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A Glaswegian Binary

Returning to a dark tenement flat,
To find my ol’ man in a  nest
Of council-house cats:

Old Man: “How was the concert?”
(I’d actually been on a date)
Me: “Erm, it was—”
Old Man: “Was it gud?”
Me: “Yeah . . . maybe”
Old Man: “Maybe? Look, if I were to walk doon the
road, in tae The Scraggly Beard and
say—could I have a pint o’ Deuchars please?—
Do yer think the wee barman would tease me with
a mebbe?

Naw, he’d say ‘yer can or ye cannae Tam—it’s
A Glaswegian binary yer wee dafty’—now, ye did or
ye didnae have a gud time?”

But, they have a habit don’t they, even through a
Half-mumbled shout, of finding shy teenage things

Old Man: “How are things with whatshername?”
Me: “. . . I’m not sure”
Old Man: “I like my jokes, but could you imagine me
goin’ doon to the old social club after yous was born,
an’ then Rab asks me:
“Was it a boy, like you surmised?”
and I then say
‘Rab ol’ pal, I’m no sure’;

He’d be like ‘Whet you mean you no sure? It either
is or it isnae, Tam?—have yu gone mad?

Again, the Glaswegian binary; anything else would exact a finder’s fee, or extraction by a Pict pocket. But with the end of adolescence
comes the start of timidity’s senescence.

One day, I go back home after having
studied politics at university:

Old Man:“So, you’ve been studying history and
politics at the old uni, aye? What yu think of ol’ Thatcher”
Me: “Fucking despise her”
Old Man: “Oh, come on, you cannae be so black and white!”
Me: “Corse I can, It’s a Glaswegian binary da’, so don’t talk shite!

This poem was edited from a submission to the Poetry Society’s 2015 National Poetry Competition. 

Photograph: By Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0,



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