Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
barmkin, bastle, black market, Bonnie Prince Charlie, border control, Brexit, debatable lands, donkey sanctuary, Easter bonnet, First Minister, haggis, Independence, Lent, Northumberland, Palm Sunday, Pele Tower, Presbyterian, re-moaners, reiver
(image: fortified tower by mattbuck)
[This is a continuation of my Augustus Snodbury saga…]
Diana Fotheringay- Syylk was sitting at her scrubbed pine table in
the kitchen of her pele tower. She was writing to the church warden,
to apologise for the mule-ish behaviour of the Palm Sunday rescue donkey,
which had slipped its rein in the procession through the graveyard and had
made a dash for the appetising trimmings on Mrs Digby’s Easter bonnet. This
had not tightened the bonds of fellowship, even though the nibbled headgear
had been sported by one who had contributed to the donkey sanctuary in the
past. No, she- Diana- felt responsible for introducing such innovative practices
to a staunchly Presbyterian congregation. She couldn’t help thinking that the
bonnet was a little premature and should have been left until well after Lent,
even if its wearer was the church warden.
Diana would always be a stranger here – a Sassenach. Murgatroyd might
have saved a prime example of architectural heritage for the nation through
his restoration project, but neither she, nor her husband were of reiver stock.
Oddly enough, her erstwhile lover and the father of her beloved daughter, Dru,
was of that lineage, so she supposed Dru could trace her roots to the ‘Debatable
She raised her head and addressed her housekeeper, Mrs Connolly, who was
peeling a turnip (or was it a swede? The two vegetables had lexical differences
depending on which side of the border they were being consumed. Another
grave divergence. I kid you not.)
Mrs C, what do you think Theresa May signified by ‘Brexit means Brexit?’
Ach, jist something like I meant when Ah tell’t ma wee yin ‘Bed means bed!’
Mind ye, Ah usually backed it up wae a swift toe tae the….
Please, Mrs C!
But Diana chuckled inwardly.
She was trying to sort everything out for Gus and Virginia’s visit. Dru and
Nigel would also be arriving for their end-of-term Easter break.
It had not been a year since she and Murgatroyd had renewed their wedding
vows. What an event it had been, with Dru and Nigel AND Virginia and Gus
tying the tartan knot, in a combined nuptial service. Ah, so much had
happened in a short space of time.
Virginia had offered to put her own house on the market. It had been her
previous marital residence. She was worried that house prices might fall,
or the £ might plummet. She and Gus were ‘Re-moaners’ and proud of it.
They were contemplating re-locating to the Borders, now that they had both
retired from St Birinus Middle. The problem was that they did not know on
which side of the border to settle. For this reason, the Debateable Lands
attracted them, in order to hedge their bets.
Dru and Nigel both had accommodation at their respective boarding schools,
but they had been keen to renovate some outbuildings in the pele complex, as
a way of getting themselves on the housing ladder.
Diana was keen on this, as she felt Dru would only conceive when she was away
from the stresses and strains of teaching. Grand-children were on Diana’s
agenda and she liked the idea of them being on site. If things became too
riotous, she could always retreat to her fortified bastle and barricade herself
The problem was that the Scottish/ English border ran straight through their
Should’ Sturge’ effect Independence, then to which Csarina should they render?
Would Murgatroyd be evicted from half his property and have to remain in one
half of his complex?
Diana had an idea.
Mrs C, what if we were to transfer all the property to you – you know, put it
in your name? If we only had permission as foreign residents to live in
the country for a proportion of the year, we could move the furniture
to the other side of the room; stay over there and you could call us your guests.
Nae borra! Mrs C nodded enthusiastically. Ah dinna ken whit that wee ny-
eh, that First Meenister is goin’ oan aboot. Her granny came fae
Northumberland, so she’s practically a migrant hersel’. An’ some o’ her pals
look like aliens tae, if Ah say so mahsel’.
Onywise, when Dru has her wean, we can put the whole shebang into its name.
It’ll be born here, Ah take it? Ach, Ah hope it’s a wee boy: a proper Bonnie
If there is ony Border Control, we will make a killin’, sellin’ haggis, shortbread
and whisky oan the Black Merkit. if they come to inspect, or patrol oor border,
we’ll jist drag the boxes ower tae the far side o’ the room.
But no one down south likes haggis, Mrs C…
It’ll be a different story efter Brexit, ye’ll see! pontificated Mrs C. They’ll a’ be
starvin’ ower there.
And her eyes swivelled significantly, as she directed her stare to the other
side of the kitchen.
Mebbe we can dae a trade in barrels o’ pickled herrin’ tae.