Peter’s Poems

Backwards and forwards learning

Backwards and forwards learning contributes to who I am.

Neither the microscope nor the telescope quite help me in the focus with which I wish to see.

Backwards and forwards learning contributes to who I am.

We live between the microscope and telescope.




If only I could soar like an eagle
to see the world as I cannot.

I am a magpie in black and white,
in flight through clouds,
seeking colour.

I am nosy, noisy, restless, bothered by life.
I pick up the pieces.



Beat the drum, Fly the night, Catch a star

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-Bopp reigns its brightest!

Peter and Sian
Now ‘mum & dad’

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



Beyont Mizzerment!
Speeshal folk – Deeside loons
The like weel nae see agin
Hunners of years auld, hunners.
Aye speeshal loons – beyont mizzerment!

The ancient Dallyfour lived
a hunner and twenty-sax year –
wud ye believe it?
An berit in Glenmuick
Wi the dates 1596 tae 1722 on his stane:

Betwixt his cradle an his grave
John Mitchell of Dallyfour
behelt saiven monarchs and twa kings
an the union o’ the Croons.

The ancient Dubrach lived
a hunner and ten year –
aye wud ye believe it?
He carrit Dumfoonert’s name – Peter;
And Granted Auchindryne.



Chipped Tooth

The administrator now the

Pulse-oximeter sirens a frenzied fear,
friendly faces pace in busyness managing
checklists to the unknown.

Man-made epilepsy in-a-box.

Temples numbing – signify it is done.
Tooth is chipped.



Din-raisin wi’ Donald.

Tarbrax by the high road tae Forfar
Donald Mcpherson far fae Bovagli’s hamely braes.
Black bothies left ahind, aiver speerited in saicret. Aye!
Girnoc garrons twinty each – wi’ ankers twa abreast:
the toonkeeper wimmen left oot.
Speerits heich (tcaach ….fit a tirravee!)
Loshtie aye, dwam fou!

The-gaither, time-servin’ smugglers:
Donald Mcpherson – oor seerious scoondrel;
James Gordon – aiver richteous;
an’ John Gall – oonprencipilt mebbe,
yet surely mair of a dweem than a dwam:
loshtie aye!

Donald Mcpherson befuskert high on baith chaffs,
aye rugged cheekit – bricht red oondernaith.
Jorum at the ready the-gaither wi the Gordons: James an’ Peter
…. an nae doot, yit mair of that inextricable tribe!
Aye nae doot!

James Gordon an Abergeeldie loon – of sorts!!
Gamekeeper to David Gordon, Esquire of Abergeeldie.
Friend of genteelity maybe but
naiver to be mizzered in mainners:
Loshtie nae!

John Gall grand-maister o’ the bothies,
brither tae the Girnoc.

Sundoon at his Tarbrax sheilin –
a saicret tryst oonder yonder roddin-tree.
Feckless wi’ a fleerish:
Loshtie aye!

Twa gaugers biding their time,
hodden in-by the Tarbrex Tollbar:
Mr Tawse an’ Mr Rose, aiver-sae wullin in the law.
1824: Excisemen noo wi’ clout!
Aye Parliament had seen to that!

Dragoon guards hauled-in at the ready:
At the ready –oh loshtie aye!

Anither Gordon caa’d Peter, a Camlet loon,
rode auld ‘yella,’ sae many hans in hicht –
a strappin horse speeshal tae the Girnoc:
wi braith snortin’ ready,
yet his maister, Peter wis grippet wi’ doot.
Aye grippet.

The others,
‘to the number of nine or mair’
shared that nervishness –
but plied theirsels’ wi’ ther ain coontraband:
aye, fou an fleein’ tae loosen that fear!
Bit not oor Donald, fa he wis high-heedit,
an seemingly baithered by nout –
not aiven a fearsom rainstorm risen michty faist
wid brak his smugglers course!

Michty me he wis blin tae danger –
Michty aye!

Through the spleeter of weet,
an jist ootside the Tollbar,
Tawse an’ Rose, officers aff the Excise,
wi’ their troop aff ‘Dragoon Guards’
withoot warning, made tae apprehend –
but in-turn were veeshusly attacked themsels.
Veeshusly aye!

Donald McPherson ‘threatened tae
‘blow ther brains oot if they laid violent hands upon them’
an to run auld Tawse-the-Excise
‘throo the body wi’ a pitch fork’
by noo Donald wis joined by the Gordons who a’ the-gaither
started to throw ‘large stanes’
at roon-shoodert an’ wrunkelt Rose.

Aye nae sympathy wis extended
tae the hunchie-bacit an’ fastidious Rose

All this wis witnessed by a young loon
James Gordon age 6 years
His faither Peter, picked him up
an in a flash young James escaped on ‘yella’
back to the Gordons – bit not tae the Girnoc
fa’ that wisnae safe.

Michty No.

Sorrafu’ an wi’ ther tails atween ther legs,
brocht them tae Kincardine o’ Neil –
in the stable Inn –
‘130 gallons of illicit distilled spirits’ wir stacked up high
an horses wer’ at the ready for a second pairty ….
ye can imagine can’t ye – loshtie aye:
for they ‘were at the time takin’ refreshment.’
Takin refreshment – michty aye.
fit a stramash!

ye stramash an’ styterin fou!

An noo The Excise stepped fore:
an all were caught din-raisin.

Shamed Donald McPherson tak flit tae Angus
he never returned tae the Girnoc.

Soon aifter the Girnoc emptied like a quaich!
Ye see ther wis no choice in changin times.
Fitprints aff shame,

an the end of a way of life. Aye.

Din-raisin wi’ Donald.
Loshtie Aye!!



“I’d Buy you that!”

Too many days have past,
from the days of
the burningly bright eyes of our
innocent and wondrous boy.

As simple as the loss of money!
Not the important stuff.

Andrew, if it were so simple!
I’d buy you no money.
at any price.



Kitty Rankin’s hairt beat

Aye Deeside fowk wir feart o’ Kate
she had that weasel way
an she was thocht tae be a witch.

Wan day Kate tak coonsel of Abergeeldy
the Laird wis cavorting or so
she saw – a weasel way ah richt!

Kate cast oot her spell, stirrin’ the soup,
an the Laird
wis droont.
Fowk kent a’ too weel it
wis Kate.

Fit a weasel way. Aye fit!

Poor Kate she was chained
in the ‘Geeldy cellar
– her hairt beat faster
an brocht oot intae the licht
she cooered doon.

Craig nam Ban stood afore her
and the stake a tap.

Her hairt beat faster
– in a ‘weasel way’.

Marched up the hill
her hairt beat faster.
Until the flames a’ licked her.

Aye Deeside fowk wir feart o Kate!



Melt the Bear.

Castellated gallery of white
iron-cast pavilions – one atop another,
shine bright on a Scottish spring afternoon.

Clocks, rockets, asteroids,
mummies and totem poles;
fish circle the children, pennies circle the pool.

Whale bones suspended disbelieving
– no dinosaur stolen here!

Buttons to press; costumes to dress;
the Antonine Guard recruits a boy!

Peter could peer all from his board
secret in the attic of Chamber Street.

The polar Bear silent and sad. So sad.
he had saved the girl – us all.

Alive only in the mind.



Ode to Narrative.

Born backwards;
could sleep standing-up,
lived in a world upside-down.
silent as light.
grafted like a Scott;
found and loved Cimbrone.
Stars that shine now.
The doctor (under)standing on his head.



Finding Cimbrone

Junior doctors in love –
Peter smitten by eyes deep.
A faltering heart surged as you passed
in white-coat, green mini-skirt and in your pocket
the love-note secretly placed by Peter the night before.

A spoonful of sugar and
the Medicine was in Aberdeen.
Seaton Park gently traversed in a restful peace
– flowering the past, present and future.

Here Peter had his first magical kiss.
Striding on towards the dungeon. The Marischal.
Awaiting Dr Skene – bearded and sinister
punching one-fingered results with palpable sneer!

Indeed this was not yesterday, as Rachel would come to remind us:
Rosemount with cats and fur balls: curtains and croissants.
And ink scribed carefree the Jellicoe way
metamorphosing the romantic in Shute.

And the Autumn brought to us in rich arboreal watercolour:
Getting back to nature: ‘like the primitive man’.

Now is the time of the flowers:
Sentinels of Cimbrone stand tall
graceful in poise, reaching out:
touching the sky.
as newly weds.

And somehow carried back in the scent
through Drumdruills gate and its clipped box path:
leading to the sweetest of peas.

We found Cimbrone in each other.

At Inverewe the Rhoddies were rampant in care-free abandon
And Sissinghurst so alight in Euphorbic lime, but
not (for us) undone by the brilliance of the dazzling White Garden.

Back home, and northern-skied days:
buzzards danced overhead
and we trekked across the fields of Tillybin
down the oak-lined dyke, wandering with the snow-drops and aconites.
And later in the year
towards the castle –
where the philadelphus left us heady and the castle no more than body!

Tae Humbie we went:
Peter’s creative core had tugged.
and marvellously you held on.Wedding bells would chime and gold rings instantly lost
foretold that we would be together whatever.
love is far more than any symbol or precious gold



The Aultdrachty Rauchle.

Naebody mynds Aultdrachty noo,
though lood it rattles still.

Yet Aultdrachty’s watter wis’nae awas clear,
an it hods a muckle saicret.

Sae hearken, an hear the feech
o’ the packman, shepherd an the whisky smugglers.
An beyont the reevin win’
the toon-folk, michty-me,
brought forth their ceevil brolly –
Fit mare eesless cud there be!

Stapit foo’ wi dram he wis,
oor Packman on’t fairst erran –
oor hapless loon had’nae heed Aultdrachty’s rowt
on such a fearfu’ nicht.

The snaa it came ower the Moonth, a bin-drift,
like nane afore.
Poor loon, asleep aside Aultdrachty,
his lum still a reekin’ was berit.

Linvaig, wis the hame of McAndrew: anither mither’s loon –
lured by Aultdrachty’s cackle.
then risen fae a halla, a sleekit naisty beast,
seelenced by Aultdrachty it pounced.
Aye Aultdrachty saa it’ fearsome.

Aultdrachty’s rauchle had a’ thirst that widnae slack.
Half a’ doozen smugglers naixt tae the slauchter,
theer bellies reed-het wi’ watter distillate,
jeelous Aultdrachty cud’nae hae that!

Aye the watter wis nae awas clear.

An then Aultdrachty reeled its maist keerious,
the hapless, stupit toon-folk,
the umberella makkers:
fit an’ earth tak them tae Aultdrachty, nane will ken,
nane but Aultdrachty.

Fit a spleeter o’ weet,
A shooer like nane
eesless brollies, blan in-bye-oot,
sae they huddled by Aultdrachty.

The watter it fell oot fae the heeven fur days, an nichts,
an fullt the quaich o’ Aultdrachty welt beyont the brim,
Ceevil folk, wi brollies, had nae chance.

That’s how lood wis Aultdrachty’s rattle
an sae its keerious tae think
the glen it ken’t has lang since ceased to roar.



The Dumfoonert Loon

There’s Naebody noo in the glen – lang since dwine’t awa.
Dwine’t awa an deid.

Littlins lachter, sing-sang, chirm and diddle
As sailent noo as the shuttered plaid o’ Bovagli’.
An the reevin win nae langer cairit the waxin’ lyrical
o’ Camlet’s auld Minaister.

Aye noo the furtive brow belongs tae this dumfoonert loon:
raikin roond folk gan ah so lang –
an caa’d a’ the same as ane anither!

Noo wi’ Camlet ane cud dibber-dabber faireveer:
Aibergeeldie nae that’s fa sure – but fit loon?

Peter wis it yir namsak?
Ah, cud you be sure – I doot that!
Aye I doot that – they were inextricable – did ye nae oonerstan!
Surely no!!

Cud bleeter a’ day – jist like the Camlet folk a the’ day
Til the Sma stills smacked afrontit
an Girnoc touns drapped an rouped til a’ but scaitered rickles.
Left salient; but fa the wheeblin an fusperin of the hameward win!
Aye hameward.

The hieland Clearance ah richt –
Still Girnoc’s stamack wis wachty lang afore.
Dooble liveliheids: fairmers not jist.
Sleekit lums tae dodge the gauger:
An smuggle the naftie ooer the Mounth.

Pairliment’s Act. An Act oot-by anaither warld.
A deidly haimmer. Deidly.

A yellow horse – a gowden jewel shimmrin gainst Lochnagar
Wis the laird’s very own ye ken.
Then unexpectit the laird wis gan – jist drappit deid:
an tae The Camlet cam his shimmrin Stallion.
Fit chancy; nae but surely heeven pre-ordainit:
on the back of yellow, young James Gordon, a loon jist nine,
galloped awa fae the ragin’ gauger.

Anaither faimily had flit the Girnoc: fairever –

No time tae greet: the family.
The family of The Dumfoonert Loon.
The Gordons, aince inextricable, were gan.

A’ but ‘Red Donald’ – prodeegious o’ Bovaglie.
He fairmed wethers in the hunners & thoosands (an mair!)
Jist for the killin, an Balmoral
Cairtit doon the ‘Butcher’s Walk’ tae the Royal hoosehold:
fit they cad ‘The Mutton Larder.’

Nae wonder ‘Red Donald’ wis the Queen’s very ane flumgummer!

Donald’s drooth (it has been said) wis no for the watter:
Tummlers o’ the stonger stuff wis his stoorum!

Aye his fancy wis for a dram or two (an mair!) –
Donald used to tak his horse and cairt doon glen tae ‘The Inver.’
Aifter a guid nicht, stocious an greetin foo,
Donald wud shaky-doon in his cairt.
Aye his horse had seen it a’ afore!
Even blind-foldit, Donal’s horse cud tak him hame:
tae the sheltered plaid o Bovagli.

Wan day, twa loons wi noshun fa mischief –
unhitched Donal’s cairt wi auld prodeegious still in it –
aye sleepit foo’
an then hitched it back togaither – but not afore
first passing the shafts of the cairt throw the spars o’ Bovaglick’s gate!
The mischeevous anes hod in-by the plaid
An laughit seek, fan Donal deleerious, hootit:
“I doobt the diel himsel has been at work here the day!

Cameron The Factor – wis a sleekit man ah richt
oonder the coonsel aff Balmoral.

Aifter all, Girnoc had nae mair tae promise.
Folk had nae seengle penny atween them:
Days of dreeving beast gan –
Naftie outlawed –
An noo the Royal takover!
Fit an earth naixt!!

Aye, The Camlet – the hairt o’ the glen,
wis heavin it’s last sorrowfu’ beat.

Naisty deeds, or wis it mercy?
Anyhoo lang-heidit Cameron wis tae be
the Meesenger o daith tae a way of life:

Nae mair chirm
Nae mair diddle,
Nae mair Sing-sang,
Nae mair Littlins’ lachter.

There’s Naebody noo in the glen. Naebody.
Naebody but the dumfoonert loon.

At Bovagli’s door he sits aside an auld currant tree,
son-afore-the father.
Heevenly scent – speeritool yet waesome
Heid foo, an greet-hertit, o’ days gan by.

Aye Bovagli, oh so buitifool – lochnagar’s saicret jewel:
strikes melancohly an’ wonder in equal measure.

Beyont the shuttered sailience within
A stained enamel baith as ready to pour
as it surely wis on Donal’s last nicht.

Weavin in an oot the wuid – noo the preeserve of the deer:
yet aince that of the Gordon bairns.
Bitten aff by Bovaglick’s cald win
wi’ smallpox – such a loss of littlins.

Heeven scent o’ the bonniest quines.
Currant blossom.
An a loon dumfoonert.

Linvaig hame of the cherry blossom.
Wis tae be Girnoc’s very last tae flit.
Aince it wis fairmed by twa brothers Gordon – sons o’ The Camlet.

At Linvaig, look oot aboot ye, fae imaiginashun can easy conjur
Wolf McAndrew:
A mither’s loon lost tae the wild an raised by the pack.
At Aultdrachty, in the Muick, he cam back.
Aye he cam back!

Cud you believe it: at Linvaig lodged a huddle o’ umberella makkers
Fit in the Girnoc: Ceevil folk wi brollies!?
Fit mair eesless cud there be!!
Not even the dumfoonert loon
wid tak, a brolly, tae the Girnoc!

Mair keerious still:
Centuries of doodles writ upon an auld wooden Linvaig Flesher:
Doon tae the ditties signed by the twa Gordon brothers:
an remynders o’ bills;
sheep coontit –
An then this:

“Lost last night, Emma Gordon,
last seen going down the road with Fred Duncan’s clothes on.
A’body givin information on her whur-aboots will be rewarded.”

The dumfoonert loon has tae tip his cap to Emma.
An wi’ a guid smirk,
she tips him back wi Fred’s!

The Cosh – the halla an gate tae the Girnoc:
The Miller there wis auld Joseph: Joseph ‘the frugal.’
Anither Gordon, an anither son o’ Camlet!
Aye inextricable ah richt, fae Joseph, wud yae believit,
marrit his mither’s sister!

Auld Joseph wis a prood man, in an ancient year,
yet still trekked ooer the mounth tae Brechin ta visit his grandbairns.
In plaid, kilt and bunnet and wi twa staffs he set aff:
A striking auld man.
Takin his laist journey.

Auld Joseph started up the moontain track all alane
But some of his faimily followed him.
Aye Joseph wis proud, bit he wis auld and guy weak,
an they were feartit for him.
The way wis steep, an soon the snaa gaithered deep.
Joseph tak aff his ill fittin shoes to try an mak the gayin mair aisy,
an tied the shoes tae his staff.

Faimily followit auld Joseph aiver-mair closely
an cud see that he wis vairy tired an oonwell.
Aifter lodging in the snaa, his staff (tied wi his shoes)
he laid doon tae rest.
Ainly tae rise again an stagger on an on,
but fa shorter and shorter.
An shorter.

Nae ‘frugal’, that cannae be richt.
Joseph’s epitaph shud reflect the man on his laist journey.
Joseph: Joseph the cooragious. Joseph the thraan.

At Camlet, the dumfoonert loon drifts in ban oot:
Camlets bairns had such mixt fortunes ye ken.
Some remarkable an so warldly wise;
Cortachy Castle an Airlie too
Burnside, Springfield an even Priory!
Whilst aithers lost affrontit at the gaugers will,
or shamit, jist mebbe, thro a clandesteen birth
in the grounds of Abergeeldie.



The Great Conker Hunt!

Another year! Another year!
Excitement rises for those

The giant’s gentle green fingers clasp.
for Kinfaun’s spectacular
rival tae Walnut’s grove.

Boxes laden. Hands held,
feet skip,
purposefully collecting
for some mental feat or other.

Shiny inside pumpkins!



The Three Mustache Tree

At the head of Keir it sits
facing clockwork gyrations
of cars: numbers untold.

It beams a hidden sentinel:
our custodian of mans’
faceless technology.

It stands tall as a cavalry officer saluting;
or as absurd as an upside-down clown on parade.
Or Perhaps a classic screen Idol:
with everyday growth trimmed, waxed, and svelte.

Its mustached face has ups, downs and in-betweens:
hiding a third of no soul.

It has no chlorophyll.
Yet it is strangely alive in the green
and beckons Dunblane home to an odd reassurance.



This is not yesterday

Indeed young Rachel, ‘this is not yesterday.’

And oh yes, and for that matter ‘It’s not the meantime now!’
For this is our moment.

Hale Bopp had brought the brightest gift to Aberdeen.
Two comets had blazed in-between
and then faded in the night sky,
but held still,
in our wonderful moment.

It was Aberdeen’s reevin win that brought us our millennium marvel.
Dark eyes brightening the nineteenth.

Hearts bursting with joy beneath.
Tears cradling a wonderful moment.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month
“over the stair she went, she went….
Heavily down the stairs
Binglety, banglety, bumplety
Down with apple & pears…”
That was how our dear soldier fell.
Stookied in sympathy with thoughts cast
always to dwell in the moment.

Yes, our dear soldier reached out to the lost
and brought them together again
in her kaleidoscope of showering comets
and one last glittering moment.



Moments together in time
Each and every drop, has dropped differently into the moment.

A moment cannot simply belong to a drop.

In this our wonderful, yet falling togetherness
our love is only equal to the moment
in the feeling and the fall.



The bed we made

We are neighbours and friends across a generation, and a fence.
Our houses, laid-out in a mirror opaquely stane:

The 1870’s fancy of Mr Cousin that infinitesimal builder,
built himself so fiery red.

It is long since our lost Cousin made his Victorian bed.

Seven years ago this summer, our neighbour’s wife died.
That spring, I recall seeing Elma at the door of her house
in the mirror of a doctor’s eye:
she could not walk.

Crawford, her husband, dear neighbour, had to support her.

My mirror was useless.
Elma had not broken her leg,
no longer proud of diagnosing little Ali’s break,
a tear – no more than manganese and gravity- fell
as neighbour told that his wife had cancer;
that she was hobbling to her Strathcarron bed.

That summer, Crawford arose every morning and dug,
a beautiful circular bed.
For Elma he filled it with roses.

For several years they were colourful and beautiful;
but the roses, in the shadow of Mossgrove life,

Not quite Ten Summers have since passed,
and ‘That Summer’ is still as real to me as the bed Crawford made.
So I raised my own summer bed, not to Elma, but to life.

Yesterday, from the mirror, I spotted Crawford digging – early yet again:
digging out the scraggy roses from Elma’s bed.

Today Crawford is sowing grass,
and now both our beds are made.



Granny is gone.
Her potty rusts and now leaks

The beech tree is ancient, but not near death.
The iron potty was once her doll’s.

Peter is here.
He is potty
and in his leaking, he reveals much iron mongered:
or is that ‘irony mongered’?

Candia’s father rearranged such.

Len you died ‘that summer’:
1940 so somersaultingly real to me.
Natural sciences still cannot hang upon such invisible
at least not revealingly.
The disappearance of appearance.



Known to none but Peter.
Nestles in a hill that carries a name that we forget why it was so called.

Our WORLD is here!
Natural sciences are backwards free
yet what is humanity
if not understood in its journey?


We have moved on

‘We have moved on’ (said doctor Knows Best)
didn’t you notice?!

Today we have targets, tooled by incentive,
and our patients are our numbered ‘partners’.
Betjeman has been realised:
not in poetry but in his warning:

we must ‘Release time to care’

Illness is our paradigm.
Though (of course) we only seek health!
But sadly, long since did guid Dr Osler ‘move on.’
and Today disorder is our norm.

‘Neuro-everything’ may seem necessary, but it is never sufficient:
unless we are no more than ‘our brains’?

And Peter’s principle is just that:
that evidence base matters
but cannot be sufficient amidst poverty of thought.

‘We have moved on’, and ‘we can be certain’:
said Dr Knows best:
history is ‘irrelevant’, and our social world ‘unreal’.

‘We have moved on’, and ‘we can be certain’:
of the boundary between ageing and illness.

And more certain still,
that we are (indeed) (today) more humane.

Dr Knows Best you are a marvel!
A neuroscientific wonder.

and we have moved on . . .


The shortness of life

Michael, yes, “life is short”:
So you will say what you like.

Life is short.

And there is little of enough time to mention identity.

You don’t want to be ‘told’
but like me, you ‘tell’ everyday:

In our own professional language (pathologically ‘complete’)
we typecast disorders more ‘real’ than any illness.

Michael, life is short
so we must remember
that we are not all ill.

Not at all.
but you know this.

I worry for you Michael
as you hate illness –
and that makes you angry.


The world lives in me (or am I backwards to think so?)

I am neither independent
nor simply dependent:
I am simply Peter that is somewhere
to be found within (and without)
my biology, physics and chemistry.

Every sceptic can agree on this
astonishing ‘scientific’ complexity!

Peter lives in a world far more than
that which is carried in words or indeed numbers

Perhaps our world
can never fully be understood:

DLROW or 12345?

Letters, numbers,
expressed backwards or forwards,
may always struggle with time as experienced.


Let us not calculate light
Sian saw a glimmer in me. I was dazzled by Sian

Glimmer or dazzle, dazzle or glimmer:
let us not calculate light!

Together, and only together,
Peter and Sian have wavelength



Agapanthus: natural, beautiful, reaching
sharing light, colour and presence.

A globe, a world, projecting tall into the clearest of skies.

Without Agapanthus I have no sky.


How foolish

To think that we can ‘capture’ the moment!
“Listen. Time passes. Listen”

Every moment has properties in physics, chemistry and biology
A togetherness that is lost without time and tense.

“Listen. Science. Listen”


Part of the conversation.

I could never be a leader,
I do not want to lead.
I just want to be part of the conversation.

I don’t want to be labelled,
I do not want to label.
I just want to be part of the conversation.

Is this my sensitivity or that of the world?

I could never be a leader,
I do not want to lead.
I just want to be part of the conversation.






Prosody (when and now)
Syntax (arranged)
Grammar (not to be silly)
Punctuation (all in the timing)



Meet you at the statue in an hour

Thank you:
For meeting me (we are part of serendipity)
‘at the statue in an hour’
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For marrying me (we are part of serendipity)
We are arresting in our togetherness
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For being there for a temperamental artist
We are all scientists!
(more than serendipity)

Thank you:
For your beauty (beauty beyond serendipity)
I have no sky without Cimbrone

Thank you:
Our world together.


I need ethics because I am on my own
I can only see with my eyes.
I try to shift my stance.
I do not always see what others see

I need ethics because I am ordinary and extraordinary

I can only see with my own eyes
I try to shift my stance
I do not always see what others see

[and then there is feel]



It is both terrible (and not so terrible)
How much I forget

I feel more than I forget.
And sense more than I feel.



Not all that I can see is light
I will shift my stance to ‘see’
and to feel.

This matters to all of me.



being confident
is not ‘me’.
the lack of

is some sort of making



under our hedge:
a blue that
opens up to the world:

I know where love might be found.


Scottish Chapter Prize:

EGOs get in the way of life and land.

I was awarded every award
in my post-medical landscape.

But awards are not signs
to be posted on maps.
and I am not an architect of any landscape.

Let nature in.


“The subjective—objective divide”

Within and outwith I cannot find any ‘dividing’ line:
backwards, forwards, inside-out and wonderfully Humpty-Dumpty,
no presence is
ever knowingly




My mind is a garden

Gardens are transient arrangements
lost without the gardener.

In the lightest of winds
they sway
part and apart


the moment
or the wonder of.

[and gosh,  the colour!]

nature needs no capital,
nature has no singular,
nature cannot be arranged.

My mind is a garden of nature.



As schoolboy I was put in goals
Yet I could not catch.

Such play!
If only I could catch!

the goal is wide
If only I could catch!

I am schoolboy.


I mistook myself for a scientific label.

This is neither fact
nor expert advice:

I am an artist, a poet, and all that may be in-between.

This is neither fact
nor expert advice:

specialisms are making nonsense of sense.

and we are being divided.


I had a project as a small boy.
That I would step into the real world of colour television,
where history is not so different to music.

But naturally, it’s impossible to be logical all the time,
so fuck that. Fuck normal.
It takes serious talent, to be as sensitive –
Imagination can melt iron bars.

The number of lives that enter our own is incalculable.
Why select just a certain few stories to define yourself?

Being with you is like being in this fantastic landscape.
H E R E is where we meet:
he looked at her, and she smiled.
she laughed her seventeen-year-old laugh –
colours upon colours.

We are all passing through it is just a question of how brightly –
that brief smile that afternoon.
The story began halfway through the lyrics of a song.


A Little Spartan

I am more little than Spartan.

I retreat from Market forces, Ego and Ivory Towers.

I do not attack, but vulnerably question.

Neither science nor art can divide Little Sparta.


Jeepers creepers

Jeepers creepers,
why on earth did you
fall in love


Words and numbers

Numbers matter!

But numbers alone cannot begin to reveal the actual experience of life [or any life lived]

The same is true of any language.



Please do not worry about any shortage of ideas,
reserve any worry [should you perhaps so worry]
to ideas


A D V I C E [as given by Mr Gordon Bennett]

Sell yersel’ Peter –
yer ideas are money!

Sell yersel’ Peter –
even if your ‘talent’ relies on yer vulnerability.

Sell yersel!

Naiver says Peter –
I am no brand to be piped across any ocean or galaxy –

we are tummy-buttons amongst the stars.



I struggle to measure:
half truths
half rights
half wrongs.

I struggle to measure:
half of what I say, and
half of what I do not say.

I struggle to measure:
words-halved and half of any world.


And I felt glorious

A storyteller magically reached out to me:
and I felt glorious.
That kindly reach,
the shared feel
of all my Carmichaels, Camlets and Bardies.

Scotland’s bonnie tapestry:
where charm is the pattern of language
and history.

A storyteller magically reached out to me:
and I felt glorious.
A wee Spartan and a Makar
sharing stories
as two girls sang.


Let us meet midway
between the ruins and today.

Let our meeting be ‘Transatlantic’.

I suggest that we meet at the statue
and in an hour.
I hope that this is not too short notice?
[If you need Directions, you will find them at Lost]

I hope you make it!
Please do not be disappointed to find me so ordinary.
I may be no one word poem
and describers of me do not agree on this:
I am the shy, greying, part-time-punk and rebel.

[But be warned] I can be rhetorical!
I carry a soap-box everywhere I go
and [please be Told] I am known to holler in every abandoned town
of an Atlantic divide between the so-called ‘two cultures’.

Meet you at the statue in an hour!


Doing words
Montaigne, I am struggling
in my un-doing as a doctor.

Gardeners are dooers and do not retire.
And Nature is more than the soil in which everything grows.

There are so many words for doing.


Grave full of years

Here in Radical Park
where the unemployed
were once employed:
semi-circular panels in spandrels
still rise up into an arch.

Father-to-son, until 1902
ballads foretold that Celtic Graemes
would ‘never to die as long as Scottish hairts beat’
but as the century turned,
the almost-last-laird found Reekie was ‘better suited’ to him
to Garvock his son came
where, between that year and 1811, eight babies ‘tumbled’.

That tucked away moment-in-time
is still
in Radical Park:
where the unemployed
were once employed:
and semi-circular panels in spandrels
rose up into an arch


[Let me be sensitive]

The mainstream is not for me!

No wonder that this ancient rebel
will win no award
that he would not want.

I am a ‘Scottish Chapter’:
recorded on a bit of faded paper,
a typewritten insert that was glued –
without feel – to a book
on waterfalls.

B E I N G [and let me be sensitive about this]
– is more than a sum –
between the ‘MAINSTREAM’
and me.


Somewhere between:


the moment that has passed since I thought of ‘now’


do not begin to tell you where you might find me.



I have walked you backwards
every day since
the fountain

I am the hunched one.


Lived experience

I had heard o’ yer big brither
but nae you:
The ‘independent’ school up North that oor
future King

But Archie, as the “Do-Upper-Of-The-Week”
yer toun is to be
D E M O L I S H E D –
for an Off-Grid Development Opportunity.
All consents have been granted.

But Gordonston, my wee brither,
no consents are required for remembering.

The auld map tells me ye were
L O C H I N V E R ‘ S –
the Gordon that colonized Cape Briton
and who made a fortune afore returning hame!

Centuries later yer Laird was Auchencruive
that Glasgae Merchant made good –
who still today looks over the big City:
hats aff tae the man!

But my wee brither,
ye ken what:
I want to hear from you
aboot what matters maist:
lived experience.



backwards [I was young]
I walked into science.

My Granny loved to tell
how I could sleep whilst still standing:
an ability that I lost before
my Granny died.

I can still walk backwards
and I can still hear my Granny.

fallen not felled
I tip-toed into the arts
where algorithms gave way to

Let me share this story one day.


What may drift ashore
nobody can tell

this is
A T L A N T I C   T I M E



long ago
[without understanding]
I felt
like Flaubert.

I am grey now
but Flaubert,
dead-before-I-was born
has not left me.


The Politician’s Clock

Child on tippy-toes
on a chair
winding her grandfaither’s clock.

Wee Catherine
we are a’ in transit
facing a warld
in by’oot.

It wis saiven-twenty when you finished
winding the clock:
so the sailors recalled [arriving and leaving Leith docks]

And noo we hae “electric time”
and yer grandfaither stands tall in
Maxwell Clerk waves, , , ,

For A S T R O V [and us all]
the transit clock
will strike TWELVE
and stop.

But Catherine, wee Catherine, the Bell of the transit clock rings again.

Granite piers do not float –
stars guide
and voyaging sailors discover
that time is not ‘two faced’.


local and deep

As a child I waded into ocean shallows
the season did not matter –
I could not feel the cold!

Older now, I recall more vividly than then:
tippy-toeing into



only dust makes light visible:
bringing colour
skies that are not little.

children are
yet to find words –

skies are not little.


a collective loss


cannot be captured in a word –

in the same way that


is lost in any other representation.


Vivendo discimus

The Antiquary worries:
that today’s Science
has lost the place


in our lives.

[a poem for now, then, and all that may become]



Colin, your daughter recalls how principled you were
before your untimely death.

I retrace your footsteps
in revealing the wonder
of Scotland’s architecture.

And now, I am
the principled bugger.



of our lives.

from our beginning


The loss of feeling

to symbolism.

Dr Felix Post made ‘science’ of the dead.
he categorised all [dead] artists
by disease

of lives that POST had never shared
and ‘evidence’ alone
of words and numbers.


“All that is just”

Lists are just lists
[and this is a list]

Tools are just tools
[and I am a tool]

Words are just words,
numbers just numbers.

Time [might this be experience]
has just passed.

We cannot unlearn
though we may forget a list.

This poem is a list
that left out
an extraordinary word:



The Porsolt Forced Swimming Test (Behavioural Despair Test) is centred on rodents’ response to the threat of drowning. It has been interpreted as measuring susceptibility to negative mood in humans. It is commonly used to measure the effectiveness of antidepressants in rats.

The following is a poem written by me about this test. I wrote it in my mind on my way to Siberia. Once at Siberia I jotted it down in my commonplace notebook. This Siberia is a farm, now a ruin, in the East Neuk of Fife. It should not be confused with the extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia.

The poem recounts the friendship of two rats: one rat is called ‘Hippocraticus’ and the other rat ‘583’. Hippocrates is often referred to as the “Father of Medicine”. Agnes Richter was a psychiatric patient and seamstress. She made herself a jacket whilst under psychiatric care. It seems that she was known as ‘patient 583’ and so she stitched this label into her jacket.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has stated that “We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment”.

Dr William Sargant (1907-1988) was a British psychiatrist who is remembered for the evangelical zeal with which he promoted treatments such as psychosurgery, deep sleep treatment, electroconvulsive therapy and insulin shock therapy. He wrote, with Dr Eliot Slater in 1944 the influential Textbook: “An introduction to physical methods of treatment in psychiatry”.

“Real Psychiatry” is a blog written by an American Psychiatrist. In terms of psychiatry in the UK a new textbook is to be published this month: it is titled “The Medical Model in Mental Health: An Explanation and Evaluation”


Aye its cauld, like Siberia! Says rodent ‘583’
So keep swimming Hippocraticus
ye wud’nae want to SINK.

Keep swimmin’ Hippocraticus
We’re being ‘evaluated’ did ye nae ken?
And all will be ‘resolved’ when we stop

Did ye nae hear:
Dr Sargant is giving a talk on ‘values and feeling valued’
Aifter a plush dinner at some Royal Society or anither!
So keep swimming Hippocraticus.

There’s gan tae be a Text book aboot us –
it will “explain” how we feel
based on the new brain cells that grew in oor brains
before we drooned.
The Text book is to be called “REAL PSYCHIATRY”

Keep swimming Hippocraticus!
“The Rules of Science”
are credible
and we
are not.

“I am sae tired 583
I don’t hae strength to swim much longer
Gie me a ‘choppy sea’ any day
tae P O R S O L T”

Keep swimming Hippocraticus! [rodent 583 is close to tears]
the imbalance is not ours.

Hippocraticus [sinking]
Is now dead.
Dr Sargant enters the laboratory
and prepares the PORSOLT glass beaker for 583.




Evidence cannot be based
in numbers and words

We are all “evidence”
of time experienced

You are unique
do not forget

Science matters:
matter makes us and made us.
the living [and the dead] understand [understood] this!

Yet, it is the unsaids, the unknowns, and soon forgottens
that alone we keep
dead or alive.



Letters not of me.

I have written many letters.

One of my interests is in ethics:
I am no more ethical than you.

I am interested in philosophy.
I am not a philosopher.

I have written letters.


Delivering news that passed me by

I was a paper-boy
delivering news that passed me by,
every day.

I was paper-boy to Mrs Picken:
36 Redford Drive.
who left me an apple on her window-sill
every day.

I was a paper-boy
delivering news
every day.





forever lost between east and west.



Within and without art and science, I am just




Have I told you?

I can be forgetful.



my misunderstood hairt

with sorrow for aither hairts.




Girgenti followed Paestum
in a blue sky summer
that was not little.

Beneath this sky
two girls sang.

It was a beautiful summer.





No life can be fully written

in any book.

Perhaps you feel a little of what cannot be shared


Canto One

This is from life, I was there:
exploring secrets hidden behind shapes, colours and scents –
the smell of that philadelphus, god almighty!

In Canto One I lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky
A million cameras could not catch that flight
and the years that had poured into those moments.

A dreamed landscape borrowed in my mind’s eye –
a shadow of false azure on a window pane.

In Canto One I was wide awake hungry for listening
and needing to leap:
skipping like a child through a spring  garden of lime
Nabokov smiled from a distant gateway
where he met a gentle gardener.

Canto One:
something now exists which never existed before.


Canto Two

Dylan said listen to it pass –
Nabokov did not believe in it.
Einstein talked about it relatively.

Evidence may be bound
but experience is not:
Time passes
time passes




[ W A V E R L E Y ]

sixty years since
they were buried
in the graveyard
sixty years since
they were loved.

*this poem was inspired by coming across a grave that made me cry. It was by chance I came across the grave to Margaret Ogilvie by her daughter Patricia in Clunyhill Cemetery, Forres



in the middle

of a few days in
an adventure began
in which a film could neither
begin nor end.

Together we found home
in a light and lantern.
Sian, pilot, polestar and guide
and I was a “little bit” mad.
So let us adventure with Don Quixote
and Sancho Panza (for he is me)

Images repeat in our minds (we cannot help it)
Sian at Loch Garten in a blue dress
with flowers (picked by Andrew) in her hands.
And in my SEROXAT madness
Rachel coloured hearts for me
from Cornton Nursery.
Images repeat in our minds (we cannot help it)

In Seaton Park, Gregory’s Girl kissed me and light became lighter
and silence (the unsaids) lighter still. From then on
no windows could be bricked-up.
Walls and fences became natural hedges
where gaps [gateways] invited us to places where we could just be
and where no sky was little.  We learned to love like this
Together, telling the stories that nobody hears!

This poem is skipping time!
Today, we live with white noise
where Elbow room is lost
and I am getting old
“I couldn’t help it”.

So let us follow our children –
“second to the right and straight on” where we can fly “till morning”
Polestar and guide.
Inside the crocodile, the clock still ticks
‘Listen’ said Dylan
in a time where Nabakov continues to flutter brilliantly:
both would have found home in Dalquaharran’s libarary
[it was at the top of the stairs]

Hold the door open to that library:
memories may ‘rebel’, but are never extinct: such is reality and romance.
Being read to by one’s mother, Peter’s unwritten “Canto 1943”.
Moatbrae, books, and Neverland:small spaces that magically reach out
to a sky that is not little.

At Lagvag
distance was closer than a southern elsewhere
that no sea could divide
and in the middle,“two cultures” find themselves lost
[Both Don Qixote and Sancho Panza agreed on this
and that reality and fiction live on]

This poem proposes something and concludes nothing.
But thankfully two girls sang:
one was Sian.


A world of made up numbers

I am not digital
I am Peter.

A world made up of scientists:
where studies are not ‘of Peter’.

I am not digital.


Rating Scales
Help (a little) in understanding health and illness.
have a place in science –
but ‘by design’ –
do not include what makes me me, and you you.
Rating scales make others of us all.


Is it all just?
Institutional power
Individual power
Soft power
Behind-closed-doors power
Double truth power
Corporate power
Ultimate power
Is it all just? 


time past
poet silly, poet me
silly poet, silly me


I am here,

I am now dead
and you are reading.


needs more than just thinking!
[there is something about feel]


with a regularity that confuses:

tick, tock, tick, tock,


children crawl to stand

such movement.


Generalised Anxiety Disorder
I live with a psychiatric diagnosis
that was never me.

‘Scientific talk’ is everywhere!

I am Peter.


Eilean an Tighe

where hearty fireplaces hold up walls
that are not needed;
where windows unseen
invite the world in.


TEXT book

TEXT book.
Evidence contained within
is empirical and ‘disinterested’
providing science at its most objective.

TEXT book.
Has a “target on its back [cover]” –
because “real” science needs defending!

TEXT book.
Provides all the evidence that you may need
but ignores all that matters in-between.

TEXT book.
Where evidence is

TEXT book.
I am not there.
Are you?



‘Street drugs’,
desire and despair,
have a new market.


Individually, we are somewhere beyond
60 million neurons
[a number that is outwith all the stars in the universe]


The sky is not little!



Wordless feeling

Let us see what we hear,

and listen to light.

Imagine the feeling!

It would be wordless.




I am a circle,
you are a

I see shapes,
you saw

You are the past,
I am



Poetry in landscape

I reveal so little of what I feel
[I am an not a confident artist]

All that I create feels selfish
[I am an artist]

I find poetry in landscape
[here I am  lost]



I am incredibly shy

I keep seeking a language
[that might begin to explain] a feeling
that lives on in me.



The sparkling Tay is there!

The heron, made of iron, had aged rusty,
quite beautifully so.

The heron’s vital long toes, always a little ungainly, left more so
by weather and time.

The  heron, fallen and lost in the undergrowth, had
 never been forgotten.

Today, the heron stands tall again, looking up to a sky that is
not little!

Its rusty wings loosening to winnow,
and the sparkling Tay is there!



A dinner plate [an Explanation and Evaluation]

The tatties are MASHED –
the NEEP said:
yer a’ MINCE!



‘Real science’, it is said, should be based on what science considers credible.
This is one of the ‘Rules of Science’, and is necessary if we are to quantify understanding.

On hearing of this ‘science’ the philosopher felt a need to quietly say:

“Numbers are symbols, as are letters: both are necessary in developing wider understanding, but neither are sufficient nor able [alone or combined] to translate experience in its entirety.  Particularly when considering the science of the Mind, we must remember that much of  what is claimed to be ‘objective’, or ‘real science’, is actually based on a symbolic reduction of subjective experience”



feel  is all that we are –
if science states otherwise
respond with


Empirical Science
has yet to research  if ‘Uppityness’
may be associated with ‘MINCE’.

Empirical Science
when iron-bru fuelled
has found that gas rises from the base.



this Mossgrove summer
I ‘retired’.
Rachel invited our garden into the village.
Agapnathus flowered for the first time.



I see shapes
in every shade,
[shades that do not begin or end us]



Can be

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
s u b j e c t i v i t y
– there is no view from nowhere [1]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
the  s o c i a l  world
no man is an island [2]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
t i m e
listen. time passes [3]

EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE can be both evidence and medicine if it includes:
e x p e r i e n c e
vivendo discimus [4]

[1] The View From Nowhere – by Thomas Nagel. 1989
[2] No Man is an island – by John Donne. 1624
[3] Under Milk Wood – by Dylan Thomas. 1954
[4] Vivendo Discimus [it is by living that we learn] – Patrick Geddes. 1889





To anti-THIS and anti-THAT –
each day a new ‘recruit’ is enlisted:
played out on a BINGO card –
but this is not a game.

In the anti-WORLD of military metaphors,
we make ‘opponents’ of each other.
The wounded ourselves.




It is by the institution’s rules that we learn,
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION.

It is ‘brave to speak up’ for the institution
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION.

‘Power is not power’ when used softly
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION

When Baroness Cumberlege published: First Do No Harm [1]
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION
was overheard to mutter:

We ‘do not recognise’ wilful blindness
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION

Lived experience fuels ‘ideology’
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION.

When Antony died, his elderly mother left childless, [2]
a spokesperson FOR the INSTITUTION
chose not to say a thing.

[1] First Do No Harm – The report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review. July 2020
[2] Antony Schofield – ended his life in August 2019 as he could no longer bear the relentless akathisia which was the consequence of taking a psychiatric drug as prescribed



The world makes equal of us all

Poets [Little Spartans or otherwise]
need not follow rules.

The philosopher [following nobody]
was heckled by specialists
for asking everyday questions.

The world makes equals of us all.

As time passes,
and death approaches,
there is no need for poets and Little Spartans.

The world makes equals of us all.


Travelling North

travelling North –
the old road North has been bypassed,
and the new road is a series of roundabouts.
[a tear in my eye]

travelling North –
thoughts skipped without interruption
and the ‘narrator’ did not seem hesitant!

travelling North –
every song on the radio
was the harmony of two girls singing.

travelling North –
I found no road-block to time-passing
and without understanding why, I jestured two-fingers to:
“Consciousnes Explained”[1]

travelling North –
I revisited familiar gateways,
that no longer lead to a past.
[a tear in my eye]

travelling North –
I heard voices,
first heard in the homes of my youth –
and nothing could be more real.
[a tear in my eye]

[1] ‘Consciousness Explained’ – by Daniel Dennett



older [retired]
labelled [again]
shamed [by power]



I was once a doctor.
Patients trusted me.
I could not ‘bullshit’
I got things wrong, made mistakes, and struggled with authority –

I was unable to play the role.


not HERE

A social maverick, maybe, but a timid one at that –
Peter is not H E R E.

A gentle gardener, part time Little Spartan –
Peter is not H E R E.

A Rebel Antiquary, more interested in the present –
Peter is not H E R E.


We are greedy consumers of simple explanations in knowledge that the reality is anything


the noo [without end]

intellectual noise,
the wisdom of others,
isolation of


Fiction had disrupted reality
Sancho Panza recalls –
that a Russian doctor
mistook Peter to be
Patrick Geddes.

Sancho Panza recalls –
that the gardener who practised medicine and now plants trees
mistook the Russian doctor
to be Don Quixote.

With more errors made than atoms in the sun
all agreed that
fiction had disrupted reality.




If only there could be

an algorithm
that presents who I am
rather than



She sang with her mother




Somewhere between
an ordinary artist,
and an ordinary scientist
[if you seek everyday-in-betweens]
you will find
something extraordinary



The following poem is addressed to Robert Hepburn who died in Temple, 1798. It is based on a stone gateway that has out-survived the house that it long introduced.

[Necessary wider context to my poem is shared in the footnotes]

Last Monday
The only surviving son of Baad, you did guid.
Jist a bairn you lost yer faither.
It wis yer mither that you followed
through this gateway.

Summer 1786:
and a June day that you naiver forgot!
Appointed Scotland’s new Commisioner fae Customs:
arrivals and exits wer noo yer aivery-day!

Whit a summer that wis!
Aye Herschel wis far seeing
Maister, ye wer guid tae me. I will naiver forget that.

Maister, you died afae young and I miss you!
Yer hoose is noo lang gan,
but yer mither’s gateway
– in a muddy field noo flooer’d by Nan* –
still greets us a’!

The ‘REMARKABLE FINE BEEF’ that you raised in this field
wis a’ sold in Edinburgh in the summer following yer daith

[Oh, I shud hae said, this is William, yer gairdener spakin’. Nae doot you recognise my voice]


TWO CENTURIES later [somewhere beyond a pause]
Peter walked though that gateway.

*Nan Shepherd





Each year, sometimes twice, the Institution holds an Award Ceremony.

Award Categories have been agreed behind closed doors by a small committee.

This year, a new category of annual Award has been introduced, this will be for the ‘Brand Developer of the Year’

The Committee has agreed that last year’s ‘Whataboutery’ award should go to its Improver of the Year

It has been agreed that this year’s Soft Power Award will be for the best ‘Control of Narrative’

The Committee can confirm that the award for ‘Courage on Behalf of the Institution’ will be jointly received by several members, but that one of these members will also receive the medal for ‘Discrediter of the Year’.

The Institution has decided, as in previous years, that there will be no public vote on any of the categories.


The Street

walked by

where we live

defiant of time





140 characters
reduces every
point of


A Professor writes.

‘I worry about you’
[a Professor writes]

I have a label 
[a Professor writes]

‘You are anti-psychiatry’
[a Professor writes]

‘Sunshine is dim’
[a Professor writes]

A reply.

‘I worry about you’
[somebody replies]

‘You do not hear us’
[somebody replies]

Sunshine is bright

Feel the warmth.


divisive folly

I am the
most scientific poet
that poetry has ever known.


I am the
most artistic scientist
that science has ever known.




I do not feel my DNA.

I feel
a presence of words
that do not begin to explain how I feel

I feel
a presence of yesterday

I do not feel my DNA.



we are, and we are not,

we are, and we are not,

we are, and we are not,

we are, and we are not,



More than a little!

I have been told by EXPERTS
that I am not resilient  e n o u g h.

I have suffered –
and I have learned from my suffering
– more than a little!

I listen to others –
learning from experience different to mine
– more than a little!

I am a die-hard scientist –
and a rebel romantic
– more than a little!

EXPERTS, please remember –
poetry has something to say
– more than a little!




Presented with uncertain symptoms
the doctor, a diligent scientist,
checked every bit of data that had ever been established:
evidence-based and randomised controlled.

This empathic doctor [a natural worrier]
re-checked every last bit of data and every guideline
[“Guidelines are not Tramlines”]

Always learning from the life of others
the doctor realised that there is more to evidence
than randomised controlled data.

It is by living that we learn:
or have I “perceived” this wrongly?

It is not uncommon to come across senior doctors describing reports of harmful effects of medical interventions as “perceived”. These same doctors then insist that the most important evidence is based on Randomised Controlled Trials.

This poem may be perceived as an ‘attack’ upon evidence. It is not. Evidence comes in all forms, and evidence-based-medicine, although necessary, cannot fully represent experience.




[matters still under consideration]


[a poem relating to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints]




‘Proper Academics’

From our tower there is a view to nowhere
that we alone can see, properly.

The evidence heirarchy, is a system,
that can be turned upside down [when required]
by ‘proper academics’

Our Randomised Controlled Study
– on the nature of what constitutes ‘proper’ 
is not progressing [perhaps due to methodological flaws?]

‘Proper academics’ apply HERE.





A Humble Gate

At Bovaglia,
Rachel opened a gate:
a gate to the mountains.

The passer-through smiled in thanks,
and Rachel smiled back.

Two smiles.
At a gate to the mountains.




Andrew, you beat the drum,
for others less fortunate.

Andrew, you fly the night:
‘second to the right, and straight on till morning’

Andrew, you caught a star:



An Electric Razor: Donated.

A fading Classic scene,
– cottage style:
in a bristly commercial woodland.

South Milton cottage,
yesterday, I visited you.
I had travelled far North to be with you
and the late Spring light was disappearing with the sun:
over the horizon.

The Acanthus leaves that you hand moulded
in concrete
are still there –
as your Doric pillars reach for the sky.

The woodland is dark now –
but your ARCADIA still brings magical light.




Meet you at the statue in an hour

I was late,
6 minutes, 26 seconds late [to be exact]
still you smiled.

The statue did not matter.
It was the meeting,
your eyes,
that smile.





The MINCE Brand

Order your MINCE now!
The MINCE Brand –
ready in just 5 minutes!

Alas there are no neeps, no tatties.
This is the MINCE Brand –
ready in just 5 minutes!




The Atmosphere.

Jist aifter lunch, on the first day of a new year,
ootside yer front door
you suddenly drapped deid.

John Glennie,
as the shepherd o’ Lochrie
you had woken each day o’ yer lang life
in this place and
and seen,
and experienced,
it’s wunnerfu’ –

Naebody aiver found a hame for that
Highlan’ Ewe that found its way tae Lochrie
In the Spring of 1864

Aifter ye had gan [gan an deed]
Yer son Sandy
gae an illustrated talk to the
Strathdon Mutual Improvement Society.
He ca’d his talk ‘The Atmosphere’.






This is a poem written by myself as a ‘human of Scotland’. I am also a retired NHS doctor who worked for over 25 years in Scottish hospitals. As a doctor and as a citizen of Scotland I was invited to be part of a number of so-called “consultations” by so-called “independent” organisations. Invariably these organisations worked in “partnership” with the Scottish Government.

This poem is not based on any political views; rather it offers thoughts on how organisations use [or misuse] language. The poem also does not shy away of asking, behind all the ‘Spin’, where Power really lies in Scotland?


‘Alliance’ – a word we hear a lot aboot in Scotland.
But whit dis it mean?
In oor auld family dictionary ‘alliance’ is to be found somewhere atween:
‘allure’ and ‘alligator’.
But the dictionary defines it as:
‘a union by treaty or marriage: a partnership’.

Did ye ken that Scotland has its vairy own Alliance:
Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland.
This ALLIANCE is in ‘partnership’ with the Scottish Government –
as set oot in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’.

The ALLIANCE speaks tae us, the “Humans of Scotland”.
Promising that we are “at the Centre”.
As “trusted neutrals” the ALLIANCE will “actively listen” with “intelligent kindness”.

The ALLIANCE-brand champions “courageous leadership” –
leadership that enhances “trust and relationships” with the “humans of Scotland”.

“Have Your Say” the ALLIANCE invites.
Well this poem seeks tae oblige.

Orwell once said of ‘SPIN’, that as a word, it wis used as if it were:
‘no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round’.
In Animal Farm Orwell also reminded us that ‘the object of power is power’.
The  ALLIANCE keeps reminding us that we are  ‘humans of Scotland’.
[Although it has to be said, some humans are mair equal than ithers].

St Andrew’s Hoose in Edinburgh is where oor Government operates.
Wan of Scotland’s finest historians described this building as:
“brooding and authoritarian”  just right foran occupying power”.
Is it here that we find a partnership atween ‘allure’ and ‘alligator’?




The sounds of the Garrel

Vairy early on a spring morning,
the year afore last –
I went luikin in the Kilsyth foothills for a God.

In the Garrel Glen,
a journey into experience began.
The early morning light wis wunnerfu’ –
luminous without being fierce.

I luiked fa’ a lang time,
fa this God –
realising with every step [and breath taken]
that I had hardly begun tae see!

I gaither that the Kilsyth Wayfarers’
used to ramble here.
I came across several o’ them
in a churchyard withoot a church.
Wan broken tombstone aifter anither.

I returned tae the Garrel wi’ my friend:
‘airmed’ wi’ new fangled gear
and satellite coordinates [for the God’s heid].

Bit, alas, we cud find nae carved God!

It wis then that we came across a shepherd,
gaithering his flock.
He telt us to ask his wife –
fa she wud guide us.

Whit a wunnerfu place she led us tae.
It wis here in dappled, gentle light,
that we met a maist fierce luikin God!

On the same rock face
my friend spotted yer
G R A F F I T I O.
[I hud hairdly begun tae see!]

Here  ye carved yer namedate, and hame toon.
That year wis 1892,
an yer hame, Kilsyth.

I noo ken,
thanks tae a’ the new fangled stuff
– o’ which my time noo benefits –
that ye were born, an deid, Kilsyth.

How yer life changed.
That wis the year you married Margaret.
Yer parents did not live to celebrate this special day –
yer mam dying the year afore.

Peter, yer brither, a policeman –
wis much respecktit in Kilsyth.
A photograph o’ him in uniform survives –
I wunner if you luiked like him?

Yer childhood wis spent by the Garrel burn.
From Charles Street and Duntreath Terrace –
you had tae cross the footbridge to get tae

That footbridge is still there,
an leads tae
the war memorial and

Music still plays.
I cannae see it.
But I hear it!
The sounds of the Garrel.






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Are the reality not the perception!

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The EXPERT said:
‘I am an EXPERT in what is right and wrong.
I am an EXPERT, literally, GODDAMIT!’

The EXPERT said:
‘Hippocrates and all his followers were wrong.’
That’s what the EXPERT said, GODDAMIT!

Alas, there was no evidence-base to support the EXPERT’S ‘Literal EXPERTNESS’.
However the EXPERT said he was right, GODDAMIT!




[in lower case]
have become




A ‘Poster Boy for Psychiatry’

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
displayed in NEON yellow [because natural light is not sufficient]

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
because numbers matter more than experience

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
the ‘Chemical imbalance theory’ was always a ‘trope’

Provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard for evidence-base:
where followers of Hippocrates may not always be welcome

A ‘Poster Boy for Psychiatry’ provides an ‘empirical’ noticeboard:
but fails to say that your experience might be considered ‘BASELESS’.

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