Toast o’ the Monger’s Man

Puir Glesca, blitzt an skrucken, did ye say?
Weill, rax yuir hairns a wee, cast yuir mynd back
Ti whit we wur: this ugsome toun
The cancer growth sae-caad o Bolitho.
Ye mynd o that? That wuis nae canard, tho
He micht hae gien mair fling
Ti hoosin plans the cooncil huid in haun
Projects baith practical an veesionarie
(Bit Inglis whan they traik on fremit grun
Hae een fur naething guid, aa’s plague or ruin).

Think o the citie thit bleezed up wi MacLean
Cryan fur daith ti the rule o gowd
An the glead o revolution owre the Clyde
Ti sweep awa poortith an government:
Aye we wur seick that day, aa us
Wi the guid o Glesca tapmaist in wir thocht,
The mercantile citie par excellence.
Yit we won back wir power at the last,
MacLean we buriet an the lave we bocht,
Fieres o the common man
Their traitorie suin dowsed aa thae fires.

An yon degenerate loun wha wrote a buik
Syne droont hissel in the Clyde bit nane too suin
Aa menner o iniquitie lat oot
O’ brothels, shebeens, razor kings an sic
Ramskerie plunderins and brigancie
As braith is sweert ti lowse apo the lugs.
The rope, the cat an Captain Sillitoe
(Whan jyle wuis jyle an no a laucht-at hyse)
Cuplit wi cooncil plans ti extirpate
Aucht slums maist vengeable fur fechts an noise,
The Gorbals, Brigton, Calton, Gerscube Road,
Tounheid. Plantation, Govan, Anderston –
Puit peyd ti aa thae ploys.

Sae daur ye ask
‘Whaur’s cheraikter? Whaur’s grace o livin gane?’
My certie, how thae fashions brink and birl!
Is it models or single-ends ye’d hae?
When we huid cheraikter ti droon aa else
We stude condemnit afore aa the warl:
We wur the citie o dreefu sichts, the hain
O’ aa perversitie an blicht. A fig
Fur aa yuir cheraikter an grace!
Greek Thompson, Rennie Macintosh - guidsakes!

The cooncil huid ane darg: ti claucht this toun
Fae thirldom ti its ain daurk hert.
We wur the super-ego o the place
An clouran o this toun wuis conscience wark:
Ti redd-oot menseless fowk wi fousome weys,
The scaichers, hawgaws, methylatit cryles,
Ti wash awa aa reek o scelartries.

Glesca guttit-oot an clean
The wheels o commerce rinnan swift an free
The towerin office block, the motorway
An aa the people herdit oot ti schemes
Haill riffraff populations shuntit aff
Ti ghettoes at the faur pereemeter,
That wuis wir plan - a citie
Wi the warkers oot o sicht.

Ye dinna like it? People coont, ye say?
Wheesht, man. Did we no train the dug ti bark?
Aince in five years he does his wee bit trick,
Gey pleased ti dae it, an never failed us yit.
The people dinna ettle efter mair
Nor breid an harlequins. The same auld sang
As yon MacLean hissel wuis suin ti learn:
They’ll gang the length o the preeson gate
Bit stop deid there.

Sae clink yer gless wi mine!
We’ll drink ti the fower inseperables:
Fur ane athoot the ithers canna thrive:
Capital an Parliament, the Law an Power.
Lang may they haud together, till the hope
O’ revolution, bocht and taymit, dees
Forever in the hert o man.

skrucken: shrunken rax: stretch
hairns: brains ugsome: frightening
fremit: foreign gowd: gold
glead: fire poortith: poverty
lave: the rest, remainder fieres: comrades
syne: afterwards ramskerie: lustful
sweert: reluctant hyse: frolic
aucht: eight brank: prance
dreefu: dreadful hain: haven
darg: task claucht: clutch
thirldom: thraldom clouran: to beat, chastise
menseless: low, uncultured fousome: dirty
scaichers: spongers hawgaws: hawkers
cryles: low, deformed scelartries: drink-related evils
taymit: tamed (of the poor)

Glasgow’s Smiles

Dear Sir, I must advise you that
Your house is going to be knocked flat.

We’re going to take you from your slum
And put you in the lovely Drum

Or Easterhouse or some other scheme
Where the rain falls hard and the wind blows keen.

Your little street is lean and scrawny,
The ringroad’s legs are big and brawny

And it squelches as it goes –
The only question being, Whose toes?

All must fall to let it pass,
Kinnen Park, Anderston, Port Dundas.

Your meagre little street won’t shine
When leviathan calls to dine.

When leviathan comes on wheels
He’s sure to be set on bigger meals.

We hope you won’t quarrel with what we’re doing
And kick up all that hullaballooing;

The Gorbals and Cowcaddens went
Withoot a murmur of dissent.

But if you must, then, say your say:
You may petition us all day.

And if wiseacres say, What a futile lark!
Just point to the toilet in the park.

That heap of rubble by the gate
Was a public pissoir till of late,

And when you mounted your campaign
Did we regard it with disdain?

Bulldozers at a single blow
Lewd and libidinous laid low,

And certain folks were most astonished
To find their rendezvous demolished.

True, that was part of another plan,
An ‘unattended toilets’ ban

And purely a police decision
Before we saw your nice petition:

(A confidential memo, that,
Which some fool couldn’t keep under his hat,

But what’s democracy about
If you can’t come clean once the secret’s out?)

Nevertheless the cooncil’s dream,
Auld Glesca guttit oot an clean

Wull make some rich an ithers famous
An segregate thae yins thit shame us.

(This hamely daub we thocht tae scryveit
Fur fear yer lugs were sairly deaveit

No tae say yer puir wee harness
Wi Inglis bureaucratic terms,

As weel’s tae show, jist like in law
Scots can ootbureaucrat them aa

an tho we clack an tho we glower
We’re great idolaters o power.

Fur thae puir sowls thit urnae followin:

There’s glory and there’s hygeine too
When you put your toes in leviathan’s stew:

Think if in time to come they’ll say,
He moved his arse for the motorway!

Or, Nero got it right in one -
A town smells better when it’s gone.

Langmuir an Algie Earns

Ye mind the Setterday mornins at the Central
Auld Langmuir on the bench, stipendiary,
Wig ayways hauf-wey doon his face
Waitin fur the ten thoosan breaches
O’ the nicht afore, an me wan o thim
Pullt in shakin like a scarecraw, ten stitches
In ma heid, nae jaikit an wan shoe missin.
‘Sae here’s wir handsel,’ Ah heard him sayin
Ahint his haun yon wey: he wis laughin.
‘Noo you own up an gie us aa a break.
We’ve got ten thoosan breaches to attend tae,
Fower hunner thefts o leid fae Glesca roofs
No ti speak o loiterins wi intent.
Then aa these fellas batterin thir wives,
An thaem thit lift thein hauns to constables -
Like you. Ye hear ma speak. Nae lah-dee-dah
Hauf-byalt wally-close stuff here. Ah ken yuir freens -
Kemp an Swiftie an Candy an Pie
An that craw Russo. Ah ken yuir howfs -
The Sarrie Heid, Burnt Barns an the Clyde Vauts tae.
Jeez O! Yis wuld sook thon wine fae a shitty cloot
An think nane o it.’

Ma hert lowpt up. These sounds
Wur music ti ma ears. Ah’ve won a watch,
Ah thought ti masel, it’s Gallon talks. ‘Guilty!’
Ah shooted oot. ‘Guilty, yuir honour,’
(Gie’m his place), ‘Ah’m guilty, Sir.’

But eftir - in the dug box up in Bar
Anither thought went thru ma heid. Ye fule!
Six months wull be six fuckin months
Whitever wey they say it.