The Rum gentlemen
At Kinloch turreted Annanstone pile
red-faced ‘neath the dark rocks of ‘Rhum’,
an antlered hall where Sir George lours down
and centurion dust motes assemble.
For a moment here stand at time’s portal,
glimpse an opulence glistering pain;
age of deference, industry, Kipling,
an Empire to ice-field hard steaming.
On tweed days austere in the Cuillin,
the refuge of red deer or midge,
and eternal grey elements weeping;
oak-panelled evenings of tartan,
grilled mutton chop , brandy, cigar;
the orchestrion bellows out Lohengrin,
to plutocrat, brewer and King – he
bunterous from yacht condescending.
There, sealed from the prying of servants
a dance floor with Glasgow-bought jades;
Lady Monica on lion skin naked-
enticement framed by bed chamber.
Fly humming-birds centrally heated,
round glass house, alligator pool;
on acres where rare blossoms shivered
from weft showered Lancashire lucre.
Forbidden isle, capsule of privilege,
black terrace and chimney afar,
thin spindle-clout lasses chimera.
Now the engines of bounty lie broken,
Rum ghillie and Accrington Pal
cold-ledgered in chalk Picardy.
Sir George and his lady high vaulted,
but at Kinloch their rich world corroded.
Copyright © Andrew Dalgleish 2013
Andrew Dalgleish lives in West Cornwall, where he teaches History.