A short story by Macduff writer Pat Hutchison. From the Forthcoming collection 'Sanners Gow's Tales and Folkore of the Buchan.'
The market wis in full swing and boorachs o fowk were millin aboot lookin at aa the Chaip John stalls. The geets were rinnin aroon wild eed an fair kittelt up wi aa the sichts an sounds o this Aladdin’s cave o furls an fancies. A big ‘gallshicks’ stallie hid set up sellin ivvery kine o sweeties ye could imagine- pu-candy, swiss tablet, bylins, pandrops and Aiberdeen rock tae name but a fyowe.
Mony a wee haan wid shoot oot an grab a sweetie as they ran past at a rate o knots. The lad that echt the staa wis gan gyte at them and wid lash oot at some o them wi a lang stick that wis nae doot made for the job. Nae only wis he bein deeved wi human wasps but there wis cloods o the rale thing seekin some o his stock as weel. A harassed mannie richt eneuch wi a stick in ae haan swipin at the bairns and a flee swat in tither for the wasps or sharp ersed hooers as he caad them.
Anent the sweetie staa there wis a lad that claimed tae be a doctor and he wis selling bottles o Doctor McPherson’s Life Tonic at one shillin an saxpence a bottle. He’d plenty patter did this lad an tellt the githert crowd he’d gotten the secret recipe fae a monk in Tibet and the monk hid been 137 years aul at the time. The doctor fairly lookit a dapper wee mannie wi his top hat, a big tash an mutton chop sidewigs. Some fowk were pairtin wi hard earned siller as they stood open moothed takkin in aa the haivers. For one and sax they were gettin a bottlie o watter coloured wi turmeric and a taespeen o fusky for a bit o flavour.
Anither staa wis selling pocket watches wi chynes an trinkets. A lot o the fairmservant chiels were roon aboot this een because tae belang a pocket watch wis a bit o a status symbol. There wis twa kines o watches though: the dear yins that were gweed watches an wid gie a lifetimes service an the chaip eens that workit for 24 oors then aifter hins they were bang on time twice in ivvery 24 oors. Tae the young lads the chaip eens were jist the ticket because wi them ye got a siller chain an some wee trinkets tae gang w’t. Mony a young loon left the staa wi his chest stuckin oot as he lookit doon at the watch an chyne noo hingin fae his weskit pooch.
Ae lad wis standing in a clearin throwin neeps in the air an splittin them wi his heed an as they cam doon wi a seeckenin ‘thwak’, the neep wid be split in twa. The deemies in the crowd skirled ilka time an turned awa intae their lad's shooder if they hid een. This suited the young loons fine an mony a comfortin cuddle the quines got fae their strong protective ploomen.
The neep splitter wis strippet tae the waist and o aa things he wore a North American Indian chief’s heed dress made up o seagull fedders. Atween neeps he’d tell the huge crowd in a pure Aiberdeen accent that his great granda hid been Chief Sitting Bull the lad that hid slaachtered General Custer and aa his men at the battle o the Little-Bighorn. Ivvery noo an then he’d stop an ging roon the crowd wi a widden bowl painted wi Indians an jook fedders stuck on’t.
The coins were fair rattlin in especially fae the lads thats deemies teen a dwam at the sicht o a real North American Indian like this. He lookit the pairt though wi the seagull feddered heed dress an stripes o sitt on his face as warpaint. He even hid a tomahawk at his side wi gull fedders on it as weel but it wis actually his mither’s aix for chappin sticks. The breeks he wore were buff coloured moleskins and could if yer imagination wis up tae it be rale buckskin. The ae thing that spiled the effect wis the tackety beets instead o moccasins.
The beer tent though wis deein a roaring trade wi it being sic a hett sunny day an hantles o fairm servants and fairmers were sookin back the waarm beer tae weet their wheeples. Some lads though werena in the wye o drinkin sae muckle and feenisht up ootside the tent bleezin drunk. The staff jist pickit them up fae in the tent an laid them tae ae side tae come tee. Sic a sotter! Ae lad, he got up fae the raa o drunks an stytert awa tae hae a look at some o the staallies. On the wye he near gey near cowpit a staa o dishes The wumman that belanged them shouted, “Awa ye go ye drunken gype! Leave ma dishes be!”
At this he stytert alang till anither staa that hid rubbits an wee widden hoosies for them.There were birdies in teeny wee wire cages an pyokes o seed for feedin them. In fack there wis aa kinds o beasties at this staa. The drunk lad though wisna muckle teen wi ony o that; he wis mair teen wi the tray o tortoises. Throwe a haze o drink he says tae the staa keeper, “Heymin! Gimma twa o them things!”
He bocht them an put een intae baith pooches o ees jaicket an stytert awa headin for ither stallies. The owner shook his heed. He’d seen plenty drunk fowk in his time but that lad wis as drunk he couldn’ve bitten his ain finger.
A fair file aifter he saa the drunk lad makkin his wye tae his staa again but this time the bleed wis fleein fae his mooth. Nae doot he must’ve turkit some bugger an got a chap on the lips. The drunk lad stytert up tae the staa an throwe his bleedy mooth said ‘Heymin!’ an pyntit tae the tray o tortoises, “Gimma anither twa o them pies but nae sic hard crusts this time!”
Find out more about Aikey Brae in Leatham's 'Shows and Showfolk' and for more by Pat Hutchison buy the Sanners Gow collection HERE.
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