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The Annexe

The Annexe

The Annexe
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The Innerleven Boolin Club – 3

BACKGROUND TITLE 450 WIDE

As we are all aware, there’s a proper way to use a language, and there’s the way that everybody else does. So when Nettie Simpson’s granddaughter came over from America, and talked the way that they do across there, there was a certain amount of confusion for a while, and things got so mixed up that the dust took a long time to settle in the Innerleven Bowling Club.

An American Abroad

When the long winter is settling in, and there is nothing to watch on the television, those that were there at the time, will clear their throats; a clear signal that the new members should order another round of drinks Then, warmed and wetted, they’ll tell the story of Nettie’s First. Funeral, that is!

It was a Thursday, just after dinner-time (about one o’clock). Big Mary was starting to get a trifle anxious. Everybody that should have been there for the morning matches had come, played, won or lost, and nobody had created a fuss for any reason, real or imagined. Wullie, her man, had managed to get along to Methil, to Gordon Allen’s – the butchers – for a steak pie for the Saturday night raffle, without getting lost, done out of change or, even worse, buying one from the Co-op!

It was quiet. And Mary was starting to fret. They say now that you could taste the air like it was sucking a penny, but we all know that that’s just blethersnonsense.

It was then that the taxi turned up, and everybody knew at once that trouble had arrived. Taxis were for funerals and weddings. The only likely, local, candidate for a wedding, Rachel Ross’s daughter Irene, had been safely married off just in time to fit in a two week honeymoon in Blackpool before signing in to Forth Park Maternity.

So it had to be a funeral (or somebody with more money than sense, or an American, which everybody knew amounted to the same thing). As it turned out, it was both.

With the inbuilt sense of generals and prime ministers, Big Mary moved in to organise. The twist of an eyebrow summoned her staff. The Coh-mittee moved as one to take charge. It would be done ‘proper’.

As the big guns swung around to take aim, the taxi door rattled open and revealed the opposition. Clad in the best of winter wear that L L Bean’s emporium could provide, armoured in flannel and thermal underwear, was a sight never before seen in local waters. The hair was more frostbite than peroxide. The face had never launched a ship, though it had probably driven a few sailors to scuttle one. Out of the taxi stepped Portland, Maine’s answer to Portland cement – Nettie Simpson’s granddaughter. Named after her gran, but never called Nettie to her face. Jeanette Day Pendexter, if you please.

And on that mouthful, the Americans fired first!
“Ay-uh!”“Hello?”
Straddled by the first salvo, Big Mary blinked, slowed a couple of knots, and fired back.
“Hi-yah, yersel! You’re no fae aroond here. No w’ that outfit, onnywey. C’n ah dae onnything fur ye?”“Hello yourself! You don’t seem to be from around here – not wearing that outfit, anyway. Can I do something for you?”
“Ay-uh say. Hain’t this heah yahd the Hinnerleh-ven Buh-hoolin Club?”“I say, is this the Innerleven Bowling Club?”

Mrs Jeffery lofted a shot across the American’s bows. Always keen to fire a round, providing somebody else fired first. And as long as she was with the biggest Navy.
“Izzat wan o thae speech impediments ye got there hen? If’n ye talk slower, we’ll try tae unnerstaund ye.”“Is that a speech impediment you seem to have? Perhaps, if you talk a little slower, then we might be able to understand you.”
Ina Wilson, bein the brains, so to speak, of the trio, took a little longer to join in.
“Aye. This is Innerleven Bowlin Club. Are ye lost, hen? An, if ye dae mind me sayin, that taxi driver has ta’en th long wey roond fae whaur ye’ve come fae. If ah wis you, ah w’dnae be peyin whit he’ll be askin!”“Yes. This is the Innerleven Bowling Club. Are you lost, my dear? If you don’t mind me saying, that taxi driver has taken the long way round from wherever you come from. If it was me, I would query the fare that he demands!”

Still broadsiding around on full rudder, and with her instincts on full steam, Big Mary saw a situation that called for caution! She could hardly make out a word the woman, from the taxi, was saying, so she altered course in a blink, and sent Ina in to make the next exchange of shot. A good admiral knows when to concentrate on the grand strategy, and send in someone else to take the shellfire. It’s what leaders do!

Ina was crafty, and she had depths of knowledge that no-one had ever plumbed. (Not willingly, anyway!). She had even taken two years of Latin at school. At the time, she had reckoned on becoming a chemist, and in the process, saving herself the cost of prescription charges. She could now see how the current situation could work to her advantage, and anyway, when it boils down to it, there isn’t a lot of difference between languages. (If there was, she could just make it up as she went along, and Big Mary would never know the difference.)

“Mebbe, if’n ye tell us yer name, that’d be a start. O.K.?”“If you were to tell us your name, then that would be a start. OK?”
“Jeezum Crow! Cain’t any of you people speak English. This heah gal is called Pendexter. Jean Day Pendexter!”“Heavens above! Can any of you people speak English? My name is Pendexter. Jean Day Pendexter!”
Big Mary and Mrs Jeffrey, struggling to follow any part of the conversation, started one of their own.
“Pendexter? Whit’s a Pendexter?” said Mrs Jeffrey.“Pendexter? What is a Pendexter?”
“Ah dae ken. Hey Ina! Whit’s a Pendexter?”“I don’t know! Hey Ina! What is a Pendexter?”
Ina was trying hard to spit out the gritty bits, and make something of the conversation. So she snapped back at Mrs Jeffrey.
“It’s a left-haunded ballpoint pen! Noo let me get on wi’ this …”“It is a left-handed ballpoint pen. Now let me deal with this …”
Always quick to seize on something to complain about, was Mrs Jeffrey.
“Left-haunded ball point. If mah mum h’d been able tae afford wan o them, I’d’ve passed mah qually, an went tae th high skale. Cah write left-haundit w’ th richt-haundit pens that skale gi’en oot!”“Left handed ball point. If my mother had been able to afford the likes of that, then I would have passed my 11plus Exam, then gone on to enter High School. You cannot write left-handed with the right-handed pens that the school handed out!”

“So yer name’s Jean, an y’re lookin fur th Boolin Club.” said Ina. “Were ye lookin tae set up a match?”“So! Your name is Jean, and you are looking for the Bowling Club.” said Ina. “were you proposing to set up a match?”
Jean considered Ina with that face that said ‘We can do a bit of business here’, then glancing sideways at Mary and Mrs Jeffrey, reckoned ….
“That theah payuh oh hoes could no way get heah from heah, no mind from theah”.“That pair of loose women couldn’t find their way from ‘here’ to ‘here’, never mind ‘there’!”
“Well, ayuh cain’t says as I’m lookin fuh a match. But, I guess prob’ley, I am lookin foh this heah buhoolin club”.“Well, I wouldn’t say that I was looking for a match. But I am looking for this here Bowling Club.”
“Richt!” said Ina. “An why are ye lookin fur the Boolin Club?”“Right!” said Ina. “And why are you looking for the Bowling Club?”
Amazingly, Jean’s face lost its hard edges for a second, and out came the story.
“It’s my Gramma – Jean-nette Simpson. Shuhely, I was named aftah huh. I cayum all the wayuh cross the Lantic, from ayuhpawt to ayupawt, with only an ayuh-line bed lunch ta keep the body ah-runnin. Ah comes all this way heah ta see ha, but when I get to ha house, theh-are was nobody theah!”“It’s my grandmother – Jean-nette Simpson. I was named after her. I came all the way, across the Atlantic from airport to airport, with only an airline meal to keep me going. I came all this way to see her, but when I got to the house, there was nobody there!”
“Hing on a minute”, Ina butted in. “Ye’ve flew aw the wey fae the States tae see yer grannie. Is that richt?”“Just a moment!” Ina butted in. “You flew all the way from the United States, to see your grandmother. Is that correct?”
Jean could see that saying ‘Yes’ was the easiest way to carry on with her story.
“Ay-uh! The house, it was sitting emptuh. No smoke up from the chimbly. And then a neybuh, He come ah-tellin me it was Thudsday, and Nettie – ah thinks he meant Jean-nette, my Gramma – she would be away to heh funehral. It would be at 3 o’clock. Somuhplace he called the ‘Crem’.”“Yes! The house was sitting empty. There was no smoke from the chimney. Then a neighbour told me that it was Thursday, and Nettie – I think that he meant Jean-nette, my grandmother – would be away to her funeral. That would be at 3 o’clock. At some place that he called ‘the Crem’.”
By this time, the Portland cement was cracking. The make-up struggled to cope. You could see that she was really upset.
“My Gramma! Came all this way heah. Hahd tellin not knowin she was dead. And now, I’ll be up and missin her funehral.”“My grandmother! Came all this way to see her. It is hard, not knowing that she had died! And now, I’ll be missing her funeral!”

Ina was starting to get a grasp of this. Well, some of it, anyway. Jean sailed on through the growin fog of words.
“The neybuh, he is sayin ‘Goah to Hinner-Lehven Buh-hoolin Club. Ay-uh. Them, they’ll know evrything. They-uh always acted like theyuh did. You ask them! Jea-nette always playud theah.”“The neighbour said ‘Go to the Innerleven Bowling Club. They know everything! Or, at least, they always act like they do! Ask them. Jean-nette always played there.'”
Before Ina could speak, Big Mary was right in there.
“Well then, whit’s she sayin?”“Well then. What is she saying?”
“Near as ah c’n mak oot, she’s Nettie Simpson’s grandaughter, fae America. Netties daed, an the funeral’s at Kirkcaldy Crem at 3 o’clock.”“As far as I can figure it out, she’s Nettie Simpson’s granddaughter. Nettie is dead, and the funeral is being held at Kirkcaldy Crematorium, at 3 o’clock.”

Big Mary was shocked!
“Nettie’s daed, an never telt me! An wha’s gaun tae arrange the tea? An oor names’ll be dirt if we dinnae turn up at the Service! There’s only wan thing tae dae! The Innerleven Boolin Club’ll hae tae oarganise Nettie’s funeral! It’s only richt!”“Nettie is dead! She never told me! Who is going to arrange the tea? Our names will be dirt if we don’t turn up at the Service! There is only one course of action! The Innerleven Bowling Club will have to organise Nettie’s funeral. It is only right!”

Coming next … Nettie’s First (The Funeral)

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