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The Bloody Orkneys -- Hamish Blair

Another poem in our series on 'The Poet Cranky', submitted by Frank O'Shea:

Since I suggested this topic, here is another one to keep things going.
(Poem #1521) The Bloody Orkneys
 This bloody town's a bloody cuss
 No bloody trains, no bloody bus,
 And no one cares for bloody us
 In bloody Orkney.

 The bloody roads are bloody bad,
 The bloody folks are bloody mad,
 They'd make the brightest bloody sad,
 In bloody Orkney.

 All bloody clouds, and bloody rains,
 No bloody kerbs, no bloody drains,
 The Council's got no bloody brains,
 In bloody Orkney.

 Everything's so bloody dear,
 A bloody bob, for bloody beer,
 And is it good? - no bloody fear,
 In bloody Orkney.

 The bloody 'flicks' are bloody old,
 The bloody seats are bloody cold,
 You can't get in for bloody gold
 In bloody Orkney.

 The bloody dances make you smile,
 The bloody band is bloody vile,
 It only cramps your bloody style,
 In bloody Orkney.

 No bloody sport, no bloody games,
 No bloody fun, the bloody dames
 Won't even give their bloody names
 In bloody Orkney.

 Best bloody place is bloody bed,
 With bloody ice on bloody head,
 You might as well be bloody dead,
 In bloody Orkney
-- Hamish Blair
I have no idea who the author is, but would love to learn.

Anyone who goes to the Orkneys or to any other Scottish islands and
complains about the beer deserves everything they get. People who visit
Scottish islands should stick to single malt and if they complain about
that, they are about ready to be put down. Before I die, I would love to
spend a week in Islay - you don't allow advertisements, I suppose, so I had
better not say any more.

Frank.

18 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ian Baillieu said...

With 'bloody' pronounced 'bluidy' no doubt. Should have
been written that way!

I recall reading somewhere that this poem expressed the
frustration, not of the Orkney locals, but of troops posted
there in the war. Sources on the Internet say the author
was Captain Hamish Blair, RN. So it was probably the navy,
not the army.

Gill Ewing said...

"Bloody Orkney" was a favourite party poem when I was at university in
Edinburgh in the 1960s - usually declaimed by a bunch of rather drunk
undergraduate men at some stage during the evening.

Given that the best beer is made in S. Scotland or N. England I would
suppose Orkney beer to be pretty bad if they make it themselves (too far
north for the ingredients) and very expensive if imported, which I'm sure
it must be. Maybe they import from Scandinavia - in which case, according
to my husband, it is certain to be dreadful!

Thanks for reawakening a long-lost souvenir!

Gill Ewing

Lynd Mike said...

Pedantry first - this should be called "Bloody Orkney" rather than "The Bloody Orkneys"

Secondly, you are missing the last verse:

There's nothing greets your bloody eye
But bloody sea and bloody sky
"Roll on demob!" we bloody cry
In bloody Orkney.

"Demob" confirms the wartime origin of the piece since this of course a reference to demobilisation, i.e. being released from conscription.

The Royal Navy had a huge naval base and anchorage at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys, which would explain Captain Blair's enforced exile there.

best wishes,

Mike Lynd

Acatcalledfish said...

Yes, the author is accredited as Captn. Hamish Blair, and the poem is sung as
a folk song throughout the midlands. Apparently the locals added their own
comments thus;

Captain Hamish "Bloody" Blair
Isna posted here nae mare
But no-one seems to bloody care
In bloody Orkney

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ELLIS BERG said...

The bloody ship is bloody old
the bloody sea is bloody cold
you can't get a drink for bloody gold
here on the bloody ocean.

No bloody games, no bloody toys
no bloody girls no bloody joys
how can boys be bloody boys
here on the bloody ocean

JUST TWO OF THE VERSES ON SS CAMERONIA, 1943

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Anonymous said...

check out a poor wretched begger in front of st magnus as a response to the poem

Anonymous said...

I can see now where the Manchester Punk Poet John Cooper-Clarke got the inspiration for his poem 'Stuck in F****** chicken town'

Anonymous said...

I first read this poem some twenty years ago in a book entitled "Verse and Worse" - Great to read of its origins thank you!

Anonymous said...

I first read this poem some twenty years ago in a book entitled "Verse and Worse" - Great to read of its origins thank you!

Anonymous said...

A POOR WRETCHED BEGGER IN FRONT OF ST MAGNUS ... The people of orkney are friendly and kind ... say the poor wretched beggers in khaki.... cold and wet but ready... standing in the the mud and the slime.... .........The ships of the admiralties finest.. at lyness laying in wait...for orders to seek out and sink.. the enemy coming our way........Remembering those skilful old sailors...handling a thirty foot swell.. and those hapless seasick recruits... whose journey has not gone too well.......Those poor wretched beggers... that came to defend... left out on the flow... for months on end.......They land on the quay at stromness..and not happy at what they find...wtite down their memories of orkney..but their words are not always kind.............They stood between us and destruction ...a long way from home and their lives...they say orcadians are generous...without them they would not survive...........We thank those poor wretched beggers...all those who came in the past...defending these islands so bravely...and sadly some to their last...........So when they complained no matter...they saved this wonderful land...those poor wretched beggers all told...allow me to stand where i stand............IN FRONT OF ST MAGNUS CATHEDRAL.... ..A response to bloody orkney

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Anonymous said...

the poem POOR WRETCHED BEGGARS was written in 2012 after a visit to the orkneys it realy is a wonderful place and should be given more credit ,i know i wrote it and spelt begger wrong! sorry ,anon manchester england

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