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Graham Donnachaidh

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The Tounie and the Tinker
by Graham Donnachaidh
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Recent poems by Graham Donnachaidh
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           >> View all 114

Tounies...people who live in towns.
Tinkers...people who live on the open road..travelling people...not to be confused with Romanies.

The Tounie and the Tinker
This to me, is a daft poem but I was in a daft mood when I wrote it..
I was a fourteen year old and in my last year at school.
In the country, the potato harvest was ready to be picked.
The schools boards in the Dundee area would allow a few senior classes to gain work experience by allowing them two weeks off school to work on the land picking potatoes. So we went off early morning in a bus bound for the Perthshire fields..
My tale is of my youth..
I hope not to offend anyone.. It might seem a bit coarse to some...but it was a coarse upbringing we had in that mill toun.
I originally wrote it in my own Northeast dialect but have altered the poem for ease of reading by others..Some words could not be I’ve added an explanation..

The Tounie and the Tinker.

I well remember that summer tyme
o’ that hot an’ sticky year,
when I was but a ganglin’ lad
wi’ nothing much to fear.
I was off to the tattie picking
in my last year at the school,
in a old war bus
there were thirty o’ us
no teachers here to rule....

We were up before the dawn did break
we met on the Clepington Road,
and the count was taken by the adult boss
an’ old lad by the name o’ Doad.*
we were off to the tattie picking
we were singing dirty songs,
if Father Kreegan
could hear us now
‘twould be Confession for all our wrongs....

We were bound for the fields o’ Perthshire
where the tatties grew in heaps,
where green cabbages an’ carrotts grew
and’ great big bluddy neeps.*
we had great fun on the journey
wi’ the lassies in the back,
if ye could’na
get their bras off
well.. you did’na have the knack....

We were all just young and yelpin’ then
we were all just mad an’ daft,
an’ us lads were hard in places where
the lassies all were saft*.
an’ we all fell into that farmers field
the tatties for to howk,*
it wis our first taste
o’ fairmin’ work
an’ o’ the farming fowk*....

The first day in that harvest field
wi’ back forever bent,
i had my introduction to
what howkers aye had kent.
that at the tattie howkin’ tyme
no shirkin’ would there be,
no tyme tae ponder on
the rump...
o’ Jessie MacAfie....

At dinner break in the tattie field
on arse’s we sat doon,
an’ thought upon the killing o’
that bastard countrie loon,*
who laughed at us soft tounie lads
and winked at tounie lasses,
they kicked the shite
right out o’ him
amongst the countrie grasses....

But we were laughing tounie lads
chasing saucy tounie maids,
we sported in the countrie fields
in saucy knickered raids.
and howling for the lad who’s caught
among the cabbage field,
the lassies they have
cornered him
and the togs from him they peeled.

And crying running he did go
we never saw the like,
o’ him again... I’ve scarcely seen..
i think his name was Mike.
but we howked on and did our share
like any countrie loon,
the tatties picked
the bogies filled
and then we all sat doon.

To eat our own lunch pieces
that were made up by our Ma’s,
some had bully beef on them
that exercised your jaws.
there was often then a fight break out
when someone’s juice was skelt,*
it was bra* to watch
the fighters
as each other they would belt...

Did we take bad with the hard graft then.?
did we think it was awfie braw.?
did we like when the old Grieve* kicked our arse.?
did we wish we were home wi Ma.?
at the end o’ the day we all took home
some tatties in a sack,
came down the street
with a swaggering gait
wi our loads upon our backs....

And the wages then were “seven an’ six” *
was the pay that I took hame,
and my Ma gave me a special kiss
and she called me my ‘Mister’ name.
i can still see the face o’ my angel Ma
as she put into my fist,
two shilling’s bright
and a tanner* wee..
for this son that she hae kiss’d....

For that first few days I worked so hard
for the money I did yearn,
at mid-day break from the loudmouth lads
some peace I sought to earn.
so I took a road which was new to me
an that’s when I first laid eyes,
on that red haired tink*
with her green eyed wink
and her naked Irish thighs....

I had strayed into a field o’ corn
for a wee quick secret pee,
when into my innocent function
this faerie came to me.
sae fearfull did I think she‘d seen
my dribblin’ droopin’ winkie,
i blushed for her
she was....o’ Lord...
a bonny freckled tinkie....

Now..I looked at her..she looked at me
our eyes forever locked,
and laughin’ redly were her lips
at seeing me half-cocked.
in that fatal inst’..i deeply fell
into her deep green sea,
o’ Irish eyes
and red-wild hair
herself she gave to me....

And me to her I cryde my luve
into her liquid self,
she wrapped me in her tinker thighs the softness o’ that elf,
i poured an’ luved my lyfe away
to follow her I’d gae,*
and’ leave all others
that I ken
and only her I’d hae*....

For seven days I sneaked away
when break tyme came at noon,
and met her in that corn field
and there we both lay doon.
she spoke within a language that
wis new and strange to me,
o’ lovely wild her
for only me to see....

Now tinker folk were not like us
who lived in smoky touns,
we did’nt know the cant they spoke
the Shelta* nor the runes.
but Jeannie was for loving..
and I had a lot to gie
an’ baith we rode
amongst the corn
o’ that swaying yellow sea....

She was like no other lassie
that I have ever kissed,
she was like no other laughing lass
that ever I have missed.
she wis naked red haired faeire
an’ she stole away my heart,
but old father tyme
was calling...
and I knew we soon must part....

as surely as the day must end
and the sun must gang* awa,
the tattie crop was well nigh picked
there was no work left ava.*
so the old Grieve called a halt that day
an’ paid our howkers fee,
we’d make our way
in the old war bus
for the road back to Dundee....

Now my heart was sore on the journey home
as I thought o’ the lass I left,
would she miss me in the corn field
and from happiness be bereft.
would she know that I was far away
back to my dark dour toun,
would she weep wild tears
for the lad who’s gone
would she scream to the sky abune*....

Now the years went past as they always do
and I grew to manhood tall,
and I sported in the short grass field
in the scrum of the rugger ball.
but my mind would often wander back
to a sport in a bygone field,
in a scrum wi’ a
green eyed tinker lass
and her hot and breathless yield....

And I’ve oft tymes thought upon that lass
and wondered where she be.
for she was a child o’ the travelling folk
she was forever free,
to wander ‘mongst the lonely roads
among the highland glens,
wi’ her red tink hair
in the wynds down off the Bens*....

So I sit here all alone this night
i be so much older now,
for the sight o’ the Perthshire harvest fields
and the lads hard at the plough,
i want to go away back again
the tatties for to howk,
and to blether with
the old farm Grieve
to be among the farming fowk....


Doad................... George
neeps................... turnips
saft...................... soft
howk.................... pick
fowk...................... folk
loon...................... lad
skelt..................... spilt
bra........................ great..wonderful
Grieve................... foreman
seven and six...... 7shillings and 6 pence
tanner.................. 6pence
tink....................... tinker
gae...................... go
hae...................... have
Shelta.................. the language of Tinkers
gang..................... go
ava......................... at all
abune..................... above
Bens..................... Scottish mountains.

Graham.. July 2002

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Reviewed by *********** ********** (Reader) 4/11/2004
Wonderful, wonderful worh do realise though I will now picture this all

my dribblin’ droopin’ winkie, <--

You are a fine's in your blood fer shur.

ty, Dani
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 4/11/2004
Wonderful tale wonderfully told. Thank you for this offering, Graham. Love and peace. Regis
Reviewed by na na (Reader) 4/10/2004
Graham ... looks like you put a lot of time and effort into this poetry. It shows with good results. But really putsw it to my attention span; which is too short. Happy Easter. Bill Murray
Reviewed by Daniel McTaggart 4/10/2004
Graham, this is by far the longest poem I have ever read on the den. It is also the most fun I have ever had fun reading one. A touchin' tale o'young luve, it is. I, for one, would like to see this written in your Northeast dialect. I'd be curious to see how different it'd be from this version. Just reading it aloud to myself hearkens to my ancestral Scottish-Irish blood.
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