Bastille, bastle, Bonnie Prince Charlie, buchts, cheesemaking, Drambuie, eanlings, ewes' milk cheese, fanks, idiolect, Lanark Blue, lintel, National Archives, reiving, sasines, Scottish baronetcies, transitive verb
No, it’s not a bastle, pontificated Murgatroyd. Pele towers are bigger,
en generale. He always attempted to flavour his pronouncements
with a Gallic soupcon whenever he could.
Riveting, said Virginia, crossing one slim ankle over an equally
attractive silk-enhanced foot. And is this mot ‘bastle’ from the meme
root as ‘Bastille’?
Vous avez – tu as- raison, mon ange. Murgatroyd flicked an anxious
glance towards Snod, in order to check that his use of the familiar
And the ‘buchts’ you mentioned- qu’est que c’est? Virginia was having
Snod blew his nose into his handkerchief to mask his amusement.
Virginia noted that she would have to teach him about the paper
Ah, mon tresor, those were U-shaped open-ended pens, made of turf,
where they milked the sheep. They differed from the later multi-purpose
Nigel gasped. His natural history was somewhat lacking in depth and
‘fanks‘ sounded like a lazy phonetic approximation of an expression of
gratitude which he was wont to attempt to eradicate in the idiolect of
eanlings such as Boothroyd-Smythe.
Murgatroyd continued, Yes, I too have a cunning plan to produce
a version of ewes’ cheese, similar to ‘Lanark Blue.’ I intend to go on
a course in The Netherlands which should teach me all there is to
know concernant le sujet de fromage. But, that is a post-Restoration
Forgive me, but I have un dernier question, s’il vous……
S’il te, corrected Murgatroyd. We are chez amis. Continue..
Snod spluttered heavily and had to leave the room. Thank
goodness the privies were now indoors.
The declivity downstairs?
Ah, it was a drain for the cattle effluent. They were brought
indoors during the reiving raids.
And the people went upstairs? Nigel asked.
Eh bien, there weren’t any stairs originally. The last man to
secure the entrance shinned up some kind of rope ladder to join
his family. The stair we have is a later modification. He couldn’t
think of an idiomatic equivalent for the verb ‘to shin‘. ‘Sin‘-maybe.
‘Peccare‘- no that was Latin, he thought.
I noticed initials over the door, Nigel added.
Authentique, n’est-ce-pas? Patrimonial. I managed to persuade a
local farmer to let me have the masonry back, in exchange for a
big dram. It was only propping up a cattle trough. The lintel stone,
not the bottle!
‘ET?’ mused Nigel.
Enoch Tindall, explained Murgatroyd. I looked him up on-line-
you know- The National Archives at Kew and Edinburgh. Sasines
and all that. Tindall was quite a common name around these
airts and pairts.
What language is he speaking now? Nigel was confused.
Tindall! Drusilla’s jaw dropped. That was my great-grandmother’s
maiden name. She came from a family who had sold off a ruined
Gus came in at this juncture- a habit which he had perfected over
years: entering a classroom at the most significant moment.
‘Sold off’ is the vital transitive verb, he commented. I am sure that if
this is the property, Murgatroyd is now the legal owner. The irony is that
Drusilla would have inherited it through me. Scottish baronetcies could be
handed down through the female lines, irrespective of gender. Aurelia, my
mother, was the link and not Lord Wivern.
Attendez, mes enfants! Murgatroyd leapt up, spilling some whisky onto
his Nicholas Fairbairn-inspired trews. He extracted some vellum tied in
faded tartan ribbon from his court cupboard and placed them in Drusilla’s
lap. Witness that this day I bequeath everything to my daughter in spirit,
if not in biology. The lineage shall be respected. Soyez sans crainte!
Crainte? Nigel’s GCSE did not enable him to follow.
‘Peur’ for the likes of you, Snod rebuffed him, addressing the Junior Master
as if he was going to be de-moted to the ‘B’ stream.
Virginia kicked his shins quite sharply.
Let’s drink to it! Murgatroyd opened the glass pane over the wall niche
and took out the chalice which had belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
He filled it from a bottle of Drambuie, swallowed the contents in
one and shouted:
Risk, Rebellion, Passion and Mystery! The Spirit Lives On!
And then, glancing at the upturned and somewhat astonished faces of his
guests, he realised that he had omitted to ‘top up‘- to use another transitive
verb- their glasses.