Ye'll be mindin' aboot Wee Toatty Rid Ridin' Hewd's Grannyz wee but an' ben in ra wewdz? Weel a while afore that thair uset tae be a coattidge near thair wi' a man, 'iz wife, an' thair twa wee bairns livin' in it. Ra man wiz awfy cluver an' every Monday 'e uset tae go intae the toon sellin' his special gloo roon' ra dooarz. Aye that gloo wiz a guid make fur itz time. See ru wimmen pit it along thair claez ropez so a' the claez stuck tae it an' couldnae git blawn doon bi ra wund.
A'right, so thae a' goat a bit sticky at ra toap but tt wiz better than them blawin' up an' doon ra back green gettin' a' cuverd wi' glawr. The man wiz ca'd Jimmy an' he made a loat o' money fur 'imsel'. Nuver boat hauf boattles always fu' yinz! The wee bairns wiz ca'd Hughie an' Gretta. Dinnae boather yirsel' whit the wife wiz ca'd fur she soon ran awa wi' a kiltie. Wiznae long afore this right Juzzibel stairted chasin' per Jimmy fur iz munnie, ra bamstick fell fur it tae an' mairried hur. So it wiz thut Hughie an' Gretta goat a stepmither an we a' ken thayre bad in ra fairy talez.
Fur ra next ten years everything wiz a'right, even though Jimmy hud tae buy two fu' boatlez at a time efter 'e goat merried, aye an that wumman drunk them bith 'ersel tae. Still an' a' the bairnz needed a mammie aven though hawf the time she wiz that fu' she thoat thair wuz fowr o' them. The bairnz had turned twelve when the tragedy came, one Monday Jimmy came hame withoot even a hauf boattle an' nae munnie at a'. "Whoat dae ye mean cummin' hame here withoot onything?" Yelled the Juzzibel. "A didnae sell even yin poat o' ma gloo ra day." answered per Jimmy. "Seeminly sum buddyz inventid widden things cawed claithes pegz, an' abuddyz buyin thum by the thoozan' tae hud the claiz up. Ma glooz obselicated! Ahm a ruin'd man I am!". Ra Juzzibel wiz right flamin' aboot this..."Ye'll git tae Pennicuik ra moarn an sell yir gloo thair, thay'll no ken aboot claiz pegz in Pennycuik."
It wiz awfy sad, when 'e goat thair they a'ready hud them hingin' oan every rope, even oan ra pulliez inside. Thur wiz a right rammy when 'e goat hame, joabless, redunnant ut thirty!
Nae munny saved fur that Juzzibel hud drunk it a' away.
Months passed an' food goat less an' less, a' they hud tae eat wiz hauf a cup o' watery poarrage three times a day. The Juzzibel wiz doon tae hauf a boattle o' VP wine a week! Aye frae riches the faimily wiz doon tae poavurty. Hughie an' Gretta hud tae go oot every day tae gaither mushroomz in ra widz but it wisnae long afore they'd gaithered them a' an nane wur left.
Yin night, efter ra bairnz wiz in thur bedz the Juzzibel sez tae per Jimmy, "See thae bairnz, thay'll hae tae go. We cannae git ra munny tae feed thum an oorsels. Oh gin a kiltie wid cum by the noo tae tak me awa!" But nae kiltie came. "Wuh'll tak thae bairnz intae ra toon the moarn early an lose thum. Sumbdy'll find them an' send them tae Doaktur Burnardoez, ye'll see. Thuy'll end up lernin' a guid trade an' we'll be shoat o' thum." Jimmy thoat aboot it fur a while "A' right then. Ah suppose thair better in toon than starvin' wi us here."
Aye but see Hughie, he'd goat up tae look fur a wee bit o' dry breid so 'e heard a' this. "Ah'm no goin' tae learn ony trade" 'e muttered. Next day ra Juzzibel sayz tae Hughie an' Gretta "Cum oan then. Pit oan yur guid claiz an' ah'll tak ye fur a walk in ra toon." Awa she went wi them intae Embro itsel' takin' thum up an' doon the closes until they didnae ken whair they wur. "Oh my, see that coo staunin' oan ra roof o' that tenement!" yells Juzzibel..the bairns look up an' she runs awa hame. Puir wee sowels loast in ra big toon ye might think, but ye're wrong. "Dinnae fash yersel' Hen" said Hughie.."See a' thay emty beer boattles roon' ra place? Ah've been watchin' whair they a' wir. wu'll find oor wie hame bi following thur labelz."
An' so thay did. "We go three openin'z doon frae ra Mc Ewanz, four up frae the Yungurz, an' turn right at ra Wee Heavy. Cannae miss it" An' so, wi' the help o' Scoatlandz great breweries ra wains goat back tae ra widz. "Oh ah've been that wurried aboot ye baith." yelled ra Juzzibel az she belted them wi' ra washin' stick an' sent them tae bed.
"Wuh'll baith go ra moarn" she said tae Jimmy "Ah've goat a guid idea this time roon" But Hughie wiz lissnen at ra door again.
"Cum oan bairnz" shouts Juzzibel in the moarn. "Thurz a right treat fur ye baith, tak yin o' thae emty jeely jaurs each, we're gawn tae ra piktchirz. See you Jimmy, you're cumin' tae" This time they walked an' walked a' the wie tae Leith, but wee Hughie watched a' thae beer boattle labels oan the wey. "Och it'll be a doddle" he thocht. "Here'z ra pickcherz" says Juzzibel, "Gie ra man yur jeely jaurs an in ye go. We'll be waitin' when ye cum oot. Ra Pickcherz wiz funny in thae dayz, no like now. A' thae hud wiz a sheet oan the wa an' a candle in a boax, semminly they pit slides in frunt o' the boax so they shone oan ra sheet. A'buddy liked this fur they didnae ken any better at the time.
Oorz laterwhen ra pickcherz came oot thur wiz nae sign o' Jimmy or ra Juzzibel fur they'd gaun hame withoout ra bairns. Gretta startit greetin but Hughie hud a right laugh, "Wi urnae loast wee suster, see wuhl juist folli ra boattles like afore." But their wiznae ony boattles onywhair fur Jimmy hud hud a guid idea. "Hey see a' thae boattlez, if we pick thum a' up an' tak thum tae ra pub we'll git tuppence each fur thum. Thairz a fortune in ra streets o' Embro naebdyz found but me! Ra Juzzibel stole a feedin' bag oaf a hoarse an they soon had it fu o' boattles..hauf a croion at ra pub.. awy they went for mair, an mair, an mair. They worked 'till it wiz dark an' went hame rich.
At ra meantime puir Hughie an Gretta goat loaster an loaster an wandered up an doon, suddenly Grettea said.."Oh whitz rat wee roon yellie thing thair? An' thairz anither thatz rud, an yin thatz green an" "Hurreh we've found a trail o' Smarties!" shouted Hughie "We'll folly it an' see whair it goes tae". Away they went eatin' the trail up ahint themsels. "Eh whitz that awfy nice smell" says Gretta "Itz cummin frae rat shoap thair that the Smarties trail goes intae." In went ra bairns an found the very first chip shoap they'd ever been in. "Cum awa in bairnies" said the auld wumman ahint ra coonter.
She took them untae her back room an gied them a fish supper each. "Heh,heh, heh!" she croaket uz she left them an' went back tae her shoap, "Ah've goat ma slave labur at last". Efter thaid finished thur fish supperz the auld wumman came back, "Noo bairniez, hood ye like tae help me in ra shoap? Ye'll git pudden supperz when we shut." So it wiz that ra wee sowlels stairted tae wurk in a chip shoap. Wiznae long afore they wur daein a' ra fryin' while the wumman took ra munny. An oor efter ra pubz came oot they goat thair pudden supperz. "Cum away noo bairnies, ye cun ca me Granny noo. Ah'll show ye yer bedz."
It wiz awfy dark whair she pit them but they found blankets oan ra flair an' went tae sleep. Next morning they found they were loaked in a shooge big cage. Wiznae long afore ra wumman came in, "Aye that wiz ra cage ah uset tae keep ma bujjiez in, it'll dae fur you twa noo. Ooot ye cum itz time tae start yur wurk, but furst itz braikfust time" Thur braikfust wiz a big plate o' cauld chupz, left ower frae ra night afore, then they hud tae scrub ra flairz, wash ra windaez, gaither up a' the auld newspapurz, an start cuttin up ra tattiez fur that night. "An' gin ye dinnae dae whoat ah tell ye ah'll dip ye in ra batter an fling ye in ra geaze wi ra fat!
Frae then oan, except fur Munday nights, they hud tae dae a' ra hard wurk fur ra auld Biddie. Maist o' ra time a' they goat tae eat wiz left ower chipz, hoat at night, cauld in ra moarnin'. When they wirnae wurkin they got loaked in ra cage. They lived this wey fur munthz an munths an learnt a' aboot chup shoaps, even filletin ra fush an' hoo tae cut white puddenz doon ra middle. That miserable auld wumman nuver gied them ony munnie eether but they couldnae huv spent it onywey loaked in rat cage. A' she ever seemed tae dae wiz greewt abbot ra awfy weather.
Jimmy missed hiz bairnz an' used tae go a' ower ra toon in iz hoarse an cairridge lookin fur them. Hoarse an cairridge? Aye, ye see he used tae cum intae toon o' a moarnin' tae gaither up ra beer boattlez an sell them, frae a pauper he became Ra Boattle King! Thur wiz munnie in boattlez in thae dayze.Uz fur ra Juzzebel she'd goat drunk an fell doon ra well, Jimmy didnae care, he jist goat ra tap water pit in insteed.
It wiz a year later and a right Embro summer day, cauld wi sma' rain cummin' doon fur weeks. They wur gettin' ra chup shoap ready fur ra night when thair wiz a noak at ra dooar. "Away ye go ye nyaff ye!" shouted ra auld wumman "Cun ye no see ra sign? Wi arenae opun till efter five." Intae ra shoap came a hansum young man. "Would you be Miss Arabella Worthington?" he enquired. "Aye whit the hellz it tae yoo?"..."Miss Worthington, I bring you very good news, I am from Littlewoods".."Ye'll be tellin' me that ah've wun ra pewlz nixt" sed the crabbit auld biddie. "That you have my Dear, here's a check for a million pounds"..."Aboot time tae, ah've been daein thae things fur sixty years Gie me ra munny an find yer ain wey oot" So it wiz that ra hansum young man past oot o' Miss Worthingtonz life fur ever.
"Will ye juist luke ut rat weather" sayz the old biddie tae the bairnz "See yew two, ah'm away tae Majjorka fur good, ah'll gie yew ra chip shoap." Aye Auld Arabella went tae live at Majjorka whair the sun aye shines an ye nivver git drizzly cauld rain. Wusnae lang afore she goat this toay boay un luved happy ever after, rinnin a cafe, sellin sossidge rowlz tae Unglish tewristz.
So Hughie an Gretta stairtet runnin ra chup shoap oan thur ain, they cleaned it up and pit in a loat o new decorations. Wisnae long afore a' boady whae wiz onyboady wiz cummin thair. Yin day a cairridge drew up ootside an a weel dressed man goat oot. "See yew, weel ah'm fed up wi chicken an caviar, gie me a haggis supper this verra meenit" Gretta looked at him "Hey a ken yew, are you no ma faither? Hoo cum yer rich?" So Jimmy goat reyoounited wi his faimily an oaften went tae see them fur pudden supperz. A handsome prunce and a smasher o' a princess cam in yin night fur fush supperz, they endit up steyin an mairryin Hughie an Gretta so a' boady lived happy ever efter.
Matter o' fact that's thair chip shoap ower there. Whoats rat? How come it's caw'd Bertollini's? Weel they changed thair names tae Italian tae gie ra place an extotical look. Wid ah lee tae you noo? Be seein ye Pal.
Copyright (C) 1995; Tom McRae
Published with kind permission of Tom McRae, Brisbane, Australia