Taking stock by Randall Stephen Hall

An appeal for all enquiring minds to learn of their genetic origins

beyond politics, religion and tribal conflict. Simply by being given

a prescription, paid for, by the state, of a free and detailed DNA test.

Of course we are a combination of the cultures we have absorbed

in our minds but much of our historical narrative and the journeys we have been on

are there to be found in our DNA. Our mother’s and father’s haplogroups show us 

where we have been before reaching Ireland and Britain. 

If we could only separate 

the sheep from the goats

By setting the cat amongst the pigeons

What then of our perceived religions?

What then of our conflicted state

In Northern Ireland?

We would be doing ourselves

The biggest of favours.

Saved by our genetic markers.

No longer tribal barkers.

Our bark would peel away

To reveal our sap and strength.

By dipping our hands

Into this pick and mix history.

A free DNA Prescription

For each one of us curiosities.

To take to the chemist.

To take stock of ourselves.

A magic ticket to see through

The thickest of thickets.

To draw up from the deepest of wells.

To see past the guns and the masks

The jealousies and the bells.

Of the Paddys and the Micks

The Huns and the Brits.

Past the ignorance and pricks

Of our ancestors.

Would it cost a lot

In comparison with the costings 

Of the Troubles?

Surely not.

So what could it cost us then?

What would we have to lose?

Would it only trouble our egos

And shave the stubble

Of our half cut ideals.

Politics won’t feed a table

Of young hungry minds.

Young seals swim in the sea, free and easy.

While we are dressed in lead.

Shod with concrete feet and it is said

We think we know who we are.

But do we?

Are we blind to our own reflection

In the shape of our  neighbours across the fields?

Our sometimes misguided sense of self.

The tall coloured hats that we wear

The flags that we wave

And the stories we rub, count and share 

Like a string of beads and broken teeth.

Counting the grief but rarely counting the cost.

Those disaffected stories

Won’t leave us alone.

They haven’t gone away you know.

Will never go away.

The acid in our spleen, nails in our stomachs

That rots each smile.

But a gift to each child

What would it cost them ?

Wee brothers, wee sisters, hims and hers.

Even roughly cut sods like me. 

What price would we incur just to see

That free DNA lottery ticket of chance?

To learn who we really are.

To all learn to dance

To dance with each other.

Ah now . . . what an imagining.

What would it cost the state

A free un-redacted program of enquiry?

Not to invade our privacy

But to merely express what has always been there

Like sleeping stone circles

We all lie a few inches below the grass

Waiting to stand, to mass

On the green.

My mother’s Haplogroup MTDNA, took me back to the area of Udmurtia in modern day Russia, along with Romania, Tunisia, Iran and the Caucasus. Her DNA is found in post Saxon burial sites in Britain suggesting arrival with the Vikings.

My father’s Haplogroup Y DNA, took me solely to Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. My ancestry geographical spread locally is to be found, in the main, in South West Scotland and Northern Ireland, with patches from Middle England, Northumbria, North West Scotland, South East England and North Wales. 

So what does that make me? Not really one of “Britannia’s Huns”, as mentioned in the the song “the Fogey Dew”. Surely not? While that is a great tune. The tune is not original to the words.


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Illustrator, Storyteller, Poet and Songwriter.

East Antrim. Northern Ireland.4 Attachments

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