A long time ago, when I was a young lad, I had the acquaintance of a dog called Seumus.
Now Seumus was of, shall we say, indeterminate lineage. There seemed to be a fair bit of black Labrador in there, but it was mixed with some distinctly non-pedigree characteristics, including a tail that curled over his back. When Seumus was feeling full of himself, he carried this high and showed to the world his anal sphincter. I’m sure that’s not in the Labrador breed book.
Arbroath January 1972 . I was living in the house at 9 East Grimsby. My Dad had died the previous year and I was still struggling with it. But I had a few things going for me: music, a camera and my books. It wasn’t a lot but it helped.
Russ Black, the art teacher at school encouraged me to use its darkroom. I had lost my own a couple of years before when we moved house. This is one of the earliest rolls I still have from then.
The camera was a Leica Model III fitted with a Ross Xtralux 50mm f2, an excellent lens. I used the name ‘Xtralux’ for a band some years later, in Exeter. Film was Ilford FP3.
Scientists all over the world are turning their attention to Scotland in the wake of a shock discovery that ‘archaic’ humans may be alive and well and living there.
The discovery came when one of them was filmed saying that they ‘were not evolved to make political decisions’.
Professor of Anthropology Farquhar Mc Farquharson of the University of Aberdeen explained: ‘All modern humans – Homo sapiens – have evolved highly sophisticated social behaviour including the ability to arrive at complex decisions within a formal political framework. The discovery of a population that lacks this ability, apparently living alongside more developed hominids, is very exciting.’
Now my brother was a bit of a character. I’m not talking about my wee brother, here, or the big one I suddenly discovered I had in 2004 that no bugger ever told me about before (aye, we’ll get to that.) I mean my other big brother Sandy, AKA Sye.
Now Sandy did things his own way. He ran a car breaking yard—and trust me, there is no more joyous place to spend your school hols than in a place like that—and he lived in a wee cottage in Arbroath, one of those sandstone ones. Sandy’s wife was called Toos and she was Dutch.
Sandy was always coming up with schemes and one of these was inspired by Toos, who told him that people in Holland raised rabbits for the pot.
Poaching the River is back on the shelves, both physical and virtual, so I have been addressing the next issue.
Poaching the River was written only partly in English, or at least the Scottish version of it, and all the dialogue is in authentic Mearns Doric. That is my native tongue of course, although I didn’t really know it until I was at school.
The book was written as a homage to that culture, but it is a sad fact that there are few of us left who understand Doric, or can speak it. Ever since Poaching was first published I have had requests to translate it into English, something I have always resisted, for a number of reasons.
I canna hink A wis muckle mair nor fower or five year auld the verra first time A clappit ma een on a deider. Noo ye maun hink yon’s a gey queer-like wey tae open a bookie siccan this een, an hink tae yersel, by, whit’s this lad hinkin aboot? But A says to youse, that gin a bookie’s tae be an honest bookie, an no jist a pile o havers, then we maun set aff on the recht fit, an be honest wi wirsels fae the aff. An sae it is; fan A hink on ma childheid, death aye seems affy close. But this parteecular deider, A’ll hae tae explain mair aboot.
If you like this writing in genuine Scots from Angus, you’ll just love Poaching the River, available in paperback and as an e-book!
A hilarious romantic comedy, by Rod Fleming, set in a tiny village in Scotland. Follow the adventures of the protagonists as the they fuddle their way through to a climactic finale.
Spring is coming to the village of Auchpinkie on the east coast of Scotland. With it, women’s minds turn to romance and men’s to something else — poaching. But it turns out these are actually very closely related. A charming romantic comedy set in a world full of larger-than life characters.
I took most of these pictures at Ethie Woods near Arbroath in Angus Scotland in 2001. Some were taken in our home in Arbroath. The camera was a Russian ‘Horizont’. this was a panoramic camera that used a swinging 28mm lens on 35mm film. The images were interesting but not really sharp. This was partly because the 28mm lens was not that sharp anyway, but also because the film had to be held in a curve so that it registered with the focal plane of the rotating lens. This was somewhat beyond the Russian technology of the day and since the lens could not be stopped down to reduce the consequences of this, the images suffered.
I sold the camera after a short while, but looking back, the somewhat soft-focus effect was really attractive in its own right.
An action-packed tale of love and life, humour and romance, played out by an unforgettable cast of characters with genuine Scots voices, Poaching the River will make you laugh and cry out loud.
It’s a quiet afternoon in Auchpinkie, a tiny fishing village on the east coast of Scotland, and in her Corner Shop, Mae and her cronies are setting the world to rights.
Suddenly a furniture van draws up outside one of the houses along the street. A beautiful young woman is moving into Etta Swankie’s old house. But no-it can’t be-that’s Rae, Etta’s daughter, and Etta always swore she’d disinherit her!
Over the next few days the action races to its riotous climax, as Big Sye, Rae’s cousin, poaches the River Pinkie in a daring adventure, the village public convenience is destroyed by a freak explosion, and the parish minister is baffled by the sudden religious conversion of two formerly heathenish young lads.
Behind it all a spider’s web of intrigue is woven, as the villagers conspire to get Big Sye and Rae together. But there are things going on that none of them ken, and secrets that only Rae’s old friend Izzie knows…
Print ISBN: 978-0-9554535-0-2
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Maryhill, the poor part of Glasgow’s West End, in 1974, was a different world. Looking back on these pictures, forty-five years later, I am still moved.
When I came to the Philippines first, a kind but unaware French friend told me that I would see poverty such as I had never seen before. I had not the heart to tell him; I had seen worse — in Maryhill, Glasgow, for one.
Yet on the other hand I have so many memories of Maryhill, Glasgow and most of them are good. I was never robbed, beaten up or threatened there. Nobody ever asked if I was a Catholic or a Protestant — a question I would get used to later. People were poor, yes, many had no shoes; but they had community and mutual respect. I see that today in the Philippines. We lost a great deal when we lost that.