Citizen Ship Belfast 2013. Nos 29. Here's a musical poem called "The Lang Stai…

Citizen Ship Belfast 2013. Nos 29.
Here’s a musical poem called “The Lang Staine”.

It’s narrated by a character of my own invention called “Hugh Midden”. A North Antrim Tribesman. Tall, long faced, cap, unshaven grey beard, rollie cigarette, subtle ear ring. Patched tweed jacket. Gorse for hair. Tall overalls (from the Artificial Insemination work). Deeply cynical about politics and the more negative aspects of human nature. With a wry grin at times.

Oh yes, and dark glasses. (to cut the glare from off the whitewashed buildings). You know the kind of thing I mean . . . . . Dignified, Real and Grounded.

He has his own opinion on flags.

Hugh has three tattoos. One on either forearm. On his left forearm it reads “Don’t you get it?”. On his right forearm it reads . . . “Didn’t you get it the first time?”. With one tattoo over his heart which reads “God is Love. I Pay by Direct Debit.”

It goes, without saying, that there are strong chunks of Ulster Scots in this piece of writing, due to the influences of the Robinson/Ferguson side of my family, from Coleraine, Boghill, Ballymoney and Kilraughts, Co. Antrim. All Presbyterians, as far as I know. Hence, the cut of Hugh Midden’s jib.

The Lang Staine.

The Lang Staine.
Lang stoney face.
Lang gang oot o’ yon place.
King James, o’ he aw the Scots.
Let us bide a while.
Then sent us oor the golden mile,
The Causey stones, the robber’s way.
Finn, the bigger, lep, an biggit a bridge.
So here we danced and came to stay.

The Lang Staine.
Lang stoney face.
Still standin’, still.
Though all of us displaced off dale and hill.
Where to go to feed the chuckies.
Where to stand, our boots are muckie.
All set to farmin’ in the fields,
Or in the hills, Black Nebs named, nae yield.
Poor auld buggers, still set on the game.
The game to just survive.

The Lang staine.
Lang stoney face.
Learn to plough
And learn to sew.
Robbin’ less we built our homes.
A barn, a tower, a wall, a fence.
A ditch, a shield, all set for defence.

Few of us have leaders now.
All a one and nae tae bow.
Individual folk we be.
Nare used to ere’ bend the knee.
Nare to worship any throne.
Sept’ fer Yin. To Him alone.
We look to Him
Nae bag or car.
Nae riches need,
But who we are.

For all our riches are at home.
The wife and babies
And friendship’s song.
To sing and play the jig and reel.
A warm, warm place.
A muckle creel.

So many came as exiles
So many came in chains.
Nae boddie will ever harness us.
We don’t work well in lang reins.
We’ll plough the ground and work for you.
We’ll work both night and day.
For all we ever seek from you
Is a fair day’s work, for a fair day’s pay.

But never think we worship you
For our calling is much deeper.
It flows down through our bedrock
As we wake or as a sleeper.
Nae politician, king or man
Will lead us all like donkeys.
This guff just has no meanin’ boy
And me ? . . .
I could’nae give a monkey’s.
This lang, lang staine.
Still standin’ still,
Throws nae saddle shadow oor me.
It marks the sun, the moon and stars.
This means that I am free.

So culture vultures, listen long.
Listen lang and hard.
An Ulster Scot’s a hybrid,
Nae dull auld lump o’ lard.

A shiney, shiney dappled thing.
A mongrel, through and through.
It is our deep held strength you know.
Where there’s brass, there’s always poo.
So bridle up yer dull auld gaze
And lead it up the roddens.
I am proud of who I am.
A mix of pins and bobbins.

Not one flag will do me.
You can throw them in the bin.
Not one party show me,
Could get me ere to swim.

I’ll keep my feet on dry, dry land.
I’ll stand by this here staine.
It was raised, lang, lang before me.
And by the lang staine, I will remain.

Cheerio now . . .

The end.

Citizen Ship Belfast 2013. Nos 29.
By Randall Stephen Hall ©