My folks were full of the fear of God, And full of His holy gravity. Music, and dancing, were frivolous wastes And bywords for depravity. And birthdays passed with nary a mention So’s not to lead our thoughts astray – But I was still the lucky one, For I was born on Christmas Day.
I was born in the dark of Winter, In the midst of an Almighty freeze Too far North for much of sunlight, Too bleak for that many trees. But ev’ry year, the town would string up lights As if to lead my way, And hope that it might snow for me – For I was born on Christmas Day.
Ev’rybody wore a smile, And nobody wore grey – Ev’rything was done with style, Right through to Hogmanay ! And my fav’rite animal, the deer, Were ev’rywhere, with a sleigh ! How much I loved this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
I was born in ignorance, And thought all this must be for me – The whole of the town would celebrate That time I changed from two to three, They cheered some more when I turned four, At five and six, they cried hooray – My parents couldn’t stop it all, For I was born on Christmas Day.
They may not have given me presents, But they gave me the greatest gift on Earth – I used to think how lucky Jesus was To coincide with my birth. And piously, I’d thank the Lord For far more joy than words can say. And so I grew up loving life – For I was born on Christmas Day
The choirs would sing, The bands would play, The bells would ring, The shops display, And all the world felt good and near, In one long cabaret – How much I love this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
My feet were frozen, but for you, Who sheathed them safe in cotton. My toes would wriggle, all day through, My nails were chipped and rotten. My shins lacked spots beneath my trews, I couldn’t slide on wooden floors, My feet were too-small for my shoes, And empty was my chest of drawers, But you have given me a lift, I’m walking taller, free of holes – All thanks to your so-thoughtful gift, That sweetly saves my soles.
Keep your head down, Nod along, To the chatter at work and down the pub. See out the season – Silent and strong Whenever the ask you “what’s your club ?” Just shrug and smile And change the topic, Even sheepishly confess “It’s not my thing”, And quietly drop it, Shuffling back to the wilderness. Don’t get smug How partisan Their view of the pitch is – they already know ! The offside outrage Of the av’rage fan Is part of the fun, and all for show. So make no fuss, Keep your comments mum, And join the sweepstake for the whatever-cup. The topic will change And your chance will come – Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t give up !
The sudden shriek of a seagull Takes me back to the ozone, back to the seaside – To those Summers of sand and Ninety-Nines, Where the fish is fresh and the Sun still shines. From ever since I was knee-high, Be it Bournemouth, Paignton or Ryde. The seagulls were my holiday guide.
But these days, the seagulls are ev’rywhere, Yes, even in Winter, even in the bleak – When gloomy days in gloomy suburbs See dozens pecking kebabs from the kerbs, With ev’ry beak in a mocking shriek. Well, go ahead, gulls – for a second there I was back on the prom without a care.
I’ve always been a weeper in the wind – It only takes the slightest breeze To turn-on my capillaries, As drip by drip, I am chagrined, And have to whip my hankie out To stem each overactive spout.
I don’t know why The weather makes me cry, Especially the cold. An eye-jerk sense, Or anti-drought defence That will not be controlled.
I’ve always been too salty in the frost – All the Winter, all those leaks, To run and freeze upon my cheeks. So tear by tear, my poise is lost, Into a sobbing, briny wreck Who cannot keep his ducts in check.
I don’t know why My gaze is never dry, Until my eyeballs rust. They even seep While closed and fast asleep, Then desiccate to dust.
A strange village, this. But why ? The pub is near the village hall, The church is near the school. The pear trees over-reach the wall, Beside the milking stool. So where precisely does the oddness lie ?
I think it’s in the accents heard – But not of locals, rather Poles, They say “howzat” and “’pon my word” And land the choice Mikado roles. No reason why they shouldn’t, true, But still…they’re more than quite a few…
A strange village this, no doubt. There’s thatch as far as one can see, And rolling downs for views. So why do folks from Italy Fill Church-of-England pews, While Argentines keep bees and run the scouts ?
Speaking English, fishing pike, Or growing leeks and supping beers, And naming local landmarks Like they’d known them all their years. No reason why they shouldn’t, though, Yet change round here is often slow…
A strange village this, alright. As mentioned in the Domesday Book And in the Civil War Where Indians have found a nook Behind the stable door. With a hint of local brogue, but only slight.
And Caribbean morris-men, And Russian gardens with a gnome, And Chinese shepherds down the fen – And yet, so very much at home. No reason why they shouldn’t, Ma’am – They’ve asked me round for tea and jam.
You can tell this poem is out of date by its use of ‘Ma’am’.
I asked her what was the tartan she wore, She smiled and told me Smith. I’d never considered that Clan before, But fair enough – the Smiths of yore, The Sassenachs of Aviemore, The flints in the monolith – The common Clan for the ev’ryman, The hammers and tongs of myth.
She asked me the tartan in which I deck, Buchanan, perhaps, or Brodie, or Beck ? I smiled, and told her Burberry Check.
It seems that the Gaelic word for smith is the origin of the Clan McGowan, but that even before surnames arose in the Highlands, some Scots had Anglisised their profession to ‘smith’.