Pub-goer’s shock as his poem used in Alex Salmond’s SNP conference speech
HIS rise to prominence must rank as one of the quickest and unlikeliest in the history of Scots literature.
Edinburgh poet George Robertson penned The Nonsense Ends “off the top of his head” over a pint in the Capital’s Radical Road pub only a few weeks ago – little thinking it would soon grace the ears of the most powerful man in the land.
Unknown to the 57-year-old father-of-four, First Minister Alex Salmond was among the Radical Road’s customers and, having been handed the poem by the pub’s manager, liked it so much he asked if he could keep it.
But that surprise was nothing compared to the shock of learning The Nonsense Ends had been read to delegates by Mr Salmond as the climax to his opening speech at last week’s Scottish National Party conference in Perth.
George said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable – having it read by him is the greatest accolade I could ever have.
“I only found out a few hours after he read it. I had no idea it was ever going to be used in such a high profile setting, but as soon as I found out I was very, very proud as I believe in an independent Scotland.
“The ‘nonsense’ in the title is what I consider as being under the Westminster government and the nonsense ending being when Scotland becomes independent in 2014.
“Anyone who knows me knows I support Scottish independence and they would know immediately what the poem means – that it’s time we look after ourselves.”
George, the brother of former Hearts striker John Robertson, said recognition from Scotland’s leader was the latest stage in a lifelong relationship with poetry, which began when he was taught by Norman MacCaig at Parsons Green Primary in Meadowfield.
He said: “MacCaig was a wonderful man – I could have listened to him 24 hours a day. There’s a lot of wildlife, a lot about the natural world, in my poetry – and I think I got that from Norman MacCaig.”
But it was not until he began working at the Scottish and Newcastle brewery in Fountainbridge in his early 20s that George put his interest in poetry into action.
He said: “I was travelling to the brewery one morning and I saw this old woman at a bus stop. She had a shawl round her neck and I was told her dog had just died.
“And looking at her in mourning, I thought, how nice is that, and I wrote a poem about it – the first one I ever wrote. It’s an emotional thing, poetry – it comes from the heart and the soul.”
Although a prolific writer, George has only had a few of his poems published. Now, though, he plans to produce a collection.
He said: “I never thought I was good enough but people have said, ‘come on George, get it done’. So I think I will try next year and, hopefully, someone will take them.”
SNP bosses at the party’s conference said “The Nonsense Ends” “went down a treat” among delegates.
A spokesman for the First Minister added: “His poem hits the spot perfectly. It’s a powerful message for a Yes vote – and it rhymes.”
The Nonsense Ends
Eat well my trusty honest friends,
This humble Scot is welcome sense
To those such a fine task will be
To see this beautiful country free.
Not I and more are yet content,
With just a devolved parliament.
Our day has come and wait I do
A flag simply white and blue.
No more to live with the broken leg
Which Westminster says we will mend.
The beggars we should meet,
Fields that London wish to keep,
Eat well my trusty honest friends,
In 2014, the nonsense ends.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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