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The Cuttin (extract)

My grandmither wis a wee, weel-paddit wifie wi an orange peel chin, shiny puffed-oot chicks traced wi broken veins an, unlike onybody else in the femily, broon een, at reminded me o the leather buttons in her sewin box, a pink plastic boxie at drew me ivvery time I visited. The buttons cam fae a jaiket at eence belanged tae anither deid uncle, fa wid hae been my mither's aulest brither, but hid deed fan he was affa young, ower the hills an hine awa in a land caa'd Africa, far ma grandparents hid bade lang, lang ago, afore I wis born. Africa, I kent for seer, lurkit in ambush beyond the line o mop-heided trees at marked the edge o my warld. I could jest mak it oot, gin I squeezed throwe the beech hedge at the bottom o the gairden, climbed the drystane dyke ahin it an steed on tippytaes at the tap, cranin ma neck as heich as it wid ging. Fan Africa lost its attractions or a shoogly steen cowped me aff the dyke, I wid play Jacks wi the chuckies at the back door the wey my grannie hid shown me or stravaig solemnly roon the box-trimmed maze o paths, till I could pit oot ma haun and touch the sundial at marked time in the hert o the gairden.

At Drumlasie Grannie Marr wis nivver seen wi'oot her apron an its muckle front pocket filled wi an endless supply o mint lumps, but ivvery mornin, as I hodged impatiently fae fit tae fit, it wis painstakinly untied and carefully hung on its hook at the back o the scullery door. Mou pursed wi effort, she wid lift her message baggie fae the next hook an then, fair wabbit, beg me wearily, ‘Tae save me trailin aa that wey, wid ye nip ben the hoose for my coat and hat.’ I nipped, she trailed, my grannie's conjugation. The hat wis an unfortunate item o squashed strae wi a straggly wisp o net clingin tae the back. It reminded me o an elderly coo's pancake, but, as at that stage in ma life I wis drawn tae the messy and mysterious, I coveted the hat which, wi an aul crepe-de-chine evenin frock o my mither's an a pair o wedge-heeled Forties sandals, wis ma favoured dressin-up ootfit.

Efter fit seemed like hoors, wi an affa pechin and wieldin o the shoe horn, she wid squeeze her feet intae fit she caa'd her ‘shoon’, her stoot walkin sheen — normally she wore a pair o aul baffies bullied intae the shape o her feet — and at lest we wid set aff for Tommachlaggan throwe the Cuttin.

Linda Smith

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