By Exile


  The Curly Puddick was on his own , just whaur’ he liked to be,

Secure and shaded on his island stone, in the shadow o’ the lone ash tree,

But the puddick wasnae’ lonely, this gregarious little chiel,'

Befriended newts an’ frogs an’ sticklebacks, ‘Red breasties’, ‘Beardies’ an eels,


The Curling Pond was his domain, he was ‘King Horny Toad’

His territory included Petrie’s fields, north to the Linn Road,

An’ to the south were beech trees, wae rhododendrons doon the hill,

Near Scotty’s house, an then the lade, an then the famous Stanley Mill,


An’ to the west were berry fields, bordered by Mill Brae,

Guarded by Clarky’s hostelry, the most famous o’ its day,

An to the east a steep incline, wae berries growing, dreel by dreel,

Surmounted by a canvas camp, lived Tinker Willy o’ Sheilhill,


North by west assorted houses, whaur tarmac roads were laid,

Owr that erstwhile football pitch, whaur Stanley Juniors played,

Colossal, fearsome, hairy beasts, chased a sodden, dubbined ball,

Wae insane and maniacal fervour, while 'Pom Pom' cheered them frae the wall,


Wearing leather studded ankle boots, an’ leather shin-guards lined wae cane,

Fearless red and white hooped warriors, made crunchin’ tackles time an’ again,

In this brutal, physical, dribbling game, ye rarely saw a pass,

Instead these beasts kicked everything, that was above the grass,


The Curly Puddick watched in silence, recalling all the things he’d seen,

Bairns fishing wae nets an’ jam jars, happy, laughing, spotless clean,

He saw everything that came and went, but never said a word,

Camouflaged against the stone, he could have been a turd,


Observing from a distance, he was once bemused to see,

A bespectacled freckled red haired lad, take solitary residence up a tree,

Nightly from the ‘Byre’ he’d hear, singing or a stramash,

Then watch Tinker Willy stagger by, or stop an’ make a splash,


But in springtime it was heaven, wae spawning frogs and newts,

Nesting chaffinches and wagtails, moorhens, mallards, coots,

Yellow primroses an’ daffodils, narcissi, catkins an’ sedge,

Dandielions an’ pussy-willow, white elderflower an’ hawthorn hedge,


Summertime brought excitement, the water warm and clear,

Sun-burned bairns and berry pickers, drinking Iron Brew, and Ginger beer,

This was the ‘berry picking season, the bairns had weeks off ‘schael’,

Picking ‘berries into luggies, before emptying them in a bigger pail,


Wae’ dragonflies an’ damselflies, skimming swallows an’ water skaters,

Warm evenings hatched a million midgies, the Curly puddick would dine well later,

Balmy, sultry summer nights, made blood hot, ignited passion,

Then nature took a helping hand, courting couples would be the fashion,


Half dressed in the moonlight, an’ writhing on the grass,

Was many a handsome laddie, wae’ his bonnie lass,

But autumn wasnae welcome, wae the fun o’ summer gone,

The dread o’ winter round the corner, never mind, ‘On Stanley on’,


This was the ‘tattie’ season, again bairns played their part,

Picking tatties into hampers, which in turn were emptied in a cart,

On brisk, sunny ‘tattie’ mornings, the unmistakable ‘addictive’ smell,

O’ earth being turned ow’r by the digger, made your lungs an’ heart fair swell,


Hard frozen in the winter, bairns would come an’ play,

Ice hockey at a frantic pace, or take their sledges doon the brae,

Bairns o’ every shape an’ size, wae’ noses running green and yellow,

Flushed red cheeks an’ smiling faces, wid sleep as their head hit the pillow,


Through freezing fog an morning frost, the Mill bell’s toll would welcome workers,

Wrapped in scarves an’ coats an’ turbans, grafters all, nae room for shirkers,

Arriving in buses from Murthly, Coupar Angus, Bankfoot and Blair,

They met wi’ the girls frae’ the station, Perth trains brought an awfie’ lot mair,


They linked arms wi’ the lassies frae Stanley, an’ foreigners lodged in the hotel,

Wha’ were nearly a’ Germans or  Tallys, but some English an’ Polish as well,

The Puddick had watched an’ listened, frae the roadside ditch on the Brae,

Admiring the friendship an’ chatter, that epitomised The Mill in its’ day,


He became sad though to witness the changes, man freely imposed on himsel’,

The destruction of communities an’ families, an’ wha’ silenced the proud Mill Bell?

The destruction o' the family unit, the central feature of life,

A loving environment for children, nurtured by a husband an' wife,


Aye the Puddick watched an’ reflected, on mans destruction of nature,

On mans' destruction of man himself, what hope for any future,

 Aye the Puddick watched an’ listened, his sadness maist evident tae’ see,

Sitting alone, on his island stone, wi’ a teardrop at his e’e.


COPYRIGHT – Calluna Publishing