The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Saturday: A Boy in Hamnavoe, a poem by George Mackay Brown


The Saturday penny
Sang a small boy in Hamnavoe
What sweetness can I buy
To glue my teeth
Between two sea breaths?
I could buy
A sherbet dab from Janetta Sinclair
Or a Guilio Fuggacia ice-cream slider.


He went among shop windows,
A small sweetaholic.
The new Mars Bars taste like heaven
But they cost twopence
Twopence for Rachel Smith's claggam too.

Chocolate and Lemonade

A bottle of lemonade
Is only for picnics at The Tender Tables
With ginger snaps, abernethy biscuits.
I’d do a lot for a bar of Cadbury's
Or Fry's chocolate cream.
Why do such bits of heaven
Have to cost twopence?


A penny doesn't go far
When it costs fourpence
To site in the cave of shifting shadows
With Tom Mix or Charlie Chaplin.
The 'Wizard' on Tuesday –
Twopence again – that everlasting barrier.

Olive Oil

An old gentle-tongued lady
At a close end:
'Georgie, will you get a bottle of olive oil
From the chemist?
My man needs olive oil for his stomach.

And here's a shilling for going.'

Silver Star

A shilling! I held a star
On my finger-ends.
Not a bird flew faster
From chemist's to close-end with olive oil
Than the boy dying of sweet-lack.
She was no old woman, she

Was an angel, and her man
– So rusty inside! – had the gentlest of smiles.


All that Saturday a debauch
Of bon-bons, butternuts, Gowans's
American Cream Soda,
Ice-cream to make the teeth shiver,
A liquorice stick, slab of Highland Cream.
Why aren't you eating your good mince and tatties? ...
Languor at evening
Under the shifting cinema shafts,
Wallace Beery, a hoodlum, on Death Row.

claggam: home-made toffee

George Mackay Brown: Following a Lark

(c) Archie Bevan