Brendon Gallacher File

‘It’s a huge freedom to be allowed to make things up in your head.
I always loved that as a kid.’ Jackie Kay
Brendon Gallacher
By Jackie Kay
Read the poem
Stanza One
language – a
6 year old –
who is
with childish
Lines – 1,2,5 ‘my Brendon
Gallacher’ is used like a refrain
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
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
repetition of
the name in
the last line
the sadness
the speaker
feels at the
‘death’ of
It is only now that we are
given details about how
Brendon actually looked
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
• 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
• Brendon is attractive because his family life is
so different from the narrator’s

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