the tatties,

the howkin

the berries

for the slates in the buckets at the weighing.


(notes – These conversations came about from a trip with the conservation group to a piece of waste land behind the Michelin factory in Dundee. The title Plunkin’ is playing truant from school.Sherlock and wink refer to herons and knigfishers spotted along the burn. The slates in the bottom of the buckets was a trick to get more money from the farmers. )



13th March 2014



I can’t draw,


my hand is someone elses.

‘That rubbers getting a lot of use ‘, she says.

Her Dad was the second Scottish man to swim the English Channel.



Thats better than kissing David Cassidy.




6th March 2014



awa to where ?



To the bleaching fields by the Dighty,

spreading linen on the grass

to dry and blonde.

Its fallen angels

sooking up the sun.


(notes –  1. Tenerife- ee and Finger-only were someones memory of a friends pronunciation.

2.The Dighty Burn had dozens of mills along its length and the linen was originally bleached and laid out to dry in the fields next to the burn.

3. The Fallen Angels beauty parlour is round the corner of the community centre. )

The tattie field




4th March 2014




Apple trees in the tattie field,

doon the street with a barrow and wellies.

We sang the song of Connolly fame

and spoke of spuggies and scrammies and cundies.

We dug,

we planted,

we guarded the fruit with sentries of plastic.


walked back

past the

Fallen Angels beauty parlour.








24th February 2014



Black magic boxes of bats

and hames for wee spuggies.

A word for my day.

The timber all cut and ready and bound with blue tape.

But the edges of the wood turn to keek at each other

and will no behave.

As outside the absent school turns its back and runs awa to the Dighty Burn,



(notes – a spuggie is Dundonian for a sparrow. Outside, in the vacated green space next to the community centre stood a school.)







26th February 2014.


Tessarae colours in blues and greens spark

smashing, cutting, nipping, filing, glueing, placing,

waymarking the Dighty Burn.

Holidays in Birmingham and seeing that one off Coronation Street in a restaurant.

Opera behind the scenes.

Tea and biscuits and the top six things in life –

Dundee FC, family, singing, pyjamas, the sun and


A woman seen shopping ina ‘onesy’,

the guise of a cat and a tail an aw.