Dipper: 44 - 'Butch and Sundance'
Author(s): Dr James A Begg
Copyright holder(s): Dr James A Begg
I wis staunin in the High Street, haein a crack wi Wullie Robson, the Secretary o the Works Angling Club that has a mile streitch o guid watter at the tap-en o the river, an he wis tellin me o the bother they were haein wi howkers foul-heukin saumon.
'It's juist like "open day' for poachers aa the time,' he complained, 'an they don't bother their heids wi oor members. Ah've tried pittin them aff mysel, but ye've tae staun a lot o snash, an some o them'll no even move for me. They'll flash three-year auld permits an ither bits o paper in yer face, but no let ye hae a guid luik at them!'
'Can ye no organise mair o yer Club members tae gae up thegither an check tickets -' I asked.
'The lads are sweirt tae cause trouble,' he replied. 'They're feart they micht get their caur tyres slashed, or flung in the watter sometime if they're juist fishin themsels. It's a gey ruch crowd that fish the Thorntree.'
'O.K. Wullie, Ah'll hae a word wi the Heid Byllie an see whit we can dae. We've been meanin tae gie the Ruch Watter a veesit for a while.'
The Ruch Watter wis a lang streitch whaur the river cam tummlin doun fast ower muckle bowders, an the saumon lay in scores in the white watter ahint the stanes, tho tae luik at it, ye ne'er wad hae thocht it likely that fish cuid lie there. It tuik a skeelie fisher tae fish the Ruch Watter, wi brammlin worm, Devon minnow, or even the flee, but there wis a wheen o local lads wha cuid tak a score o saumon a-piece oot it, by fair fishin, in a season.
Unfortunately, there wis a wheen o ithers forbye, wha cuid tak twa-score oot it by foul-fishin, an they were spylin it for the daicent fishers. The trouble wis that here the river flowed throu open kintrae, an the howkers, wi een in the back o their heids, cuid see the byllies comin a mile aff, an had plenty o time tae nip aff their illegal taickle, or pit a worm on their bare heuks.
Wi that in mind, the followin week, Neil an mysel peyd a veesit uisin the "auld claes" routine an cairryin fishin rods.
Throu the glesses, frae the tap o the brae by the ferm, we spied a fella come oot the watter an hauf-rin alang the bank as if he had seen a fish movin further upstream. Doun we went, takin oor time, an daunert up tae the Thorntree, tae fin it wis nane ither than oor auld freen Puggie. He didnae ken Neil, nor did he recognise me frae twa-year syne at the Auld Mill, whan I had gied him my 'priest' tae chap the heid o the wee grilse he had heukt (juist legally an nae mair!)
He had nae fish this time, but wis still uisin the wee bare heuks an daud o leid, as he aye did. Comin oot the watter, we gied him the time o day, an stuid up for a blether…… Naw, he hadnae caught ocht the day…… but ane o his mates had taen five oot frae ahint yon big stane ower there on Monday…… There were nae byllies aboot…… an they were nae muckle uise onywey, for he watched a poachin gang net the Thorntree juist at the grey darkenin three nichts syne - afore the fishers were even aff the watter!
There wis nae pynt in 'blawin oor cover', as they say, juist tae pit the likes o Puggie aff the watter for haein nae ticket, an whan fower ither coorse-luikin buggers frae the village arrived at the Thorntree, it wis mair nor we cuid haunle, sae we heidit for hame tae report tae the Heid Byllie, an mak plans for anither day.
That day came twa weeks later whan, efter a rise in the water brocht in a run o fish, five o us forgethert at the auld cemetery gates.
'Puggie's on the watter wi his brither,' Jock informed us, haein spoken wi ane o the Club members wha'd juist come aff hauf-an-oor syne.
'Guid!' said the Heid Byllie. 'Wee Alec an Ian better gae doun tae the bottom-en an work their wey up, an you, me, an Andra'll come in frae the tap-side.'
The Thorntree wis oot o sicht ahint a knowe, an as we crossed the stibble-field tae get there we were amused tae see twa o the local howkers, walkin doun the watter wi the same intent, shy aff like cushie-doos frae the crack o a gun, cross ower tae the faur bank, an staun shoutin nice words we cuidnae mak oot, as we went by!
We traversed roun the knowe abune the Thorntree tae see Puggie's brither in the ruch watter juist ablow it; an the pynt o a rod wavin abune some slae-busses a hunner yairds further doun nae dout belanged tae Puggie.
'Hou's it gaun, freen?' I speirt as we cam up tae him an he cam oot the watter.
'Aw, no at aa!' he replied. 'Ah hinnae heukt a thing aa mornin.'
'That's too bad,' I said. 'For it's you that's heukt! We're byllies! Whaur's yer ticket -' An quick as a flash, I gruppt his bare heuks an leid, an wrappt the heavy gut ticht roun my haun afore he cuid nick it aff.
'Whit dae ye think ye're daein-' he blustert. 'Ah'm fishin fair!'
'Whaur's yet worms an ticket then -'
'Ma ticket's in the caur, an ma brither's doun there wi the worms!' He jerkt his thoum dounstream tae whaur we saw a figure clammer up the bank an come steamin straucht for us.
'Hullo, Puggie!' said the Heid Byllie. 'We've got ye this time!'
'Whit dae ye mean?' shoutit Puggie. 'An whit are ye daein tae ma wee brither?'
Puggie's wee brither stuid hauf a heid bigger nor him!
'Ye're baith bein done for howkin,' the Heid Byllie replied, '...an fishin withoot permits.'
'Ma permit's in the motor!' protestit Puggie.
'An whaur's yet worms, then?' I speirt innocent-like.
'Ma brither's got them!'
'That's funny,' grinned Jock. '…..he said you had them!'
Aa pretence o innocence collapsed at that. Puggie's brither wis still haudin on tae his rod an widnae gie it ower tae us, but Puggie tae oor surprise, an mebbe wi mair experience o the Polis ahint him, haundit his ower as meek's a lamb. The Heid Byllie left tae phone for the Polis nou that Wee Alec an Ian had jyned us.
'Can Ah hae a word wi ye, Puggie?' whuspert his brither, an they baith drew thegither intae a wee huddle an stertit tae walk up the bank. I kep wi them for I jaloused they micht be hatchin a ploy. That stoppt them, an they sat doun on the edge o a heich bank aboot aicht feet abune the ruch watter.
'Are ye gaun tae gie me that rod, son?' I asked again, 'for if ye dinnae, Ah'm gaun tae chairge ye wi obstructin a byllie in the coorse o his duty - an that'll pit anither hunner pun ontae yet fine!'
'Naw!' he muttered, sittin humphy-backit, wi his hauns gruppin the rod - a guid twal-fuit ane worth aboot saxty-pun - ticht atween his knees. Then, wi'oot ony warnin, he stuid up, shoutit - 'C'moan, Puggie, jump!'- an wi that, ran forrit an lowpt straucht aff the aicht-fuit bankin intae fower feet o foamin white watter, an heidit for the faur side!
It wis like yon scene frae "Butch Cassidy an the Sundance Kid", whan Paul Newman an Robert Redford lowpt aff the cliff wi the Sheriff efter them. The only difference this time wis that "Butch" wis still sittin on the bankin! "Sundance" had sprauchlt aboot fower yairds throu the watter whan it dawned on him that he wis on his ain, an he turnt roun in dismay - 'Haw, Puggie!' he wailed, up tae his chest in the white, gurly stream, wi a wee choukie-burd he had shewn on his bunnet, bobbin awa like a dipper on a stane! There wis no a straucht face amangst us!
'Haw, Puggie! Are ye comin?'
'No me!' said Puggie. 'Ah ran frae the bliddy Polis a fortnicht ago, an Ah'm no rinnin this time! On ye go yersel!'
His brither hesitated, then stauchert his wey, sometimes faain forrit up tae his neck, tae the faur bank, whaur he stuid like a droukit dug, wunnerin whit tae dae next.
'Luik, son!' I shoutit, tryin a wee bit o psychological warfare, 'Ye're in big eneuch trouble as it is, withoot rinnin awa. We ken wha ye are, an the Polis'll come for ye juist the same.' I cuid see he didnae ken whit tae dae, sae I followed on -'An if ye come back ower, we'll drap the obstruction chairges! Mind whit Ah said aboot that hunner pun fine!' That seemed tae dae the trick, an he sclimmt doun the bank an stertit tae wade back across the watter!
'C'moan, son!' I cried, tae gie him encouragement.
'Don't listen tae him!' shoutit Puggie. 'Awa ye go!'
'C'moan, son, don't listen tae yer brither! Think aboot that hunner pun fine!'
'He's talkin a load o shite! Ye'll only get fined a score!'
Aa this time, for aboot five meenits, Puggie's brither had been gaun back an forrit like a yo-yo in midstream, up tae his belly in icy-cauld October watter, no kennin wha tae believe! At the hinner-en, he tuik Puggie's advice afore mine, an efter gainin the faur bank for the saicont time, wraslt up the brae tae the main road an wis gone.
It wisnae a bad decision, for he wis only fined a score mair nor Puggie - an held on tae his saxty-pun rod! It peys tae hae a brither weel versed in the weys o the Coort!
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Dipper: 44 - 'Butch and Sundance'. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 10 December 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=656.
"Dipper: 44 - 'Butch and Sundance'." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 10 December 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=656.
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