We found the Apparitional Gamekeeper’s bonny smiling face on the doorstep this morning. ‘Right’, we said, ‘Wee Stoned Mark is coming over. And you are in charge, because we are bunking off’. We had a date with our Chinese Doctor, who has just returned from a 6 month’s sojourn in the People’s Republic. As usual, the Doctor was a bracing experience; she doesn’t half leave you feeling better, albeit sometimes a little battered in the process. Thankfully we had turned up with a bouquet to welcome her back, since she and her boyfriend proceeded to formally present us with some wine, which they almost certainly do not drink themselves — she had visa troubles & we did our best on that front, for which they seem rather more grateful than is necessary, but it was nice of them. After she had quite finished, we went, in cold blood, to take a little time off, just the two of us. It doesn’t happen often, these days. We bumbled up the coast to Auldearn, which was home, upon a time, of Scotland’s most notorious witch, Isobel Gowdie, and now harbours a rather good antique dealer/salvage yard, where a long time ago, we had agreed to buy a column which could not, on that occasion, be fitted into the car. We bought our column, a solid lump of granite 3 feet long, a foot across (the brave little car visibly settled on its back axle as it went in), and started winding our way homewards (sixty miles or so). One of the places we stopped en route was a ‘Country Store’, because our friend the Palaeographer had asked if we could possibly source her a real (i.e., old fashioned) tweed jacket. The ‘Country Store’ turned out to be quite unspeakably naff; there was an extensive clothes section, yes, but to our astonishment, it was German ‘footballer’s wives’ garments of the utmost vulgarity; tweed jackets there were but they were mostly pink, bouclĂ©, overstyled, and possibly even involving silver threads. You know the kind of thing. But what was immensely cheering was the saleslady, who observed our reaction, and unexpectedly became completely charming. It became fairly clear, by inference, that the sort of people who bought the clothes she sold were not her sort of people. She made a series of utterly pertinent suggestions about where respectable-old-fashioned-and-built-to-last might be sourced, and we parted with expressions of mutual esteem. We had the most wonderful drive over Whisky Country on the way home, the deserted high moorland which feeds the distilleries with their nice peaty water, under a luminous, lead-grey sky bright with rainbows.
We returned back home to find that the Gamekeeper had performed prodigies of diplomacy, and had successfully established the practical, and even more to the point, psychological problems which were holding up the advancement of the bothy. It was all very useful and quite instructive. He is off to his college tomorrow, and very cheerful about it.
While he was telling me a series of tales about his exploits (if you put the Gamekeeper in a book, nobody would believe him. Poaching roebuck, cooking the haunch over the falling heat of the forge overnight, rescuing it in the dawn hours, that sort of thing. Stalky & co. The boy is a throwback.) we heard the weird and sirenlike moan of a cat about to go on the warpath. On investigation, Adelaide the Rough Cat has decided to come back for handouts, and finding that there wasn’t one, was meditating aggravated burglary. But there was Miss Kit, a quarter of her size, bushed up on the doorstep, defending her home. It’s nice to know that she is brave.

2 Responses to “Braveheart”

  1. The Man From Maryport Says:

    Hurrah & Bravo for Miss Eartha

  2. the canadian professor Says:

    I like the idea of the Gamekeeper as Poacher.

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