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Poem of the week : The Highland Citizenship Test

The Highland Citizenship Test

Do ye haud yir grudges close?

Can ye coont yir deid friends on mair than wan haund?

Huv ye thocht aboot settin yir screenplay here?

If so, whaur specifical?

Is Glencoe Massacre an IPA?

Do ye ken the gate tae Sandalwood Bay?

How come Black Isle fishermen winna buy Swan matches?

Whit, or who, is the Rocket o Drumnadrochit?

Gin yir last name’s Bruton—which toun oan the Black Isle are ye frae?

Whaur wull the Tibetan craftfair find itsel aneist?

Whit does P&J stand fur, if no a type o sandwich, if no pyjamas?

Is that yir accent fowk struggle wi, or yir leid?

Shoudna aw these bens be happit wi trees?

How mony folk d’ye ken wi Lyme disease?

Do Orkney and Shetland coont? Whit aboot Norway?

How safe is it tae eat a meatball sub oan Falcon Square?

Whit’s the richt pronunciation o the toun spelt ‘A-V-O-C-H?

Is ‘The ‘45’’ a type o vinyl? If no, whit’s ‘The ‘78’’?

Wiss yir German pal begeckit by the muckler silences?

Who, or whit, is ‘Druggie Dougie’?

Do ye ever miss the feudal system?

Do ye see ‘that light over there’?

Gin yir last name’s Patience—which toun on the Black Isle are ye frae?

Whit’s the fastest toun in the Highlands?

‘Snow on the Ben’ – whit does that mean?

Does Aiberdeen coont? Whit aboot Elgin?

‘The wise man builds his hoose upon the rock.’ Whaur did they build Fort George?

Alness, Belladrum, Cromarty, Dingwall, Fyrish, Glastullich, Kintyre, Tarlogie: bit which o these are touns in Guyana an aw?

Yir at some swank restaurant in Edinburgh, celebratin a major life achievement, an ye git a wee map o Scotland wi yer meal sayin whaur all the ingredients are frae. Map says the turbot’s frae the Moray Firth. Ye mind how wance a friend o yirs wiss oot caddyin fur these Michiganians in Fortrose, an how wan o thaim asked if the lake froze ower in the winter—an yir pal threw the man a look o puir apoplexy, an said, that’s no a lake mun, that’s the sea. How likely are ye tae order the turbot?

Who, or whit, is ‘Gravey Davie’?

How lang’s yir streak on Gaelic Duolingo?

Less is more—but is it possible to ‘Avie’ less?

Wud ye rather live inwith a vending machine, or be a vending machine?

Monarch of the Glen, The Crown, Downton Abbey: which o these is yir mother’s favourite TV show, eftir which she said the followin wance:

“Strip awa the pomp though an we’re aw Jock Tamson’s bairns. Unnerneath it aw, they’re just like us.”

There are no second chances here. Discuss.



Colin Bramwell is a poet, performer and musician from the Black Isle. He was the runner-up for the 2020 Edwin Morgan Prize, and is currently working towards a PhD in Scots, poetry and translation at the University of St Andrews. His imminent debut pamphlet, ‘Jigsaw’, will be published by Stewed Rhubarb Press.

Comments (9)

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  1. Invernessian says:

    Not a single person in the Highlands speaks like that.

    1. 3_man says:

      That’s cos he’s speaking in Doric, which I believe is also spoken on the Black Isle. So one of my friends from there have told me.

      1. Invernessian says:

        No it isn’t. No one in the Highlands speaks like this.

        1. Camanachd gu brath. says:

          Absolutely spot on. Our Gaelic was replaced with book English, but that English is spoken with a Gaelic intonation, at least by those who haven’t succumbed to sounding like BBC Scotland TV and radio presenters. Except in a few places, Scots was the language of non-Highland authority.

          1. Invernessian says:

            Correct, the fit likers begin at Elgin or so.

        2. Gordon MacKenzie says:

          No body is speaking – it’s words on a screen. Also, have you considered what perspective the author is writing from? Perhaps not from a Highland stance but a Lowland one?

          1. Invernessian says:

            Is it no supposed to be ‘spoken word’ poetry?

  2. Topher Dawson says:

    Ullapool fishermen won’t even take the matches with the bird on them aboard. And the fastest town is Naaaaaiiiirn.

  3. Lena says:

    Very good. Enjoyed that but there’ll be several kyas, divets and dollies struggling to answer all of them.

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