The poet Ewan McTeagle...

(from Monty Python's Flying Circus, episode 16)
Picture a rugged highland landscape, traditional Scottish music playing in the background

Voice Over: From these glens and scars, the sound of the coot and the moorhen is seldom absent. Natures sits in stern mastery over these rocks and crags. The rush of the mountain stream, the bleat of the sheep, and the broad, clear Highland skies, reflected in tarn and loch form a breathtaking backdrop against which Ewan McTeagle writes such poems as 'Lend us a quid till the end of the week'. But it was with more simple, homespun verses that McTeagle's unique style first flowered.

If you could see your way to lending me sixpence.
I could at least buy a newspaper.
That's not much to ask anyone.


Voice Over: One woman who remembers McTeagle as a young friend - Lassie O'Shea.
Lassie: Mr McTeagle wrote me two poems, between the months of January and April, 1969...
Voice Over: Could you read us one?
Lassie: Och, I dinna like to... they were kinda personal... but I will.

To Ma Own beloved Lassie.
A poem on her 17th Birthday.
Lend us a couple of bob till Thursday.
I'm absolutely skint.
But I'm expecting a postal order
and I can pay you back as soon as it comes.
Love Ewan

Voice Over: "Beautiful."


St John Limbo - Poetry Expert: Since then, McTeagle has developed and widened his literary scope. Three years ago he concerned himself with quite small sums - quick bits of ready cash:" sixpences, shillings, but more recently he has turned his extraordinary literary perception to much larger sums - fifteen shillings, four pounds twelve and six... even nine guineas... But there is still nothing to match the huge swoop... the majestic power of what is surely his greatest work: 'Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?'...

Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?
I'm right on my uppers.
I can pay you back
When this postal order comes from Australia.
Honestly.
Hope the bladder trouble's geting better.
Love, Ewan


Voice Over: There seems to be no end to McTeagle's poetic invention. 'My new cheque book hasn't arrived' was followed up by the brilliantly allegorical 'What's twenty quid to the bloody Midland Bank?' and more recently his prizewinning poem to the Arts Council: 'Can you lend me one thousand quid?'

David Mercer: I think what McTeagle's pottery... er... poetry is doing is rejecting all the traditional cliches of modern pottery. No longer do we have to be content with Keats's 'Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness', Wordsworth's "I wandered lonely as a cloud', and Milton's 'Can you lend us two bob till Tuesday'...

Oh gie me a shillin' for some fags
and I'll pay yer back on Thursday,
but if you wait till Saturday
I'm expecting a divvy from the Harpenden Building Society




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