By Exile


It was Christmastime in Stanley, I was walking frae the school,

The holidays had started, the icy wind was cruel,

Jimmy Reid was busy, clearing pavements o’ the snaw,

There leaning on his shovel was Bob Donaldson an’ a’,

Bob hadnae’ sanitation, the pail was emptied on his plot,

Huge organic ‘ingins’ were no the only big things he’d got,


But they were Officers o’ the village, and they worked tae’ great effect,

The very heart o’ the community, they were held in great respect,

Handcart, brush and shovel, were their implements by day,

Pride in seeing a job well done, irrespective of their pay,

Pride in being Black Watch, having served in two world wars,

Jimmy Reid had fought in India, and they said he fought the 'Boers',


Across ‘The Square’, along ‘The Green’, walking frae’ the west,

Wae a balaclava tae keep me warm and an ‘interlockin’ vest,

The wind was bloody icy as I walked down Percy Street,

Passing Geordie Crambs’ Post Office, it was cold enough to greet,

I thought of a’ the characters wha’ had walked that way before,

Hardy buggers trod this pavement for a century or more,


Just a wee lad heading homewards, getting colder, couldnae’ stop,

Then I heard Norman Paterson outside his faithers’ shop,

He was whistling like a kettle, frae’ his mouth a jet o’ steam,

Inseparable frae’ his message bike, a real outstanding team,

I just hope that when I’m older, an adult if you like,

That some bonnie lass will love me just like Norman loved that bike,


Then I glanced in his shop window, on the slab a piece o’ rump,

An beside it a big haggis just like Jeannie Brushes’ lump,

Fir ye widnae’ see a turkey nor a chicken nor a goose,

It was Christmastime in Stanley, it was steak pies in yer hoose,

And I couldnae quite imagine wha’ would eat yon fancy meat,

Maybe Toffs that fished the water, or posh folk frae’ Brougham Street,


So I hurried past the butchers, tackets sliding up the slope,

Across the road was PD Smith's, up front there was the Co-op,

The biggest shop in a’ the  the village, it was lit up, looking braw,

As I drew level wae the Masonic Lodge it began again to snaw,

I’d heard stories about that building, but we never knew a lot,

Except that men would get half naked and do something to a goat,


Co-opy Duff just left that building, on sheet ice he dare nae’ stop, 

His bald head shone, reflecting Christmas lights in Haggarts’ shop,

Just the very thought o’ ‘Haggarts’ and yer heart would skip a beat,

Full of Dandy and Beano annuals, now there’s a Christmas treat,

And how we’d roar wi’ laughter at Oor Wullie and the Broons,

Wi’ Horace, Hen and Daphne, and Granpa playing spoons,


Co-opy Duff had reached the pavement, when he caught me wi’ his ee’,

He just knew me by our number, ‘eleven-nine-five-three’,

But he never said a word tae me, he saved that for his dog,

That fat ‘lab’ was fed to burstin’ point, it couldnae even jog,

At least it wouldnae bite you, you could pat it when you’d meet,

But ye wouldnae take that chance wi’ ‘Tim’ wha’ lived across the street, 


Tim was Jim McMorrans’ Alsatian dog, he was mean, and keeping guard,

On the entrance into Store Street , where the wind was blowin’ hard,

Then a message bike shot past me, Norman wisnae in control,

But he kept on whistling loudly till he hit the telegraph pole,

In amidst a’ the confusion in the quickly failing light,

Some uncompassionate bugger said “At least the poles a’ right”,


I crossed o’er the top o’ Charlotte Street, took the time frae’ the Tower clock,

It was five past four, and my toes were numb frae a hole through my shoe and sock,

When I got home my mother would take her hand off my backside,

For wearing out my good school shoes, playing on a slide,

And then secure in Store Street, knowing I was on home ground,

For here the proletariat of the village could be found,


Two long, stark, tenement buildings, mainly attics and ‘single-ends’,

Had nae’ bathrooms, but shared toilets, it kind o’ made you friends,

Relaxing on the ‘lavvy’ you’d peruse the Sunday Mail,

And read about the fitba’, before you wiped your tail,

Or just when daylight ended and it was getting damp,

You’d read your comic in the ‘lavvy’ by the light of a paraffin lamp,


But it was Christmastime in Stanley and I felt the icy blast,

The temperature was dropping and the snaw was fallin’ fast,

I knew every nook and cranny, every door and every close,

In that one lived 'Ag' McIntosh, up there lived Tony Ross,

And the street was full o’ characters like ‘Trotsky’ and Peter Jack,

Kenny Paul and Cully Robertson, the Bendalls and Granny Mac,


A later story, well remembered, although his praises were never sung,

Was the incident at the funeral of Arthur Luncarty Young,

There was silence at the graveside when Georgina laid her wreath,

But through some slight of hand and cunning, she extracted Lunc’s false teeth,

These teeth were Arthur’s pride and joy, but Georgina had nae remorse,

She forced them into her mouth and smiled, and looked like Curry’s horse,


Although she was a kind wee soul, she was no beauty queen,

‘Trauchlin’ through the village frae Mill Street tae ‘The Green’,

You could see Georgina coming wi’ these enormous ivory tusks,

Rumour had it that wae Arthur’s teeth she could gnaw through coconut husks,

But in fairness she maintained them well, they were polished brilliant white,

And they shone out like a beacon in the darkness o’ the night,


As I looked skyward through the snowflakes and saw a chimney stack,

I was reminded of the story of that stalwart Peter Jack,

Now Peter kept a budgie, it was cheaper than a wife,

Although Jeannie Brush would visit to put spice into his life,

But Peter loved that budgie and for hours the pair would talk,

And each night before bedtime he’d take it for a walk,


Ay' night while they were walking, Peter forgot to shut the cage door,

The bird flew off to the chimney pots, he never saw it any more,

Now Peter was a broken man, he couldnae forgive his folly,

Wouldnae give his heart to Jeannie Brush or any other dolly,

And then he hit the bottle, he was aye doon at the ‘Byre’,

Rumour had it that he even tried to set himself on fire,


But Store Street was truly multi-racial wae’ Ukrainians and Poles,

Germans, Tallies and Hungarians and some poor English souls,

Some had fled their homelands, mainly thanks to Russian tanks,

Some had married into Stanley stock through National Service ranks,

Some had settled down in Stanley after fighting in the war,

Wi’ a ‘single-end’ in Store Street at least they’d feel secure,


Then I gazed in Hancocks’ window, was excited at the sight,

Of grapes and dates and tangerines, lit up wae fairy lights,

And the shop was packed wae mothers buying groceries on tick,

Aye it was Christmastime in Stanley, and the snaw was lying thick,

Soon we’d be sitting wearing paper hats round Christmas trees unlit,

Or rakin’ in clooty dumplin’s for a silver threepenny bit,


Now consider the traditional Christmastime, I’ll try to be quite brief,

Take one look at Rudolf, where did he get these teeth?

Look at him another way and hanging from his rump,

Is a symbol of virility like Jeannie Brushes’ lump,

And why is Santa always climbing on a chimney stack?

If he’s no lookin’ for that budgie that belonged to Peter Jack,


Take another look at Santa, at the redness of his nose,

If he didnae get that in the ‘Byre’, where else do you suppose?

The way he handles Rudolph, wouldnae dream o’ using force,

Just like auld Bert Slessor and Hugh Kerr Currie’s horse,

Putting two and two together what I’m really trying to say,

Santa doesn’t live in Toy Town but a village on the Tay.



COPYRIGHT – Calluna Publishing