Dive Ye Mind? Remembering Mrs Baikie

It’s five years to the day since this Kaitness Hoosie design was created. Part of me feels it should’ve been on the sale rack long before now but like so many Caithnessians, I feel strongly connected to the poem so just can’t bring myself to let go.

I’ve got fond childhood memories of Mrs Baikie to thank for that. Mrs Baikie was a granny figure to my mum, so I guess a great-granny figure to my brother and I. We’d visit her wee hoosie in Pulteneytown from where Mrs Baikie would send us bairns “over til eh shoppie wi a liney” with the promise of a nip of her home brewed ginger wine as our reward... delish.

She was as coothie as Kaitness wifies come and would often recite John Horne’s poem ‘Div Ye Mind?’ by the fireside. I can still hear the crackling coal and Mrs Baikie’s soft voice reciting the dialect, determined to remember every word before ending with a proud smile.

Fifteen years later, I carried the poem in my backpack while traveling as a reminder of my Caithness roots. And today, the first two lines feature on one of my bestselling designs with owners of canvases, cushions and cards near and far - almost as humbling as the poem itself and those cherished memories of Mrs Baikie.

What does John Horne’s poem remind you of? Eh? Div ye mind?...

Div ye mind yer Kaitness hoosie wi its wheezy but and ben,
A dowgie sleepin by e’ fire, aside a clockin hen;
A dresser set wi bowlies, an a bandbox on a kist,
A cowgie fu o sooans, an’ a stoolie wi’ a list?
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
Div’ ye mind e’ greasy grunter wi’ his muckle flappan loogs,
An e’ chuckens fechtin roond ye for e’ sweelans o’ e’ moogs?
A slated blockie, on a bool, spread dryan in e sun,
While e duekies trail’d his heid-piece roond and roond e’ byre for fun
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
Div’ ye mind e’ Knotty Club wi its game and ragged band,
Fa’s clubs wis bandaged kail-runs or anything at hand?
Noo and then a tae wis opened wi’ a whistle fae e’ ba’,
An e’ linin o’ a pockad wis pit roond it wi’ a straw.
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
Div ye mind e’ whitened lirkie wi’ its mooldy, earthy scent,
An e’ blinkin faces roond ye, tryan hard til look intent?
On e’ blessed Bible pages, ye drew sheep and stirkies lean,
An ye cut initials in e’ pew fan “Thirdly” shut his een.
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
Div ye mind e’ jolly schooldays fan ye trowed till play “Skyhigh”
And ye tumbled in a burnie, and skelpt aboot til dry?
Bit yir mithir spread ye on her lap an’ exercised her han’,
Then chicked ye in yur baba ‘cause ye wisna fit till stan’
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
Div ye mind e’ day ye traivelled wi yur faither in a cairt,
Far fae hoosie, kirk and burnie, in e’ world til act yir pairt?
Hoo ye turned an looked an looked again, wi a prayer in yeer face,
An vowed til play e’ man and bring them no disgrace?
Div ye mind, boy Eh? Div ye mind?
— John Horne
Lisa PoulsenComment