Gavin C Reid

Professor of Economics
 
 
 
 
 
Airport Rendezvous
 
 

Descending through the clouds

reverie turns to expectations.

We spill out of the aircraft,

tottering, balance balked,

onto hard ground.

At Arrivals, I scan the crowd.

You are there, gaze open.

Suddenly, you see me,

and you shine -

alighted within.

Shocked, enraptured,

I receive your embrace.

I have landed;

I am home.
 
 

Published in St Andrews in Focus 2005

 
 
 
 
 
A Recalcitrant Leg
 
 

Why won’t you work as you used to do?

Is it something to do with the shape of my shoe?
 
 

Why do you grate when I flex, like so?

Would it help if I stood on the tip of my toe?
 
 

Why don’t you feel like when I was young?

The answer’s, I sense, on the tip of your tongue:

 
 
why should I think that a tired old peg

should perform just as well as more youthful a leg?

 
 
Published in University of Edinburgh Journal, 2004, Vol 42 (1), p. 39.
 
 
 
 
 
D’ye ken John Peel?
 
 

(i.m.  John Peel, 1939-2004)
 
 

D’ye ken John Peel, o’ the riff and the sang?

D’ye ken John Peel, noo that he’s gang?

D’ye ken John Peel, we’ll grieve for him lang,

for the lilt o’ his tongue we’ll be mournin’.
 
 

Published in University of Edinburgh Journal, 2004, Vol 42 (1), p. 39.

 
 
 
 
 
The Gift

 
 
We finished talking,

ending in understanding.

After you had risen,

you handed me a gift

of ancient tea.

 
 
I thanked you warmly;

I was indeed grateful,

properly so.

Your blush blossomed

as I received the tea -

petals of roses on snow.

 
 
Published in University of Edinburgh Journal, 2004, Vol 42 (1), p. 39.
 
 
 
 
 
At the Gardens of La Pellerine                                                    

                                                                                                                                              

 
Find a succession

Of intimate gardens

Linked tightly like a tangram,                                                                        

Each an exquisite miniature,

A point in sequence of nature’s miracle,

Orchestrated by hand and wit.

 
 
Walk beneath arches

Of cultivated beech,

Skirt trimmed box hedges,

Hemming in geraniums:

Blue, pink, purple, lavender.

Relish rare trees and shrubs.

 
 
See terraces, water features,

Spiky berberis by soothing balsam.

From exotic lilies

Pass to humble herbs:

Fennel, dill and cat-mint.

Crush leaves, and savour smells.

 
 
Sit, as I did, beneath a willow tree,

Upon a stone bench

Of rough, hewn granite.                                                                                             

By choice, I took pastels, paper,

Sketched the boy, sketching me,

His sister asleep; by his side.

 
 
Listen, in soporific heat,

To the stroke of pastel

On grained art paper.                                                                                                 

The plash of fountain-fall,

The punctuated music

Of birds’ song, bees’ wings and leaves’ sighs.

 
 
Hear the churning of water,

The giggle of two women

Swimming in an emerald pool,

Bordered by crazed stone,

Sheltered by an arboretum:

The locus of timeless pleasures.

 
 
Watch the artless enjoyment,

Of water, sun and bloom,

As the women leap

Like bronzed fish from the pool,

And run, pushing one another,

Laughing with abandon, to the house.                                                                      

 
 
Published in Aberdeen University Review, 2004
 
 
 
 
 
The Candidates

 
 
You are only thoughts of futures,

prospects of possible persons

occupying space vacated

by Richard’s hurried departure

when work’s intensity and pace

finally overwhelmed him.

 
 
In his empty office space, by his window

overlooking turbulent breakers

pitching at me pungent nostril strikes

of rotted seaweed, heavily salted;

to the wailing accompaniment

of the ocean’s hiss, and crash and howl,

I sat and contemplated his replacement.

 
 
Small, sad, yellow notelets marking his exit -

‘important to finish’, ‘to process’,

‘you could use this material’,

were set in despair against a larger mountain

of months of unfinished work,

finally left, but despairingly filed,

across many heavy book shelves,

indiscriminately, under A-G, H-P, Q-Z.

 
 
Who of you could man this mountain?

Who of you could assume his persona,

the better to manage the chaos of facts

that finally defeated his well-intentioned care?

Who of you, in viewing the ocean’s thrash

from the office window would calmly turn,

and make a lake of tranquillity

of the chaos left behind by Richard?

I opened my file and read your names.

 
 
Published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2007, 18(3), p. 390.
 
 
 
 
 
The Lone Soldier

 
 
You stand erect and solemn,

Eyes forward, blue, unflinching.

Your face is white,

Your lips are pale,

Above which bristles

A bushy, black moustache.

Hands to the front,

You hold your rifle

At fixed bayonet.

 
 
On your head, a grey helmet

Is set square and level.

You wear a faded blue greatcoat,

Buttoned at the top,

Flared to the sides, with flapped pockets.

The deep collar is turned down.

Diagonal brown straps

Create a cross upon your chest.

 
 
Below this cross,

A brown waist belt

Is buckled tight.

It holds munitions pouches

And a first aid kit.

One diagonal strap

Holds a water bottle,

The other holds

A small canvas pack.

 
 
Shiny black boot

Stand beneath neatly wound puttees.

Your jaw is firmly set.

You utter not a sound.

You cannot,

For you are made of stone.

Yet you speak, for eternity,

One message:
 
                                                                                                             

Aux

Enfants

de

Carelles

Morts

Pour La France

 
 
Published in Aberdeen University Review. 2004
 
 
 
 
 
The Exchange

 
 
I pass them each morning,

loitering by the boats,

as I go for a pot of tea,

before returning to my hut

to finish what I hope

is an honest day’s work.

 
 
Nkopola is sunny every day

nestling by the bright blue ribbon

that is Lake Malawi.

The boys are teenagers,

rumbustuous, joyful,

keen to sell their carvings.

 
 
Every day, I protest

‘I have no money’

as carvings are offered:

a giraffe, a gazelle;

a most splendid hippopotamus.

Fine work; but I say ‘No’.

 
 
After weeks, they waver.

‘What do you want?’ they protest.

I go to the wet sand

and scratch an outline fish:

just two crossed strokes -

up and down,

down and up.

 
 
‘We’ll do it’ they chant together.

I show them more:

names to be inscribed

on the side of each fish -

one for each of my children,

Eilidh, Annabel, Kenneth.

 
 
Mysteriously, price unquoted,

we agree a delivery time -

next morning as I pass,

going for tea.

As promised, we meet.

They have the carved fish:

 
 
gills almost breathing,

eyes alert, staring,

mouths gasping, as for food.

A small pierced hole

(to take a key ring)

makes them functional,

 
 
but their art transcends mere function.

The boys sense my keen admiration

as I handle the fish, enchanted,

so their first price quote is high,

very high.  Already they chuckle

at my expected reaction.

 
 
‘Too much, too much’

I gasp, ‘A week’s rent!’.

We haggle intensely,

but without resolution.

I wonder what they really want.

Then one boy speaks up.

 
 
‘What size are you feet?’

he asks with quiet focus.

Ah, so this is the point.

I reply ‘Size Ten’. ‘Good’,

he says, pointing down,

‘We’d like your shoes’.

 
 
On my feet are new shoes,

sports trainers, latest design,

bought especially for this trip.

I look again at the fish,

and unlace my shoes.

‘Agreed’.  They are wreathed in smiles.

 
 
I pad back to my hut

barefoot and happy,

the three fish in my hand.

The boys set off cheerfully,

one of them wearing my trainers.

We have not traded.

We have exchanged gifts.

 
 
Published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 2005, Vol 18(6), pp.885-88.
 
 
 
 
 
The Jolly Trade In

 
 
Too bad you’ve got to go, old sport:

the fact is sad but true.

I have to sell you on, I fear,

for I need something new.

 
 
Well thanks, old sport,

you’ve served me well,

through every slip and slide.

you’ve been the sweetest ride, old sport,

that transport can provide.

 
 
Published in St Andrews in Focus, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
Drinking at the Drookit Dug

 
 
Damp as spaniels off the moor,

laughter drifting from your door

 
 
invites us in on Friday.

Drinks are served without delay,

 
 
contents quaffed as laughter swells

at the tales that each wag tells,

 
 
recreating what we did

through imagination’s sieve.

 
 
Published in St Andrews in Focus, Nov/Dec 2009. p. 27
 
 
 
 
 
The Wizard of Noz

 
 
Noz - Aladdin’s cave

Of liquidation stock.

What treasures you contain!

What mysteries hide there - in Noz                                                               

 
 
What wizard placed you

Deep beneath a bridge,                                                                                              

Concealed from common eye,

Unseen to non-initiates, of Noz?

 
 
For if you do not know,

You cannot see,

And if you do not see

You cannot dream, the dream, of Noz.

 
 
That dream is of

The deepest pockets ever known:

Of everlasting Euros, that never seem spent out,                              

Of credit that seems ever good, in Noz.

 
From cornichons to Chardonnay.                                                                  

To garments of all hues,

Lilac, cream, pink, green, buttermilk, red,

And heart-shaped screens of palm leaves, all in Noz.                                   

 
 
The wizard’s wise

In weaving spells that bind

Initiates, to taste and try,

And thus return again, and more, to Noz.

 
 
Published in The Scottish Review, Feb 2004, p. 58
 
 
 
 
 
Carelles Carnival Rap

        

Drums beat out

A rhythmic shout.

Trumpets blare

Melodic fare.

Batons whirl,

To guide each girl.

 
 
All in line,

Their timing's fine.

Twist and turn,

The way they learn,

Day by day,

As if it's play.

Practiced well,

As you can tell.

 
 
Now they dance,

As in a trance.

Eyes ablaze,

Through scented haze,

Tobacco fumes

Are mixed with tunes.

Skins perspire,

And light desire.

 
 
Faster turning,

Sexual yearning,

Fanned in heat,

Upon the street.

Young men keen

To catch the scene,

Clap the beat,

And stamp their feet.

 
 
Boys lust aloud,

Within the crowd,

Squint their eyes,

As each one tries

To look his best,

And pass the test,

Of cool and hot

And keen - or not.

 
 
The bands pass by,

The passions die,

The grills grow cold.

The story's told

Of blare and flair

And care and dare.

It came -

And went.

The fire

Is spent.

 
 
Published in The Scottish Review, Feb 2004, p. 52-53.