Friday, 10 September 2010

Atween a man an a wumman...

Weel hullo! It's guid tae see ye again, come in an sit doon. Ye'll be gled tae ken ah'm in a guid mood this mornin. Ah dinnae ken whit's got intae me, mibbe it's the darker nichts drawin in an the cauld weather comin back. Ah've nivver really been yin fer the heat o summer ye see, ah prefer the winter masel. Noo, ah've been haein a luik at me wee stories, an tae be honest they've been gettin gey grim hae they no? Weel ye can relax, th'day ah'm gaunnae tell ye a cantie wee tale that ah howp'll pit a wee smile oan yer face. Weel it's twa tales, but they baith hae happy endins, an they shouldnae gie ye nichtmares...

Ah'm takin ye th'day, doon the hill fae the High Street, doon the wynds tae the auld Nor Loch. Noo, ah dinnae hae tae remind ye that through the years, as Embra got bigger an busier an mair crowdit, that the Loch got dirtier an smellier an fouler an- weel, ye get the picture, it wis a rank puddle withoot a doot. Mynd when St Davie Hume fell in? It wis nivver really yaised as a pleasure-groond, fowk didnae gang doon there fer a wee paddle or a swim, weel, no willinly at least. There were some that went fer a swim in the Loch, but they tendit tae dae it agin their wills. Ye see that wis whaur we yaised tae dook oor witches, tae see if they were in fact witches efter aw. Ye ken the score, if they drooned, then they were innocent, but if they floatit, then that must've meant Satan wis protectin them, sae we took them back up the hill tae the Castlehill an burnt them. Ye cannae say fairer than that...

Hunners o puir wummen, an a fair few men, went through the 'worryin' ower the years. It wis aw the rage durin the time o King Jamie Saxt, him that ran awa tae England the meenit auld Queen Bess wis deid an nivver cam back, he had a thing fer witches. That an smokin, but let's no gang there, it'll jist get ma blood pressure up again. Naw let's leave the witches fer th'noo, ah'll tell ye aboot them some ither time. Ah'm gaunnae tell ye aboot anither use the Loch wis pit tae, an that wis as punishment fer mair earthly sins. Back in the 1560s the toun cooncil wis gettin awfy worrit aboot the rise in fornicatin an ither misbehaviours gaun oan in the toun, an how tae punish them that widnae mend their ways, an sae in 1565 they erectit a dookin stool doon at the fit o Halkerston's Wynd, richt at the deepest pairt o the Loch. If ye gang intae the Waverley Station these days, in the back entrance fae Mairket Street, then ye're near enough at the spot.

Up in the Lawnmairket there wis this wife, Betty Trot wis her name, right gob oan her she had. She wisnae unlike that Big Mo oan the Eastenders show oan the telly, aye shoutin the oods aboot somethin or ither, an aye oan the make. She had a dirty wee stall whaur she selt odds an ends, buttons, ties, hairgrips, semmits, aw that sort o stuff, an unner the coonter bits o jewellry. Ye had tae be wary when ye boucht owt fae Betty's stall, ye nivver kent whaur it had cam fae, though ye could guess that maist o wis pinched or purloined fae somewhaur. Then, in 1635, there had been this fire in yin o the lands, an a load o jewellry had gaun missin fae the hoose. When the missin jewels were foond in Betty Trot's stall, it wis decidit that the wumman wis tae be dookit fower times in the Nor Loch as punishment fer her an as a warnin tae ithers. Betty wis nane too pleased, an let aabody ken it...

Picture it, we're aw gaitherit doon by the lochside fer the show, an the toun hingsman's leadin Betty ower tae the dookin stool. She's bawlin an shoutin "Get yer hauns aff me! Ah'm an innocent wumman! It's a set-up! Ah've nae idea whaur that stuff cam fae!" aw that sort. Then, jist as they're at the stool, she taks a breenge at the hingsman, knockin him aff the wee jetty they've got there, an richt intae the water hissel! Then she taks aff alang the lochside tae whaur there's a wee boat sittin, no far fae the yin ah pit wee Andra Gray intae, jumps in, an starts rowin aff ower the loch.

Some o the men jump intae ither boats an gie chase. The first yin that reaches her, Betty grabs the side o it an yanks it up, cowpin the puir laddie in it richt ower an he ends up gaun heidfirst in the stinkin water! By this time, us staunin oan the bank, thinkin we were gaunnae get the entertainment o a dookin, were laughin an cheerin at this muckle better spectacle. "Gaun yersel Betty!!" But then three o her pursuers catch up wi her an it luiks like the game's up. Betty pits her hauns in the air "Awricht, it's a fair cop, ye've got me." she crys, an they come up alangside o her. Twa o the men tak haud o her by the airms. An then she dis it again! She chucks the fu wecht o hersel, an Betty wis nae shilpit wee sparra let me tell ye, agin the men, upendin baith the boats an launchin aw o them intae the foul spume! It wis that funny watchin them aw splashin an thrashin an fechtin their way tae the shore, we were aw doublit up screamin an cacklin. Ah near wet masel it wis that funny! Even the cooncillors there were creased up, an they decidit that, seein as how Betty had gied us aw sic a merry laugh, an in effect had dooked hersel, that they widnae push the maitter ony further, an she wis bound ower tae behave hersel in future, if indeed she survived efter takin even a moothfu o that skanky ditchwater...

But here, ah said ah wis gaunnae tell ye aboot a happier tale, an this yin's aboot love. Aboot the love an loyalty atween a man an a wumman. It wis ony a couple o year efter Betty's wee circus-show that this young lassie moved intae oor stair fae somewhaur oot in the country. Naebody kent muckle aboot her. She wis a bonny wee lassie, unmairrit, gentle-spoken, weel-behaved, an quiet. Quiet wis the word richt enough, fer it soon becam obvious that she had a lot tae keep quiet aboot. The puir lassie, nae man mynd, began tae show that she wis wi bairn. Noo that jist wisnae the done thing back then. A mither athoot a man? Naw. She wis pit upon a lot tae gie it up an tell us wha he wis, this man that had left her in trouble an then vanished. Aw she wid say wis "Ah hae done nae wrang" That wis aw, nae names, nae details, nothin. Accordin tae the kirk an the cooncil tho, she had broke the Seeventh Commandment, that's the yin oan adultery fer aw you heathens oot there, an she wis sent fer a dookin.

Sae yince again we aw gaitherit doon at the fit o the fleshmairket at the dookin-stool. The puir lassie wis led tae the stool, tied in, an the hingsman, fer it wis aye him that got tae dae the dookin, let oot the rope, sendin the wee sowel under the filthy water...

But then this amazin thing occurrit. This man oan a horse cam chargin alang the lochside, leapt aff his horse, barged through the crowd, knockin fowk helter-skelter intae the water, an jumped intae the loch hissel, picked the wumman up in his airms an cairrit her tae the shore. "Wha daur dook ma wife?" he shouts. "An wha the hell are you like?" crys the baillie in chairge o the dook. "Ah'm William Stewart, Baron o Ochiltree, that's wha ah am, an this is Lady Stewart!"

It turns oot ye see, that the young lassie wis an orphan that the auld Baron o Ochiltree had taken intae his hoose. Noo, he had set his mynd tae marryin his son aff tae some high-falutin heiress fae the aristocracy, but his son had fell heidlang in love wi the young lass, an so they had mairrit in secret. The auld Baron, suspectin some funny business gaun oan, had sent his son abroad tae Europe oan yin o thae Grand Tours. Meantimes the fair lass had startit tae show, an sae the Baron had turnt her oot o his hoose, which is how she cam tae Embra. Tae the puir lassie's eternal credit she nivver broke her vows o silence tae the young man, even efter the auld Baron had passed oan an she could've claimit the title o Lady Stewart. She wid ony speak yince he had releasit her fae the promise, which thank the lord he cam back jist in time tae dae. Weel, he micht hae cam back jist that wee bit sooner an saved her the dookin, but at least he did come back, a lot o men didnae...

That lassie wis the talk o the toun fer weeks efter, she wis aw that a wumman should be we said, bonnie, loyal, an patient. Her young man took her back oot tae Ochiltree an ah dae believe they spent miny a happy year th'gither. In't that sweet?

See noo, no aw ma wee tales are gruesome dark an morbid. Maistly, ah'll grant ye that, but ye need a wee ray o sunshine here an there tae pit thae daurk clouds intae perspective. Noo, awa ye gang, an mynd an keep smilin...

4 comments:

  1. Aww. You are our ray of sunshine in these diffcult and dark days...

    Could ye shine a wee bit more please.... :)

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  2. tris that's awfy awfy kind o ye, ah'm truly moved by thae comfortin words. We aw like tae find oor wee place in the world, an ah feel lately like ah might hae found mine. Dredgin ma memories an pittin ma wee stories doon oan pixels is chyngin the way ah luik at the world. It's giein me somethin tae get up in the mornin fer, asides stair-cleanin, an if ah'm cheerin up ithers fowk intae the bargain, weel that's aw tae the guid.

    Ah wid love tae scrieve a bit mair aften, but thae stairs, ye ken how it is...

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  3. Brilliant, Sophia, I do love a happy ending! Ahem, Tris and I are still waiting to hear about your adventures in the park???

    Btw, is that a picture of William Hague and his chum on the branch?

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  4. Mr Brownlie, thanks again, ah'm gled ye enjoy a happy endin, ah'm quite partial masel. Mibbe ah'll get roon tae tellin ye aboot ma happy endins up oan Barefit Park yin o these days, but there's nothin like a wee bit o suspense tae keep fowk comin back...

    If that is wee Wullie Hague up there, ah'm sure he wid tell ye he only shared that branch the yin time, an it wis only cos aw the ither branches were busy an it wis tae save space oan the tree, an that he barely kent the ither wee monkey, an onyway, he's pushit him aff the branch noo sae it disnae maitter, an he's no feelin great th'noo sae dinnae get oantae him, an siclike keich...

    Aye. That's him awricht!

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