Friday, 17 September 2010

An dream o sheep...

Weel whit a day that wis an nae mistake. The first veesit fae the Pope fer near thirty year. Wha o us kens if we'll still be here the next time he comes roon tae see us? Ah mynd askin masel that question the last time the Pope cam tae see us, tho in ma favour ah wid pynt oot it had taken him near 2000 year tae get aroon tae it at that time. An noo he comes back barely thirty year later? Popes are a bit like buses ah suppose. Ah wid say trams, but ah bide in Embra mynd, an jist want tae greet onytime trams are mentioned. Pass me that box o hankies oan the sideboard wid ye...

It's awricht, ah'll be awricht, jist gie me a meenit...

Right. Aye. Whaur wis ah? Popes. Aye, it wis nice tae see aw thae happy wee faces shinin wi adoration, aw thae men no feart tae wear dresses oot o the hoose, aw thae Saltires wavin an no a Union rag in sicht, the auld Queen an her man still oan the go, an maist o aw oor beautiful toun, Edina wi the bonnie cheeks. She luikt stoatin in the sunshine so she did, the star o the show as far as ah'm concerned. Ah'm aye fit tae burst wi pride when a big name comes tae the toun, an gets tae see whit a braw wee place we bide in, an they pit yin o thon cameras in the sky tae luik doon ower the toun.

It wis a wee shame tho, that they nivver brocht the auld man up tae see the Auld Toun. Apairt fae Holyroodhoose he nivver got tae see the real heart o the city up close. Tae ma mynd it's a peety they nivver took him tae see the statues o John Knox an Davie Hume, nivver took him up tae the High Kirk o Saint Giles. Ah cannae fer the life o me think why no...

Talkin o Saint Giles kirk, me an ma pal Jenny had arrangit tae meet up there efter work this Saiturday efternin a few year ago. Ah had been daein stairs aw mornin an ma heid wis spinnin, she had been at her stall doon by the Tron sellin cabbages an the like. She wis a greenwife ye see, an selt aw manner o vegetables an fruitstuffs, bawlin oot her "Neeps like succar! Wha'll buy neeps?" an her "Fower-bunch a penny, wha'll buy ma caller radishes?" She had sic a loud voice oan her, ye could hear Jenny's cry aw the way up at the Luckenbooths ah'm nae kiddin ye!

We met up aboot fower o'clock, an it wis sic a hot an sunny day we took a wander doon the Gressmairket an sat oot in the sun an knockit back a wheen o ales. Ye dinnae aye realise how much ye're drinkin when ye're enjoyin yersel. We were aw bletherin aboot the tale o that Betty Trot an her farce o a dookin. As the nicht wore oan we found oorsels up at the Greppa inn ahint the Parliament Close. Even tho it wis a bricht summer's nicht, when ye went doon thae shadowy back-stairs an intae the gloom o that tavern it wis sae daurk ye had tae feel yer way tae the bar. No fer nothin wis it cryed the Gropin-hoose...

Eventually we endit up gaun dancin at the auld Assembly oan the West Bow. It wis a ricketty auld joint by this time, no far fae fawin doon aroon oor ears, but the dancin wis rare, the ale wis flowin, an we were haein the time o oor life. Jenny wis a grand mover, she had slinkier hips than ah could ever dream o haein. Ah'm nae sure whit time we got hame at that nicht, aw ah ken is that the sun wis risin, an even Jenny wis gettin hoarse fae aw the singin an laughin. Ah said cheerio tae Jenny at her stair door an telt her ah wid see her in the mornin fer the kirk...

Oh but did we no pay fer oor sins in the mornin? Ma heid wis loupin fit tae burst, an it wis aw ah could dae but tae splash ma face wi water an drag ma guid frock oan. Ah went up tae collect Jenny, an she luikit as bad as ah felt! Her faither Mr Geddes wisnae best pleased wi us either. He telt Jenny she wis gaunnae hae tae clean oot their cludgie fer a week fer stayin oot sae late, an gied me a bellin-aff fer leadin his dochter astray. Me? Leadin her astray? Chance wid be a fine thing, Jenny wis the rabble-rouser, no me! But ah said nothin, ah jist held ma tung. If truth be telt ah kept quiet cos if ah'd startit tae talk ah think ah wid've chucked up aw ower his guid shoes. Ah jist luikit doon at the flair an kept swallaein...

We walkit up tae the kirk in silence. Ah could tell by the luik oan Jenny's face it wisnae worth startin up a conversation. She wis in yin o her moods. Ah think she had took the hump wi me cos ah got mair gropes in Greppa than she did, but then ah think ye can pit that doon tae her loud voice, ye didnae hae tae grope tae ken whaur Jenny wis. We got tae the kirk, foldit oot oor wee creepie-stools an sat doon. Ye see, ye had tae be somebody tae get a proper pew in thon days, lassies like us had tae bring oor ain seats.

There wis an awfy atmosphere in the kirk that mornin, an it wisnae aw doon tae mornin-efter-nicht-afore sair heids. That auld monster King Chairlie the First wis intent oan sweepin awa oor Reformation an tae oor mynd wantit tae bring the Popery back. He had brung back Bishops tae oor kirk, an this mornin, the 23rd o July 1637 he had decreed that the meenister wis tae read fae a new Englis prayer-buik. Noo Popery's yin thing, but Anglicanism? Noo he wis gaun too far. Fowk werenae happy an ye could feel it in the air, ye could've cut the tension wi a knife...

Ah wis barely aware o aw this tho, haein ony havin had a couple o oors sleep. As suin as the kirk went quiet an Jimmy Hanney, the Dean, had stairtit dronin oan, ah stairtit noddin aff. Ah wis jist gettin intae a guid sleep, leanin against Jenny's shooder, an fer some unkent reason stairtin tae dream o giant sheep, when Jimmy had got tae the meat o the service an began tae read fae the new prayer-buik. He hadnae got twa words oot when Jenny let oot this ear-shatterin yell an leapt up, cowpin me richt aff ma stool an landin me oan ma erse oan the flair!

"Wha daur say Mass in ma lug?" she screams, "Ah hope ye get piles, ye auld fart!"

She picks up her stool an launches it at the pulpit. Suddenly there's uproar in the kirk, fowk are bawlin an shoutin, they're chuckin stools, bibles, walkin sticks, breid rolls, onythin they had tae haun really, an there's me lyin flat oan ma back like a cowpit sheep, no able tae get tae ma feet, nor even tae ma hauns an knees. By this time there wis a riot gaun oan ower ma heid, fit tae match the riot gaun oan inside o it. Ma skirts were gettin tramplit oan in the melee an it wis aw ah could dae tae crawl ma way tae the kirk door an oot intae the street. The door slammed shut ahint me, an sae ah jist kept oan crawlin...

Ah think ah must've crawled aw the way hame that mornin, judgin by the state o ma frock the next day. It seems Jenny had stairtit somethin in the kirk that day. They even pit up a wee memorial tae her, tho ye'll notice they pit the wrang stoll up oan it, that there's a cuttie-stool, no a creepie-stool. Anyroads, the riot went oan aw day lang, an even efter the Toun Rats had managed tae evict maist o the rioters fae the kirk they went oan chuckin sticks an stanes at the windaes till gaun oan six at nicht. The unrest led tae the men o the toun signin up tae a National Covenant the next February, tellin King Chairlie whaur he could stick his ideas, an sae began the troubles that went oan fer twinty-odd years, bringin an end tae Chairlie, the comin o the tyranny o Cromwell, an the birth o Leith Walk. There's aye some guid tae come fae bad is there no? That wid be the same Leith Walk that wis meant tae hae brand spankin new trams wheechin doon it by noo...

Pass me thae hankies ower...

8 comments:

  1. Ah.. that's how all that came about is it?

    If only you hadn't gone out on the beer, huh?

    I watched a wee bit of it on the telly... and I have to admit, I was a wee bit stirred to see MY capital on the tv, instead of the English one. It’s great when you recognise all the places.

    I was miffed to see that we were not to be trusted to look after the Pope... Not the Queen and the Duke and the First minister and the leader of all the opposition parties. No, they had to send up Nick Clegg too, with his vast experience of government and state visits to make sure that we did it right.

    Anyway, I noted that you were seen with a red hat firmly clutched in your hands making your way at a fair pelt, from His Holiness’s popemobile ...leaving the poor old man with a half naked napper!

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  2. Aye tris, it aw happened jist as ah say it did.

    And they tell ye drink's a bad thing? Withoot Jenny Geddes an her hangower we wid still be livin under divine right, an ah wid still hae ma guid frock in yin piece...

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  3. Sophia,

    I think your friend Jenny with the loud voice sits behind me at Easter Road. This is true - every time a Hibs player gets the ball she shouts "You, you're fecking useless and if my seat wasn't fixed I would throw it at ye" and "Ye couldnae score in a barrow-load of grannies".

    Incidentally, the red hat she wears clashes with the Hibs top she always wears. With friends like that no wonder you get into bother.

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  4. Ridd an green should nivver be seen, as the auld saw goes...

    She only bocht that hat tae pit ma neb oot o joint. An it did tae, the besom...

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  5. Sophia,

    Was talking to Jenny at the Hibs game last night. She claims it was her pal that threw the stool...... and then ran off with a member of the aristocracy shouting "Come awa, ma wee Geordie" - which became his inspiration when winning the gold medal at Highland flinging and granny grabbing.

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  6. Dinnae believe whit that besom tells ye Mr Brownlie. Ah nivver chucked a stool in ma puff!

    It wis me comin ower that hill tho, she wisnae wrang there. "Come awaaay Geordie! Come awaaay ma wee Geordie!"

    We were a weel-matched couple. He liked tae grab his grannies, an ah like tae get ma oats...

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  7. Sophia dear - if I may call you that?

    Don't mention your "oats" you'll have Tris salivating over his key-board! On second thoughts, do, because I'm made of sterner stuff and love a bit of scandal irrespective of whether it's with the pope or Lord George. Reveal all and make a fortune. Is it you that's wearing out all the Hibs team so that they could not score in a bordello, far less Parkhead?

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  8. Mr Brownlie ye can ca me whit ye like, jist dinnae ca me ower...

    Ye're awfy saucy so ye are. Ah dinnae ken whit kind o a wumman ye think ah am. Ah widnae gie ye tuppence fer aw thae fitba players ye get th'day, wi their exfoliants an scents an waxins an the like. Gie me a locker-room stinkin wi embrocation onyday. Gie me sweat an dirt an pie an a Bovril. Gie me the Famous Five, gie me aw six o them at yince if ye like...

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