Sunday, 12 September 2010

The waddin list

As a professional stair-cleaner that taks her wark gey serious, ah dinnae mynd tellin ye how gled ah wis when they opent up the New Toun mansions, an efter that the Victorian tenements, fer an awfy lot o them had straucht stairs, ken, aw in a line, apairt fae mibbe wee bends at the tap an at the bottom. They were an awfy lot easier tae clean. Easier that is than the auld turnpike stairs the Auld Toun wis fu o. Efter a mornin o scrubbin turnpike efter turnpike ah tell ye ah wis as dizzy as a heidless chicken an wid be stoatin aw ower the shop. Fowk yaist tae stop an ask me if ah'd been at the sherry, an it wid ony be ten in the mornin!

Of course there wis some mornins fair enough, if it wis awfy cauld say, or awfy hot, or mibbe if it wis awfy wet, or awfy dry....

Anyroads, ah wisnae the worst. There wis some richt dizzy dames bidit up thae stairs. Ah kent this yin wumman, Eleanor wis her name, she wis a scatty besom so she wis, an flirty intae the bargain. She wis fae quite weel-aff stock, moneyed fowk, an she'd mairrit oantae the Primrose faimly, sae she'd done weel fer hersel, but she wis still as wanton as a wet hen an as gullible as a fat goat. Eleanor kent how tae pairty richt enough, she wid hae big crowds at her do's, an made aabody feel like they were her favourites. Ye could say she wis easy wi her favours, but she meant nae hairm, she wis jist haein fun, an she aye kent there wis a limit. Her man tho, he wis a gey rum yin, richt anti-social an door. He had a green streak o jealousy that went richt doon tae his rotten core.

Eleanor telt me how this yin Saiturday nicht, at yin o their pairties, her man had got this thocht intae his heid that Eleanor had smiled ower much at sic-an-sic anither man, that she had been tryin tae catch his een aw nicht, nivver mynd how much she denied it. The next mornin, she had got up, an wis sittin at her dressin-table daein her hair an touchin up her pocks, when she had caught sicht o her man in her wee haun-mirror, creepin up ahint her wi his sword oot, an a murderous look oan his face.

Quick-witted as she could be at sic times, Eleanor reached back an sprayed her can o lacquer in his face, jumpt up, an leapt oot the windae! Lucky fer her she wis ony yin flair up an she landit oan the midden so she nivver hurt hersel. She ran oot intae the High Street, bearin in mynd noo this is near ten in the mornin, she's in her nightie an covert in shite, an aabody else is in their Sunday best oan their wy tae kirk, she waves at them aw an smiles, says 'mornin!', runs ower the street, an up the close whaur her guid-mither bides. Brave wumman.

She gets her guid-mither's protection, fer athoot haein tae say it the auld wife kens whit her son's capable o, an he's sent aff tae Europe tae dae a Tour, in disgrace. His wife Eleanor gets the hoose an the bairns an life gangs oan...

This meant nae mair pairties fer Eleanor tho, nae socialisin an nae flindrikin fer her nae mair, it meant spinster buik-readins, nichts at the fire daein samples, an it got her doon puir sowel. So when ah saw a billpost fer a wee show that wis oan doon the Canongate, ma first thocht wis ma pal Eleanor, "this'll cheer her up" thocht ah, "jist whit she needs"

The show wis yin o thon mediums, that boastit he could answer ony o yer questions aboot fowk ye kent but that werenae wi ye nae langer. Sae we went alang tae the mannie's wee parlour room, doon jist past Pirrie's Close, whaur he had it aw done up like a Turkish bazaar, aw hung wi fancy ridd blankets, an lit wi wee teapot lamps. We're aw crammit in, a crowd o aboot a dozen aw th'gither, an there's a richt expectant hush... The wee dark man in the black silky coat gies a wee shpiel aboot gettin his powers aff some genie he'd trapped in Egypt, dis some hurdie-gurdie incantations, an then says how he could tell ye onyhin aboot onybody onywhaur, onybody at aw... Then he taks Eleanor by the haun, an leads her through ahint this arras...

When Eleanor cam oot she wis as white as a new-bleachit sheet, an she grabbed ma elbae an hurrit me oot an back tae her hoose. Whit a worrit, troublt luik wis in her een. As suin as we were in the door, she gied me a pen an a bit o paper, an made me scrieve it aw doon. When the mannie had took her through, he'd sat her doon afore this mirror, waved his haun aroon, an in it she'd seen, aw fu o colour an movin, like in a dream, this waddin, an then she listit aw she saw...

The Waddin List...

It wis in a kirk
There wis a bride an a groom
The bride wis beautiful
There werenae miny fowk
The waddin stairts...
In runs a man, ah ken him
It's ma brither
He runs up tae the groom
and draws his sword
the groom draws his
it aw goes fuzzie

An we baith signed an datit it, she sealt it wi wax, an lockit it awa in a drawer in her desk.

Then aboot three month later, when, aye, ye'll hae guessit it but ah'll tell ye onywy, when her brither comes back fae daein his ain Grand Tour, Eleanor taks him aside, an asks him if he'd heard onythin aboot her husband, wha hadnae been heard o fer ages. He sits her doon an tells her aye, he'd seen him richt enough. When he wis passin through Holland he'd heard there wis a waddin gaun oan wi a man fae Embra, an so he thocht he wid gang alang, see if he kent him. He slaverit somethin aboot bein caught in a canaljam whitivver that wis, an turnin up late, but when he got there did he no find oot it wis his ain brither-in-law that wis gettin hitchit! Sae he said he had enlichtenit the puir lassie, stoppit the waddin, an chasit her man oot the toun...

Then Eleanor made him gang tae her room an get the sealed letter, an open it. Ye've guessed it, this waddin wis aboot tae tak place at the exact time Eleanor had seen the apparition in the mirror...

Eleanor's brither didnae ken whaur the Lord Primrose had run aff tae efter that, but it wis only a couple o year later in 1706 that Eleanor got word that he wis deid, likely, she said, in some ither floozie's airms. She nivver moornt fer him. He'd left her  a wealthy, still young, an beautiful Dowager Lady Primrose. She enjoyed bein a Dowager Lady an wis in nae rush tae get re-mairrit, e'en though she got plenty offers. Eventually though, on 27th o March, 1708, she mairrit John Dalrymple, the 3rd Earl o Stair, an became Lady Stair. Dalrymple wis a hard husband tae haunle tae, he likit his drink, an Eleanor had her work cut oot controllin him. Eventually, efter giein her an awfy batterin yin nicht, he agreed that the only drink he wid touch fae then oan, wid be whit she hersel had passed tae him, an nae mair. He stuck tae it tae...

Eleanor bigged up her reputation as society hostess wi the maistest, an efter she boucht the hoose that still bears her name, doon Lady Stair's Close in 1719, she saw tae it that her pairties were the pairties tae be seen at, she entertainit like nae ither grand-dam in Embra, an wis remenberit lang efter she wis gaun fae this life in 1759.

 Ah still curst her tho when she made me scrub thae turnpike stairs o hers, roond... an roond... an roond... an roond...


  1. You have some right posh mates Sophia....

    I think though, that with your experience of cleaning them, YOU should really be Lady Stairs.

    Great story btw...

  2. Oh aye tris, no aw ma pals are scrubbers. That wis the thing aboot the Auld Toun ye see, we aw bidit th'gither, regardless o rank or station, in thon great lands. Ye could be yin flair up fae a Marchioness an through the wa fae a bottle-washer. Aabody kent aabody, an nivver bein yin tae staun oan ceremony masel, ah made ma pals whaur ah found them, usually oan the stairs...

    Lady Stairs, ah wisht ah'd thocht o that name afore Eleanor got her hauns oan it. Yer richt, it wid've suitit me better than her, she didnae ken yin end o a bannister fae the ither...

  3. Tris,

    Don't call her Lady Stair or next thing you know she'll be off to Holyrood to dance with that Ginger Rogers and another thing "What is the life though full of care we have no time to stand and stair" or words to that nonsensical effect.

    Hope she was on her best behaviour at Bellahouston Park. Btw, who was Bella Houston?

  4. Well now Brownlie. I’m not sure about giving her heirs and graces (as it were) and I couldn’t for sure say who Isabel Houston might be (one of the Shropshire Houstons I suspect), but what I do know is that if you had been paying proper attention to Munguin’s Republic you would have known that our beloved Sophia could not have been in Bellahouston Park yesterday as she was, in fact, hiding in Edinburgh.

    She was last seen high tailing it away from the papal procession clutching to her breast a blur of red material, to wit one hat, from which she had been parted many a long year ago and which she sadly missed, having retained the gloves bag and shoes to go with it.

    Security being what it was (you get quite a lot for £20 million) she probably felt it wise to lay low for the rest of the afternoon.... not to mention that there was an elderly Greek bloke going around asking single ladies about the colour(s) of their undergarments!!

    Keep up lad!

  5. Aye ah had a rare time yesterday tris did ah no? Ah got ma hat back at last, an ah'm fair chuffed. Mynd, ah had tae dae a lot o runnin afore ah lost thon mafia guys, a lot o joukin doon back closes, crawlin ahint dykes, chuckin stanes at windaes tae distract them...

    Aw in a day's work ah suppose. Ah did hae an auld man ask me aboot the colour o ma knickers, but it wis jist auld Tommy fae doon oan the second flair. He disnae get oot much, puir sowel...

    An here, Mr Brownlie, ah hope tae god ye're no gettin me mixed up wi that ither wumman, the yin that sung fer the wee man. Ah dae a much better Wild Horses ah'll hae ye ken, an ah've got much tidier legs...

  6. Tris,

    I never read Munquins Republic as it is full of humourless unionist right-wingers like the bold Munguin, Niko and Tris - Dean excepted. I much prefer a sophiaistocated blog such as this.

    As for Sophia's legs I'm sure the Chook would be interested - anyone who's interested in Annabelle's knickers must be desperate. I suppose that's only natural having lived with an old queen for all these years.

    Aren't Sophia's tales grand. I hope she does not give in the offers from the People's Friend and the News of the World when her tales from the park unfold. I'll bet a few footballers from the SPL will be trembling in their boots!

  7. Sophiaistocated - Mr Brownlie ye're a wee star, ah'm gaunnae be gigglin at that aw day, nae higher accolade...

    Ah'll be lucky if ah get ony stairs done at aw!

    Ah can only thank ye again, fer yer interest in ma legs, ma knickers, an whit ah got up tae in Barefit's Park. Ah hope ye dinnae read ma stories in public noo, ah'm no wantin ye tae get yersel arrestit!

  8. Sophia... Even auld Tommy must have his needs! it's good of you to take care of them, whilst fleeing the Mafia!

  9. Brownlie...

    I'm sorry you are so displeased by the standard and quality of what is on offer at Munguin's Republic. Of course I realise that it isn't Hello Magazine, or the Daily Star, to which, no doubt, you are accustomed, but we do our best.

    We regret to inform you that your subscription is non refundable.

    As for Niko, well, what can you do?

    But I'll agree with you on one thing. These stories are grand... and I too hope that we continue to get them for free...although, I wouldn't blame Sophia if she availed herself of D.C. Thomson's offer.... small though it would undoubtedly be.

    As for the SPL footballers... is that what they mean by "knee trembler"?

  10. Jist you twa argy amangst yersels. Saves me the bother...

    Ah'll tak the bouquet tho, thanks again tris, they're aye welcome. An dinnae fash yersel aboot me takin Mr Thomson's siller, naebody's gaunnae pay me fer ma auld-biddy's slaverins. Ah guess ah'll jist hae tae get by oan ma pension.

  11. Sophia:

    Brownlie and I were born to argue; we're like brothers!

    I hope the Tories don't cut your heating allowance. it's the kind of thing these bounders would do, you know.And it's hard to write stories with your hands blue with the cold.

  12. Aw that's a sweet picture tris, the twa o ye pingin catties at each ither an playin wi yer guiders. Ye'll be gettin aw excitit, whit wi Hallowe'en comin, gettin yer costume ready an practisin yer wee turns. If ye come tae ma door first, ah'll dae yer sooty moustaches fer the baith o ye, an that's an offer ah dinnae mak aften...

  13. Och that would be braw. I canna speak for Brownlie, but I'll be there... and I'll hold ye to it.

  14. Sorry, Sophia, I can't make Halloween - I'm going to see Tris's mum that evening as she tells me he's going out to frighten young children. It seems he doesn't need a mask.... Incidentally, you should not let strange men into your house, far less very strange men.

  15. Sophia... I'll be round on my own. And you don't have to let me in. I can do what I have to do on these nice clean stairs.

    Brownlie: I'm cross at my mum for telling you about my disadvantaged facial features (as we have to call being plug these days), but we'll let that pass. however, if you are going to be my new daddy, I hope you have money!!

  16. First ye's are brithers, noo ye want tae be faither an son, it's nae wunner ah cannae keep up!

    It widnae be the first time ah've had strange men daein things oan ma nice clean stairs, but that's whit ah get fer bidin in Leith. Sae lang as they polish ma bannisters while they're at it ah'll no complain...

  17. Ah yes, well, it's a very strange family... but just to be clear I said we were LIKE brothers.

    As for yer bannister... I'll make a pledge...can't say fairer than that.

  18. I was going to make a joke about Roger Bannister but can't think of one without getting banned.

  19. I draw the line at that, but I'll polish it...:)

  20. Thank ye, er... Food, glad ye liked it.

  21. I wonder if they do brochures for haggis, neeps and tatties, chappit of course!