Rede wi yer hert, Keeks McThe jacket is pale brown (cardboard box colour). All text is black and centred. The title is at the top in large bold lower case. The author's name (also lower case but smaller) is just above the middle. The imprint name is at the bottom, with the word DREICH IN caps and then Chapbooks in lowercase italics. Both are smaller than the print higher up.

Dreich Chapbooks, 2021    £5.00

Hou mittlin wis the bangstrie?

I had gotten complacent about Scots. I thought I could pretty much read it, if not speak it. But for this pamphlet, I found that reading with my heart (redin wi ma hert) wasn’t enough.

I had to read with the Scots online dictionary as well. That’s how I found out that a ‘bairnheed bangster’ is a childhood bully (great phrase!) and that ‘bangstrie’ is what the bangster inflicts on you and ‘mittlin’ is the injury. After that, I could start to enjoy the poem titled ‘Growen up’. (I think I’d get it in performance, though I might still need a gloss in the intro.) The poem opens with a key question:

Whit, in the name of the wee man
are ye meant tae dae
whan ye come
face tae face
wi yer bairnheid bangster
whan yer growed?

The fact that I was initially blank on the ‘bairnheid bangster’ (though I enjoyed the ring of it) suggests I’m not the target audience for this work. Or maybe the target audience needs to get off its arse and start working a bit harder.

Either way, I did put in the work, though it wasn’t just the Scots that threw me. Sometimes it was punctuation (or lack of it) or capital letters where I didn’t expect them. Sometimes it was a strange-looking word that turned out to be an phonetic version of an English word with a Scots accent (e.g. ‘exowstin’ for exhausting).

But lots of lines and phrases leapt out at me as instantly clear (and easy to relate to), like

An if Ah’m bad wi chocolate, Ah’m wurst wi drink
      [‘Coungerin the gliff’]


Ah cannae sleep fur taffee
Tae be honest taffee widnae help onywey
      [‘Midnight rablins o a mid age ma’]

It was a memorable experience working through Rede wi yer hert, falling in and out of understanding, liking the sounds, struggling at times with the meaning.

I can say one thing for certain: Keeks Mc has incontrovertible character and her expression is part of the product. If I can see her in performance one day, I will.

Helena Nelson