Author(s): Charles Barron
Copyright holder(s): Charles Barron
CHRISSIE, mother of Teenie. She is about 40. In the gutting team that also includes Georgie and Teenie. She is undemonstrative and appears cold-hearted.
GEORGIE, sister of Chrissie, mother of Dod. Also about 40, though a bit younger than Chrissie. She is cheerful, optimistic and talkative.
CHRISTINE, usually known as TEENIE. Daughter of Chrissie. In her late teens. She is quiet and miserable.
DOD, son of Georgie, cousin of Teenie. He is in his early 20s, a fisherman and therefore excused army service. A chancer; smooth, persuasive and full of himself.
AUL’ LIZZIE – mother of Muriel and Granny of Angelica . In her 60s. With her daughter and grand-daughter used to work alongside Chrissie’s gutting team but they have been switched to war work at a nearby factory. Down-to-earth, to the point of coarseness.
MURIEL, a middle-aged woman, daughter of Lizzie, mother of Angelica . A prim, up-tight woman, constantly nagging her mother and daughter over their bad behaviour.
ANGELICA, daughter of Muriel. More like her grandmother than her mother – flighty and manipulative. Likes clothes, make-up and – especially – men.
RONNIE, a middle-aged man. He is a cooper, and has escaped call-up because of ill health. Unhappy about the extra work he has had to take on because most of the men are at the war but otherwise genuine and friendly.
JIM, an old man who would have been long since retired if it had not been for the war.
Barrels, boxes and planks are used to indicate various settings – the gutting shed, Muriel’s house and the open air. It all takes place in Fraserburgh.
The play is set in 1944, towards the end of the Second World War.
(On the set are a number of wooden barrels of various sizes, wooden fish boxes and some planks of wood – all of it well used and stained. The cast will move these around to use as seats, tables and benches when necessary. At the moment, two large barrels have a plank across them to form a workbench, a farlin, down front.
Enter Georgie. She takes up her position behind the bench and eyes the audience appraisingly for a moment. She holds her gutting knife provocatively for a moment and then plunges it into the wood of the bench; it sticks there.)
GEORGIE That’s a guttin’ knife. (Pause. She looks at them.) Hiv ony o’ you got experience o’ guttin’ fish? (If there’s no reply, she says … ) Neen o’ ye? Spik up. (If there’s silence or she gets ‘No’ answers, she goes on …) Weel, let me tell you something aboot it.
[If to either question she gets a ‘Yes’, she says “Hiv ye? Weel, ye’ll jist need to come up here aside me and help me tell this folk a’ aboot it.]
(Cheerfully) The maist important thing is - your knife has to be sharp. An’ I mean really sharp. You’ll ha’e maybe cut the heid aff o’ a wee trout on your plate, or fichered aboot amang the bones o’ a kipper? It comes awa’ as easy as pie, doesn’t it? But it’s a different maitter fan you’re dealing wi’ raw flesh. It’s tough. It doesna gi’e up its bones or its guts easy. So you need a blade that’s that sharp it’ll cut its wey through the thrawn flesh like a hate knife through butter. A blade that sharp it’ll tak’ your finger aff sae clean ye’ll ken naithing aboot it - till you hear it ploppin’ on the fleer. Then ye’ll start to feel it an’ the bleed’ll start to pump oot o’ you. An’ the sick fear gars your insides turn tae watter. (She grins at the audience.) I’m nae makin’ ye feel uncomfortable, I hope? Ye’re enjoyin’ yoursels a’ richt, are ye? (With a quick gesture, she pulls the knife out of the wood and holds it, lovingly.) Aye, a knife, a richt knife, like this een, lays aathing bare, opens up a’ o’ life’s secrets, exposes every little mystery ye’ve been tryin’ to keep hidden.
This is my loon, my only son. (She starts work and keeps hard at it throughout the scene. It would be exciting if she could be gutting, but failing that she could be preparing for it – cleaning, tidying, dressing or whatever.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) Ye see? Tellt ye.
DOD Hello, Ma.
GEORGIE Aye, loon. (To audience.) He’s ca’ed Dod. Efter me. I’m Georgie. Weel, Georgina it was on my Birth Certificate, but I’ve been Georgie a’ my life. He couldna be ca’ed efter his feyther ’cos he hadna een, so he was ca’ed efter me. (To Dod.) Foo’r ye deein’?
GEORGIE An’ fit are ye seekin’ here?
DOD (very pleased with himself) I’ve got something for you.
GEORGIE Hiv ye, noo? (To audience.) It’ll be money. It’s aye money.
DOD Ye’ll be pleased.
GEORGIE (To audience.) Nae if it’s money, I winna. If only he’d bring me a real present some time, I’d be that pleased. A wee brooch or something. Jist so’s I kent he’d thocht aboot it, instead o’ takin’ the easy wye oot. (To Dod.) I will, will I?
DOD (smug) Ye will. Could ye use … a pun note? (He draws one out slowly and lays it before her. She doesn’t pay any attention.)
GEORGIE (She gives the audience a quizzical look. To them.) Fit did I say? (To Dod) I suppose I could.
DOD Or … twa? (Delighted he draws out another and smoothes it out on top of the first.) Fit div ye think o’ that, noo?
GEORGIE (unenthusiastically) Very nice.
DOD Bit nae as nice as three o’ them. (Pause.) Or fower, even? (Triumphantly he lays down two more.)
GEORGIE (taking them and hiding them away inside her clothing) Thanks, Dod. It’ll come in handy. Hoo did ye come by it?
DOD (Big wink) Dinna ask to be lee’d te, mither. Jist pit it doon tae your wee boy’s lucky charm.
GEORGIE (To audience.) ‘At means he’s been deein’ some kind of black market deal.
DOD An’ dinna spend it a’ on hoose-keepin’. Buy something for yoursel’. (Idea!) A wee brooch, maybe.
GEORGIE (Pause. She looks at the audience and raises an eyebrow at them.) Na, na. Fit wye wid I be needin’ a brooch? I niver ging oot dressed – an’ if I wore it here, ye ken fit would happen. (She bends over the guts barrel, depositing something or cleaning it.) It would drap in here amang a’ the guts, an’ never be seen again. (For a long moment she leans on the barrel, staring into its depths.) It doesna dee to think ower muckle aboot fit’s in here. The dregs o’ death. (Pause.) Teemin’ wi’ life.
(She notices Teenie who has come in and is staring at her, fearfully.)
It’s yoursel’, Teenie. Fit like, ‘e day? (To audience.) My sister’s quine.
TEENIE Hello, Auntie Georgie.
GEORGIE (To audience.) Affa quiet. Has nae idea hoo to enjoy hersel’ ava’.
DOD (turning on the charm boisterously) Michty me, if it’s nae the fair Christine. The Hedy Lamarr o’ the Broch. (He puts an arm round her.) Ye’re lookin’ affa bonnie, the day, quine. (He squeezes her and she tries, gently, to get free.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) A richt chancer, my loon.
DOD Mind you, ye’re a wee bittie peely-wally. (She turns her face away from him.) Been on the ran-dan a’ nicht, have ye? (She shakes her head.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) Fat chance o’ that. Tae Teenie, pittin’ twa spoons o’ sugar in her tea is livin’ dangerously. (To Dod.) Leave the lassie alane, Dod.
DOD I’m nae finished wi’ her yet, Ma. I’ve got something for ye, Christine.
GEORGIE (To audience.) Weel, I hope it’s nae nylons. She widna ken whether to wear them or bile them for her tea. (He pulls a small brown paper parcel out of his pocket.)
DOD (sexily into Teenie’s ear) It’s nylons. (She jumps away from him.)
TEENIE Na, oh, na. I couldna tak’ them. I ….
DOD Come on, Teenie. It’s jist a wee present fae your cousin. (Pause. She won’t take the parcel. Winningly.) Nae strings attached. (Pause.) So ye’ve to supply your ain garters. (He laughs uproariously and turns to share the joke with his mother. She smiles.) Or d’ye prefer suspenders? (He jokingly tries to lift the hem of her skirt but she pushes his hand away.) Tak’ them, lass. A’ the ither quines would gi’e their eye teeth for nylons.
GEORGIE (To audience.) That’s nae the bit o’ their anatomy they usually expect to gi’e up for nylons.
TEENIE Gi’e them to some ither quine, then, that would get the good o’ them. I wid never wear them.
GEORGIE (To audience.) I would. Because I’ve seen fit happens to quines that wear nylons. An’ I wouldna mind some o’t happenin’ to me afore it’s ower late!
DOD Ma, tell Christine it’s rude to turn doon a present.
GEORGIE If she doesna want your stockins dinna prig wi’ her. Gie them to somebody else like she says.
DOD Please yoursels. There’s nae shortage o’ bonnie lassies gled to accept sic things. I was jist trying to keep it in the family.
GEORGIE Aye, weel, mak’ sure ye pick een that’s still got her … eye teeth. (She laughs and so does Dod.)
DOD Ta, ta, Ma. Oh, I’ve jist minded. I’ve got a present for you ana’.
GEORGIE Nae nylons, I hope.
DOD Much better than nylons. I’ll drap them aff later on the day. (Exit.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) That’s Teenie a’ ower. She just couldna bear the thocht o’ it. (Mock sexily) The feel o’ the saft, saft nylon, slippin’ up her legs, clingin’ to her skin like a kiss. (She laughs and drops her sexy voice.) Onything sexy, or exciting or … or jist plain pleasurable gi’es Teenie the heebie-jeebies.
TEENIE (defensively) They would just have been wasted on me.
GEORGIE (sighing) Aye, I ken. Mair’s the peety. Ye should enjoy yoursel’ a bit mair fan you’re young, quine. ‘Cos ye’ll get damn few chances eence you’re my age. (Looks at her critically.) Dod’s richt, though. Ye are kind o’ peaky-lookin’.
TEENIE (turning away) Ah’m a’ richt, Auntie Georgie.
GEORGIE (Not believing her) If you say so. (Pause.) Gi’e Ronnie a shout, will ye?
TEENIE (thrown) Fit?
GEORGIE I’m near oot o’ fish. Tell Ronnie I’m needin’ anither kit-fu’.
TEENIE (relieved) Oh. (A little relieved laugh.) Ye’re oot o’ fish. (Glances down.) So ye are. I see. A’ richt. (Exit.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) She’s niver in the same world’s the rest o’s, yon een. I dinna ken far she keeps her brains but it’s certainly nae in her fingers. An’ that’s the wye ye lose een. Let your mind get cairriet awa’ wi’ a bonnie thocht or twa … (She looks heavenward). An’ your finger gets cairriet awa’ wi’ the guts. (She slashes down at her out-stretched fingers with her knife, over the guts barrel. She makes a “wheech” noise as she pretends to cut off a finger, tucking it out of sight and letting the audience see her hand with three-and-a-half fingers outspread while she pretends to follow the fall of her finger into the barrel with a big head movement.) So it’s best niver to think ava’. That’s my philosophy. An’ I’ve still got a my fingers. (She notices Ronnie approaching.) Ah, here’s Ronnie wi’ my fish. (She winks conspiratorially to the audience and turns her back on the approaching Ronnie, pretending not to know he is there.)
(Loudly.) Ronnie! Far’s my fish?
RONNIE Haud your weesht, Georgie. I’m richt ahin’ ye. (He is lugging a kit full of fresh fish.)
GEORGIE So you are. Foo are ye deein’, my loon?
RONNIE (sour) I’m nae your loon. An’ this is nae my job. (Indicating the kit.)
GEORGIE Dinna tell me the war’s ower? I never heard onything aboot it.
RONNIE Of coorse the war’s nae ower, an’ weel you ken it.
GEORGIE In that case, it is your job to haul the kits aboot. It’s yours for the Duration. Eence the war’s finished, an’ the laddies come back fae bein’ sodgers, then they can cairry the kits an’ you can ging back to makin’ them. So dinna gi’e me your soor face. I’m nae Mr Hitler.
RONNIE (Apologetically) Weel. (Pause.) It gets me doon, whiles. Fit’s a cooper daein’ a loon’s job for?
GEORGIE It’s your lang face that gets you doon. We a’ ha’e to pit up wi’ things we dinna like fan there’s a war on. (Teasing voice) Jist gie’s a wee smile an’ you’ll feel your hert lifted up again.
RONNIE Lift up your ain hert, Georgie, an’ leave mine alane. (He turns to walk away)
GEORGIE (changing the subject) Fit d’you think o’ Teenie? (He stops.)
RONNIE (anxiously) Fit d’you mean?
GEORGIE She’s lookin’ affa peely-wally. (A long pause. Georgie doesn’t notice. Ronnie licks dry lips before he speaks, in a strained voice.)
RONNIE Is she? I never noticed. I hardly … I hardly ever look at her. (He hurries off. Georgie looks after him, mildly surprised at his reluctance to gossip. During the following scene, Georgie remains on-stage working, but unlit. Angelica enters an area of stage representing her bedroom. She is buttoning up her blouse – to the neck. She is dressed for a night out, heavily made-up and showing a lot of leg. Her mother, Muriel, is close behind her. She is sour, prissy, held-in, disapproving.)
MURIEL Ye’re nae gan oot, lookin’ like that?
ANGELICA Weel, I hinna gin tae a this bother to bide in wi’ you.
MURIEL I’m awa’ to my Meetin’, onywye.
ANGELICA You’ll be able to pray for me, then. (She starts looking at her face in a compact mirror.)
MURIEL Dinna mak’ fun o’ me, Angelica . I will pray for you, though there’s plenty mair folk in sair need o’t. (She examines her daughter, lips pursed.) Look at a’ that stuff on your face.
ANGELICA (clearly untrue) Just a wee bittie lipstick. (Tidying her lips with a pinkie.) Abody wears it nooadays.
MURIEL Nae abody.
ANGELICA Abody that hisna given up an’ died lang ago.
MURIEL Could you nae wear anither blouse? That een’s affa …
ANGELICA It’s my only blouse, Ma.
MURIEL Fit aboot that een your Grannie gave you?
ANGELICA I’m saving it. Tae wear fan I’m 75.
MURIEL An that skirt’s faur ower short. (She tries to tug it down.)
MURIEL (giving up. Wearily) Weel, dinna be late.
ANGELICA Enjoy your Meetin’. (Muriel leaves. Angelica powders her face, examining her face in the compact with some satisfaction.)
DOD (off, in an exaggerated little old man voice) Are you there, Muriel?
ANGELICA (laughing) It’s a’ richt, Dod. She’s awa’ to her Meetin’. (She undoes a few blouse buttons.)
DOD (own voice) I ken. I watched her leavin’. (Pause.) Are you decent?
ANGELICA Nearly. (She undoes another button. He enters.)
DOD (A well-practised routine.) Hi, Angel.
ANGELICA ‘Lo, Dod. (They grin.) Noo, dinna look. I’m jist getting’ dressed. (He watches as she slowly fastens a few of the buttons, and then runs her hands down her chest, as if smoothing out the material.)
DOD Nice. (She looks at him) Nice blouse.
ANGELICA This auld thing? It’s een o’ my grannie’s.
DOD I bet she niver filled it like that.
ANGELICA (Mae West voice) You got any gum, chum? (He flips her a stick which she unwraps and pops into her mouth as she speaks.) Aren’t the Yanks jist great? Would ye nae love to bide in America? Nae rationin’; nae bombin’; a’ the chewin’ gum you want; a’ the nylons ye need.
DOD (moving in behind her and talking into her ear) You want nylons? (She turns her head to look at him, enquiringly.) Like … these? (He produces the parcel and holds it behind her head. She turns slowly to look at it.)
ANGELICA How much?
DOD (Upset that she could misinterpret him) They’re a present.
ANGELICA (Sultry, full of promise) Weel, as lang’s you’re nae lookin’ for ony favours or onything.
DOD As if I would. Fit kin’ o’ a man d’you think I am?
(Lights cross-fade to Georgie’s bench where Old Jim is approaching her. Dod and Angelica stay on, but remain in silent conversation, unlit.)
GEORGIE Weel, Jim. Foo’r ye deein’?
JIM (cheerily) Aye chavvin’ awa’, ye ken. Naething else for’t.
GEORGIE You’re richt there. Jist keep busy, eh?
JIM That’s me, a’ richt. Busy as a fat wee bumble-bee. (Pause.)
GEORGIE Fit have they got ye deein’ the day? (To audience.) He winna min’. He’s awa’ wi’ the fairies.
JIM Weel, noo, to tell the truth, I jist canna min’, at the meenit. But it’ll come back to me.
GEORGIE Micht it be something to dee wi’ your brush? (He has one on his shoulder.)
GEORGIE On your shoother.
JIM (looking at it as if he’d never seen one before) A brush. (Pause.) That’s it. I was gan to brush the fleer.
GEORGIE Aye, weel, it’s sair needin’t. (He begins to brush ineffectually around her as Chrissie enters. She is Georgie’s sister but they are not at all alike. She lacks Georgie’s humour and optimism. But each is fiercely protective of her child.)
GEORGIE You’re late.
CHRISSIE Hello, Jim.
JIM I’m just clearin’ up a bittie for you, Chrissie.
CHRISSIE Thanks, Jim. (She gets ready to work alongside Georgie.)
GEORGIE Far were ye?
CHRISSIE I’d something to dee.
CHRISSIE Ask nae questions an’ ye’ll get tellt nae lees. Far’s Teenie?
GEORGIE I sent her for mair fish hoors ago an’ she never came back.
CHRISSIE Ye never made her cairry ‘at a’ be hersel’? (Pointing at the kit.)
GEORGIE Dinna be feel, Chrissie. Ronnie brocht it.
CHRISSIE An’ she niver come back?
CHRISSIE Did you ging lookin’ for her?
GEORGIE Eh? (To audience.) Chrissie’s my sister. Noo I’m younger than her, but jist sometimes I have to come the aulder sister wi’ her. (To Chrissie. She is forceful but not angry or unpleasant. She rather enjoys it.) Chrissie. There’s three o’s in a crew. An’ fit we get paid at the end o’ the week, depends on foo much fish we’ve cleant. Sae far this mornin’, this crew has consisted o’ me, mysel’ an’ my conscience. I’ve finished ae kit an’ startet on anither. Meanwhile Teenie’s dreepin’ aboot wi’ a face that would soor milk, aboot as much eese as a nun in a brothel. An’ you ar’na even here because you’re up to some connivance that’s too secret even to tell your ain sister. So I’m deein’ a’ the wark. On my ain. A’ be masel’. But will I get a’ the siller? Like hell I will. It’ll be one third to me, an’ one third to you an’ one third to the Damsel in Distress yonder. (They work on in silence.)
CHRISSIE (after a long pause. She is not being defensive, just giving out information) I was at the chemist.
GEORGIE Oh, aye? (Pause.) Are you nae weel?
CHRISSIE I’m fine.
GEORGIE An’ Alec’s at sea.
GEORGIE Sae, the medicine’ll be for Teenie then? Dod was jist saying she looket kin’ o’ peaky.
CHRISSIE (Anxiously) Dod? Fit was he deein’ here?
GEORGIE He came by wi’ some nylons, but Teenie didna want them an’ I wasna offert them, sae he went awa’ again.
CHRISSIE He brocht nylons for Teenie?
GEORGIE Aye. It jist shows foo little he kens aboot quines. There’s nothin’ for him there.
CHRISSIE (very anxious. Almost to herself.) But he’s her cousin.
GEORGIE (misunderstanding her) Exactly. It’s nae your cousin you bring presents till, in wartime.
CHRISSIE Has he been hingin’ aboot her a lot? Ahin’ my back?
GEORGIE Nae as far as I ken.
CHRISSIE I’d better find her.
GEORGIE Och, aye. Awa’ you go. Dinna gee yoursel’ aboot helpin’ me wi’ the fish.
CHRISSIE I’ll dee my share. (Preparing to go.)
GEORGIE Fit’s wrang wi’ ‘er then?
CHRISSIE (defensive) Fit div ye mean?
GEORGIE You’ve been to the chemist to get something for her. So fit’s wrang wi’ her?
CHRISSIE (Prevaricating) She’s jist a bit run doon.
GEORGIE An’ your spendin’ good siller on a mixture for her?
CHRISSIE It’s nae a mixture. Jist a few things Ma used to get fae him. I’m gan to mak’ her up a tonic.
GEORGIE Like Ma used to mak’?
CHRISSIE (avoiding a direct answer) It only cost me threepence. I’ll find her an’ be richt back. I’ll dee my share. An’ so will Teenie. We’ll catch up. (Exit.)
GEORGIE (To audience.) I’m gled I’ve a loon. Quines are nithing but trouble. An’ I ken fit I’m speakin’ aboot, because I was een mysel’! (The lights fade back to Angelica’s. She has one of the nylons in her hands and is about to put it on.)
ANGELICA I’ll jist see fit they look like. (She puts on the nylon slowly and sexily. Dod enjoys the spectacle but it is Angelica who is getting excited.) I’m haein’ a bit o’ trouble wi’ this suspender. Could you gi’e me a han’?
DOD Nae bother. I’m a dab hand at suspenders. (He helps her clip the suspender to the stocking.) How’s that?
ANGELICA (clearly excited by having a man’s hand on her upper thigh) Great. Jist great. (She puts on the other one, again with his help, as they speak.) How did you get them?
DOD There’s a lot happens oot at sea that the government doesna ken aboot.
ANGELICA Ye get them fae fishermen?
DOD Na, na. It’s mair complicated than that. We sometimes meet up wi’ ither trawlers. Danes, maistly. But Germans, sometimes. An’ we dae a swop. Cigarettes for chocolates. That kin’ o’ thing. Some o’ the lads have bairns an’ they look for toys. The Germans aye hae toys to swop. But I ging for chocolates because back on shore you can dee great deals wi’ chocolates. An’ that’s how I got your nylons. Stockings for chocolates. (He’s a bit full of himself.) A deal here. A deal there. Till I get what I want.
ANGELICA All on the Black Market?
DOD You could say that. But it’s all legal. (Pause.) Near enough.
ANGELICA You make yourself sound like a spiv.
DOD (Cheerfully) Na. A spiv does it for a living. I dee it for …(He slips into a Hollywood accent)… lurve, baby.
ANGELICA (Thinking ahead) An’ can ye got onything that wye?
DOD Jist aboot.
ANGELICA Like coupons?
DOD Ah, noo. That’s a bit different.
DOD Getting your hands on coupons would be … like … kind o’ illegal.
ANGELICA You could get in trouble wi’ the bobbies?
DOD You could ging tae the jile.
ANGELICA ‘At’s a peety. I’m affa needin’ some new claes. But I’ve nae coupons left.
DOD I’ve got some o’ my ain. I dinna use a lot of clothing coupons. You could hae them.
ANGELICA Hoo mony?
DOD I could probably find half-a-dozen.
ANGELICA Half-a-dozen? I need 60.
DOD (shocked) Fit for?
ANGELICA (lyrically) There’s a suit I’ve seen. It’s quite military cut. Ye ken, nice shoothers, and a tight fit. (She runs her hands down her chest again.) An’ the skirt’s jist above the knee. Weel, quite far above the knee. (She pulls her skirt up quite a bit above the knee.) Oh, I’d dee onything for that suit.
DOD You could save up your ain coupons. An’ I’d gie you mine. An’ maybe your mither wold gi’e … (He sees her face.) Na, I dinna suppose your mither would want to encourage you. Nae if it’s that far above your knee.
ANGELICA I need a my coupons jist for every day. I spend them a’ as seen as their due, an’ I never hae ony left ower to save. 60 coupons would tak’ me years to save up. (Pause.) (Sexily) Is there nae wye you could get them for me, Dod?
DOD Ye dinna want me to spend the rest o’ my life in jile, do ye?
ANGELICA (If she got the coupons out of it, she wouldn’t mind) No-o-o. (Pause.) (Oozing promise.) But you’d really like to see me in that suit, Dod. You really, really would.
(The lights cross-fade back to the other side of the stage. Georgie is still at work and Jim is still sweeping. Lizzie is entering.)
LIZZIE Hard at it, Jim?
JIM I am that, Lizzie.
LIZZIE (wickedly) Och, you’ve missed a bittie, look. (He turns to sweep at the floor where she indicates.) Aye, an’ anither bittie ower here. You’re nae noticing fit you’re deein’, surely. (He turns again to sweep this new bit.) An’ here ana’, see. (This makes him turn again. All these turns have been on the spot; she is deliberately getting him dizzy.) An’ here. (He turns.) An’ here. (He turns and nearly falls.)
JIM Michty me. I’ve come ower a’ funny. (He has to lean on something to recover.)
GEORGIE Leave him alane, Lizzie.
LIZZIE I canna help masel’. I micht be nearly 70 year auld, but I still like to get a man in a tizzy. (To Jim.) Are ye a’ richt, min?
JIM Aye. Aye, I think so. (Still short of breath.)
LIZZIE Di’ ye want to hae a lie doon for a minutie? I’ll come wi’ ye.
GEORGIE D’you want to kill him aff a’ thegether, Lizzie?
LIZZIE It wouldna be the first time.
LIZZIE Mair than eence I’ve made men sae excited, they’ve near enough had a hert-attack. (She cackles wickedly.)
GEORGIE (Enjoying Lizzie’s story.) Behave yersel, wumman. You’re ower aul’ to be thinking aboot sic things.
LIZZIE But nae ower aul’ to dee them, maybe. (She cackles again as Chrissie leads in Teenie.)
CHRISSIE Get stertet richt awa’, Teenie. Ye’ve a lot to dee. (Teenie and Chrissie are getting ready for work.) Ye’ll need to work twice as hard to mak’ up for a’ the time ye’ve wasted.
GEORGIE Are you sure she’s up till’t, Chrissie? She looks affa white.
CHRISSIE (Not to be argued with) She’s fine.
GEORGIE (Not easily put off) Fit’s ailin’, ye, quine? Are you feelin’ sick?
CHRISSIE I said she’s fine, Georgie. Dinna keep her fae her work. You’re the een that was rantin’ on aboot her nae deein’ her share.
GEORGIE I was only worried aboot her.
CHRISSIE Weel, there’s nae need. I’m her mither an’ I’ll dee ony worryin’ that’s necessary. Jist you get on wi’ your work.
LIZZIE This is nae place to be if she’s got a delicate stomach. It’s the smell, ye see. It’s enough to mak’ onybody couk. (Teenie closes her eyes and holds on tight.) She micht be better aff wi’ us.
CHRISSIE I’m nae workin’ at the Toolies. No thank you.
GEORGIE So that’s that, Lizzie. Chrissie’s bidin’ here at the fish. So Teenie an’ I have to bide ana’. Ye canna brak up a crew.
LIZZIE I didna like the idea masel’, at first. I’ve been at the fish mair than 50 year. But noo that we’re there, I can see there’s a lot to be said for’t. (Pause.) Nae smell, for a stert.
GEORGIE (To audience.) Lizzie maks Spitfires noo instead o’ guttin’ herrin’. It was her dochter’s idea, of coorse. The stuck-up bitch never did like workin’ here, sae she jumpet at the chance to move to The Toolies. It pleased Angelica tae, of coorse. (Pause.) Mair men. (Pause.) An’ nae smell o’ fish. Sae aff they went, the three o’ them, to mak’ wee bitties o’ aeroplanes. Stuck-up mither, tarty dochter; and tarty grannie. (To Lizzie.) Fit d’ye mean, nae smell? (She sniffs loudly in Lizzie’s direction.) Ile! Fool stuff. An’ look at your hands wi’ it. Na, na, gie me the honest smell o’ fish guts ony day. (She grins and has another huge sniff – over the guts barrel. Teenie gives a little gasp and hurries off.)
LIZZIE Ye see? She hasna got the stomach for’t.
CHRISSIE I’ve gi’en her something. It’ll settle her.
GEORGIE Een o’ Ma’s recipes?
LIZZIE She was a dab hand at the medicine, your mither. Saved my bacon mony a time. (She cackles wickedly.)
CHRISSIE (coldly) Should you nae be at your work, Lizzie?
LIZZIE Late shift, this week.
GEORGIE So fit are you deein’ here, haudin’ us up?
LIZZIE I jist thocht I’d pop in by to see how you’re a’ deein’. Jist for aul’ time’s sake, ye ken. (Change of mood. Almost to herself.) I div miss it, ye ken. Maist o’ my frien’s are aye here. (She picks up Georgie’s knife from the bench.) It’s like a livin’ thing, a knife. It becomes part o’ ye, part o’ your han’. (She gently moves the knife in her hand.) Noo, I’m using a great muckle machine to stamp oot bitties o’ metal the size o’ a shirt button. They tell me it’s an important part o’ a fuel pump or some sic nonsense. But I dinna ken. It disna speak to you the wye a good knife does. (Reluctantly she lays the knife down again and pulls herself together a little bit.) An’ ye dinna get the same chance to news wi’ folk, at the Toolies. Ye jist widna believe the noise thon machines mak’. It’s enough to keep your heid dirlin’ a’ day lang. So spikin’s jist oot o’ the question. It mak’s it kind o’ lonely.
GEORGIE You’ll tak’ ill wi’t, Lizzie, nae being able to speak.
LIZZIE (back to her usual wicked self) Maybe, but it’s worth it to get awa’ fae the smell o’ fish! And it’s steady pey. Nae sittin’ at hame wi’ your han’s under your doup, waitin’ for the cry that there’s a boat in.
(Enter Ronnie, somewhat agitated.)
RONNIE Oh, Chrissie. (He tries to speak confidentially) Violet’s jist tellt me that Teenie’s in the lavvy, bein’ affa sick.
CHRISSIE (calmly) An’ fit business is it o’ Violet’s? Is she the quine’s mither?
RONNIE Do you want to tak’ her hame?
CHRISSIE (Patiently) She’s a wee bittie run-doon. I’ve gi’en her something for’t an’ she’ll be as richt as rain in a wee whilie. Noo would abody jist forget aboot Teenie an’ get on wi’ their work? (Enter Teenie. She looks awful, but goes quietly to her workplace.)
RONNIE (genuinely sympathetic) Are you feelin’ better, Teenie?
TEENIE I’m a’ richt.
GEORGIE Ronnie says ye were bein’ sick in the lavvy.
TEENIE (embarrassed) Hoo did … ?
RONNIE (quickly) Violet tellt me.
CHRISSIE Ye were actually sick?
CHRISSIE Onything else?
TEENIE (puzzled) No. (Chrissie goes to Teenie and leads her a little away from the others.)
CHRISSIE You’d better tak’ some mair o’ this. (She pulls a small bottle from a pocket.)
TEENIE (in disgust) Oh, Ma.
CHRISSIE You’ll jist ha’e to thole the taste. Get it doon ye. (She hands her the bottle.) A good big scoof, noo. (Reluctantly, Teenie takes a drink.) A drappie mair. (Teenie closes her eyes and drinks some more, almost gagging on it.) An’ keep it doon this time. It’ll dee you nae good, if you spew it a’ up. (Teenie swallows hard and returns the bottle.)
RONNIE (to Georgie) Is that een o’ your Ma’s medicines?
RONNIE Abody says they were really good. I’ve got a bit o’ a cald comin’ mysel’. Could I ask Chrissie for a wee drappie o’t?
GEORGIE I wouldna. I jist dinna think it would dee you ony good, Ronnie.
RONNIE Fit wye no?
GEORGIE Trust me, Ronnie. Trust me.
(The lights cross-fade to Angelica’s. It is several days after the last Angelica scene. She is in her working clothes, though still heavily made up. Dod is also in the scene, looking very pleased with himself.)
ANGELICA You’re lookin’ affa pleased wi’ yoursel’.
DOD I am, and wi’ good reason. An’ I think you’ll be “affa pleased” wi’ me, ana’.
ANGELICA Fit have ye deen? Captured a German spy? (American accent) Armed with nothing but his Mother’s trusty bread knife.
DOD Mine fit we were speakin’ aboot the ither day? An’ it wisna German spies, I can tell you.
ANGELICA (excited) You’ve got me some Clothing Coupons?
DOD Nearly. I ken a bloke that can get me some. (She throws her arms round him and gives him a kiss.)
ANGELICA Oh, thank you.
DOD It’s risky, min’. In fact, I’m takin’ a helluva risk. (Oily grin.) But for you, it’s worth it, Angelica.
ANGELICA (Sexily) I’ll need to think o’ some wye to mak’ it up to you.
DOD That shouldna be too difficult.
ANGELICA Fan will ye get the coupons?
DOD It micht tak’ a day or twa.
ANGELICA (disappointed) Aw.
DOD Weel, I’ve to get to Aiberdeen for them.
MURIEL (entering. She too has changed into work clothes.) You’ve to get to Aiberdeen for what? (She looks from one to the other, aware of the excitement in the air.) You two are up to something. What is it, Angelica?
ANGELICA Nothing, Ma. Dod jist offered to get something for me … (She tails away, unable to think of a reasonable excuse.)
MURIEL Not Black Market stuff, I hope.
ANGELICA ( Unconvincingly) No.
DOD (deeply insulted) Certainly not, Mrs Reid. I wouldn’t touch anything like that. (Muriel sniffs.) I dinna deny that I sometimes get a wee chance o’ things aff the ration, but it’s a’ legal an’ above-board. I swop my surplus for somebody else’s surplus and we’re a’ happy.
MURIEL (sourly, to Angelica ) So what is it? (Angelica is at a loss.) What has he got you?
DOD (smoothly taking over) Actually, it’s not for Angelica . (To Angelica ) Is it, Angel?
ANGELICA (wide-eyed in puzzlement) Er … no.
DOD (moving in on Muriel with all his charm laid on) I ken you wanted to keep this a secret, Angel, but noo that your mither has caught us oot, I think we’d better just own up, eh?
ANGELICA (near panic) No, no. We canna.
DOD You see, Mrs Reid. It’s a wee surprise. (Pause.) For you.
ANGELICA (puzzled but relieved) For Ma?
DOD For “Ma”. (He gives Muriel his most winning smile.)
MURIEL For me?
DOD Something you’ve been longing for. (He turns to Angelica, behind Muriel’s back and urgently mimes asking for a suggestion.)
MURIEL I canna think fit it could be. (Nor can Dod or Angelica. Long pause as all three try desperately to think of something.) Fae Aiberdeen. (She knows!) Oh, I ken. My tracts! Oh, Angelica. My wee angel. Fancy you thinking o’ that. That’s really nice o’ you. (Formally) Thank you, Dod. You’re a real gentleman. Dinna be lang, Angelica . The horn’ll blaw in a couple o’ minutes. (Exit. The other two are flabbergasted.)
DOD Her fit?
ANGELICA Her tracts. (She is still puzzled though less so than Dod.) She used to get tracts fae Aiberdeen for her church meetings. She would ging roon the hooses, shovin’ them through folk’s letter boxes. It must be that.
DOD I’m gan to Aiberdeen to collect religious tracts for your mother? I dinna believe this.
ANGELICA (working it out) But it’s a good idea. It couldna be better. It gi’es you an excuse. She’ll never suspect that you’re really gan in for the coupons. An’ she’ll be so excited aboot her tracts, she’ll nae pay ony attention to us. She’ll leave me up to my ain devices in the evenings while she gings oot stuffing bitties o’ paper into letter-boxes. (Disingenuously) I’ll be left a’ on my ain.
DOD That’s fit you think. (They move into a clinch as the lights fade. On the other side, Georgie, Chrissie and Teenie are at work; Lizzie is sitting comfortably on a box or barrel, talking. The others aren’t really listening. They’ve heard it all a hundred times.)
LIZZIE I winner foo mony boats are working the herrin’, noo? Gey few, I’m thinking. But fan I stertet in amongst the fish, they said there was 10,000 boats. Fan they were a’ in port for New Year you could walk fae one side o’ the harbour to the ither ower them. Fit a sicht ‘at was. Thoosan’s an’ thoosan’s o’ fishermen. Fit times we had followin’ them. We stertet on the West Coast, ye ken. (Georgie and Chrissie, without looking at her, softly speak along with her, they know it so well.)
LIZZIE, GEORGIE, and CHRISSIE Syne we’d work wir wye up to Caithness and then doon the east coast till the season ended at Yarmouth. (The other two shake their heads to each other and stop listening.)
LIZZIE I’ve aye got my kist at hame. It wis a great to-do getting’ ready for the season, packin’ your kist wi’ a’thing ye’d need. Claes, o’ coorse, for working but something a bit bonnier tae, jist in case there was a dance got up for us somewye. But the beddin’ – that filled up maist o’ the kist, wi’ jist a wee corner here an’ there for your ain things. Pen an’ ink, for instance. Ye had to write hame to your ma an’ da regular. Unless your Ma was on the crew, o’ coorse. Then it would likely be your Granny you had to write till – baith o’ ye, your Ma as weel. Then you nought hae your sewing things for mending your claes, and a puckly bandages for your fingers.
Some quines had a moothie in their kist, or even a banjo. I kent een that had an accordian that went awye wi’ her. I aye tried to get aside her on the train, in the same carriage, because ye could aye be sure o’ a sing-song there. That was rare for whilin’ awa’ the time. Cath Fraser her name was, her wi’ th’ accordian. Lost her thoomb in Berwick one year. Got a bone under the nail and niver got it richt seen till. So it went poisoned, and in the end they had to tak’ it aff for her. Of coorse, we a’ thocht that was the end of her playin’ days. But devil the bit o’t. Next season, fan we climbed on to the train, there she was, twiddlin’ awa’ for a’ she was worth.
The Bonnie Lass o’ Fyvie, that was her favourite. You’ve heard nothing, till you’ve heard 50 fisher quines singing that, at the taps o’ their voices. (She might sing a verse or two here, unaccompanied, in which case the others would listen and enjoy it.)
There was a troop o' Irish Dragoons cam marchin’ up through Fyvie O’.
And the Captain's fa’en in love wi a verra bonnie lass,
And her name it is ca’d pretty Peggy O’.
Now there’s mony a bonnie lass in the Howe O’ Auchterless,
There’s mony a bonnie lass in the Garrioch O.
There’s mony a bonnie Jean in the toon o’ Aiberdeen,
Bit the floor o’ them a’ is in Fyvie O !
Come doon the stair, pretty Peggy my dear,
Come doon the stair, pretty Peggy O,
Come doon the stair, bind up yer yellow hair,
Tak a last fareweel o’ your Mammy O !
Of coorse, we had oor ain wordies for’t, ana’. (She cackles.) Some o’ the quines were affa clever at makin’ up richt dirty words tae the tunes. My dochter Muriel used to hing her heid oot the window, so’s she widna hear them. (More cackles. Ronnie enters with an enamel mug in his hand.)
RONNIE Fit like noo, Teenie? Ony better?
TEENIE I’m a’ richt.
RONNIE I’ve brocht ye a wee cuppie o’ tea. It’ll help settle you. (She takes it, with a shy smile. He settles down beside her.)
GEORGIE Oh. Oh, me. I’ve come ower affa funny. I think I micht be sick, if I dinna get a cuppie o’ tea.
RONNIE (entering into the spirit of it) Is that richt, Georgie? Weel, ye ken far the kettlie is. (To Teenie.) Come on, noo. Tak’ a sip. I made it rare an’ sweet. (She sips.) That’s better. (Pause.) Div you often tak’ these turns?
TEENIE (like a frightened rabbit) No. Never afore.
RONNIE You younger lassies jist dinna get enough fresh air. It’s nae good for you, bein’ stuck in here a’ day, wi’ naething bit the smell o’ fish.
TEENIE (She puts her hand to her mouth with a little moan) Ooh.
RONNIE I’m sorry, Teenie. I shouldna’ve mentioned the smell. Here’s me trying to look after ye, and I’m jist makin’ things waur.
CHRISSIE Tryin’ to look efter her? It seems the lassie’s got hersel’ twa mothers, noo.
RONNIE (earnestly) Na, na, Chrissie. I’m nae tryin’ to tak’ your place. You’re a grand mither to Teenie, we a’ ken that. But I had a bittie o’ time on my han’s an’ I thocht I’d jist bring her something …
GEORGIE If ye’ve a’ that time on your hand’s, Ronnie, you could bring us anither kit.
RONNIE Anither een? Ye’re getting’ on great. (To Teenie.) Dinna try to dee ower muckle, though, lass. Pace yoursel’. An’ tak’ a’ the time ye need to finish your tea.
TEENIE Thank you, Ronnie. It’s very nice. (He pats her on the shoulder and gives her a warm smile. She sips her tea.)
RONNIE I’ll get your fish, Georgie. (He goes.)
GEORGIE (Imitating him) “Tak’ a’ the time you need”. (To audience.) Do you ever get the feelin’ there’s something gan on that you dinna understand? Noo, dinna get me wrang. Ronnie’s a fine chiel. But he must be a’ o’ 45 an’ never looket at a lassie. He bade wi’ his mither till she died a couple o’ year ago an’ some folk wi’ a coorse tongue in their heids micht have ca’ed him a sweetie wife. But noo look at him – a’ dewy-eyed ower the heids o’ oor Teenie. Practically coortin’ a lassie nae half his age. Nae a third o’ his age. Of coorse, tea in an enamel mug is nae exactly a bunch o’ reed roses, but a’ the same. It looks to me as if he’s comin’ oot o’ his buckie at last. It’s maybe the effects o’ the war.
(Enter Jim, carrying a box.)
An’ here’s anither een. He’ll be proposing to Aul’ Lizzie afore we ken far we are. (To Jim.) If you’re here lookin’ for a wumman, Jim, Lizzie’ll maybe tak ye on.
LIZZIE (jumping up) I will that. Come on, loon, I’ll meet you roon the back o’ the ice sheddie.
JIM Oh, hello, Lizzie. No, I canna come iv noo. I have to deliver this parcel first.
LIZZIE Fa’s it for? (He stares at her for a long moment, struggling.)
JIM I canna min’.
GEORGIE A rare postie you’d mak’.
CHRISSIE (patiently) Div you min’ fa’ brocht the parcel, Jim?
JIM (in an agony of embarrassment) I dinna ken fit’s wrang wi’ me these days. I jist canna seem to min’ onything.
GEORGIE It’s ca’ed aul’ age, Jim. Naething that death winna cure.
JIM Oh, I’m nae dottled. I can aye dee my mental arithmetic. Try me. Gie’sd a sum to dee.
CHRISSIE Nae jist noo, Jim. We’re busy.
JIM Seven threes. 21. Echt fours. 32. Nine eights, ‘at was aye a hard een. Nine eights … er … 72. Ye see? Nae sign o’ dottlement there. Can you recite the alphabet backwards, Georgie?
GEORGIE I’m nae sure I can recite it forrard these days, Jim. There jist doesna seem to be muckle call for it.
JIM I can. I’ve been able to dee’t ever since I was seven year aul’. ZYXW…
GEORGIE Thank you, Jim.
JIM No, but listen. I can dee it. ZYXW…
GEORGIE Jim! Shut up.
JIM (Hurt) I jist wanted to show you I wasna dottled.
GEORGIE You’re driving us a’ dottled wi’ your nonsense. Fit’s the eese o’ kennin’ the alphabet backwards? Fa needs it?
LIZZIE (coming to the aid of her generation) It mak’s it easier to find your wye aboot in a dictionary.
GEORGIE (looking at her with enormous incredulity) It mak’s it easier to find your wye aboot in a dictionary? Oh, aye. Mony’s the happy hoor I spend, lost in a dictionary fan I get hame fae this place.
JIM (determined not to be interrupted this time) V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A!
GEORGIE Well done, Jim. We a’ feel the better o’ that. (Shouting) Noo, will you please try to min’ fa the parcel is for.
JIM (The shock stirs his memory and he responds triumphantly) It’s for you. Your son Dod brocht it. (He hands it to her, turns with great dignity and stalks towards the exit.)
GEORGIE Oh, Jim.
JIM (turning back, smugly, expecting praise or an apology) Yes, Georgie?
GEORGIE You missed oot the letter ‘P’.
JIM I never did. (Pause.) Did I? (Shattered) Did I really? (He goes off, muttering) Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A!
CHRISSIE That wisna very nice, Georgie.
LIZZIE In fact, it was jist coorse.
GEORGIE Aye, aye. But look at fit I’ve got. Dod said he had a present for me. Better than nylons.
CHRISSIE Black market?
GEORGIE Probably. Or something he’s got aff a foreign boat oot at sea, mair likely. (She takes off the crumpled brown paper wrapping.) This paper’s seen better days.
LIZZIE Ye canna waste good paper during a war. (They are all, even Teenie, gathering round as she removes the wrapping and opens a cardboard box.)
GEORGIE (awed) Look at that. Tangerines. I hinna seen a tangerine for fower year or mair. (The rest are very impressed. Reverently, Georgie lifts out a tangerine, wrapped in its soft orange tissue paper.) Tae think that there’s still somewye in the world far you can aye buy tangerines wrapped in tissue paper. Here you are, Teenie. See fit this does for you. (She unwraps the tangerine and hands it to Teenie.)
TEENIE I’ll jist haud it for a minute. I couldna tak’ it fae ye, though.
GEORGIE Of course ye can. (She is smoothing out the tissue paper on the bench.) Eat it and enjoy it. But min’ an’ tak’ the skin aff first. (She gets another.) Chrissie, you’d better hae een as weel. (Every time she hands over a tangerine, she removes the paper and adds it to her pile.) Lizzie. It’ll likely be the last een you’ll ever taste. An’ here, tak twa for Muriel and Angelica as weel. That leaves one. Fa will I gie it till? Jim, because I was naisty to him. Or Ronnie, because he brocht oor Teenie a cup o’ tea?
LIZZIE ‘At’s your een.
GEORGIE Na, na. I’m nae needin’ een.
LIZZIE Weel, I’ll share mine wi’ Muriel and you hae this een back.
GEORGIE Richt. Een for Ronnie. (She hands it to Teenie.) And een for Jim. (She hands it to Chrissie.)
CHRISSIE Fit aboot yersel’? You used to like tangerines.
GEORGIE Aye. But there’s something I like mair. (She is smoothing out her pile of six tissue sheets lovingly.) For the first time in fower year, you can gie your stomachs a treat. But I’ve got a treat for my erse! (She waves her tissue papers in triumph. They laugh.)
LIZZIE Thank you, Georgie. I’ll tak’ these hame. (She goes, clutching her two tangerines.)
TEENIE Can I ging and gie Ronnie his, Ma?
CHRISSIE Oh, a’ richt. But hurry up. An’ tak’ this een to Jim, on your wye. (Teenie goes, with her three tangerines.) You’re nae wise. You could have kept them a’, an’ naebody would have thocht ony the less o’ you. (She sits comfortably and starts to peel her tangerine.)
GEORGIE I feel selfish enough jist keeping a’ the paper to mysel’. (There is a silence as Chrissie peels the fruit.) ‘At’s a richt fine smell, ‘at. (Sighs) It tak’s ye back.
CHRISSIE D’you min’ getting’ een in oor stockin’s?
GEORGIE Aye. Richt doon in the tae. Aye the last thing ye got to.
CHRISSIE But you would rummle aroon’ in’t, stracht awa’, to get at your tangerine. You were aye mair interested in that than the wee toys.
GEORGIE Bit you saved yours for days.
CHRISSIE Aye. Enjoyin’ lookin’ forrard to enjoyin’ it.
GEORGIE Aye, but you usually kept it sae lang it was rotten afore you got tull’t.
CHRISSIE (ruefully) ‘At’s me a’ ower. Save it for the future; look forrard to the day fan I’d be able to enjoy it to the full. (Long pause.) An’ it a’ turns rotten in your han’s. (Another long pause. She is thinking of Teenie and the whole of her life. Georgie looks at her sympathetically but dare not speak. Chrissie pulls herself together.) But you mak’ a dive at it wi’ baith han’s and gobble it up. Then fan it’s deen, it’s deen an’ you niver gie’t anither thocht. (Pause. She gives herself a metaphorical shake and forces herself to become ‘normal’.) But look at you noo: you hinna even had a bite o’ een o’ Dod’s. (Pause. Chrissie carefully separates off a section of tangerine and holds it out to Georgie.) Go on.
GEORGIE Na. (Pause.) Na, you enjoy it. (A beat.) A’ richt, then. (She takes it and munches slowly, savouring it.) Nae bad. (Chrissie offers another and she takes it without demur. They share the rest of it, slowly, piece by piece, over the rest of the scene. Georgie cheerfully spits her seeds towards the guts barrel, not caring if she misses. Chrissie carefully slides hers out of her mouth into her hand where she keeps them till the end of the scene.)
That’s a funny business wi’ the cooper.
CHRISSIE Bringin’ her the cup o’ tea?
GEORGIE Aye. I’ve never kent him dee onything like ‘at afore.
CHRISSIE He’s a’ richt, Ronnie. He does care aboot folk.
GEORGIE An’ especially aboot Teenie?
CHRISSIE (non-committal) Maybe.
GEORGIE He’s gey aul’ for her.
CHRISSIE Aye. (Pause.) Ach, it mightna come to onything.
GEORGIE Bit if it did. Foo would ye feel? (Chrissie shrugs.) A son-in-law aul’er than yoursel’? The cooper ca’in’ ye “Ma”? Folk would think it was affa queer.
CHRISSIE (bursting out) Folk can think fit they like. (Looking at Georgie.) It’s naething to dee wi’ onybody but Teenie an’ him.
GEORGIE (unabashed) You mean – keep my nose oot o’t? (Pause. Chrissie doesn’t respond.) She is my niece efter’n’a’. I wouldna want to see her tak’ a wrang turnin’ at her age. (Pause. Chrissie is avoiding her eye.) Thirty year’s an affa big gap.
CHRISSIE (softly) I ken. (Pause.) But it’s maybe fit Teenie needs. A young loon takin’ her aff to the dancin’ or the pictures – ‘at’s nae eese to Teenie. She needs somebody to look efter her.
GEORGIE She’s got you. And her faither.
CHRISSIE Fan’s Alec ever at hame? Even fan there’s nae war on, he’s at sea a’ the time. She hardly kens him. But Ronnie she sees every day; it’s natural for her to turn to him, maybe, fan she’s in trouble. (Her voice trails away.)
GEORGIE An’ is she?
CHRISSIE Is she fit?
GEORGIE In trouble.
CHRISSIE Na, na. She’s fine noo.
GEORGIE I jist wondered. (Pause.) That stuff o’ Ma’s had a good reputation.
CHRISSIE (doggedly) Jist the thing for the flu.
GEORGIE (Drily) The flu? Aye. (Pause.) Onywye, fit are you gan to dee aboot Ronnie?
CHRISSIE Naething. Jist wait an’ see. (Pause.) It’s up to them, really. (They have finished the tangerine. Chrissie carefully folds up the peel and puts it in her pocket as she speaks.) I’ll keep this an’ dry it on the window-sill. It’ll come in handy for bakin’.
(Dod comes racing in.)
DOD Did you get your present, Ma?
GEORGIE I did.
DOD Have you saved een for me?
GEORGIE Nuh. They’re a’ deen.
DOD (admiringly) Ye greedy hunger. Ye’ve eaten them a’ already?
CHRISSIE She shared them wi’s a’.
DOD (Pretending to be disappointed) Oh, did she? But forgot a’ aboot her wee loon? That risked his life to pinch them for her fae the Germans? I’ll need to pey ye back for that. (He stands by the guts barrel.) That’s a fine full barrel o’ guts ye’ve got here.
GEORGIE Get awa’ fae that, Dod.
DOD Noo if I just took a wee handfu’ … (He grabs a handful of guts from the barrel. Georgie and Chrissie rise in alarm.)
GEORGIE (Serious) Dinna you dare, my loon.
DOD … and drappet them in amang your cleaner fish … (He dips his hand out of sight into the barrel of filleted fish. Georgie screams and makes for him, grabbing her knife as she does.)
GEORGIE Ye wee toerag.
DOD Jist jokin’! (He raises his hand to show he still has the guts in it. He throws them back into the guts barrel and wipes his fingers on a hanky.) I fooled ye, though, didn’t I?
GEORGIE (now enjoying the joke) Ye coorse wee limmer. My hert near stoppet, there. ‘At would have been hoors o’ work wasted.
DOD I ken. I’m nae feel. But I jist canna help actin’ the goat. It’s the wye I was brocht up. (He gives his mother a good hard slap on the backside and goes. She screams – but is delighted with him. He can do no wrong in her eyes. Chrissie is not amused.)
GEORGIE (Laughing. Proud.) The wee devil! I’ve a good mind to tan his hide for him.
CHRISSIE (sour) You michtna find that sae easy these days.
GEORGIE (cheerful) But I’d hae a damn good try!
(Cross to Muriel’s house. The three women are sitting: Lizzie is knitting; Muriel is mending; Angelica is painting her nails. It is late evening and they are dressed for relaxing at home.)
ANGELICA There’s hardly onything left in this bottle. An’ I dinna ken far I’ll ever get anither een.
MURIEL I’m gled to hear it. You mak’ yoursel’ look richt cheap wi’ a’ that nail varnish.
ANGELICA The Queen uses it.
MURIEL I dinna believe ye.
ANGELICA Weel, maybe nae the Queen, but Princess Elizabeth does.
LIZZIE I thocht she was driving an ambulance in the war. Ye wouldna think she’d get awa’ wi’ wearin’ nail varnish for that, would ye?
ANGELICA Weel, I bet Princess Margaret Rose does. She’s real modren. Smokes, an’ a’thing.
LIZZIE G’wa, she’s only a quinie.
MURIEL She’d be aboot 13, I would think. I dinna see her fayther lettin’ her smoke at that age.
ANGELICA Weel, Dod says that she does. Woodbines.
MURIEL Ach, Dod. He’ll say onything to get his ain wye. I suppose he was trying to sell you some.
ANGELICA (smugly) No. Dod doesna sell me things. He jist gi’es me presents.
LIZZIE (wickedly) Fit div ye dee for him in return, though, eh?
ANGELICA You should be grateful to him, ma. He’s gaun to Aiberdeen for your tracts, min’.
MURIEL I’ll believe it fan I see them.
CHRISSIE He’s gaun a’ the wye tae Aiberdeen to get something for you, Muriel? You’d better watch yoursel’. It’s maybe you he’s efter, an’ nae the quine ava’.
MURIEL (firmly changing the subject) ‘At’s that skirt sewn up again. (She passes it to Angelica .) I dinna ken fit you dee to burst the seam sae often. (Lizzie cackles to herself.) Mither! And I’ve let the hem doon.
ANGELICA (looking at it) Oh, Ma!
MURIEL There wasna muckle o’ it, but I’ve ta’en doon as much as I can.
ANGELICA Ma, you’ll mak’ me look a richt frump.
MURIEL Better a frump than a tart. (Lizzie cackles.)
ANGELICA Oh, Ma. (Putting it behind her and turning on the charm.) Actually, Ma, seein’ fitna neat job you’ve done there, reminds me. There was something I was gan to ask you to dee for me.
MURIEL (sour) Fit was it?
ANGELICA Ye min’ thon aul’ evenin’ frock o’ grannie’s?
MURIEL (suspicious) Fit aboot it?
ANGELICA Could you maybe tak’ it in tae fit me?
MURIEL You’d need to ask your Grannie if you can hae it, first.
LIZZIE I’ve offered it often enough afore. But she’s aye said it was ower aul-farant for her.
MURIEL Fit are ye needin’t for? Are you gan to a dance or something?
ANGELICA I couldna wear that to a dance! Grannie says hersel’ it’s ower aul-fashioned. I widna be seen deid in’t at a dance.
LIZZIE So fit are you gan to be seen deid at?
ANGELICA (bursting with pride) I’m gan to be the Gala Queen.
MURIEL (disapproving) You are not.
LIZZIE Good for you, quine.
ANGELICA It’s the first time onybody fae the Toolies has been chosen.
MURIEL Nae dochter o’ mine’s gan traipsing through the streets, dolled up to the nines, an’ abody lookin’ at her.
ANGELICA It’s perfectly respectable, Ma. It’s to raise funds for the war. Wings for Victory. I’ll be deein’ my bit for the war effort.
LIZZIE I did my bit for the sodgers in the Last War, ana’.
MURIEL It canna be respectable to hae men oglin’ ye in the street.
ANGELICA (getting tearful) You should be prood o’ me, Ma. Nae makin’ a fuss.
MURIEL I winted to be prood o’ ye. We were prood o’ ye fan ye were wee. We ca’ed you Angelica because your feyther said, the first time he saw ye, that ye looked like an angel. An’ we thocht that’s the wye you were gan to turn oot. But look at ye – your blouse is open far enough to show your belly button an’ your skirts hardly cover your bloomers.
ANGELICA (angry) Neen o’ that mak’s me a hoor, ye ken.
MURIEL You watch your language, my girl. We didna learn words like that in this hoose. (Lizzie sniggers.) Unless it was fae your grannie.
ANGELICA Weel, it’s just modern fashion. Abody wears claes like this. It doesna mean we’ve got loose morals, does it, Grannie?
LIZZIE Oor skirts covered wir ankles fan I was young. But it didna turn us a’ into nuns.
ANGELICA So, will you dee it, Ma? Will you sew the frock for me? Then you can stan’ in the crowd an’ see me lookin’ like a Queen, an’ think tae yersel’ – that’s my lassie, and I sewed that frock for her.
MURIEL (melting) Weel. I’ll hae to see fit time I’ve got. I dinna ken far it is onywye.
LIZZIE It’s in my kist, wi’ a’ my ither bonnie things.
MURIEL As lang’s the moths ha’ena got till’t, then. We’ll haul’t oot at the weekend an’ see fit’s fit. (Angelica and Lizzie exchange nods of satisfaction as Muriel gathers up her sewing things and prepares to go.) Dinna be ower late gan to bed.
ANGELICA Jist comin’, Ma. Good night.
MURIEL Good night, mither. (Muriel goes. There is no exchange of goodnight kisses or any soppy nonsense of that sort.)
LIZZIE Aye. (Pause.) Fit’s adee?
ANGELICA Naething. (Pause.)
LIZZIE Fit is’t? You can tell me.
ANGELICA (sharply) I tellt ye, there’s naething wrang wi’ me.
LIZZIE Your mither’s easy fooled. But I’m nae. (She knits on, happily.)
ANGELICA (sighing) I ken.
LIZZIE Is it Dod?
ANGELICA (a hint of coyness) Maybe.
LIZZIE (calmly) He hisna got you into trouble, has he?
ANGELICA (a bit shocked by her openness) Granny! (Pause. Then she gives a little bitter laugh.) Fat chance.
LIZZIE He hasna had his wye wi’ ye yet, then. Good quine.
ANGELICA (Miserably) Aye. (A pause. Then she bursts out) It’s nae easy, ye ken, Granny.
LIZZIE Ye mean he’s aye priggin’ wi’ ye to …
ANGELICA No. Nae often. (Pause.) It’s me! I sometimes wish he would try harder. I wish he would jist throw me doon on the grun’, an’ … Och, Granny, is there something wrang wi’ me?
LIZZIE Michty me, no. Every quine o’ your age feels the same wye. Jist dinna tell your mither or she’ll tie you to the kitchen sink wi’ the cla’es rope an’ never let you see the loon again.
ANGELICA (Relieved. Gives a little laugh) She would ana’. It jist disna seem fair, though. Every time he gings to sea, I think he could be brocht hame droont ony day. An’ I’d never ken fit it’s like.
LIZZIE (complacently) There’d be ither loons.
ANGELICA (she knows that) But I could be killt in a raid. Look at a’ that folk killed at the Commerce Bar. Mair than 30 o’ them. Fit if it happned to me? The Gerries must ken that the Toolies is daein’ war work. They could bomb it fan we’re there. An’ I’d be deid - without ever haein’ a chance to enjoy masel’…
LIZZIE Aye, it’s maybe harder for you young lassies the day than it was for us – an’ that was bad enough. (She stops knitting in order to look straight at Angelica .) But you canna tak’ the risk, Angelica . If you eence let a man touch you, your reputation’s finished. Nae decent man will ever mairry ye. Look at Dod’s mother. Folk still speak o’ her as a loose woman. She only ever had the one man, as far’s I ken, but he never mairriet her an’ ‘at’s fit wye maist folk’ll ha’e naethin’ to dee wi’ her, and it’s fit wye your mither doesna think Dod would mak’ you a decent man.
Ye jist need to get cairriet awa’ at the wrang time; ye fa’ pregnant and you’re done for. You’re mither would ha’e naething mair to dee wi’ you, and neen o’ the toon folk would speak to you. Except me. An’ maybe Georgie because she kens fit it’s like. But even if you didna get pregnant, folk would fin’ oot.
Oh, Dod would promise nae to tell onybody. But he’s a man. They canna keep it to themsel’s. They have to boast aboot it. Sae, he’d tell his best frien’. In confidence, mind you. Sweer him to secrecy, an’ a’thing. But next mornin’ you’d be the spik o’ the Broch. By the weekend they’d ken o’t in Peterheid and by the following month, they’d be makin’ fool jokes in Aiberdeen aboot the Angel fae Fraserburgh wi’ a devil in her knickers. (Even Angelica is shocked by this picture.) It’s nae worth it.
ANGELICA (complaining) So you wait till you’re mairriet an’ then you dee it wi’ your man. An’ ye never ken fit it would be like wi’ onybody else. If they dee it different, or better or … or mair often!
LIZZIE (resuming her knitting) I never said curiosity was a bad thing. An’ variety’s the spice o’ life, they say. A’ I meant was – sit on’ till you’re mairriet, and then you can ha’e as mony men as you like.
ANGELICA Fit d’you mean?
LIZZIE Efter you're mairriet, if you're careful, you can ha'e as mony men as you like. (She cackles.) Ye still have to watch oot, of coorse, so as nae to hairm your reputation. But aye choose mairriet men - they have as much to lose as you have, so they'll keep quiet. But nae boasters an' nae drunks. A hen-pecked man's the best: he'll be 'at feart his wife finds oot he winna breathe a word to a soul.
ANGELICA (Lost in admiration) Oh, Granny. Fit are you like!
LIZZIE (pleased) An' nae men wi' reed hair. It's too obvious if you happen to ha'e a baby.
ANGELICA (enjoying her wickedness) Nae black men, either, then, Granny?
LIZZIE Mercy, no. Ye'd never explain awa' a khaki bairn. (Pause.) A peety, though. I've aye fancied a blackman, mysel'. Folk say they're affa good at it. (Both laugh wickedly.)
ANGELICA An' a' this advice I'm gettin'? It's a based on personal experience, is it? (Lizzie grins, very pleased with herself.)
LIZZIE Weel, jist say, I'm nae too sure fa your mither's faither was.(Complacently) I'd three-fower men roon me at the time. I ken Granda was awa' at sea at the time I fell pregnant wi’ your mither, but he’d nae wye o’ kennin’ that, o’ coorse. He cooldna coont up to nine efter he lost the fingers on his left han’. Sae he was neen the wiser. In fact, he was aye tellin’ folk that your mither had his nose! (She laughs. The air raid siren wails out. They get up. Lights come up also in the other side of the stage. For the first time, the full stage is lit. All the fish workers gather around Georgie.)
ANGELICA Nae again. Are you gan to the shelter, Grannie?
LIZZIE I’m gan to my bed. If the Gerries want to get me, they’ll get me, farever I am.
ANGELICA Dinna be daft. Come on. Get your coat.
RONNIE Quick as you can, noo. It’s a Reed Alert. Sae, abody oot to the shelter. (He shepherds Teenie towards the exit.)
JIM Fit’s adee? Fit’s a’ the noise? Is’t denner time?
CHRISSIE It’s an air raid, Jim. We’ll need to ging to the shelter. (She pushes him towards the exit.)
ANGELICA (shouting off) Ma?
MURIEL (off) I hear it. Awa’ oot to the shelter afore the planes get here.
ANGELICA Are you comin’ ana’?
MURIEL I’m jist pittin’ on my coat.
CHRISSIE Come on, Georgie.
GEORGIE On ye go. I’ll jist haud on here a wee while.
ANGELICA Hurry up, noo. (She leads Lizzie by the arm. Muriel, in her coat, enters and takes Lizzie’s other arm. They go off together.)
CHRISSIE Ye canna. Ye’ll get yersel’ killt.
GEORGIE We’re ower far ahin the day to loss ony mair time. We canna gut fish if we’re sittin’ in a air raid shelter so we dinna get paid.
CHRISSIE That’s my fault that we lost sae much time. An’ Teenies. So it’s us that should bide an’ work.
GEORGIE Teenie’s ower young to get killt. An’ you have to keep yoursel’ alive to look efter her. My Dod can look efter himsel’. So shove aff.
CHRISSIE You come ana’, then.
GEORGIE Look, if I get a bomb drapped on tap o’ me, I’ll be deid an’ winna care. But if I ging to the shelter, neen o’s will get paid for the rest o’ the day, I’ll ging hungry the morn – and then I will care. This wye, I’m gi’ein’ fate a fair chance. You ging to the shelter. Ye ken that the morn, you’ll be alive but hungry. An’ I’ll either ha’e a full belly, or I’ll be lyin’ deid under a ton o’ rotten fish. (She smiles at Chrissie.) I’ll tak’ my chancies.
CHRISSIE You’re right stubborn. (Enter Ronnie, stays by the exit.)
RONNIE Come on, Chrissie. Georgie. I can hear the planes. (He goes. Chrissie looks from him to Georgie, makes up her mind and goes off. The siren gets louder. Georgie works on, unperturbed. Teenie hurries back in, looking anxious. Georgie looks at her, wondering what she wants. Teenie looks as if she is about to speak, but suddenly suffers severe pain in her tummy. She holds it, in agony, and makes her way off. Georgie follows her, stops, shakes her head and returns to her work. Gradually the lights and the siren fade out for the end of the act. If she likes, Georgie can work on right through the Interval if appropriate.)
END OF ACT ONE
(As the house lights fade, the All Clear sounds and the stage lights come up on the gutting area. Georgie is still working away. Gradually, the other workers - Chrissie, Ronnie and Jim - come in. Chrissie hurries to Georgie, Ronnie close behind her. Jim keeps his distance.)
CHRISSIE (urgently) Far is she?
GEORGIE (calmly) In the lavy. (Chrissie turns to go.) A richt sair belly she had, by the look o’t. (Chrissie stops and looks back.) I thocht she probably wanted to be by hersel’, so I didna ging wi’ her.
CHRISSIE I’ll see foo she’s deein’. (But before she can get off, Dod rushes in.)
DOD (Milking the drama) Have you heard?
GEORGIE An’ how would we hear onything, stuck in here?
DOD Weel, I can bring you up to date. (Pause.) The Toolies has been hit. (Shocked reaction by Georgie and Chrissie. Even Jim is aware of the importance of it. They all move closer to Dod. Less well lit, on the other side of the stage, Muriel is entering with her mother and daughter. They sit down for a rest after the ordeal of the shelter.)
CHRISSIE Onybody hurt?
DOD I dinna ken yet. Een o’ the Firewatchers saw the Heinkels comin’ in and drappin’ a whale line o’ bombs. Een landed on the Toolies but maist o’ the ithers landed oot at sea, he says.
GEORGIE Fit aboot Muriel an’ them?
DOD They’re nae on this shift. They should be at hame.
GEORGIE ‘At’s a mercy, onywey.
DOD I’m gan roon’ there noo, tae see if they’ve heard.
RONNIE How much damage at the factory? Div ye ken?
DOD I’ve nae idea.
RONNIE If it’s bad enough, they could a’ be oot o’ jobs, I suppose.
CHRISSIE Would they get back here? The eens that moved fae here to Consolidated, onywey.
RONNIE We’re nae that busy, are we? There’s jist nae enough fish comin’ in for the crews that we’ve got.
DOD We winna ken till we can see hoo much damage there is. I’m gan roon to Angelica’s. (Exit. Lights over to Muriel’s.)
MURIEL Och, me, at was a bad een.
LIZZIE I heard some affa loud crumps. They must ha’ been gey close.
ANGELICA Will I mak’ some tea?
MURIEL No, it’s time we were a’ in bed.
LIZZIE (pretending to be upset) Oh. I’d have liked a cuppie.
MURIEL Ye’d be up a’ nicht.
LIZZIE I ken. But I dinna sleep onywye, so it doesna mak’ ony difference to me hoo often I get up.
MURIEL It mak’s a difference to me. The draught every time that door opens near blaws me oot o’ my bed.
LIZZIE Weel, if that bombs had been ony closer, ye micht ha’ been enjoyin’ a real draught. Mine fit happened to peer Mrs Graham.
MURIEL Aye, we baith min’ on’t, mither. In fact, we baith saw it for wirselves. (But Lizzie is never put off by lack of interest in her listeners. As she speaks she rises and addresses the audience directly.)
LIZZIE She bade in School Street – been there a’ her life, peer aul’ body. Onywye, ‘is nicht, there was a raid and bombs fell a’ roon’ aboot there. Naething actually hit her hoose, but it seems the explosions did some damage to the foundations. Fit div they ca’t? The shock waves. ‘At’s it. Weel, the street was full o’ folk – air raid wardens, bobbies an’ the fire brigade, o’ coorse. But a lot o’ ordinary folk as weel, hurryin’ hame to their ain shelters. My dochter an’ Angelica were there. (She points at them over her shoulder with a thumb.) She was takin’ the quinie hame fae her dancin’ lessons. It wasna that late; it was een o’ the early evenin’ raids we were haein’ at that time.
Weel, a’ o’ a sudden, there’s this great roarin’ noise, an’ the hale wa’ o’ the hooses fell doon. Jist like the quilt slippin’ aff the end o’ your bed. It was sae sudden, folk didna even ha’e time to start rinnin’ awa’. It was a’ ower in a second. An’ there, was the inside o’ the hooses, plain as you like for abody to see. It was like lookin’ at a doll’s hoose, opened up. The rooms were a’ empty, o’ coorse, because abody was aff in the shelter. Except for Mrs Graham. She was gey deef, an’ hadna heard the siren. Sae there she was, in front o’ a’ this folk. Sittin’, fine’s you like, on her chunty.
Weel, you can imagine fit she felt like. One minute, she’s sittin’ in her ain hoose, mindin’ her ain business, deein’ her ain business, ye micht say, tearin’ up The Press an’ Journal for lavy paper. An’ then without a word o’ warnin’ somebody wheechs awa’ the side o’ her hoose. Fitna fleg she must ha’e got. (Pause.) It’s maybe jist as weel she was sittin’ on the chunty. Onywye. She sees fit’s happened, an’ sees a’ this folk watchin’ her. So fit does she dee? She stan’s up, dichts hersel’ – as ony decent body would - an’ tak’s a curtsey. She got a round o’ applause. Then it occurs to her she can save hersel’ an affa’ lot o’ trouble. Nae need to cairry her po a’ the wye doon the stair an’ across the backie to empty’t in the lavy. So she jist leans across an’ empties it ower the edge o’ the fleer. (Pause.) Ye’ve never seen bobbies move sae fast in their lives afore!
(The lights cross-fade to Georgie’s area. She is alone, working, of course, but anxiously watching the entrance. Chrissie appears and Georgie immediately lays down her knife. The dialogue is slow and painful. )
GEORGIE Is she a’ richt?
CHRISSIE (Grimly) She’ll come to hersel’ in a minute. (She is clutching a tightly rolled bloody cloth. She looks sick and unsure of herself. Pause.) I’ve got this … I’ll ha’e to get rid o’t.
GEORGIE (coming to her) It worked then?
CHRISSIE (dead voice) Aye. It worked. (Pause.) Wi’ a bit o’ help. (She shudders a little.)
GEORGIE Ye’d better sit doon. Here, gi’e me that. (She takes the cloth from Chrissie’s hands.)
CHRISSIE Ye guessed, then?
GEORGIE Afore you did, probably.
CHRISSIE (a hopeless wee nod) I dinna think I winted to ken. (A rough sob.) Teenie, o’ a’body. I couldna believe’t at first. I canna believe it noo. (She sobs again. These are dry, contained sobs. She isn’t one to break down if she can help it.)
GEORGIE Sit doon. (Chrissie sits on one of the barrels. Georgie moves to the bench, picks up her gutting knife, and then goes to the guts barrel.) I’ll scrape it in here. (She holds the cloth inside the barrel and scrapes at it.) Naebody will be ony the wiser. (Looking into the barrel.) It’s funny to think o’. But it a’ jist looks the same doon there. (She is very matter-of-fact about it all. She looks at Chrissie, hunched in grief.) It’s a’ ower, Chrissie. Naebody but us three will ever ken. An’ we’ll never speak aboot it. Nae even tae each ither. (She goes back to her bench and throws the cloth under it, out of sight. Jim enters, carrying a hammer.)
JIM ‘At was some stormer o’ a raid. Did you hear the bombs?
GEORGIE Aye, aye, Jim.
JIM (Proudly) I’ve a wee job to dee, for the cooper. (He flourishes his hammer.)
GEORGIE Aye, weel watch you dinna knock yersel’ oot wi’ that thing.
JIM Devil the fear o’t. I am an experienced man wi’ a haimmer. (He marches towards the exit and meets Teenie face to face as she enters. She is pure white and very shaky.) Mercy, quine. Fit’s adee? (He lays down his hammer and grabs Teenie’s arm. Chrissie rises and helps him to bring Teenie to her seat.)
GEORGIE It’s a’ richt, Jim. Dinna fash yersel’. She’s jist got a touch o’ flu. You couldna rustle up a cuppie o’ tea, for her, could you?
JIM Nae bother ava’. (Pleased with himself.) I’ve a drappie in the pot still. I’ll nae be a jiffy. (He hurries off importantly. Teenie rises.)
GEORGIE Jist sit still a while, lass, till ye feel a bit stronger. (But she stays on her feet, not comfortable sitting.)
TEENIE I’m sorry, Ma.
CHRISSIE (Bitterly) Oh, Teenie. You, o’ a’ folk.
GEORGIE (Quickly) There’s nae need to spik aboot it, Chrissie. It’s finished wi’.
TEENIE It’ll never be finished.
GEORGIE Aye, it will. Just forget it ever happened.
TEENIE I’ll never forget.
CHRISSIE (suddenly losing her temper after all the stress) An’ nor will I. To dee this to me, efter the wye I’ve been so careful to bring you up decent.
GEORGIE (warning her to keep quiet) Chrissie!
CHRISSIE (ignoring her) To ging ahin my back an’ dee something like this. Fa wis’t, onywye? Fa made you dee this to me?
GEORGIE It doesna maitter, Chrissie. It’s best forgotten.
CHRISSIE Was it Ronnie? (Teenie doesn’t show any sign.) Answer me. Was it Ronnie?
TEENIE (Flatly) No.
CHRISSIE Weel, was it Dod, then?
TEENIE (Flatly) No.
CHRISSIE Then fa’? (Furious, she shakes her by the shoulder.) Dinna ging a’ tight-moo’d wi’ me. I’ve a richt to ken. I’m your mither.
CHRISSIE (getting hysterical) Keep oot o’ this, Georgie. It’s naething to dee wi’ you. Jist answer me, Teenie. Fit man was it? (Teenie looks her straight in the eye and clamps her mouth shut. They stare at each other, Chrissie trying to break her daughter’s will; Teenie showing her determination not to break. Enter Jim, carefully carrying a mug.)
JIM It’s been brewin’ a whilie, but I’ve put in plenty o’ sugar.
GEORGIE Thanks, Jim. (She takes the mug. Very deliberately Teenie turns to Jim.)
TEENIE Thank you very much, Jim. (She raises her hand and strokes his cheek in an overtly intimate gesture. He is astonished, but pleased. Then, calmly but with immense strength, she turns to her mother.) You see, Ma, it could be onybody. You’ve nae wye o’ findin’ oot. Every time ye see a man come near me, you’ll be askin’ yoursel’, “Was it him?” But I’ll never tell you.
(Jim moves away, stops, looks anxious.)
GEORGIE My, my, Chrissie. I doot your worm’s turnin’.
JIM I think I was cairrying something fan I come in here the first time.
GEORGIE (just anxious to get rid of him) Aye, aye. You had a haimmer. (He stands irresolute while the two women wait for him to go. He looks round vaguely.) You were gan to dee a job for the cooper.
JIM That’s it. An important job. I’ll need to find my haimmer. (He looks in the wrong places. The women don’t notice. Georgie is concentrating on helping Teenie to drink a few sips of tea. Chrissie is frozen in the hurt she feels.) I ken I was cairryin’ it. Ye didna see fit I did wi’t, did you, Chrissie? (She pays no attention. Pause.) No? Fit aboot you, Georgie?
GEORGIE (impatiently) Fit?
JIM Have ye seen my haimmer?
GEORGIE Ye were cairryin’ it fan ye cam’ in. Maybe ye drapped it fan ye saw Teenie.
JIM Oh, I widna drap a haimmer. Nae me. (He goes to the exit.) Here it is, look. Laid doon, careful as you like. (He picks it up but doesn’t go.)
GEORGIE Come on, noo, lass. Tak’ another suppie. (Teenie shakes her head.) It’s the best thing for you.
JIM Eh, Georgie.
GEORGIE (looking round) Are you aye here, Jim? You’d better get on wi’ your job noo you’ve found your haimmer.
JIM Oh, aye. I’ve got my haimmer. But that’s jist it. (Pause.) I canna min’ fit I was gan to hit wi’ it.
GEORGIE (approaching him heavily) Weel, you’ll jist ha’e to ging back to the cooper and say ti him, “I’m a stupit aul’ feel, an’ I’ve forgotten fit you wanted me to dee wi’ the haimmer.” An’ Ronnie will tell you. I just hope he doesna gi’e ye the same answer as I would. (She makes a pretend grab for the hammer. He steps back and then scuttles off. Lizzie enters in some excitement.)
LIZZIE Far’s Mrs Harper?
GEORGIE She works in the ither shed, noo. Has something happened?
LIZZIE I’ll need to find her.
GEORGIE Fit wye?
LIZZIE (full of importance) Ye ken her lad Rab was reported missing in action?
LIZZIE She’s fair convinced hersel’ he’s deid. Killt. (Georgie nods.) Weel, he’s nae.
GEORGIE Foo div you ken?
LIZZIE I was listenin’ to the wireless an’ thon Lord Haw Haw come on. He was boastin’ aboot a’ the loons they’ve ta’en prisoner?
GEORGIE Fit aboot it?
LIZZIE Weel, syne he reads oot a list o’ names o’ a’ the sodgers they’ve got in this particular camp and was een o’ them nae Rab Harper?
GEORGIE Na! But are you sure it’s the richt Rab Harper? Ye mauna get her hopes up for naething.
LIZZIE It’s him a’ richt. (Shje imitates Lord Haw Haw’s accent) Private Robert Harper from Fraserburgh, 51st Division Gordon Highlanders.
GEORGIE (excited now too) That’s him. Awa’ an’ tell her. She’ll be tickled pink! (Lizzie turns to hurry off. The lights do a snap crossfade to a tight spot on Jim and Dod. The latter carries two small packets, less than A5 size. They are almost identically wrapped in brown paper. Each is tied with string – one with ordinary white string, the other with red string or tape.)
JIM Fit’s ‘at ye’ve got there, Dod? They look like presents. Is it somebody’s birthday?
DOD They’re presents a’ richt. Fae Aiberdeen!
JIM You’ve been to Aiberdeen?
DOD Tam Riddoch was takin’ the Silver Star in for some repairs, sae I went wi’ him. But they’re nae for a birthday. (Confidentially) They’re for twa different women.
JIM (admiring) Twa different women! Ye’re an affa loon.
DOD An’ I dinna want this een (gesturing with the white-string parcel) to ken aboot this een. (The red.)
JIM Aye, aye, I see fit you’re up to.
DOD So I was wonderin’ if you could help me? (Jim looks interested but apprehensive) Could you look efter this een for me? Jist for a wee while, till I deliver this een?
JIM Nae bother ava’. (Dod gives him the red-strung parcel.)
DOD Good man yersel’, Jim. I winna be lang. (Snap cross-fade to a tight spot at the other side of the stage. Ronnie and Teenie.)
RONNIE You’re lookin’ a bittie better. (She stares ahead of her.) I was real worried aboot ye. (Pause.) I div worry aboot ye, ye ken. A’ the time. (Pause.) Ye need lookin’ efter.
TEENIE (bitterly) My Ma looks efter me.
RONNIE Oh, I ken. She’s affa good to you.
TEENIE (Interested) Is that fit folk think?
RONNIE Oh, aye. She’s famous for’t. The wye she tak’s care o’ you. (Pause.) But you must think, sometimes, you’re a growin’ lassie. You winna want to spend a’ your days wi’ your mither? You’ll want a place o’ your ain some day.
TEENIE (as if it had never occurred to her) Awa’ fae my mither?
RONNIE (Working himself up to be very brave) A hoosie o’ your ain. (Pause.) An’ a man o’ your ain. (Pause.) An’ bairnies o’ your ain. (Her face shows a moment of pain.)
TEENIE (bitterly) Awa’ fae my mither.
RONNIE (misunderstanding) She’d aye be there if you needed her.
TEENIE (Coldly) I dinna need her. (She looks him straight in the eye. This is a new, harder, more self-confident Teenie.) Are you askin’ me to mairry ye?
RONNIE (taken aback by this frontal approach) Quine! Fit are you sayin’? (Pause.) There’s naething like comin’ richt oot wi’ fit’s in your mind.
TEENIE Weel? Are you?
RONNIE (Discomfited) Eh, weel, aye. I suppose I am. But I’d been gan to tak’ things a bittie mair slow-like. (She is looking at him hard. He finds this embarrassing.) I’ve got my ain hoose. An’ a weel-paid job. Efter the war …
TEENIE (breaking in) I’ll need to think aboot it, Ronnie. I’m nae sayin’ “No.” But there’s … (Pause.) … there’s a something I’ll need to get clear in my ain mind afore ye get your answer.
RONNIE There’s nae rush, ye ken. I was jist thinkin’ we could maybe ging oot thegether for a whilie, an’ then maybe get engaged for a year or so. An’ then maybe get mairriet. (Chrissie appears, just outside their area of light, watching them. They don’t notice her.)
TEENIE Aye. I ken. Like I said, I have to think aboot it.
RONNIE (Pleased) ‘At’s a’ richt. Ye ha’ena turned me doon. ‘At’s a’ I care aboot at the minute. (He goes one way. Chrissie moves into the light. They are very cold with each other.)
CHRISSIE Fit was that a’ aboot?
TEENIE He wants to mairry me.
CHRISSIE Fit did ye say?
TEENIE I’m thinkin’ aboot it.
CHRISSIE He’s gey aul’ for you.
TEENIE That doesna maitter.
CHRISSIE Was it him that –
TEENIE (Interrupting) I tellt you. No.
CHRISSIE (Fiercely) Then ye mustna tell him aboot it.
TEENIE I’ll see.
CHRISSIE Dinna tell him. He’ll ha’e naething to dee wi’ ye.
TEENIE If he loves me, it winna mak’ ony difference.
CHRISSIE (scornfully) Fit would you ken aboot love?
TEENIE (cruelly) Fit div you ken aboot it? (A beat. Chrissie is hurt.)
CHRISSIE Oh, Teenie. If you only kent. (Pause.) If you only kent fit I’ve suffered for love. (Hurtfully) Dinna regret lossin’ your bairn. A’ they dee is hurt ye. (She turns away slowly and goes. Teenie sings, slowly, sadly, unaccompanied.)
I’ve had this dream. My special lover.
He would understand and love me.
He would want me For mysel’
Gladly I’d be his forever.
An’ I ken fit he’d see In sic a lass as me.
He’d be as fair as sun in autumn
Touch sae saft an’ smile sae janty
Kiss sae sweet and words sae tender.
Gentle man. My gentle lover.
My life maun stretch its span Withoot my gentleman.
Noo life is dark as skies in winter,
Grim the future an’ sae lonely.
Death has touched me; love’s sae empty.
Gentle man. My gentle lover.
My life maun stretch its span Withoot my gentle man.
(The lights fade slowly down on her and up on Jim as Muriel approaches him.)
MURIEL Fit’s that you’ve got there, Jim?
JIM It’s a parcel. I’m keepin’ it safe for somebody.
MURIEL Aah. Would it be Dod that left it wi’ you?
JIM (Slyly hiding it behind him) Maybe aye; maybe no.
MURIEL I kent it! Dod went a’ the wye to Aiberdeen to get something for me. That must be it.
JIM Aye. He said he got them in Aiberdeen. He’s awa’ deliverin’ the ... (Hand to his mouth in horror.) Oh, no. I wasna supposed to ...
MURIEL (too pleased about her parcel to notice) I’ll jist tak’ it then, Jim. (She holds out her hand bossily)
MURIEL I’ll jist tak’ it noo an’ save Dod comin’ back for’t.
JIM Is that fit I’m supposed to dee?
MURIEL Of coorse it is. I’ll tell Dod you’ve given it to me.
JIM A’ richt. I hope you like it!
MURIEL I will, dinna you fear. I’m awa’ hame to open’t. (He hands it over. She goes. He walks across the front of the stage and into another pool of light where he meets Dod, still carrying the white-string parcel.)
DOD She’s nae at hame, sae I ha’ena been able to deliver it.
JIM (pleased with himself) Ah, weel, I’ve deen better than you, because I’ve delivered my een.
DOD Fit div you mean?
JIM I met her and she said “Is that my parcel fae Dod?” an’ I said, “Aye, it is”, an’ she said, “Weel, I’ll jist tak’ it wi’ me and save him coming to get it.” So she took it.
DOD (disappointed) Ach, I was lookin’ forward to gi’ein’ it to her mysel’. Never mind. Div ye ken far she was gan?
JIM Aye. She said she was gan hame.
DOD ‘At’s fine. She’ll be on her ain. I’ll awa’ roon’ an’ gi’e her a chance to thank me! (He rubs his hands in anticipation as he goes. Jim goes another way. The lights come up on Lizzie and Angelica, at home.)
LIZZIE I’ve found it.
ANGELICA You’ve found the frock?
LIZZIE Weel, I’ve found the trunk. I’ve raxed my back, haulin’t oot. But I hinna opened it yet. I thocht you’d want to be there.
ANGELICA (Excited) Come on, then. (But Dod enters before they get a chance to exit.) Oh, hello, Dod.
LIZZIE (Slyly) I’ll gi’e that trunk a bit o’ a dicht. It’s a’ caddus an’ cobwebs.
TEENIE Thanks, Grannie. (Lizzie goes.)
DOD Weel, are you pleased?
ANGELICA Fit aboot?
DOD Your coupons!
ANGELICA (very excited) Have you got them? Far are they? (She grabs the parcel.)
DOD No, that’s your mither’s tracts. Fit div you mean, far are they? You’ve got them. Jim gave them to you.
ANGELICA I ha’ena seen Jim.
DOD He said you went up to him an’ asked if that was your parcel he was haudin’, an’ he handed it ower. (Pause.) It wasna you?
DOD (Horror) Hell’s teeth. It must ha’e been your Ma. She’s got the clothin’ coupons!
ANGELICA Oh, no. Fit did ye gi’e them to Jim for?
DOD So’s I could gi’e her this, without her seein’ your een. I’ll ha’e to find her afore she has a chance to open it.
ANGELICA She’ll be hame ony minute.
DOD I’ll try to see her first. We canna let her ken the ither packet’s for you. (He thrusts the tracts into her hands and rushes off. She unties the string and drops it, in order to undo a corner of the packet. She looks in and makes a face of disgust.)
LIZZIE (off) Was that him leavin’?
ANGELICA Aye. I’m comin’, Grannie. (She goes. Pause. Enter Muriel, with the red-stringed parcel. She undoes the string, lays down the parcel and very carefully rolls up the string and stores it away for future use. Dod comes in, hassled.)
DOD (Gasping for breath) I saw ye fae the end o’ the street. I was lookin’ for ye.
MURIEL It’s a’ richt. I got them fae Jim.
DOD No. No, you didna.
MURIEL I did.
DOD Aye, you got a parcel, but nae the richt een. Ye ken Jim, he’s a bittie wantin’. He got confused an’ gave you the wrang thing.
MURIEL Oh. So far’s my tracts, then?
DOD Ah. Oh. (Realising he shouldn’t have given them to Angelica.) I’ve … eh, I’ve got them. Aye, I’ve got them. But … (He runs out of words, unable to think of an excuse.)
MURIEL (getting suspicious and angry) Well, far are they?
DOD I left them at hame. That’s richt. I left them at hame. To be safe. So’s they wouldna get lost.
MURIEL Then you’ll need to ging an’ get them.
DOD I’ll dee that, richt noo. So, jist gi’e me the wrang een, an’ I’ll ging an’ swop them.
MURIEL Na na, my mannie. I’ll haud on to this een until I get my han’s on my ain. Jist to be on the safe side.
DOD (affronted) Div you nae trust me?
MURIEL No. (She picks up the parcel and goes. He expresses despair. Enter Angelica.)
ANGELICA (in a whisper) Fit’s happenin’? Have you got my coupons?
DOD Your mither winna hand them ower until I gi’e her her tracts.
ANGELICA Well, dee it. Here they are. (She hands over the parcel.)
DOD She thinks I’ve got them at my ain hoose. I’ll ha’e to ging awa’ an’ mak’ on I’m coming back wi’ them.
ANGELICA For Pete’s sake. She’s in the kitchen. You’ll ha’e to sneak oot. (He goes, with the tracts.)
LIZZIE (off) Angelica? Look at this.
ANGELICA Comin’. (Angelica goes. Pause. Enter Muriel, with the parcel. She picks up the dropped – white – string and re-ties the parcel. Lays it down. Lights cross-fade to the gutting set. Teenie, Georgie and Chrissie are working. Jim is leaning on his brush, listening.)
GEORGIE Are you gan to the Social, Chrissie?
CHRISSIE (unenthusiastically) I suppose so.
GEORGIE Teenie? Are you?
TEENIE (not really in the conversation. Thinking sad thoughts. She avoids speaking to, or looking at, her mother throughout.) No.
GEORGIE Och, you must ging. Abody likes the Social. I widna miss it.
CHRISSIE You missed maist o’ it last year. By echt o’clock you’d passed oot in the middle o’ the dance fleer.
GEORGIE ‘At’s half the fun.
TEENIE (Caught up in spite of herself, but not at all cheerful) You were affa in the road during the Dashing White Sergeant, Auntie Georgie.
GEORGIE (grinning) I was, wasn’t I?
JIM I thocht somebody had skellt the trifle an’ I was dancin’ on tap o’t. (Pause.) But it was jist you, Georgie.
GEORGIE Aye. An’ you were weerin’ your kilt. It wasna a bonnie sicht fae far I was.
JIM You’d a richt good look, had ye?
GEORGIE I’d to look twice. I couldna believe my een the first time.
JIM (enjoying himself) Never seen onything like it, had ye?
GEORGIE I can honestly say, Jim, that I’ve never see onything like it.
JIM (delighted) D’you hear ‘at, Teenie? Never seen onything like it, she says. (Chrissie looks at him sharply. Is this a hint of sexual intimacy between them?)
GEORGIE Nae since Chrissie burnt the kilted sodgers last Christmas.
CHRISSIE (quickly putting a stop to it) ‘At’s enough, Georgie.
GEORGIE I’ll tell you fit: I’ll pass oot face doon this year, jist to be on the safe side. I dinna want anither sicht like yon. Put me aff my denner for a week, it did. (Jim chortles, delighted)
CHRISSIE (disapproving) I hear Angelica’s to be the Gala Queen this year?
GEORGIE Aye. Dod’s full o’t. He sees himsel’ as Prince Consort or some such.
CHRISSIE Is this the first time the Queen’s been picked fae the Toolies?
GEORGIE Aye. We’ve been overlooked again. I’ve aye fancied mysel’ as the Gala Queen. (She puts something ridiculous – a fish, a cloth or a basin – on her head as a crown.)
TEENIE (not in the mood for jokiness) Has onybody heard fit damage was deen at the Toolies? Was there much?
JIM Naebody hurt. But a fair bit o’ damage to the buildin’s - a lot o’ windows blawn oot an’ that kin’ o’ thing.
CHRISSIE Enough to stop them working?
GEORGIE Oh, they’ll keep gan, fitever happens. The Air Force is jist gan mad for their bitties o’ engines, they say.
JIM They sent taxis a’ the wye fae London to collect some o’ their work.
GEORGIE Surely nae.
JIM (earnestly) It’s true. The foreman was grabbin’ the bitties fae the quines as seen as they finished them and rinnin’ oot to the taxis wi’ them.
GEORGIE Nae winder we’re aye bein’ asked to raise money for the War Effort. Naebody tellt me it was to pey for taxis for fuel pumps. Can they nae tak’ the trainie like abody else?
CHRISSIE (sourly) At least the Gala Queen’s nae somebody fae Morrison’s again. Yon quines a’ fancy themselves enough as it is.
GEORGIE I dinna ken fit wye. We could a’ come to work wi’ perms an’ painted nails if we wanted to.
JIM Aye, but theirs is classed as War Work, you see.
CHRISSIE They’re jist packing meat into tins.
GEORGIE (sarcastically) Aye, but their cans get sent to the sodgers.
TEENIE They write their names an’ addresses on bitties o’ paper an’ pit them in for the sodgers to find.
JIM Inside the tinnies?
GEORGIE Na. Inside the packing cases. Mind you, I widna be surprised. There’s worse than that gets into them cans, I can tell you. Thon girls have killt mair sodgers than Gerry ever did. (They work on in silence for a moment or two.)
GEORGIE Hey. D’you min’ thon Ramenski mannie? Fae Peterheid prison. The safe-breaker?
JIM Oh, aye. He’s a real gent, ye ken. Never hurts onybody or steals fae poor folk.
GEORGIE Weel, nae mony poor folk have safes, have they, Jim?
TEENIE Fit aboot this mannie, Auntie Georgie?
GEORGIE They’ve drapped him ahin the enemy lines to open Gerry safes.
TEENIE Fit for?
GEORGIE To look for secret documents. Hitler’s War Plans, an’ that kin’ o’ thing.
CHRISSIE They couldna tak him oot o’ prison for that, could they?
GEORGIE They’ve deen it. My cousin Bel tellt me.
CHRISSIE You hinna got a cousin Bel.
GEORGIE Bel Copeland.
CHRISSIE She’s nae your cousin.
GEORGIE Nae exactly, no. But Ma was affa close wi’ her Ma an’ Bel an’ me aye thocht o’ wirsel’s as cousins.
CHRISSIE I never liket her.
GEORGIE (Scoring a point) No, you didna. Onywye, her man’s a warder at Peterheid, an’ he tellt her.
CHRISSIE An’ she tellt you. Churchill will be fine pleased his War Secrets are in sic safe han’s.
GEORGIE Unless Teenie’s a Nazi spy, there’s nae danger here. (Pause.) Min’ fan they had to bring him to the Broch?
JIM Fa? Churchill?
GEORGIE (giving him a pitying look) Ramenski. Min’. The manager o’ the Bank o’ Scotland locket himsel’ in the safe an’ naebody could get him oot.
CHRISSIE ‘At’s richt. He had the only set o’ keys in his trooser pocket.
TEENIE So fit wye did he nae unlock the door?
GEORGIE There’s nae a keyhole on the inside o’ a safe door, Teenie. Naebody expects you to be inside wi’ the door shut.
CHRISSIE It must’ve been dark, ana’.
TEENIE I’d be feart.
GEORGIE Oh, I think the manager probably was, tee. He would ken that there wasna enough air in the safe to keep him alive for lang.
JIM They had to bring Ramenski in to brak into the safe afore the mannie died o’ suffocation.
(Lights cross-fade to Muriel’s. She and Dod. Both parcels are lying there, side by side.)
DOD There we are, at last. The tracts you’ve been longin’ for! (Muriel picks them both up.)
MURIEL Which one?
DOD (confidently) White string for you. Reed string .. oh, it seems to have fa’en aff in a’ the stramash, but never mind. White string is definitely the tracts. (He takes the stringless parcel from her. Snap lights back to the gutters. Ronnie is entering.)
GEORGIE In the bus shelter! Richt in front o’ my een. I said to them, “Fit d’you think ye’re deein’? No, dinna answer that, for I can see fit you’re deein’. But fit wye are you deein’t in the bus shelter? It’s nae decent!” An’ she looks roon’ at me, cool’s you like, an’ says, “It’s rainin’ outside. I didna want to spile my perm.” (She laughs. The others don’t.)
RONNIE I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news, Chrissie.
GEORGIE Fit is’t? Are you comin’ to jine oor crew?
RONNIE It’s naething to joke aboot. I’ve had a telephone message fae Aiberdeen.
GEORGIE (Pretending to be impressed) Ooooh.
RONNIE (ignoring her) Fae the manager o’ Whyte’s. One o’ oor best customers. Spittin’ mad, he was. (Worriedly) He was phoning to complain that they’ve had dirty fish in a barrel fae us.
GEORGIE Weel, it’s nae een o’ oors.
RONNIE That’s jist the pint, Georgie. It is one o’ yours.
GEORGIE It canna be.
RONNIE There’s nae eese arguing. That’s fit wye we pit the markin’s on them, so we can trace fa’s to blame fan something like this happens. He wants a new barrel fae’s. Free o’ charge. Ye ken fit that means.
GEORGIE (furious) He’s tryin’ it on. It’s jist a wye o’ getting’ a barrel o’ fish for naething. There’s nae proof there’s onything wrang wi’ the fish.
RONNIE He’s offered to let me see the fish if I ging in to Aiberdeen.
GEORGIE Fat chance o’ that happenin’, as he kens perfectly weel. He’s jist takin’ the chance to mak’ a fast buck.
RONNIE I’ve agreed to let him ha’e the barrel.
GEORGIE Mair fool you.
RONNIE (Miserable about it, but doggedly continuing) And the loss to the company will be made up oot o’ your crew’s wages, Chrissie. The three o’ you.
CHRISSIE That’s nae fair. We’ve had a bad week as it is.
RONNIE I ken. An’ I wish I could dee something, but my han’s are tied.
CHRISSIE Aye. Because you’re useless. Like a’ men. (She breaks down and runs off.)
GEORGIE Noo see fit you’ve done. Chrissie never greets. (She goes after her.)
RONNIE (awkwardly) I’m sorry. I would cover it up if I could.
TEENIE I’m sure ye would.
RONNIE I’ll mak’ up your share o’ the cost.
TEENIE No, thank you. I’m part o’ this crew wi’ my mither an’ Georgie. I’ll pey my share.
RONNIE Weel. Let me chip in wi’ a’ o’ ye. Divide it fower wyes instead o’ three.
TEENIE You’re nae part o’ the crew.
RONNIE But I’d like to help.
TEENIE They winna tak’ it.
RONNIE Fit wye no?
TEENIE Because they’re too prood, Ronnie. They dinna think they’re to blame for the dirty fish but if they’re bein’ made to pey for it, they’ll dee it themselves. They winna tak’ help. They aye like to manage a’thing themselves.
RONNIE Weel, the offer’s there. (Pause.) Have ye had time to think aboot … you an’ me.
TEENIE I’ve had time to think aboot fit to dee.
TEENIE You’ve been good to me, Ronnie, a’ my life. An’ I like you. So … yes, I would tak’ ye.
RONNIE You’ll mairry me?
TEENIE In a year or twa. Aye. (He puts his arms round her. She leans her head on him and sighs.) Your airms feel strong, aboot me.
RONNIE It’s fit you need.
TEENIE Aye. (Pause. Then she steps away.) Ronnie. There’s a something, as I tellt you afore.
RONNIE (Worried) Fit is’t?
TEENIE I dinna haud wi’ folk gan into a mairriage wi’ secrets atween them.
RONNIE (relieved) I’ve nae secrets, Teenie. Ye ken a’ there is to ken aboot me.
TEENIE But I’ve got a secret.
RONNIE (smiling. Treating it as a girlish worry) Are you sure you want to tell me?
TEENIE (very seriously) I must. I have to.
RONNIE A’ richt. But let me say this first. It doesna maitter fit it is. There’s two o’s noo. I’ll help you wi’t.
TEENIE (She moves closer and he puts his arms around her again but she doesn’t let herself get too close, holding herself away at the full stretch of his arms.) I discovered a month ago that I was expectin’. (He is staggered. He lets go of her.)
RONNIE You? O’ a’ folk?
TEENIE That’s jist fit my mither said.
RONNIE Fa’s is’t?
TEENIE It doesna maitter.
RONNIE He doesna want to mairry you?
TEENIE He doesna ken aboot the bairn. But, no, he wouldna want to mairry me. An’ I wouldna want to mairry him.
(He takes all this in slowly, thinking it through. Long pause. Then he takes her into his arms again.)
RONNIE That’s a stunner an’ nae mistake. I canna tak’ it in.
TEENIE I said nae secrets, an’ I mean it. I winna keep onything fae ye. So if ye really want to ken fa’ he was, I’ll tell you. But there’s nae pint. Nae noo.
RONNIE Maybe you’re richt. (He gives a huge sigh, then pulls himself together and speaks matter-of-factly. The manager in control of the situation.) I tell you fit we’ll dee. We’ll bring the mairriage forward, and naebody need ever ken. They’ll a’ think the bairnie’s mine. (He looks earnestly at her. A long, long pause. She puts a hand up to stroke his cheek.)
TEENIE Oh, Ronnie. You’re a good, good man. (She looks at him, finding herself warming to him because of this reaction to her news.) I dinna deserve you. (Pause.) I love you. (She smiles. Now she’s going to give him the good news.) But you dinna need to worry. The weddin’ can be fanever we like. In a year or twa, as we planned. (Smiling comfortingly.) I got rid o’t. We’ve nothing to worry aboot.
(He is struck dumb. He is flabbergasted. This is beyond his worst nightmares.)
RONNIE (in a whisper) You … got rid o’t? You killed your ain bairn?
TEENIE (frightened but not yet fully aware of his feelings) I had to. I didna want to. My Ma … (He breaks away from her, squeezing his fingers on his eyes to stop the tears.)
RONNIE Ye … killed … a baby. (He backs away, looking at her in horror.) Your ain baby.
TEENIE (appealing to him not to leave her) Ronnie!
RONNIE I’d have mairriet ye. I’d have brocht it up as mine. Fit wye did ye nae tell me?
TEENIE My Ma did it. I didna ken she even knew aboot the bairn.
RONNIE (His horror turning to disgust with her.) I canna imagine ony quine deein’ sic a thing.
TEENIE (quietly) I didna ken fit she was deein’. (Pause. Quietly.) Dinna leave me, Ronnie.
RONNIE You’re nae the lassie I thocht you were.
TEENIE (Pleading) I am, Ronnie. I am. (Pause.)
RONNIE I’m sorry, Teenie. I’m jist sae sorry. (He walks away.)
TEENIE (in a rising scream) Ronnie! Oh, Maaaaaaaa. (She grabs her gutting knife and slams it down into the bench where it stands quivering. She breaks down into racking sobs and runs off as the lights cross-fade to Muriel’s house. Angelica is standing with a frock draped over her arm. Lizzie has an armful of clothes.)
ANGELICA It’ll be jist perfect. This colour really suits me.
LIZZIE Me ana’.
ANGELICA Fit’s that stuff?
LIZZIE It was in the trunk wi’ the frock. It’s my aul’ working claes.
ANGELICA Oh, let me see.
LIZZIE Will I try them on?
ANGELICA Aye. Go on.
DOD (off) Angelica?
ANGELICA Tak’ this. (Adds the dress to the pile of clothes in Lizzie’s arms.) Come in, Dod. (He enters, one hand behind his back.)
DOD Far’s your mither?
ANGELICA She’s oot.
DOD Phew! (He reveals the parcel in his hand.) This rin-aroon’s jist drivin’ me daft. But I’ve got it a’ sorted noo.
ANGELICA Go on, Grannie. There’s naethin’ to see here.
LIZZIE I wish I was sure o’ that. Min’ fit I tellt ye. Nae an inch, unless … (She holds up her left hand, hampered though she is by the clothes, and points at her ring finger meaningfully. This is behind Dod’s back. Angelica shoos her out. She goes.)
ANGELICA Has my mither got her tracts, noo?
DOD Aye. (Angelica opens one end of the parcel. We see it contains a sheaf of tracts.)
ANGELICA (Furious) You daft gowk. This is the tracts! Jist fit d’you think you’re playin’ at? (Suspicion dawns) There’s nae coupons ava’, is there? You’ve been lyin’ to me a’ the time.
DOD I hinna. I got ye a’ the coupons ye asked for. (In a state) But far are they? Your mither had the white string, I saw it. An’ white string was tracts. (Mounting horror.) She must ha’e swapped the string!
ANGELICA (lost) Eh?
DOD I canna stand ony mair o’ this. (He grabs the tracts and races off. Crossfade to tight spot on Chrissie leaning on the guts barrel, staring into it. Long pause. Georgie comes up behind her.)
GEORGIE If you’re thinkin’ o’ jumpin’ in, I wish you’d hurry up an’ dee it. I want hame to get changed for the Social.
CHRISSIE (Grief-stricken.) Ye jist tak’ it for granted, a’ your life. Every lassie jist kens she’ll grow up to be a mither, an’ then one day she’ll find hersel’ a grannie. An’ that’s the best bit. A’ the pleasure o’ lookin’ efter bairnies but neen o’ the worry. That’s for mothers. (Pause.) I kin’a thocht there’d be two-three o’ them. Twa loons, at least, to mak’ up for ha’ein’ jist the quinie mysel’. A chance to buy wee motors instead o’ dolls a’ the time. I used to look at them in shop windows, afore the war, an’ think, “Teenie’s getting’ on. She’ll be ready for mairriage, maybe, by the time the war’s ower, an’ then I’ll be buying that wee things for her loons.” But noo … (Long pause.) The nearest I’ll ever get to a gran’child … mixed in wi’ a’ that fool guts, Georgie. Fit hiv I deen? (She looks into Georgie’s face.) I was richt, wasn’t I? I did the richt thing? For the lassie’s sake?
GEORGIE I dinna ken, Chrissie. Naebody can tell ye that. (Pause.) But I will say this. You never kent it, but Ma tried her sugarelly watter stuff on me fan I fell pregnant wi’ Dod. (Pause.) An’ I’ve aye been damnt gled that it didna work. (Chrissie looks at her in despair, and then crumples. She walks away silently, her body quivering with sobs. Georgie speaks to the audience.) Maybe it was a mistake to tell her that? Fit div you think? It’s nae an easy thing, bein’ a sister. (She shakes her head, sadly. Dod races in, clutching his parcel. He skids to a stop by his mother.)
DOD Have you seen Muriel?
GEORGIE No. (He races off again. She speaks to empty space.) Did you want her? (To audience.) An’ it’s nae easy bein’ a mither, either. In fact, it’s never affa easy bein’ a human bein’, is it?
(Lights cross-fade to Jim in a tight spot. Dod races in.)
DOD Have you seen Muriel, Jim?
JIM (confused by the speed of Dod’s arrival and the urgency of the question) Fa?
DOD Muriel. Angelica’s mother. Have you seen her?
JIM I think I saw her the ither day. Fit was she deein’, noo? (Jim gestures in despair and races off. Jim talks on.) Oh, I min’. You gave me a wee parcel to gi’e to her. She was affa pleased to get it. (He realises that he is alone.) Oh. (He shrugs and walks away. Lights cross-fade to Ronnie in a very tight spot. He is in a smart white shirt and is in the act of tying his best tie, looking out front as if into a mirror. He gets the knot finished. Holds a moment, and then rips it out, letting the tie hang loose round his neck. He grabs a handkerchief from his trouser pocket and presses it to his eyes. He turns away, out of the spotlight. The lights cross-fade to another spot. Muriel, carrying a large shopping bag, walks in to it. Dod skids to a halt in front of her.)
DOD (breathless) It’s still wrang. You’ve still got the wrang een. (He waves the tracts parcel in front of her.)
MURIEL Fit? Fit are ye on aboot noo?
DOD I’ve got your tracts here, look. (He shows her the parcel. The tracts are visible at the end that’s been opened.) So, see’s the ither een.
MURIEL Ye’ve made a richt mess o’ this, Dod. (She takes the coupons parcel out of her bag and gives it to him. She takes the tracts and tucks them away.)
DOD Oh, thank you, thank you. (He kisses her on the cheek. She is shocked. He races away. She smiles to herself.)
MURIEL Peer loon. Peer, peer loon. (She walks on. The lights change again – to Georgie, presumably at home, sitting with a basin on her lap, and some cotton wool in her hand. She is attended by Chrissie and Teenie. They may all be half-dressed for the Social. All three have towels round their shoulders. Chrissie is wearing large red rubber gloves; she has a bottle in her hand. Teenie is reading from an instruction leaflet.)
CHRISSIE Are you sure aboot this?
GEORGIE I’ve never had a perm in my life. Because I’m nae stupet enough to pey 30 shillings for een. But I’ve aye wanted een.
CHRISSIE I canna believe this’ll work.
GEORGIE Of course it’ll work. It’s American. Dod got it fae a mannie he kens that his to dee wi’ G.I.s. Noo get on wi’t. Fit div we dee first, Teenie?
TEENIE (reading) “Pour the solution into a small basin.”
GEORGIE Richt. Get on wi’t. Dod says Home Perms are a’ the rage wi’ the Yanks an’ I’ll be the first wumman in the Broch tae ha’e een.
CHRISSIE (flat) Weel, a’ richt. I’ll try. On your een heid be it.
GEORGIE Oh, very good, Chrissie. I’ve never heard you mak’in’ a joke afore.
CHRISSIE Fit? Fit did I say?
GEORGIE Never mind. Jist open the bottlie. (Chrissie opens the bottle and pours the liquid into the bowl on Georgie’s lap. All three react instantly to the smell.)
GEORGIE Gyads. Fit’s in the stuff?
TEENIE (sniffing tentatively) It’s like ammonia.
GEORGIE It’s like the cat peed in it.
CHRISSIE Are you sure ye want this on your hair?
GEORGIE I’m gan to be the only een at the Social wi’ a perm, fitever I smell like. Get on.
TEENIE (reading) “Tease out a hank of hair from the nape of the neck.” (Chrissie tugs at Georgie’s hair.)
GEORGIE Yah!! “Tease it oot”, she said. Nae “haul’t oot by the roots.”
TEENIE “Dip a pad of cotton wool in the solution and thoroughly soak the first hank of hair with it.” (Chrissie pushes Georgie’s head down and does this.) “Note. Rubber gloves must be worn for this process.”
CHRISSIE I’m deein’ that.
GEORGIE (Head up) If you hiv to protect your han’s fae this stuff, fit’s it gan to dee to my heid?
CHRISSIE It’s you that wants the perm, so stop complainin’ an’ keep your heid doon. (She pushes her head down roughly and carries on with the perm.)
TEENIE “Fold a sheet of the special Toni Home Perm Tissue Paper round the end of the hair, and roll it up tightly on the special Toni Home Perm roller.” (Chrissie does this; she may manage another curl or two by the end of the scene.) “Note. It is important to use only the special Toni Home Perm rollers. Under no circumstances should metal curlers be used, as the solution will corrode them.”
(Georgie’s head rears up again.)
GEORGIE Corrode them? You’re gan to corrode my brain!
CHRISSIE (Pushing her head down and continuing with her rolling) Ach, be quiet. Naebody would notice ony difference.
TEENIE Oh, oh. Listen to this. “After all the hair has been placed into curlers, it should be left to set … overnight.”
GEORGIE Overnight! The Social starts in an oor!
(Crossfade to Muriel’s. Angelica, in a dressing-gown, is doing her make-up for the Social. Dod comes racing in, even more out of breath.)
DOD Quick. You’re mither’s comin’. Here’s your coupons. (She takes them and opens the parcel at one end and peers in at her coupons.)
ANGELICA Weel, she canna find you here, wi’ me half-dressed. (She preens seductively and Dod reacts.) So, get oot. (She is counting the books of coupons.)
DOD Och. (He turns to go and gets as far as the exit.)
ANGELICA Come back. (He comes back, grinning, expecting a reward. She slaps him hard across the face. He staggers back, confused and worried.) Ye creep.
DOD Fit’s adee noo?
ANGELICA I kent I should never ha’e trusted a snake like you.
DOD Angel …
ANGELICA Ye promised me coupons for that suit. (She is almost in tears, but still absolutely furious.)
DOD An’ I got them. They’re real, ye ken. Nae forgeries. An’ they cost me a bomb.
ANGELICA A bomb’s fit I’d like to pit under ye. Ye weasel.
DOD I dinna understand.
ANGELICA ‘At’s ‘cos you’re stupet. You dinna understand onything. Ye canna get onything richt. Ye mak’ a mess o’ onything ye touch.
DOD (putting his hands on her shoulders) Angel.
ANGELICA (Viciously) Get aff. (He steps away in alarm.) Ye creep.
DOD Ye said that already.
ANGELICA Dinna try to be funny. Ye’re nae up tillt. (Cruelly) Ye ha’ena got the brains!
DOD (giving up) Jist tell me fit’s wrang.
ANGELICA I tellt ye. Nice and simple, so’s even you could understand. (Slowly and carefully.) I need 60 coupons for my suit. Sixty! Get it?
DOD (Aggrieved) I ken. I’m nae feel.
ANGELICA (muttering) You could have fooled me.
DOD An’ that’s fit I got you. Sixty coupons.
ANGELICA No, Dod. Look for yoursel’. (She thrusts the parcel on him.) Thirty coupons. Half enough for my suit. Fit d’you expect me to dee? Buy the jaicket an’ walk aboot withoot a skirt on? (He opens his mouth to speak. She points at him fiercely with a forefinger.) Dinna say it. You’re in enough trouble.
DOD I dinna understand. (Counting the coupons.)
DOD I peyed for sixty.
ANGELICA They could see richt through you, obviously. They charged you for 60. Gave you 30. An’ you took them, without thinkin’ to check. Bright boy. They must think you’re their Santy Claus.
DOD I’m sorry, Angelica. Fit can I dee?
ANGELICA Ye can get oot an’ let me get changed. (In a state.) Ach, ye’ve got me a’ unsettled noo. An’ me supposed to act the Gala Queen the nicht.
DOD (nervously) I’d better awa’ then. I’ll … eh … I’ll see you at the Social, then.
ANGELICA Oh, you’d better keep weel oot o’ my sicht. Or I micht be tempted to pit my Sceptre to a new use.
(Dod leaves hurriedly. She follows him off as the lights change again. Jim and Ronnie are making small changes to the set, mostly just making room for the Social. The full stage is used for this, with plenty of clear space. Jim is in the famous kilt. Ronnie is in a pre-war suit and tie.)
RONNIE Jist gie me a han’ wi’ this, Jim. ‘At’s fine. ‘At should dee. Plenty o’ room for jiggin’.
JIM (doing a bit of a boogie) Hey, hey. A’ we need noo is some quines.
RONNIE An’ here they come!
(Georgie enters, strutting on in her party gear – bright, vulgar and too young for her. She has clearly had it since before the war. On her head, to hide the curlers, she has a turban or even a head-square, clashing with the rest of her outfit. Chrissie and Teenie follow her on, also wearing their best but it is quieter and less vulgar than Georgie’s. They take up positions well away from each other – and from Ronnie. There could be some drinks and food going around throughout the scene, in which case Chrissie, Teenie and Dod would be passing it round.)
GEORGIE Fit div you think, Jim? (She does a birl.)
JIM Ye look smashin’, quine. (She preens.) But you’ve forgotten to tak’ aff your hat. Here I’ll pit it in the cloakroom for you. (He tries to take it off, but she slaps his hand away.)
GEORGIE Dinna be ignorant, Jim. (Posh voice.) This is evening head wear. Abody’s wearin’ them at Dinner Dances nooadays. Perms is affa aul’fashioned.
DOD (doing his practised smoothie act as he moves round them all) Ye’re lookin’ swell, Ma. (Kisses her cheek. She isn’t impressed by this foreign behaviour.) An’ you ana’, Teenie. Ye’ve got your colour back. (He kisses her cheek. She dislikes it.) An’ Chrissie. My bonniest auntie. (Kisses her cheek.) An’ look at you, Jim. Dressed to the nines. (He approaches him.)
JIM Na. Na. Keep awa’. You’re nae kissin’ me.
DOD You ken me, Jim. I’ll kiss onything in a skirt. (He makes a lunge at Jim which makes Jim squeal and the others laugh.) But wait till you see fit my partner’s weerin’. This is something really special.
GEORGIE Far is Angelica?
DOD Fa mentioned Angelica? I’ve drapped her. I’m wi’ her Grannie noo! (He raises his hand towards the entrance and in comes Lizzie, in full traditional fisher girl costume. She gets a lot of ‘oo’s and ‘aah’s from the company.)
LIZZIE I would gi’e you a curtsey but I dinna think I’d be able to get up again.
JIM Oh,look at that skirts! That tak’s me back. (Ronnie quietly exits.)
LIZZIE Oh, us Reids ken hoo to keep wir ends up. (She nods at the entrance. In comes Muriel, wearing her best frock – and, on top of it, a fur coat, tippet or stole. She is very full of herself.)
GEORGIE Is that new, Muriel?
MURIEL (Airily, stroking it) Aye. I’ve aye wanted een, but never thocht I’d ever be able to save up enough coupons. But I’ve managed it. Thanks to Dod.
DOD (Horror!) Fit?
MURIEL Aye. Ye see Dod was good enough to ging to Aiberdeen to bring me my tracts. (She opens her handbag and brings them out.) They had a message for me. See for yoursel’. (She hands one to Dod.)
DOD (reading) “The Lord helps them that help themselves.” (Pause, as he works it all out.) Angelica’s coupons. (She smiles serenely at him, settles her fur more comfortably about her and moves away. He beats his forehead in despair.)
RONNIE (entering) Quiet, please, everybody. I present this year’s Gala Queen, Angelica Reid. (The rest applaud. Angelica enters, in her Granny’s dress, with a crown, sash and sceptre. She acknowledges the applause with a regal wave. Dod approaches her, hopeful as ever.)
DOD Hello, Angel. You’re lookin’ affa bonnie. You’re jist like my dream come true.
ANGELICA (sweetly) An’ you’re jist like my worst nightmare come true. (She smiles nicely to him and turns her back on him.)
GEORGIE ‘At’s a rare frock.
ANGELICA It was my Grannie’s.
GEORGIE Ah. I thocht ye couldna’ve got that aff your coupons. (This rouses Angelica’s anger. Her face changes.)
ANGELICA (aiming this at Dod) No. You would need an affa lot o’ coupons for a frock like this. Nearly as mony as you would need for a nice suit. (This is spat out at Dod’s back.) An’ you could never get that number o’ coupons legally, could you? (She shakes her head in grief at the thought of people behaving illegally. She starts to speak in a queenly way, as if addressing her subjects. She gets less broad,.) I believe that there are some folk willing to lay their hands on illegal coupons, in the hopes of advantage to themselves. (Dod is looking thoroughly uncomfortable.) Weel, I for one wouldna hesitate to ging to the police an’ report onybody like that.
(Not only is Dod worrying about this – so is Muriel, though Angelica doesn’t notice, because she doesn’t know of her mother’s part in the loss of her coupons. Muriel moves away from the rest, looking very worried. All but Angelica notice this, pointing at her and whispering amongst themselves.)
What with the war on, and everything, I think they would go to jail, for the rest of their lives. Don’t you think so, Georgie? (She smiles regally and moves away. Dod hurries to his mother’s side.)
DOD (in terror) Ma!
GEORGIE (putting on a “mummy comforting her wee boy” voice) Dinna worry, my loon. I’ll tell the bobbies that Muriel seduced you, to get her han’s on a fur coat. I’ll say ye were sae besotted wi’ her, ye jist didna ken fit ye were deein’.
DOD (angry with her lack of sympathy) Ma!
(Jim has been prowling around behind Lizzie. Now comes to speak intimately to her.)
JIM I min’ that cla’es. (Pause.) Rare days. Rare days. (Georgie is up-stage of them, watching. Angelica is approached by Dod, anxious to plead his case. Teenie crosses to Ronnie, looking tearful. He doesn’t look sympathetic. Chrissie and Muriel are on their own.)
LIZZIE Fit div ye mean, rare days?
JIM Fan a’ the lassies were dressed like ‘at. It was real excitin’. Nae like noo, fan you can hardly tell the quines fae the loons. (He gestures excitedly at the dress.) A’ that layers o’ cla’es to work your wye through.
LIZZIE Mercy, Jim. You’re a bit o’ a rascal, surely. I niver had you figured for a lady’s man.
JIM (laughing delightedly) Ye micht be surprised. (He gives her a huge lascivious wink.)
LIZZIE Div you tell me?
JIM I div.
LIZZIE But could you show me?
JIM (getting her meaning) Nae bother ava’. (As excited as a pair of teenagers, they scamper off – as best they can. Georgie comes downstage to speak to the audience as the old pair pass her on their way off-stage.)
GEORGIE Sae the auld folks are deein’ a’ richt. (Pause.) But jist wait. Fan she finds oot he’s ower aul’ to manage it, she’ll be gey miserable. An’ she’ll mak’ damn sure he is ana’. There’s nae happy endin’s in life, ye ken. (Angelica storms away from Dod and stands sulking at the opposite side of the stage from him.) Angelica will never forgive Dod for messin’ up the coupons business; (Ron walks wearily away from Teenie and stands glowering at her. She looks miserable.) Ronnie will never get ower fit Teenie’s done; Muriel’s expecting the bobbies to haul her aff to Peterheid ony minute for dealin’ in stolen coupons. (Change of mood.) An’ Chrissie will spend the rest o’ her days wondering if she’d have been better nae to interfere in Teenie’s life. (Cheery again.) But there’s me, o’ coorse. I’m aye happy. As lang’s I’ve got the smell o’ fish aroon’ me.
(She sings, with or without accompaniment, as appropriate. The others all gather round, including Lizzie and Jim who come on separately. If necessary, the solo verses may be taken by other members of the cast if the named ones can’t sing!)
Oh, Hitler ordered an attack, to pulverise the Broch
But a’ his sodgers jist turned back and ran hame, shouting, “Och,
We canna dee fit you demand, though it’s your earnest wish.
It’s nae the guns we canna stand – it’s jist the smell o’ fish!”
CHORUS (sung by the four soloists)
Aye, the smell o’ fish is magic – jist like sex without the fuss,
So forget Chanel or Coty for they haud nae charms for us.
Yes, to us it tak’s the biscuit, it’s the best we’ve ever kent;
Oh, there is no perfume like it. You could say it’s heaven-scent.
A quine fae Fraserburgh toon will never lack a chiel;
She crooks her pinkie at a loon an’ he starts actin’ feel.
He’ll be her slave until his death, obey her every wish.
Nae for the sweetness o’ her breath – jist for the smell o’ fish!
CHORUS (sung by the four soloists plus two others)
Aye, the smell o’ fish is magic – jist like sex without the fuss,
So forget Chanel or Coty for they haud nae charms for us.
Yes, to us it tak’s the biscuit, it’s the best we’ve ever kent;
Oh, there is no perfume like it. You could say it’s heaven-scent.
A guttin’ lass was walkin’ hame, her wages in her purse,
Fan roon’ a corner robbers came, wi’ guns and’ knives an’ worse.
“Gie us your wages, quine, this night,” they cried. “That is oor wish.”
But she seen put they lads to flight – wi’ jist the smell o’ fish!
CHORUS (sung by all)
Aye, the smell o’ fish is magic – jist like sex without the fuss,
So forget Chanel or Coty for they haud nae charms for us.
Yes, to us it tak’s the biscuit, it’s the best we’ve ever kent;
Oh, there is no perfume like it. You could say it’s heaven-scent.
Fan Tam an’ Betty had a fecht, he went awa’ to hide.
She searched for him till efter echt; she looket far an’ wide.
But fan at last she tracked Tam doon, as was her dearest wish,
It wisna love that won him roon – but jist the smell o’ fish!
CHORUS (sung by all)
Aye, the smell o’ fish is magic – jist like sex without the fuss,
So forget Chanel or Coty for they haud nae charms for us.
Yes, to us it tak’s the biscuit, it’s the best we’ve ever kent;
Oh, there is no perfume like it. You could say it’s heaven-scent.
Yes, to us it tak’s the biscuit, it’s the best, it’s a’ you wish;
Oh, there is no perfume like it. It’s that clinging smell o’ fish.
That clinging, stinging, hinging, dinging, minging smell o’ fish.
(All are singing lustily and cheerfully, all plot unhappiness forgotten. They take lively curtain calls.)
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Guts. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved September 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1346.
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