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STORIES AND EBAY SALES
1 AN OLD LAND ROVER
STORY 30 SELLING A CIGARETTE LIGHTER
Where I go searching for my roots and my wife meets the Queen
Below is a transcript of the description on the original Ebay advert
The reason I am selling this item is told below
For the past year I have been delving into my family history, tracing
my families travels from Leicester to Shrewsbury where I found that I have
Scottish blood running through my veins.
I made the fatal mistake of telling my wife the Walter Mitty of Glenfield. I have spoken before of her split personalities most of which are drawn from the many films she has seen. Well I say ‘seen’ she very rarely sees a film all the way through because her attention span is short and she cannot stay quiet long enough. So the characters get awfully muddled in her brain. Therefore it was no surprise when once I had told my Bagpipish one she started to daydream and very quickly took on the persona of a Scottish highlander. Due to her befuddled brain she somehow mixed up Arnie in Predator, Sean Connery as James Bond and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Sean I can understand, Julie I think was because of the mountains. Arnie though defies logic, although it may be to do with the muscle flexing and his catchphrase “I vill be bark”
In a normal household this split personality only affects the one person, not so in ours. My wife takes the family approach of ‘one in all in’. The low spot came when my gravely voiced dearest started singing Climb Every Mountain, much like Paul Robeson on drugs with a hang over. She desisted only after the police had been round saying the noise was setting off car alarms for a radius of half a mile.
As I say my dearest has the habit of involving everyone, therefore since she found out about the Scots connection we have worn the kilt, been on a diet of porridge and haggis, and talk in the Robbie Burns style with lots of “oche eye the noo,s”. Everything is “wee”. “A wee wait”, “a wee while”, “a wee wee”, etc. with copius amounts of “I will be back oche eye punk, make my day the noo, cuff him Mcdanno etc etc.
My wife the Haggis basher also insists we refer to the neighbours as “Sassenachs” and “Southern pansies”. This does not do a lot for neighborhood entente cordial, or for your health. We have enough problems with the weekly visits by villagers with burning brands and pitchforks waving crucifixes and chanting burn burn burn, apart from one dyslexic who shouts brun bnur runb, without having mobs waving the St Georges flag at us. Also to go into our local pub dressed in what most people would term a skirt and call THEM pansies would be to invite death and destruction. I am also made to go “commando” which can be a little embarrassing and draughty when climbing into my lorry, or cleaning the upstairs windows. I have not asked the wife if she goes commando, some things are best left in the dark, so to speak.
My caber tossing love then booked eight days holiday in Scotland so
that we could tour the McLean lands, to possibly claim them as our own.
She also wanted to stop by at Balmoral just on the off chance HRH would
invite her to take tiffin and tea with the Corgies.
We set off in the trusty Landover up the M1. I wanted to go in the Ford Focus to save on fuel costs and also to ensure we got there, but my wife insisted on the Landrover so that we may go stag and haggis hunting. In addition, should we be near Balmoral we may luckily be mistaken for one of the “Royals”. I am sure that my dearest as she shaves in the morning does not see the same face in the mirror that we see. I think we all suffer this to some degree but in moderation. How on earth she would think that she would be mistaken for a royal is beyond me. Even a blind person from the most desolate reaches of the Patagonian outback would not make the connection. I suppose though we must all have our dreams.
As for the 4x4 I would have thought even the Royal cess pit cleaner would have had a newer motor than ours.
A word here about travelling in a very old Landrover.
After twelve hours and 350 nerve wracking miles we reached Loch Lomond. We did however on the way up stop off at Gretna Green, a quaint little tourist trap just across the border with the obligatory Scottish piper to welcome us, our first taste of all things tartan. My Mcsporraned one had insisted we travel up in full highland regalia to get into the “holiday spirit”. Not knowing what tartan to wear she had made up her own design in fluorescent yellows, greens and orange. Travelling in a very draughty land rover with a kilt on “commando” is a very cooling experience, and my first port of call at Gretna was the loos to check up on frost bite to the family jewels. A few minutes with the hand drier directed up the kilt bought some comfort and feeling back.
On hearing the sound of a dozen cats being sexually abused I walked
outside to find my wife highland dancing over crossed swords. Well I say
dancing, if you can imagine an amalgam of Saturday Night Fever meets Hoola
Hoola meets Comanche war dance, with a bit of mad camel thrown in you have
the picture. Most ladies of the larger persuasion are imbued with a
certain grace, their speed governed by agility and size. Not so my wife.
Where there should have been smooth movement and gentle hops there were
the frenzied leaps and passion of the demented punk fanatic and whirling
Dervish. The piper caught up in the enthusiasm, cheeks puffing in a
crimson face, sucked in great lungfuls of air to keep the pipes inflated.
His fingers dancing like a concert pianists over the chanter holes making
the sound I had heard. Faster and faster my wife danced, hobnail boot
raising sparks and great flakes of concrete as it hammered with increasing
force on the path. Onlookers ducked as the shards of stone shot into their
midst. It all came to a sudden end when the
bagpipes under great pressure were punctured by
a sharp piece of stone, the resulting force of escaping gas propelled the
piper into the air, to come crashing down through the roof of Ye Olde
Scottish Candle Makers. The sudden silence that ensued was broken by
thunderous applause from the crowd, who thought this Scottish dancing a
fine spectacle. My wife not slow to take advantage of any pecuniary
opportunity took off her sporran and passed it amongst the crowd, the
monies raised paid for a slap up breakfast and fuel for the rest of the
We in the meantime had wended our way far north to the village of Craithie, the nearest village to Balmoral with a B&B. Immediately upon our arrival my wife started to question the locals as to the daily habits of the Queen. The locals used to such questions, but not normally from a woman dressed up like a Glaswegian tart on a rainy Hogmanay night down Gorbals street, willingly told her all she wished to know, and under the influence of each free whisky this Sassenach was plying them with the stories got taller, the truth shorter. They told her of the Queens daily visit to Tesco’s to buy the households victuals, of her Thursday visits to the Haggis markets, where live haggis were paraded around the ring and auctioned off before the ritual slaughter at the hands of the Duke wielding the sacred Claymore. My wife not willing to show her ignorance on such regal matters nodded her head knowingly, taking in each story as a black hole would suck in space matter. Normally she was an astute, cunning and knowing individual, but as a lot of women was blinded by thoughts of royal acceptance, photo’s in Country Life, or better still Hello Magazine.
The following morning my wife gave me lessons on bowing, scraping and the
touching of the fore lock, (no different from living with the wife then).
She also practiced her curtsying, not a pretty sight, imagine a camel or
elephant coming to its knees to allow a rider on its back and then rising
up and you have the idea.
So impressed were they that they followed her. Big Angus was in the bar
offering my dearest a place on the team, and a chance to win at the games
next week. The cherry on the cake for her was that the Queen and Royal
family would be in attendance to hand out the prizes. For me it meant a
week of peace and tranquillity whilst my Tartanned one practiced the finer
points of the games. For example not throwing the caber like a javelin,
and not using the “Glaswegian kiss” when wrestling. Also how to dispatch a
The day of the games came and the contestants paraded in their full Scots regalia. My wife looking resplendent in fluorescent pink and green tartan topped with a tamashanta hat a full two foot in diameter, to say she stood out was an understatement. The Queen and Duke were there waving to the crowd in a royal manner. Then the speech and those long awaited words “Let the Games begin”.
The Maori warrior does a war dance, a Haka in front of his enemies, a mixture of poses and postures that strike fear and awe into the opponent The games contestants just lifted their kilts hoping that their manhood was sufficiently scary enough to achieve the same as the Hookah, my wife left her kilt down and just flexed her biceps which was even scarier. The normal group hug was not practiced this year as the members of the team had learnt of my wife’s various skin complaints, and declined for hygienic reasons hoping though that some of these ailments may pass onto other contestants during the wrestling. Due to the sheer overwhelming weight of my loved ones team they came through the elimination rounds with ease, barely raising a sweat, (which in my wife’s case is a good thing with her perspiration problem). There was a moment during the caber tossing when young McTavish could not raise the log, but my wife’s snarling mottled face and blood shot eyes inches from his urging him on did the trick. By the afternoon there were only two teams left, each evenly matched in all the disciplines. the battle would be hard and bloody. So the games started in earnest.
The Tug O War event was announced and the teams took to the field. “Pulling the rope” as it is locally known is not so much a test of pure strength but the technique of getting the other team on the “wrong foot” and “digging in the heels” The only pure strength bit is in the “Anchor” man who is the last person in the team, and who wraps the rope about his body using himself as a human tent peg, digging into the ground. On particularly soft fields it has been known for this person to be completely driven into the ground, and some like so many tent pegs lost and forgotten until caught in the mower or plough blades. The anchor man is also the “Sacrificial lamb”, when the opposing team have overwhelming strength and pull the rope quickly, the loosing team can let go and remain on their side of the line. The anchor man with rope wrapped around him is unable to break free, and is dragged kicking and screaming across the line to await the pleasures of the winning team. My stout love was chosen as this man, or in her case woman, (it’s difficult to tell sometimes as people in kilts all look the same to me). The call was given to “take the strain” as both teams leant back on the rope. Then “PULL” the opposing “red” team muscles and legs bulging pulled, heaved, and strained, but to no avail. The “blue” team, my wife’s, leaned nonchalantly on the rope some talking, others having a smoke, it was the anchor man, or in this case woman whom; assuming a near horizontal lean stayed immobile, her foot and wooden leg firmly implanted in the ground, her biceps and other ceps bulging. There was a moment of worry when a bead of perspiration appeared on her forehead five minutes into the pull, but a wipe with the back hand and all was ok. And so the two sides were stalemated, the reds nearly exhausted pulling for all their worth, and the blues most now playing a hand of whist staying very calm and collected as their anchor woman one hand on the rope had a cup of tea in the other. It could be argued that all spectator sport is just theatre. The sportsmen and women are there to pit their abilities against the other; the spectator is there not so much for the sport as the picture of the spectacle. He is not concerned that the sportsman has spent possibly two or three decades to reach the excellence, all the spectator is interested in is the here and now. This shows itself in the often unfair comments when an athlete is awarded a prize, the money may be a great sum, but if you take into account all the training it has taken to get this far, the athlete is probably getting far less than the minimum wage.
A day later it was homeward bound, my “tartanned one” asleep most of
the way. As it was downhill the journey took far less time, though we did
stop off at Gretna Green for a bite to eat. The piper is now doing a great
trade as a living statue of a highland piper. He has a compressed air
cylinder in his bagpipes, and every now and then, normally when old ladies
or very young children are passing he opens the valve to give a very loud
blast on the pipes. This causes much soiling of the pants in the young and
heart attacks in the old. It’s also a good deterrent for the odd graffiti
artist who starts to “tag” you.
So there we are all I have to show for the trip is a bit of frostbite
on the family jewels and a lighter I bought at the games as a souvenir.
She is now back to her normal self, well a normal as she can be