A Byre o a Hoose

Author: William Cromie

Date: 2004

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 9 and 10 Wunter 2004

William Cromie


It wus yin o them days that din yer hairt guid. The sin wus shinin’ doon an there wus jist a nice wee licht breeze so that a boady didnae get too warm an cud jist soarta enjoy the wather. There wus naebody enjoyed it mair than oul Tam. He hung ivver the half-daur, pipe clenched in his mooth an’ his oul cep pult low on his broo tae shilter his een fae the sin.

Noo onieboadie that passed Tam’s daur wud be shair an’ get sumthin said tae them, especially the wee hissies, fir he wus aye keppin them gan. Ah hiddae say here that Tam wus an ornery lukkin bein. The raisins fur this were that he had a wrangle e’e an twa or three oul blak stumps fur teeth. As weel as that he harly ivver washed himself. Maist o the weans wur feart o him; they wud wait tae they wir a brave bit fae his daur, then turn an yell bak at him, “Awa an wesh yirsel ya dirty baste”. Tam wudda gin a keckle o a laugh that slackened the phlegm in his throat; then he wudda sput on the fitpad an near turned the hairt o onieboadie gan by.

The mair things wur brave an quait, they wur jist aboot tae change. Joe, an oul fairmer fae oot the road, cum alang the street drivin half a dizzin bullocks. Jist as they cum near han his daur, twa or three young yins went by an lot a yell at Tam. Af coorse Tam guldered bak at them. Noo whauther it was Tam or the weans yellin it’s hard tae say, bit sumthin startled the bullocks an yin o them lot a roar oot o it an made a dert fur Tam’s daur.

Tam jumped bak, an it wus a guid jab he did, fur the baste cum clean thrugh the daur an, as onieboadie knows, in them wee twa-up-twa-doon hooses the stairs ere jist fernenst the daur an they’re jist aboot wide enough tae let a boadie git up them. Weel, the bullock in its panic heeded strecht up the stairs, smashin the bennister an rails as it went. Whun it got tae the tap o the stairs there wus a big post that hel the bennister as a richt turn on tae the landin. Weel the bullock got stuck here an it musta got a bit scarred fur the nixt thing the skitter flew oot o it an ivver the stairs. Weel, it lot anither roar oot o it an there wus a smashin o timmer as the post gin wae. Then there wus only yin place left fur it tae gan, an that wus intae Tam’s bedroom.

Meanwhile, doon below, Tam wus stannin in the wee scullery listenin tae the hemmerin an smeshin that was gin on abin him. He heerd the oul bed gaein wey an the bit o a wardrobe gittin brauk tae bits. He lukked up at the kitchen ceilin, whaur the naked licht bulb wus jiggin aboot on its flex, an wunnerin what was ganna happen nixt. Weel, he hadnae lang tae wait, fur aa o a sudden there wus a big lood crash, an the bullock cum clean thrugh the ceiling an landed wae a smesh on tap o the table, brekkin it an the twa ald chairs alang wae it. The nixt thing tae go wus the wee cubbard he kep his bits o delf in.

Bae this time Joe had got someboadie tae mine the ither bullocks, an had made his wye intae the hoose. He had a big stick wae him, an wus able tae drive the animal oot. He threw the daur tae, an turned tae ald Tam tae try an soart him oot. Baith the twa o them surveyed the damage that had been din tae the hoose. Joe wus vexed at the state o the place, an toul Tam that he wud make guid the damage, an git him sumwhaur tae stey tae it wus fixed.

Jist then there wus a knock at the daur. Tam pult it appen, an his een stud in his heid whun he saw who wus stannin there: it wus Emma, the rent wummin. Noo Emma wasnae lukkin intae the hoose: she wus jist lukkin doon at hur book, an, waeoot liftin hur heid, she said tae Tam, “Ah’m here fur the rent”.

Weel, Tam lukked at hur, an bae this tim his temper jist brauk. “The rent — YIR HERE FUR THE RENT!” he yelt at the tap o his voice. He cetched Emma bae the airm an pult her intae the hoose. “Luk at the state o this place”, he said. “The stairs ir smeshed, ma ald bed an wardrobe ir brauk in bits, A cannae offer ye a cup o tae fur A hae nae cup tae put it in, an if A had A hae nae table tae pit it on fur it’s brauk, an even if A had aa them A hinnae a chair tae sit on. An besides, the hail place is covered in skitter, an aa you can say is ye want yir rent! Weel, hell roast the penny A’ll pey tae this demmege is made guid!” Noo bae this time Emma’s hairt wus fair turning wae the stench o the place, an she cuddnae wait tae git oot. As she run on tae the fitpad, she yelt bak at Tam that she wud try an git things soarted oot fur him.

Things wur eventually soarted oot fur Tam, as ald Joe got him a place tae stey whilst his ald hoose place wus made fit tae leeve in again. Joe peyed fur aa the work, an as weel as that he replaced the brauken furniture wae half daicent stuff. On tap o that, he got the ald place decorated an pit a bit o cairpet in it. Tae finish it aff he got them a wheen o cups an plates, an fitted lampshades on aa the bulbs. Whun ald Tam cum bak he harly knew the place. Bit, A’ll tell ye yin thing, he din a lot less yellin oot the daur; mair so if onieboadie wus gan by wae kye, heifers or bullocks.



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