I’m gonna live forever…
I am honoured to be included in this year’s edition of Scotland’s Stories by the Scottish Book Trust.
For tomorrow’s Launch of Book Week Scotland 75,000 (SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND) copies of the book will be distributed to schools, libraries and folk across Scotland.
And there is an audio version of the book for RNIB Scotland.
Click here to hear the author read his words:
Ah remember ma mum tellin us this wan time.
We were aw 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 caw 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, ay gies him a hard time fur bein thick as mince.
Ah mind this wan time when Froggy gied him a specially dumb reply tae a question, auld Limpy jist stares 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 feelins.
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 aw had a number attached.
No that it wis necessary, they aw 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 aw 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 o ‘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 aw, Froggy’ll wait.
Ah nod back.
She pulls the right side o her cairdigan 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.
You’ve brought a smile to my face this morning. Lovely listen and read. A moment captured in time.
And now you’ve brought a smile to mine, Bridgette.
Happy you enjoyed it.
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Wow, your place in the book is well deserved. Read it, liked it, listened to it, loved it!
Much appreciated, Keith.
I guess you spend a lot of time up in God’s country, hmm?
A wee gem, CE, and no surprise it’s already a national treasure. Given that more than a few of your scoundrels got a free trip to Aus some centuries back, the naming traditions for neighbours made the journey across. Always warms my heart to hear that accent, even if it needs a wee brush-up every now and again.
I didn’t know that this way of identifying neighbours was universal, I thought ir was just my mum who, I might add, tended to be a wee bit off the wall!
I have to dig deep to find that accent now.
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Congratulations! I expect you will really be putting on the ayrs from now on. 😉
Let us know how that living forever thing works out for you.
Thank you, dear Lady, but it won’t change me, I’m already a fairly arrogant dude!
As for living forever, I’ve been practising it, and it’s been quite a success so far.
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Oh my goodness, C.E.! I went through this twice – once reading it aloud in my best Scottish accent (but a lot slower than you), then listening to your clip. What a delightful read and listen. I was laughing out loud. Great fun! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Nancy, for your continued support.
I had to rather rediscover that accent, if I used it here in France I’d get pretty blank looks, regardless of which language I spoke!
Very happy you enjoyed, because being selected for this is a significant honour in Scottish writing circles.
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I got so caught up in the story I totally forgot to send you my sincere and heartiest congratulations! It is quite an honor for which you should be most proud! Well done indeed!
You’ve brought a time and a place to life and depicted characters I recognise from my own life – you had me smiling all the way through.
And what a lovely Scottish accent.
A great piece of writing – and reading.
Thanks, Jenne, it’s a long time since I had an accent like that, I had to go look in the loft for it!
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