(Photo: Mendhak  http://www.flickr.com/photos/69135870@NOO/3402)


I’m not sure we should have asked her about Mr C, said Diana


Well, if you don’t ask…, replied Virginia, sipping her tea which

was slightly stewed.  Do you think Mr C is definitely deceased?

Hmmm, I remember her saying that men were only good for two

things and, when everything is over, including the shouting, at least

you get to sleep in the middle of the bed.

So, you think ‘over’ might mean he’s popped his brogues? 

Virginia considered this melancholy thought and then

brightened: What was the other thing men were good for?

In Mrs C’s book, reaching items from high shelves in the kitchen,

laughed Diana.  Wheesht!  Here she comes with clouds descending

But it was a false alarm.

I wonder where our blokes have got to? remarked Virginia, looking

at the old railway clock, which Murgatroyd had purchased for a

song when Dr Beecham was doing his worst in the Borders.

On cue, the duo appeared, looking rather sheepish.

Oh, we wanted to discuss the piper’s tunes with you, Diana stated

with a slight reprimand in her vocal tone. We’ve vetoed ‘Highland

Cathedral’ -too vulgar-and, for obvious reasons, we ruled out ‘For All

Those Endearing Young Charms’ and ‘The Cradle Song.’  I suppose

Dru might like them, however.  Nigel said he likes ‘The Maid I adore’

or ‘Cailin Mo Ruinsa.’

The chaps joined them round the table.

Gus smiled:  The latter sounds like a presagement of disaster.

Well, make some suggestions then, Virginia expostulated.

How about ‘Colin’s Cattle?’  He had obviously done his homework,

like the conscientious schoolmaster he had always been- since the


Isn’t that a tad too…bovine? Diana asked.

It’s a very good retreat march, supplied Snod.

Murgatroyd laughed.  Where’s the tea?

Mrs C now appeared on cue, carrying a heavy tray.

Whit aboot ‘Cock O’ The North? she winked, spilling some tea.

Diana raised her eyebrows.

‘Once bitten; Twice Shy’ is another good one, Mrs C continued,

plopping four sugar cubes in a cup and handing the Diabetes

Type-1 inducing brew to Gus with a wink.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, Mrs C, nodded Snod.

And, for my money- and I believe I have agreed to take the music

expenses on myself- I have decided on ‘When The Battle’s O’er.’

So, that’s that then? queried Diana, pushing the stewed cuppa to

one side.

I think we can all agree on the semantic content of the preposition

‘over,’ Snod said, magisterially.  Now, where are those bannocks? 

Murgatroyd and I are famished.

You are not at school now, Gus! Virginia rebuked him, but everyone

knew he was never elsewhere, at least in mental terms.

So be it, Murgatroyd stood up.  I’m off to get the cheese knife. 

Then we men can fall on it, laughed Gus.  Seriously, though, it’s a

rousing tune.

Aye, and some of you need a’ the rousin’ ye can get, commented

Mrs C, who had noticed that her brew was largely under-


Mrs C!  I think something’s burning in the kitchen.

Och aye, that’ll be the bannocks.  She set off at her usual pace-

to wit, unhurried.

Diana shrugged:  You can’t get the staff nowadays!

It’s the same in schools, agreed Snod, downing his mugful in

one.  It was exactly as he liked tea, down to the quadruple sweeteners.

But I think she does well for her age.  She remembers how many

sugars I take.

Oh yes, Virginia butted in. And I don’t?  Is that it?

How many then? Snod  couldn’t resist an impromptu test.

Too many, replied Virginia tersely.

They all laughed.