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Yae Unco Tale

The Doctor

Here is a short story clipped from a newspaper around 1920. It's the tale of two stonemasons attending the house of the local doctor to fix a chimney. Who knows - it might even be true.  With scots dialect in the text.


Repairs were necessary at the doctor’s house, a leaking roof, repainting, and general overhaul was demanded. One chimney also had been giving a great deal of trouble, hence the rigging and incidental accessories. Two worthy masons were put on the job, one a fierce radical, the other went by the name of Tory Jock**. The doctor was condescending to the latter and to the former tolerant merely. Roddy, the radical, was in charge,
so one morning he commanded Jock to go into the house and prepare the housekeeper for the sweeping of the lum. The room was the doctor’s sitting-room. After satisfying themselves that everything was in order, Lizzie. the housekeeper, removed the doctor’s personal belongings into the next room, placing his new white lum hat and fine light dust coat on the table near the centre of the room. She then called the doctor and informed him of the change.

“Dammit,” he said. “Could they not have waited another half hour when I would have been far away and out of all this habble.” “Toots, doctor,” said Lizzie, “the men must get on with their work. You’ll find all your things on the table.”
Enter the doctor, notebook in hand, hastily scanning his calls, and walking up to the cheerless fireplace, stands fuming and impatient at the unwanted interference with his general routine.
Suddenly, a bang behind him like a pistol shot, as the great iron ball struck the iron ribs of the grate and immediately he was enveloped in a dense cloud of soot.
“Good God,” he yelled, “what have the damned fools done? My new hat and my coat!”

A line must be drawn thus --— at this period. If the soot and the sulphuric  acid pouring out of the doctor’s mouth had ignited, the explosion would have left him roofless as well as lumless.
Roaring for Lizzie to fetch hls gun, he rushed out to the street, swearing vengeance on the two miscreants, who, he was sure, had done it on purpose, especially the rascally radical, Roddy, who was in charge of the Job.
He looked in vain for the forms of our two worthies, who, hearing him, had lmmediately dropped flat on the other side of the roof.
At last he espied what he took to be their fingers clinging to the coping. Again he roars for Lizzie to fetch his gun.
 "I can see them,” he said. “Quick,” he I cried. “I’ll blow their fingers off the same as my own were.” ( He himself had lost three fingers, in a gun accident.)
Above him lay Roddy and Jock shaking in their shoes.
“Keep doon, Jock, he’ll shoot as sure's a gun,” said Roddy.
“Hoo did ye mak’ that mistake, Jock?”
“God only knows, Roddy. Baith Lizzie and I heard ye speak quite plainly before I put up the packsheet in front o’ the grate.”
‘Well, well, it canna be helped noo. I’ll keek up an’ see hoo things are noo. L’od, here’s Long Jimmy himself.” (This was the master mason.) “Things’ll hum for a wee while noo, Jock. Lie doon till it blaws bye.”

At long length, after a great hulabaloo, they heard the doctor's gig drawing out of the yard and away. As long as the doctor had been there Long Jimmy refrained from calling on his men, but immediately he was out of sight he called them and demanded an explanation.

The chimney was inspected and found to have been pierced or burned away thus making two into one, hence the catastrophe.
As he had promised to pay the doctor damages he told them that their share would be deducted from their pay, but it never was.
However, for the next few days, in fact all the time the job lasted, the goings out and the comings in of the worthy doctor were carefully noted and the pair of them took mighty good care to be out of sight.

Not very long after, Roddy met the doctor face to face without the slightest chance of escaping and braced himself for the worst.
The doctor’s “worst” was a grin of enjoyment as he said with a smile, “Aye, man, Roddy, Jock and you are grand tradesmen.
but yae thing ye didna ken was that twa fires could reek oot o’ yae lum.”


 ** Tory Jock was a Carluke man. His real name was John Duncan and he lived out on the Carnwath road where Thompsons Lorries are today. The house where he lived is gone now but was called Skitter Brae.
Not only was he a stonemason but for many years he was also the election agent for Lord Newlands which is why he was nicknamed Tory Jock. He is mentioned in a poem written by John Crawford the cabinet maker.
The poem called The Tory Guzzle tells the true story of how every election year the Tories held a free grand dinner in Carluke Town Hall which was open for anyone to attend. There is a line in the poem ...where lords sat next to ploughmen... and indeed they did. The purpose of the dinner was simply to buy favour and influence folks to vote Conservative Unionist at the election.

Read more stories from the Humorous section
Cinema Notes (the next story in sucession)
Camp Coffee Redux
Cinema Notes
Cosmopolitan Carluke
Kilncadzow Crime Scene
Punch me

Created before 2012