Jul 152011

Charlie Mingin, the Auchnaclatt Bugle’s ‘Weel-Chilled Chiel’ columnist, guests for Voice this week, giving the bebop lowdown for hep cats and byre tabbies, doffing his hiply-angled Panama in the direction of The Fast Show’s Louis Balfour. Fingerprints on Cattle Cake’s ‘bone believed to be those of George Anderson….

Jock Kerouac and the Beet Generation on the road again after sell out concert in Daviot

Within twenty minutes of going on sale, both tickets for Coos in the Park had been snapped up amid fears that a surge in demand might crash Ticketmaster’s system.

I was one of the lucky ones. The minute the ticket tumbled through my letterbox, a vibe in these old jazzman bones of mine told me that something crazy was about to go down in Daviot.

And was I right, Daddy-O?

The concert in The Byre, the north east’s premier teuchter-jazz club demonstrated that Jock Kerouac and The Beet Generation were right back on top where they belonged. On the night, their fusion of bothy ballads and sixties jazz really razzed my berries.

Yes, there were mistakes. Somewhere approaching the middle eight of the opening number, Lousin Time, and half way through his third reefer of the night, Jock realised that the double bass he thought he’d been playing for the last half hour was actually still in the tipper truck that ca’d neeps during the day and transported the band to gigs in the evening. Undaunted, he rattled off the piece’s twenty minute double bass solo on his galuses. Beat that for improvisation.

I’ve been a fan of The Beet Generation since I first saw them perform at Gamrie’s Clockin Hen nightclub in 1987. Granted, nobody asked them to play but they managed to knock off their own rewrite of a Billy Joel classic, In the Midden of the Night before the bouncers got Jock in a headlock, huckled him head first out through the fire exit and into the car park where they pinned him down until the police arrived.

The band’s line up hasn’t changed since the Gamrie gig:

Jock Kerouac on double bass
Ronnie ‘The Rooser’ Roberts on Stylophone
‘Cattle Cake’ Collins on slide trombone
‘Sheep Dip’ Danny Dawkins on trumpet, electric bongos and steam harpsichord.

The first set was an intoxicating blend of old and new material, kicking off with three of my favourites: Lousin Time; Let’s Get Yokit! and Fa Cut Yer Hair an Cried Ye Baldy?

The lads ended the set with the title track from their latest album, We’re Aa Up the Wrang Dreel Noo.

Haste ye back, Jock, we can hardly wait for your next concert.

At the risk of rekindling the trad-bebop wars of the early sixties, Sid Rawlins, music critic of the Crovie Chronicle has given Voice an alternative view.

Bad Tunes A Go-Go as Kerouac’s Beet Generation Bomb at the Byre

Hepcat Harrison and the Kittlins were treated for shock at Turriff hospital last night following the murder of their teuchter-jazz classic, Let’s Get Yoakit! at the hands of jazz fraudsters Jock Kerouac and the woefully unmusical Beet Generation who somehow managed to make this classic track sound like a badly-tuned piano falling down a spiral staircase.

The scene of the crime: The Byre Club, Daviot.
Time of death, 7:30 pm Formartine time (GMT minus seventy years).

Bad jazz stands out like a toonser wearing nicky tams. And make no bones about it, this was jazz at its worst. The evening was not helped by the fact that Cattle-Cake Collins stopped mid-honk during Lousin Time to spray WD40 on his trombone slide.

I sort of liked the Beet Generation’s new project, We’re Aa Up the Wrang Dreel Noo. Yet overall, a lacklustre performance by over-rated musicians.

As Ray Charles would have said had he hailed from Kemnay, ‘Hit the road Jock, and dinna come back ony mair.’

Image credits:  
Trombone © Chris Johnson Dreamstime.com,
Double Bass Scroll © William Davis | Dreamstime.com 

Jul 052011

 By George Anderson.

Peely-wally men – myself included – wouldn’t say boo to a Graylag goose unless through a megaphone from an adjacent county.

We compensate for our cowardice by fantasizing that we graduated from the Academy of Hard Knocks with a degree in machismo, alongside Charles Bronson and ‘Machete’ Mick Fobister (D-wing, Peterhead prison).

Nowhere does the peely-wally gene (PW-36) more readily find expression than through the language of challenge. In his efforts to make sure he will never have to carry out the threats he makes your off the shelf coordy-custard is capable of bending the English language like Uri Geller bends soup ladles.

Just how do the fearty-panted use their mither tongue to talk the talk without ever having to walk the walk?

A really good example is the classic exchange between Ronnie Sangster and Bob Stoat.  An event which overnight catapulted Ronnie into the Animal Liberation Front’s Hall of Fame alongside such greats as Cattle-Poop Perkins, the inventor of free range mince.

I can vouch for the authenticity of this story because I was there the night it happened. I was feeding the East Neuk’s one armed bandit with the last of the pound coins from my grandson’s university-fund bankie (Well, now that the fees have gone through the rafters, he’ll just have to get a job in the ASDA bakery until he can pay for his own education).

At a table near the gents Ronnie Sangster hung over his Zimmer frame like a wet duffel coat.  I would have judged him dead if it wasn’t for the snoring.

He had been having it large in the Brown Ale stakes for at least the three hours it took me to squander little Tommy’s inheritance trying to get three melons to fall in a straight line. As the wee lad’s last shekel rattled into the bandit’s coin box Bob Stoat staggered backwards into the bar dragging Murdo, an ancient three-legged whippet with a coat as manky as a soup kitchen doormat.

Now this was a threat, wasn’t it? It certainly sounded like it

It seemed to me that Stoatie’s best friend should long since have boarded the Marrowbone Express to Doggie Heaven. Judging by what happened next, Ronnie Sangster violently agreed.

Re-animated by forces beyond our ken, Ronnie clambered to his feet in installments. Eventually, blue with rage and emphysema in equal measure he stood gripping the bars of his Zimmer frame, glowering at Stoatie like a Hellfire preacher beholding a sodomite.

Once he’d squeezed enough oxygen back into his lungs to do so he spake forth:

“Consider yersel lucky you’re nae chinned,” he said.

This sounded like a threat but was in fact an assurance to the victim that not a finger would be laid upon him. Some threat. But Ronnie had not yet finished.

“But If you ivver come in here wi a dog like that again, you’re deid,'” he said.

Now this was a threat, wasn’t it? It certainly sounded like it. It had a condition – Bob’s return – and a consequence – Bob’s funeral. But closer scrutiny revealed that an unaddressed envelope bearing no postage stamp, mis-filed in the basement of an abandoned Royal Mail depot had more chance of being delivered than Ronnie’s threat.

The promised ‘chinning’ would require Bob Stoat to return to the East Neuk, not with Murdo, but with a dog like Murdo. There was more chance of Ronnie Sangster buying a round of drinks.

All that hot air. And not a single black eye to show for it.

Let us finish with a more commonplace example of how we big ourselves up whilst speaking with forked tongue. You’ll recognise this. A brass necked flatmate points out over breakfast that your oxters are yodelling and insists that you buy an industrial strength roll-on deodorant.

Later, you tell this tale to a friend, who says:

“If he’d said that to me I would have cleaved him in twain with a claymore before he got the top off his boiled egg.”

This type of hindsight-powered swagger is usually delivered from a high horse in a sneering tone, implying that the story teller is as limp wristed as an effeminate volleyball player.

There is a subtle distinction between both examples.

In Sangster/Stoat there is an itsy bitsy teeny weeny mathematical chance that Bob Stoat might rescue another three legged whippet from the cat and dog home and be stupid enough to return to Ronnie Sangster’s local. In the boiled egg example however, the swaggerer can be absolutely certain that he will never be required to swing a claymore in earnest since this would necessitate travelling back in time to a place he had never been, to cleave in twain someone he’d never met.

The moral of this tale is simple: stay away from geese, three legged whippets, one armed bandits, and above all, Ronnie Sangster.

Image credit: © Fred Goldstein | Dreamstime.com


Jul 012011

George Anderson continues his masterclass series in Doric,  offering an appreciation not only of the spoken language, but also the wealth of meaning between the economically delivered lines – and a breath of fresh air.


When Aberdeen Voice’s editorial team asked me to conduct a series of Doric Master Classes I jumped at the chance. The language lab above my garage in Auchnaclatt can be stifling in summer. Besides, I was fed up teaching American tourists how to order breakfast (Kin I hae a bug o rowies and a slack handfae o yer floory baps please?) But first things first I told them. Students of Doric must learn to breathe correctly. So that’s where we’ll begin.


… is vital for survival. Stop doing it long enough and your tatties will soon be ower the side.

The ancient Tai Chi masters knew this (about the breathing that is; not the tatties). They were taught from the temple crèche to breathe in through their ears and out through the soles of their feet. Though this practice was discontinued in the seventeenth century after complaints from monks about condensation in their gym shoes.

Good breathing is no less essential when learning to speak Doric properly.

Breathing Exercise

This exercise has been designed to allow students to experience for themselves the correct way to breathe during conversation. Throughout the exercise do bear in mind the two fundamentals of Doric breathing: when listening, only breathe in; when speaking, only breathe out.

Students should work in pairs and have a paramedic on standby.


One person plays the speaker. The other takes the role of listener.


Start reciting the words to the ‘The Mucking of Geordie’s Byre.’ These must be spoken in Doric, at about twice the speed of an hysterical auctioneer on his third line of coke.


Just as the speaker begins, draw a gaspette of air in through the mouth while saying the word,  ‘Aye’. Repeat this for as long as the speaker is speaking. Take care not to breathe out.

If you feel light-headed or confused, if you experience vertigo or the feeling that your lungs might at any moment explode, call your GP immediately – and tell him you have just mastered the art of Doric inhalation.

It has been clinically proven (67% of 285 breathers agreed) that your lungs will now contain levels of carbon dioxide similar to those recorded at the bottom of a colliery lift shaft.

Aim to reach this point at the precise moment when the speaker stops talking. Some feel nauseous at this point. If you are one of them, it helps to ground yourself by holding on to something  — a telegraph pole, tree or a Ford Mondeo usually hit the spot.

Whatever you do, don’t faint; it will shortly be your turn to speak.

But you can think only of filling your burning lungs with oxygen in vast, life sustaining quantities. To do this you will first have to expel all of the noxious gases your lungs contain.  And here we have a dilemma. Your conversational partner may believe that you are having a hairy fit. Worse; they may believe that you are feigning a hairy fit because you can’t bring yourself to share their concern for the cleansing of George’s cowshed. What to do?

Well, the answer is to use the blast of carbon dioxide your body will at any moment force from your chest (with or without your permission) as the carrier for your reply.


Stop speaking. It is your turn to say ‘Aye’ while only breathing in. Get to it.


(now adopting the speaking role): Recite the chorus to the Barnyards o Delgatie (reproduced below), out loud and real
fast (if you can distinguish one word from the next you are not speaking fast enough). Aim for 0.8 seconds from start to finish.

Luntin addie, turin addie,
Luntin addie turin ae
Luntin lowrin’ lowrin’ lowrin’,
The barnyards o’Delgaty!

Next lesson:

Now that we have covered the mechanics of breathing the subject of our next masterclass will be ‘Doric and the beatnik culture’.

Image credit:  © Max Blain | Dreamstime.com

Jun 242011

George Anderson presents a masterclass in Doric offering an appreciation not only of the spoken language, but also the wealth of meaning between the economically delivered lines.


There is something about the North-east’s doom laden outlook on life that makes Victor Meldrew look like he’s been at the laughing gas.

Victorian artists painted skulls in the corner of their canvases to remind anyone who had drifted off the page, that the bloke with the scythe was never more than a step behind them.

Up my way we need no such reminding; we see the end of our days in the faces of anyone we know over fifty.

It is customary in the north-east of Scotland to point out to any third parties who will listen, that so-and-so is ‘looking aul’’. The phrase is equivalent to saying ‘His tatties are gey near through the bree’. In other words that the fellow should get measured for the widden bilersuit on a sooner rather than later basis.

The Performance:

Students should study the masterclass notes below before practicing the following piece of dialogue from ‘Duet for Arthur Duguid’ by Udny playwright Harold Painter, known in the north-east of course as Harold Pinter. Emphasise emboldened words.

Line 1: I seen Arthur Duguid at the Gala bingo last widdnesdae
Line 2: Did ye?
Line 3: Aye. He’s nae half lookin aul’
Line 4: Is he?
Line 5: Oh, he’s lookin aul’ a right.

Students Notes on pronunciation:

Line 1: This line should be delivered as you might read out loud the names of all those who died building the Burma railroad.

Line 2: Try to get as much astonishment into these two words as you can muster. Imagining that you have just been told that despite flailing at the beast with his pension book, Arthur Duguid had been skewered through the tripe like a kebab during this year’s Pamplona bull run.

Line 3: Advanced students may want to try the accompanying actions to this phrase. Hold a trembling hand an inch or two from your face and draw it down the visage as the phrase is uttered, to emphasise the fact that Arthur’s signs of ageing are now beyond the reach even of industrial strength Norwegian Formula Neutragena.

Line 4: As for line 2

Line 5: Place double emphasis on the second instance of the word ‘aul’’

Both should end the piece with hands in pockets, performing the ‘shakkin o the heid’.

Picture  © Paul Moore | Dreamstime.com

Jun 182011

George Anderson bravely shares with Voice readers his tutor’s feedback on his less than adequate attempt to pass the ‘Aiberdeen words and phrases’ exam paper as part of his Northeast Scotland Indigenous languages course.

Open University of Bogfechel.
A level II Course from the Faculty of Language.
AB-277 Aiberdonian words and phrases.

Feedback from Assignment One.

Well done Dod. Overall a decent assignment. You were asked to give the Aiberdonian equivalent of an English phrase and provide examples of its everyday use.

Q1: The English translation of the Aiberdonian phrase ‘Kintit’ is of course, ‘I just knew it!’ But when pronounced by a native speaker, which other messages does the phrase also communicate? (25 marks).

Tutor’s Notes.

You started with a good example; husband and wife in dispute over the correct route to Lidl. Husband insisting he is right.  Wife falling into a silent smoulder in the passenger seat. The couple’s car pulling into a building site two hours later next to an advertising hoarding proclaiming the coming of a new Aldi’s supermarket in 2015.  After the silence of the last 90 miles, a single phrase is uttered by the wife: ‘Kintit!’ The emphasis of course on the first syllable.

Unfortunately, you listed only 2 out of the 8 messages implied by the gentleman’s spouse. The full list is as follows:

  • I was right
  • You were wrong
  • I’m always right
  • Your always wrong.
  • You never listen to me
  • If only you’d listen to me
  • God knows why I married a loser like you. I should have known, when you told me you’d left Summerhill Academy in 1969 with an ‘O’ level in juggling and a character reference fae the janny.
  • If you are still considering a 1/4 of chopped pork and a side plate of crinkle-cut beetroot for yer tea, you can get it yersel; I’m takin the bus hame.

Marks: 6/25

Better luck perhaps with assignment two Dod when the phrase will be:  ‘You and fa’s army?’

Alma Duguid,


Jun 182011

By George Anderson.

We can never predict when a sudden insight into the workings of our innermost selves will light up our consciousness like an 11 Watt low-energy bulb.
We imagine that such events occur in mysterious places such as Ayres Rock or the luminous bowling alley at the Codonas funfair in Aberdeen.

But in my experience, the location of your average flashbulb moment will be as ordinary as chapped tatties. A place like the freezer cabinet of my village shop last Thursday.

I was leaning over the rim of the cabinet contemplating what life must have been like in the days before we could blast freeze our garden peas within ten seconds of hauling them out of their pods. I was considering whether to go for the leading brand (‘satisfaction guaranteed or your money back’) or the Value Pack (‘please see rear of packaging for list of disclaimers.’).

The Value Pack was a pound cheaper but the contents even when defrosted had the density of buckshot. I reached for my choice. And that’s when it happened.

I first became aware that something wasn’t quite right with the world – well, with my trousers actually. I looked down to discover that in my haste to get to the shop before suppertime I had pulled on the wife’s tracksuit bottoms instead of my own (why, oh why are pastel shades so unbecoming to a man in his late fifties?).

The realisation that shunted into the rear of that first thought was that not only were the leggings incongruous, they were outside in!

This would never do. I live in the heart of a rural community. It is a place where a man is a man and is expected to behave – and dress – like one. Let me explain.

Imagine this: A farm worker with a dodgy watch relaxes behind a hay stack during a lunch break. He sucks on a chut (singular of chutney) from his ploughman’s sandwich. Suddenly he realises that his watch has stopped; that he should have been back in harness twenty minutes ago. He leaps to his feet and bolts off spitting Cheddar. He is thrashed to the ground by the mercilessly flailing blades of a combine harvester which breaks both his arms like cheese straws.

Now, in an episode of Casualty, an air ambulance and a battalion of parachuting para-medics would descend fom the sky and the lad with the two broken arms would be whisked off to the heli-pad at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. But you would be hard pushed to find anyone within a thirty mile radius of my village shop who would not expect that lad to get on his bike with a wobble-free lip and pedal to the ARI using the ‘Look-Ma-Nae-Hands’ technique.

How, I thought, could such people ever look favourably on a middle-aged man wearing his wife’s jogging bottoms inside out in close proximity to their rural community’s only freezer cabinet?

And that’s when the 11 Watt low-energy bulb came on. And I released that, actually, I didn’t care what they thought.

I was flying without wings – despite having a bag of Albanian peas under each oxter. I strode flamboyantly to the checkout  with pastel pantaloons ablaze. I was free, free, free at last!

Next week I plan to push the envelope of my new found freedom by nipping down to the village shop for a copy of the Turriff Advertiser wearing my wife’s bra around my head in the semblance of a Spitfire Pilot’s headgear.

That’ll separate the men from the boys!

The Greeks May Have Had a Word For It – But We Don’t

 Articles, Creative Writing, Satire and Humour  Comments Off on The Greeks May Have Had a Word For It – But We Don’t
Feb 182011

The Greeks May Have Had a Word For It, But as George Anderson points out, We Don’t.

There are more words in the Oxford English Dictionary than a hyperactive auctioneer could get through in a lifetime – half a million to be precise. Yet there are thousands of circumstances that have no words to describe them at all. This simply isn’t fair.

Take the occasionally errant behaviour of the toes for example.

Who has not made a futile attempt to climb into our underpants of a morning, still half asleep?  Only to find that no matter how wide the leg hole, nor how well aimed the foot, your little toe and its next-door neighbour will conjure themselves open like repelling magnets to grip the waistband of the pant with the ferocity of a Barbary Coast lobster?

Nine times out of ten this will result in falling backwards over the edge of the bed into the laundry basket to the accompaniment of your favourite oath. There is a ten percent chance of course, that you will miss the laundry basket altogether, and end up testing the integrity of your cranium on the radiator housing.

Now surely something as life threatening as this should have a word to describe it. So, may I humbly propose to the OED word number 500,001:

Tobermory (noun);
The near supernatural ability of one’s toes to conspire against the wearing of their owner’s underpants.

If only there was some way to forecast when your toes might take against you in this way you could save yourself a lot of stress – not to mention a nasty skull fracture – by just going commando for the day.

Jan 212011

By George Anderson.

My call, they assured me, was important to them. They were quite specific about this.

It was less important than putting a man on Mars, but more important than missing a hairdressing appointment.
Both of their service consultants, Alf and Deirdre, were experiencing hyper-normal levels of calls. Which was presumably why I was 68th in the queue and had been holding on since the milkman delivered the gold top on Monday.

Of course, your place in these queues is relative. Only 48 hours beforehand I had been 497th in the queue, so I wasn’t doing too badly and I always had the option to ‘Press 1 – if you have lost the will to live.’  Anyway, I had taken a week’s holiday to make this call, so I still had five days in hand.

On Thursday morning someone with an indefinable European accent asked me to key in the square root of my National Insurance number and while I was at it, my age, shoe size, bank details, three of my favourite passwords, a Visa card number, my postal code and my grandmother’s maiden name.

By Friday afternoon the manic rendering of the Birdy Song I had been listening to continuously since the beginning of the week – when I wasn’t listening to machines telling me how much they valued my custom that is – had infiltrated my cranium, dug in like travellers encamped on the Mounthooly roundabout and refused to leave for several weeks after I had hung up.

I was just starting to hallucinate from lack of sleep when I suddenly realised I could hear Alf’s voice saying ‘Hello, Alfred speaking. How may I help you?’  But he didn’t have an option to press for those, people like me, who had forgotten why they called in the first place; so I just hung up.

My wife said I had wasted a week’s holiday. But I reminded her of the week we had spent in sub-deluxe chalet-style accommodation at Butlins Ayr, during a rain sodden February in 1964 and she grudgingly agreed that nothing could be a bigger waste of time than that.

There was worse to come. Apparently, while I was waiting for Alfred to come free, some Albanian cyber-twister had plundered our bank accounts, leaving them emptier than Ma Hubbard’s dog.

Nov 192010

By George Anderson.

I just wanted my service provider to restore my broadband and telephone — after all that’s what I was paying for.

During the Cold War, the KGB was known for telling those they abducted not to worry, that everything would turn out fine. Over the last five weeks I have discovered that good old British Telecom has adopted this technique for its victims/customers too.

During this time I have been repeatedly told by BT and their agents across the planet that all would be well. On one rare occasion when inter-human contact actually took place, I was told by the service agent that whatever I did, worrying would be superfluous, because he would single-handedly take total responsibility for fixing the problem and would rather sell his children to the gypsies than fail in his mission.  I hope he got a good price.

To date, lines have been tested and re-tested. A new hub was sent. It still doesn’t work. I have reset the device so many times I have calluses on my thumb. I have seen promises made. I have seen promises broken. The one thing I haven’t seen is a telecoms engineer. I am beginning to doubt their existence.

But, as a glass-half-full sort of fellow, I need to view these problems positively. The flashing error lights on the broadband hub will make an interesting festive decoration at Christmas.  And I have taken to leaving a couple of Jaffa Cake shavings and a thimble of rose water on the patio of an evening, in the hope that the broadband fairy will drop by with her magic spanner and fix the problem once and for all.

Nov 122010

By George Anderson.

In these post credit crunch-times, with predicted belt-tightening likely to bring tears to a glass eye, I wonder whether there might be resurgence of the cheap funerals (known in the patois of the north-east of Scotland as ‘froonyals’) of my youth.  A good illustration would be the froonyal of my uncle Chunty in 1968:

Chunty’s family huddle together in the front pew. This is due more to a failure of the chapel radiators than anything related to a group hug. The pews behind the immediate family creak under the combined weight of people to whom Chunty is related through drink. The organist battles his way through a double time version of ‘Abide With Me’.

This has been written specially for low cost funerals by the Reverend Melrose Nochty himself.

Melrose strides in to the chapel and ascends to the pulpit two steps at a time. At the summit, he signals the organist, Mr Leiper, to pack it in—sharpish like, by throwing a hymn book at his head. Melrose starts talking before the final strangled blasts of air struggle out of the organ pipes.

‘Up ye get,’ he says, and lifts his palms toward the rafters. The congregation scramble to their feet.  ‘Dearly beloved, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera … Matthew, Mark, Luke and John … pearls before swine … Sit doon.’

He fishes an alarm clock out of the dark recesses of his ministerial garments, winds it up, and slams it down on the edge of the pulpit. The congregation sit down.

Melrose is talking faster than an auctioneer at a cattle station in Woolawonga. “Stand up! The Lord may well be my Shepherd, but let’s face it”, he waves a hand toward a plywood casket , “judging by Chunty’s pitiful record of church attendance, it’ll be easier for the Turra Coo to pass through the centre o’ a doughring than for Chunty tae enter the Kindom o’ Heaven.

A thundercloud of Old Testament wrath passes across the Reverend Nochty’s scowling face

Now, sit doon, sit doon for God’s sake. I haven’t got all day.”

From his lofty perch Melrose looks down at the organist’s toupee.

‘Mr Leiper will now play an ex-tremely short extract from the twenty-third Psalm.’ Mr Leiper’s fingers scurry over the keys like mice fleeing a burning barn. Eight bars in, Melrose again signals Mr Leiper to cease and desist, this time by repeatedly banging a hymn book on the edge of the pulpit and shouting ‘All right, that’ll do, this isn’t an organ recital, Mr Leiper.’

Melrose clasps his hands before him and closes his eyes. “Jonah in the belly of the whale…Sermon on the mount… Feeding o the twa thoosan”—’ a voice from the back of the chapel, interrupts.

“Is it nae five thoosan’, minister? The feedin o the five thoosan’?”

A thundercloud of Old Testament wrath passes across the Reverend Nochty’s scowling face. He speaks. “Listen pal, you shouldnae’ even be here. Now sit doon.”

“I am sittin doon!”’

“Well, stand up and then sit doon.”

He pauses, grips the edges of the lectern and looks at the congregation with a measure of contempt normally reserved for the criminally insane. His voice drops an octave. “There’ll be weepin”,’ he says “and there’ll be a fair skelp o wailin’ intae the bargain.” He stabs a finger in the vague direction of the front pews. “An’ by Christ, teeth’ll be gnashed ‘n’ aa! Stand up, sit doon, and pey attention”.

Now it is the widow’s turn to interrupt.  “Will ye be much langer?’ she asks. ‘Only, there’s a steen’ cold cert rinnin’ in the three thirty at Perth and the nearest bookie’s fower miles awa.”

Melrose gives her the vees and gathers from the alarm clock that it is time to wind up the service. “Get up and start prayin, real fast”, he says. He lowers his head fast enough to get whiplash. “Oh Lord, please tak’ Chunty tae yer bosom. In yer own hivvenly time, of course, but seener rather than later, if ye dinna mind. I’ve anither three o these to get through afore lowsin’ time.”

He raises his arms and clears his throat. “Ashes tae ashes, stew tae stew, Chunty’s awa, and so are you”, Melrose’s alarm clock goes off, forcing him to raise his voice. ‘Sit doon, stand up, and shove right off.” The congregation do not have to be told twice; there is a stampede through the chapel doors reminiscent of the opening thirty seconds of a Next sale.