Daein the Messages

Author: Isobel McCulloch

Date: 1995

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 3 Spring 1995

A’m no on for thae supermarkets — ye cannae bate the wee corner shap A wus raired wi. Mebbe the warnae chaip — ye gat lukit efter bot an thà crack wus guid. An quhan thà breidman an the poastman went roon the hooses it wus far better nor ‘informed leaks’ on thà fome. See them shap assistants theday? The luk at ye like ye wur somethin thà katt brocht in an tha wud nivir ast ye gin ye wus gettin. The’re owre busy collogin wi ilkin anent big nichts oot an thae arobatics quhar the’re jiggin aboot — thar wus naen o that in ma day — we wur aye on wor hunkers wi darg!

For tae git bak til supermairkets bot. A gaed til Connswater thither day. Til start wi, quhat eejit swappit ivirythin roon frae A wus thar afore? A cud fynn naethin. Thar wus me headin for the suggar an the’d shiftit it near til tha scrievins paiper. A wus aa thoughothèr an miles up an doon thà wee pads for thar wus deil thà yin til ast. Quhan A gat til thà check-oots thar wus this wumman wi a basket o stuff wud hae fed thà fyve thoosan. Scho wus flappin her chek buik aboot (aiblins at’s quhat the caa thaim check-oots for) an makin a peformanse like Ladie Muck fae Clabber Hall — scho wud hae scunnerit ye. An than thar wus aa thon fuitèrin wi them wee cairds! Her mon wus wi her an he wus staunin wi his twa airms thà yin lentht — nithèr uise nor ornyment. Thar wus this pair ahint me wi a hirsel o weans an the wus aa girnin anent swaeties an astin for pokes o ice-craim. ‘Yoou’ve had lots of sweets and ice-cream already darling’ ses thà mithèr. A’d hae ‘darlined’ thaim A’m tellin ye wi a guid skelp on tha bakside. Weans is wile haird tae thole the-day. Quhan thà wee lassie ast me ‘Ye wudnae hae thie pence on ye, wud ye?’ A kent scho wus shoart o reddis bot wi aa thà narration A gat sae fluistèrit hokin in ma beg for the wus aa Jukin at me. A dinnae ken hoo thae wee lassies on thà tälls stick it aa day tae dayligaun. Thair heids maun be deevit.

Quhan A hirpled oot (thae begs is heavy) quha shud A run intil bot Maggie Megaw — her quhat aye leevit fornenst us in tha Creggae afore we flittit til Kirkdonnel. Scho’s a wee widda wumman an thà Dear knows scho haed it haird for her mon wus aye stocious. Monies thà nicht A saen him maisurin thà waas. Scho ses til me ‘Did ye know wee Sammie wus dead an buried?’ A cudnae tak it in for A’d seen him Wennsday wus a week ago in thà Druggist’s — he wus haein a wee collogue wi yer mon an mynn ye he didnae luk at hissell. But deid an buriet! Sure ye nivir know fae wan day til thà neist.

Quhan A gat til thà bus stap for thà nummer 17, it stairtit tae spit an than cum doon ploutin — it wus teemin sae it wus — an me oot wi’oot ma umberella forbye. Afore ye cud say ‘Jack Roabyson’ this kar sweesht paist an th’ew wattèr aa owre me — A wus soakin, drincht. Ma legs wus aa japp’t. Thon wee mon on the tellie shud clod his maps awa — he toul us for tae expeck a wee skiff an than it wud fair. He wud hae daen bettèr tae luk at thà moontin thà nicht afore — at’s quhat we daen til spey quhat themorra wud be like.

Quhan thà bus cum, thà wee wumman in front ast thà driver gif he wus gangin til Kirkdonnel Spital. “No sae far as A knew Missus” ses he “for A’ll hae til wait tae the Dochtor tells me”. Quair an cheekie some drivers — the hae a lot to pit up wi bot, for some fowks is dead iggerent.

A wus plaised til git hame an hae a wee drap o tay in ma haun afore thà fire. Aye … it’s no aisy at ma time o life — daein thà messages.

Isobel McCulloch

tay in the fiels

“Ach, tay in the fiels wus a gran’ thing” (Will McAvoy, ‘Greba: memories of life at Mid Isle, Greyabbey’, tape, Ulster-Scots Language Society).



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