Stanza One He was seven and I was six, my Brendon Gallacher. He was Irish and I was Scottish, my Brendon Gallacher. His father was in prison; he was a cat burglar. My father was a communist party full-time worker. He had six brothers and I had one, my Brendon Gallacher. Cat burglar = a burglar who performs nimble jobs Lines – 1,2,5 ‘my Brendon Gallacher’ is used like a refrain Child-like language – a 6 year old – who is gossiping with childish pride
Stanza Two He would hold my hand and take me by the river where we'd talk all about his family being poor. He'd get his mum out of Glasgow when he got older. A wee holiday some place nice. Some place far. I'd tell my mum all about my Brendon Gallacher We learn more about Brendon – there is almost a childish romance as he holds the poet’s hand Brendon Gallacher dreams of getting his mum out of Glasgow for a better life – the speaker wants to tell her mother about Brendon – what might this suggest?
Stanza Three How his mum drank and his daddy was a cat burglar. And she'd say, 'Why not have him round to dinner?' No, no, I'd say, he's not big holes in his trousers. I like meeting him by the burn in the open air. Then one day after we'd been friends for two years, The speaker’s mother invites Brendon round for dinner but the speaker makes excuses The last line leads into the next stanza – ‘one day’ is repeated in the next stanza
Stanza Four One day when it was pouring and I was indoors, My mum says to me, 'I was talking to Mrs Moir who lives next door to your Brendon Gallacher. Didn't you say his address was 24 Novar? She says there are no Gallachers at 24 Novar. ‘One day’ warns the reader that something big is about to happen The speaker’s mother has been asking around and has discovered that Brendon does not live where the speaker has told them – at this point it is revealed that Brendon is an imaginary friend.
Stanza Five There never have been any Gallachers next door.' And he died then, my Brendon Gallacher, flat out on my bedroom floor, his spiky hair, his impish grin, his funny, flapping ear. Oh Brendon. Oh my Brendon Gallacher. Brendon Gallacher then dies from the speaker’s imagination It is only now that we are given details about how Brendon actually looked The repetition of the name in the last line emphasises the sadness the speaker feels at the ‘death’ of Brendon Gallacher
Things to notice Brendon is very different to the narrator He has a big family and is Irish His father is in prison and his mother drinks The narrator’s father has a serious job in politics He dreams of taking his mother away to a better life – this reflects the narrator’s own aspirations for better – which is why she invented Brendon in the first place
Jackie Kay writes The poem in a very straightforward manner – with some specific words to Scot’s English The repetition in the poem mimics the way a child speaks The repeated use of ‘he’ and ‘his’ shows the proud possessiveness she feels for him
This poem Evokes a strong sense of the reality of childhood dreams and fantasies Expresses a sadness at the death of a fantasy in the final line Celebrates the imaginative powers of children Shows a tolerance for those from different backgrounds Brendon is attractive because his family life is so different from the narrator’s