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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’?

Bastille, 1790 retouched.jpg

Vous avez – tu as- raison, mon ange.  Murgatroyd flicked an anxious

glance towards Snod, in order to check that his use of the familiar

was ‘juste

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

pele tower.

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 shin quite sharply.  Dru kicked the other, with equivalent


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.

New drambuie bottle.jpg