WEEK FORTY-THREE – Arbroath Smokie/Edinburgh Rock

>> Arbroath Smokie

Edinburgh Rock <<

arbroath-smokie                 edinburgh-rock

Anyone who has attended one of the many farmers’ markets in the vicinity of the east coast will have experienced the distinctive reek of Arbroath Smokies being cured – and hopefully also have tasted the delicious flesh of the fish straight from the smoking barrel. Awarded Protective Geographical Status by the EU, the smokie is still made using traditional methods dating back to the late 1800s. Freshly-caught haddock is salted and then smoked over a fire of beech and oak, in a whisky barrel covered with hessian. Originally made in the village of Auchmithie, the smokie became exclusively associated with Arbroath when the fisher community moved to the town in the early 20th century. Equally exclusive, Edinburgh Rock is completely distinct from name-through-the-middle seaside rock. With a characteristic crumbly texture, described as being somewhere between candy and chalk, it is made with sugar, water and cream of tartar, with added colourings and flavourings. A traditional Scottish confection it was first made in the 19th Century by Alexander Ferguson, popularly known as ‘Sweetie Sandy’. The traditional company making Edinburgh Rock, although threatened with closure, has recently been saved ensuring more nightmares for dentists for years to come; while the continued popularity of the healthy low-fat flesh of the smokie will keep doctors and nutritionists happy for an equally protracted period.

The Numbers Stations
by John Glenday

We were like fish out of water in those days,
hanging about in pairs at the back of the bike shed
on Keptie Road with a shared Number 6, nursing

the latest rumours of World War Three. First clue:
that woman knee-deep in the Short Wave slush
singing ‘The Auchmithie Fishwife’ backwards.

Later, Badgers grumbling over from Murmansk
with their cargo of megatons; Leuchars snuffed out
in a blink, the Bell Rock’s candle lit one final time

as the blast wave rushes out like a single ripple
across a pond, searing the Strath as far as Fettercairn.
We would all be saved, of course, by the bike shed’s

blue asbestos walls. Trailing home, days later,
here’s me coming upon my Father in the garden pond,
smoke-grey rucks of skin sloughing from his flesh

and the cured flesh peeling easily from the bone
and every bone burned clean of whatever let it move,
but still he’s lingering on; his hand held out for mine.


Edinburgh Castle Rock
by Jean Atkin

the four of us pressed round the click
of our five sticks of cellophaned rock
still boxed inside the castle’s cardboard neb
& splash of sugared tartan
                                & how
we’d squabble for our favourite colour
snatch untwist the shiny crack the stick
to chumble in the teeth as sweet
as pop a holiday treat
                                & tear
down the street a yelping clan o still
those red clay pantiles sunlit in my head
Crail’s beach that beggar’s mantle
fringed wi gowd would open wide
                                & there
we’d let the rock melt on
our tongues like honeyed chalk
& singalong and play
team games
                                led on
by Christians on the make
who’d mind us bairns
& bleach us souls
& give our mum a break


john-glendayJohn Glenday
is the author of four collections of poetry – The Apple Ghost received a Scottish Arts Council Book Award; Grain was shortlisted for both the Ted Hughes Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. His most recent The Golden Mean won the 2015 Roehampton Poetry Prize.




jean-atkin-in-studyJean Atkin’s family came from Shetland, and for a long time she lived in Dumfries and Galloway.  Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. Her recent work has been published in magazines including Pushing Out The Boat, Northwords Now, Under the Radar, Envoi, The North, Earthlines, The Moth, Dark Mountain, and also commissioned by and performed on Radio 4.  www.jeanatkin.com  @wordsparks



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