Waitin fur the callant and hunders o’ horses

While the Jethart’s Callants Festival has had to be cancelled this year, a Scots language poet will bring a tear to many an eye with his new poem.

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 9th July 2020, 9:56 am
Dan Serridge and James Spence retell The Two Truths of Thomas the Rhymer.
Dan Serridge and James Spence retell The Two Truths of Thomas the Rhymer.

James Spence, who spent his formative years in the town, has lived in Edinburgh since 1982 and has been self-employed as a storyteller since 2002.

He goes into schools to tell stories and leads story-making and other creative workshops.

He’s translated several famous books into Scots, such as Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd (Ferr Frae the Dirlin Thrang) and also worked on a graphic novel based on Jekyll and Hyde (Unco Case O Dr Jekyll An Mr Hyde).

He’s often invited to do Scots language events and performed with Dan Serridge in the acclaimed storytelling production of The Two Truths of Thomas the Rhymer (pictured).

On his website, he says he’s working on a performance piece, consisting of over 70 haiku, that retells the story of Gregory’s Girl.
But this work is placed firmly in the Jedburgh of his childhood.

Anither Festival Day in Jethart

The auld brig’s weathert waws o sandstane

sperkle wi ma glimmerin bairnhood the day

as Ah staun aside ma crabbit laddie,

waitin fur the callant an hunders o horses

tae breenge throwe the Jed wi awbodie cheerin.

Ah yissed tae ken awbodie here, an see thaim yit,

mithers, fithers, in sherp reflection, ower this picter.

“They’ll need tae cut back thon tree.

It’s blockin the view!” sumdie peenges

frae ferther along the humphie-back.

A weepin willae aside the cundie flourishes.

Its feathery leafs dreip tae a fuit abuin the Jed.

In the gowden pool ablow baggies tickle.

They reckon it’s Scotland’s fastest risin river,

cos o the hills at the Cairter boarder.

Lang afore the herald’s hoarn rise as it wull,

oot o the dirl o the pipes an drums frae up toon,

that merks the comin o the callant,

ex-callants an followers oan horseback,

Ah feel this sair gledness cud blooter bankins.

Flood yetts are doon as riders an speerits cross.