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Murgatroyd and Diana settled down in the barmkin to watch The Debate.

Murgatroyd sensed that there were many diasporan Scots- was that the

same etymological root as ‘sporran‘?- who felt somewhat aggrieved that a

Sassenach such as himself could vote on their country’s future, so he

wanted to be fully informed and astute in his response.  He had tried to

follow some of the arguments on his tablet, but found that he kept

re-playing The First Minister’s Ice Bucket Challenge instead.  He liked it

when Wee Eck said, Dae it again!  No doubt that would be his cry if the

result in September didn’t please him.

Mrs Connolly came in with a tray of salmon sandwiches.  Murgatroyd

felt ashamed that he had ever suspected her good self, or her son, of

theft.  Forced bonhomie led him to ask her how she intended to vote.

Oh, Scotland!  Scotland! she quoted.

Again, Murgatroyd was impressed by the standard of the natives’


..nation miserable

with an untitled tyrant,

when shall you see your wholesome days again?

He thought that this might be from that Flower O’ Scotland song. He

hummed a few bars to show solidarity.

No, Mr Syylk!  It is your own National Bard.  The Scottish Play.

She went on:

Alas, poor country!

Almost afraid to know itself.  It cannot be called our mother, but our grave;

where nothing is, but who knows nothing..

I didn’t think Alistair did too badly, Murgatroyd remarked, trying to be

impartial and failing.

If that’s the best they can do, Mr Syylk, I intend to emigrate, like past


Fare thee well!

These evils thou repeatest on thyself

have banished me from Scotland.

Yet my poor country

shall have more vices than it had before,

more suffer and more sundry ways

by him that shall succeed.

Surely not, Mrs Connolly.  Murgatroyd was at a loss to reply to such

moving rhetoric.  Maybe she should have been representing the

Better Together‘ campaign at Kelvingrove.

Diana just thanked her and took two generous-sized sandwiches

from the tray. Mad!  All of them.

But, it was only a few weeks since Diana would have thought a barmkin

was some kind of Scottish oatcake.  It was amazing how she had been able

to see Murgatroyd more clearly, the scales having dropped from her

over-prejudicial eyes.  What was all that about motes and beams?  Maybe

her stay in The Tibetan Centre had helped her to move on.

They were going to have a trial reconciliation. (Sonia had said that she

had seen it coming.)  She always said that.

Anyway, it seemed fortuitous that Dru had accompanied Great-Aunt

Augusta back to Snodland Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry.  That

meant Nigel was able to give Sonia a lift home in the hired van.  Dru had

decided to leave her harp at the Pele Tower, so there was room for

Sonia’s luggage.  In fact there was plenty of room for a dismantled Trident,

if Alex and Co had wanted to send it down south.

Nigel’s concentration was being hampered by Sonia’s inquisition on his

relationship with Dru.  How could anyone be more intrusive than his own


Diana and Gus were already back at school, fielding disgruntled parents

and snowploughing their enquiries, to grit the path for the incoming

Headmaster.  The term stretched before them like a path through


Gus was annoyed as he had been sent a postcard from Wyvern Mote,

from Maxwell Boothroyd-Smythe, commenting on the wonderful concert

and praising Dru’s musicianship.  Snod knew, with that unerring classroom

intuition developed over decades, that the missive meant that Dru had

taken him there.  He had seen them, tete-a-tete, during the interval, no

doubt arranging to meet up after Dru had dropped Aunt Augusta back at

the care home.  Musicianship?!  Hah!  Cunning Little Vixen!

Gus did not approve of her having led Nigel on.  His own past

experiences returned to haunt him.  He had seen the look in

Nigel’s eyes as he sang some of the more romantic ballads. Poor

fellow!  His vocal timbre was developing, but his charisma was,

like the proverbial gas, at a peep.

Furthermore, there was an issue which now loomed larger than the

outcome of a referendum: if Dru were to strike up a liaison with

Maxwell Boothroyd-Smythe and it should become permanent, then-

Heavens forfend!!-he might end up step-grandfather to that bolshie

Juniper and her odious younger sibling, the biggest bete-noire of St

Birinus’ Middle.

He would like to empty a bucket of something else over that

particular parental head.