Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star

This is a poem I wrote just after my son Andrew was born. At the time we were living in remote Aberdeenshire and Hale-Bopp comet was in the night sky:

The March 1997 news reported this comet as follows: “The appearance of comet Hale-Bopp near the Earth in 1997 has generated wide scientific, public, religious and pseudoscientific interest. Scientists are interested in the unusually high intrinsic brightness of the comet. The public expect the comet to be a spectacle sight.”

The day Andrew was born I bought him a teddy-bear: that bear is called ‘Hale Bopp’ and appears in many of my films:


Frost hit Tillybin and froze the night.
Bitingly cold and startlingly clear.
A night that stirred the soul
A night of Spectacle Sight.

Midnight came rhythmically
Andrew beating his drum:
Sian said ‘time to go!’
The windscreen iced over in anticipant celebration
hands that felt no cold rubbed hurriedly
a telescope to the soul.

The car coughed to life
The farm track bumped and hurdled
– as if urging.
Count the gaps: count the rhythm –
Faster: No time to waste!

Fly the pot-holes
Peer the telescope!
Gosh – what’s that? A jewel. A wonder. A spectacle sight.
Hale-bopp: such Brightness.
Beat the drum, fly the night, catch a star

and Hale-Bop reigns its brightest!
Peter and Sian
Now ‘mum & dad’

Fingers could not dial
Lips that could not speak
‘we have a boy… a lovely boy’
Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star!


Andrew Robert Gordon born at 4.04am on Saturday the 8th March 1997 in Aberdeen

Pictures painted by Dr Peter J Gordon. The farmhouse in the snow is Tillybin in remotest Aberdeenshire.

7 Replies to “Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star”

  1. Peter – this is so so beautiful. This web page has whizzed me back 18 years to the birth of miraculous baby Jack. He is just turned 18 – scored 118 not out last week, has a lovely girlfriend Holly, is a student of philosophy, is planning travels and is full of quiet simple love.

    with love to you and Andrew and Sian


    1. How kind Andy.

      Great to hear about Jack now 18. Philosophy and sport . . a great combination in Peter’s world!

      My favourite Welsh writer, Dylan Thomas, said in ‘Under Milk Wood’ – “time passes.Listen time passes”

      I have just finished a film on Hale Bopp, my baby son Andrew and the remote Scottish farm we then lived on: it is called “and Tillybin gars my spirits grow” :

      Thanks again for your kind comments.

      Aye Peter Gordon

  2. Hello Peter, My grandfather was born at Tillybin and I wondered if you could email at to discuss your beautiful paintings or any other valuable information about Tillybin. Kind Regards Jackie Smith

    1. Hi Jackie,
      Lovely to hear from you and to discover that your grandfather was born at Tillybin.

      I will be in touch soon.

      aye Peter Gordon

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