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London Caithness Association 

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From Mrs Marguerite Walsh Atkins

Ladies and Chents,

Wan o at chiels ower ere seyd A most interjuice masel.  Hid seems kinna daft-lek til me, bit ats fit he seyd, so A most tell ye at ma names Mrs Maggie Fracher, ma age 63, an me an ma man hes a croftie at e back o Achavanich, half-rods etween Bullavanich an Achaginach, an ats at.

Well, hids iss wey.  A wiz asked til tell ye fowk aboot ma traivels in London, an trowth, A wiz not willan, A wiz fair throwther fit wi wan thing an' anither, an' forbye 'at, A wiz kinna nervish thinkan yed a be gran an stuck-up kin o fowks, bit fan A see ye, fine div A ken, A hev little til be feared o.

Weel, as A seyd, hids iss wey.  Ma owldest dochter, Chessie Cheenie, her at wiz in e Wuffs of fitever ye ca hid, she got merried til an English chiel, cad Paircy.  Losh, til hearken til him spekkan, yed swear he wisna wice, bit hes a daicent chiel for a at, an daean richt weel in e engineerium line.  All warrant he hes all his aikles, at same lad.

Weel, nothing wid do Paircy an Chessie Cheenie bit for me til go til London for a holiday, an stop wi them, me, ats niver been farrer sooth than Watten in ma life.  They asked Donal as weel, ats ma man, ye ken, bit he seyd Fat wid A be doin amang a at foreigners at dinna ken porridge fae peasemeil brose, an niver see otbreid fae wan weeks end til e ither.  Ye go yersel, Maggie, dawtie.

So A left ma youngest dochter, Maggie Ann, her ats goan wi wan o yin Acharolles, til look efter e hens, an e soo, an e gricie, an e stirkie, an Donal of coorse, an off A set.  Mind ye, ma owld chiel did me richt weel, an cam himsel til e station, walkan, an took all ma loogage on a hurley, forbye.

Weel, e less seyd aboot at chourney e better.  Hid wiz fearful!  Forbye ma Sunday best, A hed a cheinge o semmit, an e lek o at, an A hed a yowng cockie A hed killed e day efore, an twa-three eiggs, an a pucklie o salt butter, an a pun o croodie.  E cockie A wiz chist cerryan til hing im, ye ken, as ats e best way for keepan e chiblets for e broth, an A wid hing im up in e coarner o e cerriage.  Yed not believe e impidence A put up wi aboot at cockie.  Wan gaird thocht he wid get me for certain til pit id in e van, bit na fears.  A soon sorted him, e muckle doad, an ivery time A went oot o at cerriage, for fitever cause, A took e cockie, an e eiggs, an e butter, an e croodie wi me.  Mind ye, theres no flechs on Maggie Fracher.  We hedna all yin sodgers billeted on his for nothing, no a dinged thing safe.  A kent fine, so A wid leave nothing on ma seat in e coarner, barran ma hanbag wi ma ration books an at dirt an falderals.  Ma bawbees A hed sewn in atween ma semmit an ma gansey, ye ken.

Weel, A wid go in e middle o e day an hev ma denner, in e back-end restaurant caur or fitever ye cad.  A piece for eleven oclock, A hed wi me in a paper pockie, an fin A gaed in an hinged up e cockie in e coarner by e table, first wan impident gomeril says til me, Been up for the twelfth, Madam, All wager A gied him a dinger.  Noor leyt, next comes a wee teetlag sprot o a chiel wi a cockid bonnad, wi a dial e colour o sooans, an says he, Madam, you cannot have that bird in here.  Can A no, says I, Fa div ye think ye are, til spek til me lek at, ye peedie wee,  girnan, snotteran, critterag, at wid hev til stan on tippence til see ower thrippence, an me, owld enough til be yer grannie, an A widna hev ye, fits more.  Ye fushionless, funceless, feel trosk o a regimentarian at ye are.  Wan ither word oot o yer gob an All claw yer loog for ye, ye doited gowk.  Bit, losh, lassie, he wiz off afore Ad feenished, an at wiz e last A saw o him.

Fitever wey or no, A wiz goan til tell ye aboot ma holiday, an no till antle on aboot sich eegnorant gapuses, an so All tell ye at fan A arrived at Euston, ere wiz Chessie Cheenie an Paircy meetan me.  A forgot til tell ye at she hes til be called Chane noo, at sounds richt daft-lek til me, for she had twa perfectly good names lek Chessie Ceenie, efter Donals mither an mine.  Bit yowng anes hes notions lek at nooadays, as yell lekly ken better than me.

Weel, A could see at Paircy wiz by-ornar nevervish at handlan e cockie, an Chane hed her best costume on, so A wid cerry hid masel.  An so, lek at, we wid go on a thing called a Chube Ochanee, o all e inventions o Saatan,  at Chube wiz 'e worst.  In we gaed, doon intil 'e booals o' 'e earth, an' wiz packed in lek herrin in a barrel, an waitan til be dashed til Eternity.  Fan all o a sudden, A thocht A hed loast ma croodie, an A wid step ower til call e Gaird.  Bit chist as A gaed til e door, hid slammed shut an catched e cockie clean in e wyme, an ere he wiz, ma poor cockie, fair pairted in e middle.  Sich a cafuffle A hev niver heard.  E Gaird stoppan e train, an miscallan me, an e place a smoored in bleed, an wan drollag shovan in an shoutan, Make way there, Im a doctor, what has happened, an niver a wan o them thinkan o e meiss e poor cockie wiz in, at A hed been hainan a iss while for e Sunday denner.  A iss time, ere wiz e croodie underneath ma oxter, an A wiz fearful pitten-aboot ower e croodie.  Ochanee!  Bit haud ye on, at wizna e end od.  For oot o e pot intil e fryin-pan.  No sooner oot o at Chube, an we hed til go up in a most fearful contraption, lek a movan stairie, called an excavator, A think, an me still hingan on til e remains o e cockie.  Chessie Cheenie gaed on first, an en me, an en Paircy.  Weel, none hed e gumption til tell me at ye hed til bide in wan place on is excavator, an hid wid dirl ye up.  So A wid try til traivel up.  Weel, half-rods up, did no ma petticoat get catched in wan o at steps.  Hid wizna ma best black satin ane A wear next ma skirt, nor yet ma blue worsted ane fat A wear next til ma combinations, but a spleet new grey flannel ane.  Losh, lassie, every meenad iss steps wiz movan, an choogan at ma coats, an them hingan doon in loops aboot ma ankles, fan at e top, did no ma coat stick altegither, an off A wiz shoved wi an almightly dunt, an withoot ma petticoat.  Bit, wid A go hom withoot id?  Na fears!  Losh, ye wid hev laughed.  They hed til stop e whole concern til manage at, an wan chiel chavvan awey at e excavator, an anither chiel prysan an howkan ma petticoat oot.  Richt daicent buddies, none o at orra chiels.  Fan A telt them hid wiz new-made fae three yairds o flannel oot o Moads, they said that they quite understood an they wid do their best til help.  In e end, A gaed them twa-three eiggs, an a pucklie o butter.

Weel, all e things A could tell ye aboot, ye wid not believe.  Chessie Cheenies hoose, at she will call a flat, is all electric, wi a vacuum cleaner 'at fair gluffed me oot o' ma wits fan id started, an a telephone, an a electric cooker.  Losh, wance fan Chessie Cheenie wiz oot, wid A no try til mak masel a bowlie o tea, an fit wi switchan on every dinged knobbagie, an wastan a whole box o spounks wi niver a lowe til show for id, ochanee!  Bit for all at, id wiz a fine little hoosie.

Bit for e last nicht, at beyt all.  A niver hear e lek o yon.  Paircy an Chessie Cheenie wid tak me til e theater.  Weel, hid wizna far off, a muckle beeg hall called e Hippodrome.  Trowth, A saw enough o hips yinder til lest me a ma days.  At e start, A will say, e concert wizna bad, wi chooglers an acrybats, an a thing, fan a o a sudden, cam on til e platform, twa weemen, near needle-naked, an Am no tellin ye a word o a lie, no a stitch o cloes on, barran three lace doyleys, no bigger than a dockan, strategically placed.  Weel, they started til kick their heels abeen their heids, an fling aboot, til A wiz fair scunnered.  Trowth, A wiz waitin for e polis til come til them.  A chust could not abide yon, so up A got an roared at them, Ye brazen limmers, ye indaicent Jezebels, go hom an cover yer nakedness.  Weel, for twa meenads they stopped lek twa stuccas, an a e fowk gloweran at me, til wan chiel in e back seats got up an roared, Quite right, old girl, and a lousy act anyhow.  Fitever at might mean.

Fit ever way or no, at wiz e sequel an e start od.  In twa shakes o Hornags tail, they a fell til fechtan an skirlan an sic a stramash A niver saw in a ma born days.

Chessie Ceehnie wiz fair black affronted at me, nothing wid do bit til slip oot e back door at very meenad.  Ochanee, she wiz richt angered at me, bit Paircy, he lached lek til kill himsel, an seyd, E owld girl (ats me), hed more spirit than any wan o them.

Weel, hids ower time A stopped, so All be off noo, an if ye come up e way o Hakreeg in e summer, lek anoff All tak anither stoon, an tell ye mair aboot London

Mrs Marguerite Walsh Atkins

Janice Paterson (nee McGee) has provided a short glossary to help with some of the terms in Mrs Atkins amusing speech. - This glossary may be extended in time.

Abeen - above
Aikle molar, back tooth, as in hevin all yer aikles meaning you know what you are doing or that you have your wits about you
Brose a mixture of meal, usually oatmeal, and boiling water
Chiel a young man
Croodie or Crowdie a kind of rather crumbly soft cheese
Dirl to (cause to) tingle, vibrate, ring
Dunt (to give) a heavy blow (to)
Forbye  - as well, in addition
Fushionless without energy, strength, ability, spirit or enthusiasm: insipid, dull
Gansey a jumper  .  In the past the particular stitches and decoration on a fishermans

Girn to moan, complain, grumble
Hurley a cart made from a wooden box
Oxter -  an armpit
Peedie small
Puckle a small particle or amount
Semmit a vest
Stramash a disturbance, uproar

Fracher Old Caithness pronunciation of the surname Farquhar
Wheemster Old Caithness pronunciation of the surname Phimister