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Ah remember ma mum tellin’ us this wan time.
We were a’ there, in the livin’ room.
Ah can still picture the scene…
Ma dad’s where he always is, in his chair beside the fireplace.
Ma older brither’s still at the table, the bairn’s sittin’ on the flair beside ma dad, readin’ a comic.
He’s nine, ma wee brither, but we still ca’ him the bairn, cause he’s six years younger than me, a great wee guy, dead funny, but spoilt rotten.
Ah’m edgin’ towards the door, tryin’ to escape before ma mum decides she needs help wi’ the dishes.
Ah’m already a bit late tae meet ma pal Froggy, an’ we’re plannin’, or raither hopin’, tae get up tae a wee bit nonsense the night, mebbe chat up some lassies an’ that, it bein’ Friday.
Froggy is actually daft enough for anythin’, so he is, he’s a bit mental, but wi’ a heart o’ gold, gie you his last penny, so he wid.
He’s called Froggy cos he’s already ower six fit tall, wi’ huge hauns an’ feet, but skinny as a rake.
Ma dad says he has the muscle definition o’ a plate o’ spaghetti.
And he really isnae the smartest, ah huv tae admit.
Limpy Provan, oor English teacher, gie’s him a hard time fur bein’ thick as mince.
Ah mind this wan time when Froggy had gie’d him a specially dumb reply tae a question, ol’ Limpy jist stared at him fur a bit then comes oot wi’ this really nasty line.
Does your mother actually feed you, Muir, he asks, or does she just water you twice a week?
Ah had a hard time explainin’ that tae him later withoot hurtin’ his feelin’s.
Tae be totally honest, if his brains were dynamite, he couldnae blaw his nose.
Anyway, back in ma story, Ma mum speaks.
Mrs Paterson at number 11’s man’s goat a new car, she says.
Ah should explain somethin’.
Nane o’ the men neighbours had names as far as ma mum wis concerned.
And the wimmin a’ had a number attached.
No’ that it wis necessary, they a’ had different names in oor street.
Oh except for the Wilsons, an’ they werenae really in oor wee street, they were on the corners o’ the big road.
Ma mum called them Mrs Wilson on the corner, and Mrs Wilson on the other corner.
So their men were called Mrs Wilson on the corner’s man, and Mrs Wilson on the other corner’s man.
These rules didnae apply to our neighbours.
She wis Flossie next door, and he wis HarryKirby, just the wan word, go figure, eh?
Elaine, who wis 5 years older than me and a total dreamboat, pure fantasy material, wis Flossie next door’s wee lassie, and Johnny, who wis just ma age, wis Flossie next door’s boy, that simple.
No’ only that, but a’ unmarried wimmin were wee lassies tae ma mum, ah don’t know why.
Even that Agnes MacKay up the road, number 17, and there’s nothin’ wee aboot Agnes Mackay, ah can assure yis!
Ah mean, well, yis know whit ah mean, ah’m sure.
Okay, back to the story.
Mrs Paterson at number 11’s man’s goat a new car, ma mum says.
Now ma dad’s readin’ the paper, of course, like always, and no’ really payin’ much attention.
He reads it fae the back tae the front, like every man in Scotland, mebbe even the world, ah don’t know, because that’s where the fitba’ is.
Ma mum pauses.
She’s great at pausin’, ma mum is, she knows jist how long tae pause for.
She watches ma dad, sees him start to notice that she’s paused, and he’s thinkin’ o’ what to say, cause he’s no’ really sure what she wis bletherin’ on aboot, then she carries on.
It’s blue, she says, dark blue.
Oh aye, says ma dad, which is what he says mebbe 99 percent o’ the time.
Dark blue, she says again, what do you make of that?
She is using her posh voice, speaking correctly, to show that we’re as good as Mrs Paterson at number 11 and her man even if we haven’t got a new car, dark blue or otherwise.
Whit kind is it, ma brither asks, barely lookin’ up fae his motorbike magazine.
I have just told you, my mother is getting more posh by the minute, it is dark blue, navy, perhaps.
Naw, says ma brither, whit…
He stops abruptly as ma dad does somethin’ that makes the paper snap.
Oh aye, says ma dad, wi’ a slightly different inflection this time.
He is nearly as good wi’ inflections as ma mum is wi’ pauses.
He has aboot 57 variations of ‘oh aye’ that he uses to suit any situation that might arise.
And a wee movement that might be interpreted as a nod o’ the heid, sometimes.
Ma mum purses her lips, an’ her chin goes doon an’ back up.
She is satisfied wi’ the family reaction to her news.
She looks at me, gies a wee nod o’ her ain towards the dishes.
Ah sigh, but only inside, ah widnae be bad tae ma mum, even if she is gauntae make me late.
Efter a’, Froggy’ll wait.
Ah nod back.
She pulls the right side o’ her cardigan across her chest, then the left side, picks up some plates and marches through to the kitchen.
Ah heap the cups and saucers intae a pile and follow her.