Author: James Fenton

Date: 1999

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 7 Wunter 1999


James Fenton

Green lint

We kep wer ee on it, frae the green scad o the furst braird tae the blyue bow (a sicht for oany ee) an the hard bow: the fairmer, luckin for a hunther tae the peck or mair an a throw o catter at a ticht time; an the pooers, gled o a throw at oanytim, luckin tae mak a lock mair nor the colour they maistly got. Naw a lock o guid tae the yin, an naen ava tae the ithers, wuz the shoart fine lint, lake wunnlestray, maistly on scappy or hung’ry grun; yit if saft, flush lint wuz chancy for the fairmer (frush, affen, unther the hannles), it garred the pooer wat the loof, ettling tae get weegin. Sae thing tal an firm o itsel wud dae baith weel.

Ay, weegin: bennin a strechtin, weegin an pooin, cross the face o a braid flet, ye wrocht. An wrocht, for it wuz sore gan: ill on the bak an war on the hans an airms, even wae hoagers tae hinther the scourgin. Ay, but the catter wuz guid, an rail guid at yintim: at twa shillin or half-a-croon a stook (a dizzen fait beets tied wae bans o wun rashes) a boady micht weel mak a week’s pie in yin or twa starts. An for the rail able, mine, twunty tae twunty-five stooks wuznae ooty the wie — coont that in yer heid (sitch coontin wuz mair nor ooty the wie).

An frae the fiel tae the dub, frae pooin tae holin: the low-bigged loads, on a ruck-shifter or flet trailer, wur coped nixt the broo o the dam, reamin foo noo frae a trinket cut tae the sheugh or burn an faced clean wae a boagknife or weel-shairped spade. Yin clodded fort, anither holed — butts up, maistly, or whiles heids or heids an thras — wae a’ staned doon frae coops alang baith broos and weel tramped, tae the nixt trampin an mair stanin whun the lint swalled.

Wat lint

Mortyal man couldnae fin, nor the sorra devise, an oaglier unthertakkin nor the cloddin oot. Wae the reed richt saffened, the maist o the lint watter lut aff (inty an empy dam, accoardin tae the la, for it puzhined troots; inty the sheugh or burn, accoardin tae yer minin o it, wae oany deein troots reskyed for the pan) an the stanes aff, come the cloddin oot. A wexer. Weerin owl claes, spalterin an plowtin in glar and soor watter wae a hoag wud’a knocked doon bees, ye’d gether an cairry the teemin beets — sweemin them, whiles — tae hilsh onty the broo for the piler tae lee bak wae the graip. Beet efter drookit beet an, wae a big dam, oor efter enless oor, ye wrassled an wrocht, stappin a wee, whiles, an aply withoot iver leein the watter, tae tak pieces or whutiver, wae het tay, aiblins wae a wee jibble in it, tae gie it a jag. An wae a’ ower, sprachle oot, draiglit an daen, shachlin an plowtin tae the burn or whuriver, tae rensh aff the rugh o the lint watter, afore casin the wat claes at the dake-bak. A rail wexer.

Dried lint

Wae oany thank an a lock o sin, scattered lint shane dried, whather spread or half-beeted an gaited — gaitin micht be mair the thing in bruckle wather, but yins had their ain wie o it — an wuz tied wae the dried-oot bans. It wuz harly iver stakked, but maistly dooble-stooked or bigged in havels or in sheegs (ca’d birts bae some) an thatched wae lint itsel or wae rashes — a lock tae dae wae a shane the mill could tak it.

The lint-mill

Three lint-mills sut (an sit empy noo) alang the streetch o the big watter rinnin frae Kilmandil tae Killagan, little ower a mile — a misure o whut lint meent thonner at thontim. An ye mine the yin at Killagan wae a weetchil’s minin. The dam, lang awa, fillin frae the lade, yin sloosh at the heid-race tae regalate the wecht o watter tae the wheel, the ither cross the lade itsel at the rodden brig, cogged at the richt hicht for the owerspill tae ga doon the bak-fa, wae the dam foo, or wun up wae the mill aff.

An a weetchil’s furst sicht o it a’, cairryin in beets tae the bak binch: lake sheddas, shapin quait in the rummle o the rowlers an the wheesh an snore o the birlin hannles, in the licht stoor an waftin powce — wur they the yins ye knowed sae weel ootby? Bae the binches an rowlers an stocks they niver paased, harly lucked roon them: the taiter chappin the butts an teaslin oot the lint tae feed inty the rowlers; the strickers, at the ither en, getherin the hanfas o bruised staks an twustin them wae a thra inty stricks, pooin oot the dra’ins; the buffers, giein the stricks the furst run at the hannles, batterin aff the rugh o the shows an oany tats o rug; the cleaners, giein the run that mettered; an graipin an grammlin amang a’, lake a doag alow the table, the rug-shaker, getherin the rug an scattered tow in airmfas an trailin it ootby whar he shuck the shows oot on the show-hill. Ither yins: anither worl.

An noo

An noo? The day, an naw its lane, it’s a’ by; an’ll niver be bak. The odd fiel, grew for linseed, haes naethin tae dae wae a’ thon, or only tae mine ye on it, lake an owl phota ye’d come ower. Noo the mills, rickles maistly, stan empy an quait; a lint-dam ye’d harly iver fin, gyely a’ filled in, biried, wae oany the odd yin, forgot in a quait, wat corner, an sae grew ower it’s nae mair nor a wraith o itsel, a green scad. A’ by.



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