At the risk of sharing too much information with you, on this date, 19 years ago, I gave birth to my first born. I can recall every minute of the day and almost all the pain. But he was definitely worth it. A wee titch when he arrived, a shade under 6lbs, boy how he’s grown since. And I can scarcely believe that today he – my treasured older son – is 19. Where did all the years go????!
The Big Yin has always been a sonsie lad. Cute as a button, with a sunny open nature, he is a child who will always land butter side up. Effort is something to be measured then applied but he has a canny knack of knowing just how much and where to apply it to achieve the best results. With a remarkable talent for people, he bridges the generations effortlessly and makes friends in the unlikeliest places. A bit lacking in the tidy gene – was a teenage boy ever any different? – he is generous and loving and is loved by the bucketful in return. His aptitude for sport is clearly not inherited from the burd. I thought I was nurturing a world class goalie but in recent years he’s turned his hand to rugby with as much success, and has just made the college basketball team. He makes me proud fit to burst and I probably don’t tell him enough just how much I appreciate him being in my life and what a great big part of my heart he fills. He makes me glad all over that he’s mine, frankly.
Happy birthday, bear! (to give you your real family nickname).
A smattering of choons then, to celebrate the Big Yin’s birthday, safe in the knowledge that he’d roll his eyes at every single one. Never mind, whenever I hear them, they always make me think of him and I hope you’ll like them too.
Seeing this is the Big Yin’s post, a new (ish) tune from a band called Pepper Rabbit, the aptly titled Older Brother. Whimsical, melodical and twee – everything my best boy isn’t in fact. Enjoy.
Norman MacCaig would have been 100 tomorrow and that’s plenty reason for the burd to celebrate one of her favourite poets. It’s the gentleness, the mischief, the intellect, and the precision that makes me love him so. And his passion for his land, his people, and small creatures too. Norman MacCaig will always make you smile and his poetry will stay with you. One of my favourites is Small Boy. Watching the Big Yin as a bairn lifting and seeking the perfect pebble and endlessly skimming or plopping them into the water always brought me in mind of this poem. And now the poem brings back treasured memories. Enjoy it at this great website that also includes other poems, a wonderful interview and Angus Calder’s excellent obituary on the old poet. If you want to hear him read the poem aloud, register for free at the SCRAN website where they have a great videoclip.
Tomorrow is also Remembrance Sunday, and all over Scotland, people will gather at war memorials to lay poppy wreaths, commemorate those who died in the World Wars, and to remember too that we are busily creating a new lost generation.
My papa fought in World War One. As a regular marine, he lied about his age and joined up at 15, fighting in most of the major naval battles, including the Battle of Jutland. He also saw active service in the Russian Civil War though much of it appears to have been spent on the banks of ice bound rivers playing cards. I’d like to claim him as a Red but British forces fought on the side of the Whites. My grandfather too survived World War Two. A merchant seamen, he spent most of the war on the treacherous Atlantic Convoys. How he survived going back and forth for all those years I’ll never know and at last, these men’s contribution and sacrifice to the war effort has been honoured and acknowledged. And finally, my brother saw active service in the first Gulf War. Some of the most harrowing moments occurred when they were receiving prisoners of war, realising that many of the Iraqi soldiers so eagerly surrendering were mere boys, in rough hewn uniforms, some without real weapons, keen to give themselves up for safety and a square meal.
All of them have experienced things I cannot even imagine. So, to round up a packed flutter, take a moment to remember the veterans old and new, and the ones who never came home, and play this wonderful soldier’s ballad from Joe Pug