Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Hound o Love

Here, ah'm gaunnae start aff th'day by sayin somethin some o ye may find a wee bit controversial, but ah'll say it onyroads.

Ma auld mither, bless her soul, is a Black Bitch!

She's prood tae be cried yin, ah'm prood that she is yin. Fer ma ain sel, ah can only lay claim tae bein a whelp o a Black Bitch, but that'll hae tae dae me, sae there's nae pynt in greetin aboot it...

Let me tell ye ma wee story. It's a story aboot love an loyalty, it's aboot cruelty an vindictiveness, it's aboot stayin loyal tae the past. Ma story concerns the wee toun o Linlithgow, some o ye may ken it, it sits aroon 16 mile west o Edinburgh in the coonty o West Lothian. Lithgae (as it's cried by the locals) may coont as a wee toun these days, but mony year ago it wis yin o Scotland's foremaist burghs. In fact in 1368 it wis yin o the Court of Four Burghs alang wi Edinburgh, Stirling and Lanark, an it wis langtime a favourite o Kings an Princes. There wis a royal hoose in Lithca fae at least as faur back as King David, weel afore the Wars o Independence, an whit ye see th'day is but a ruin o a great an gracefu Royal Palace. Ma auld pal Walter Scott couldnae hae put it better when he wrote in his novel Marmion:

"Of all the palaces so fair
Built for the royal dwelling,
In Scotland far beyond compare
Linlithgow is excelling."

This Palace sae fair sits in a park upon a hill owerlookin a loch aboot a mile in width, in the middle o which stauns an island, a wee island, an upon this island stauns a solitary tree. This tree played a central role in the life o medieval Lithca, fer it wis the chosen place o punishment fer the miscreants o the toun.

In a less enlightened age it wis the practice o the toun's magistrates tae sentence criminals tae be tied tae this tree, an left tae die. Noo bearin in mind that ye might get sentenced fer as little as stealin a loaf o breid, some wid say that this wis a gey harsh thing tae dae, but then, ye've got tae mind they had less tae entertain thersels wi in thon days, an watchin a puir auld biddy sterve tae death helped pass the time an gied the tounsfowk somethin tae blether aboot.

So ye can imagine their displeasure this yin time when, haein tied this auld bloke tae the tree, ony time they lookit oot at the island, there he wis, bold as brass, hale an hearty. They couldnae figure oot whit wis gaun oan. Until at last yin day some eagle-eye in the toun espied a figure swimmin oot tae the island!

Weel! Wis it no the mannie's faithfu dug swimmin oot, wi a piece in its mou! Noo dinnae ask me if it wis a piece oan cheese, or mibbe a wee ham piece, ah dinnae ken, but either way ye get the gist. The hound wis keepin auld Mr Convict alive, a shinin example o love an loyalty that wid pit wur ain Greyfriars Bobby tae shame. They say that a dug is a man's best freen, an that man sure had whit they nooadays cry a BFF in that dug.

So sure as guns ye can tell whit they did next. That's right, they tied the puir dug tae the tree! Cruel cruel people that they were though, they still endit up celebratin the dug by pittin it oan the toun's crest, which ye can see at the tap o ma story. A black bitch dug, tied tae a tree, oan an island, in a loch.

An tae this very day, if ye're born within the bounds o Lithgae toun, ye hae the right tae ca yersel a Black Bitch, an regardless o the march o politically correct progress, fowk like ma auld mither still haud their heids high an say it wi pride.

"Ah'm a Black Bitch fae auld Lithgae toun!"

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