Another Perthshire Writer
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Scene: Stop for No. 2 bus, Mill Street, Perth.
|Inspector (on pavement):>||“L4?”|
|Driver A (at wheel of parked bus):||“Aye. L4”|
|Inspector (addressing Driver B, also on pavement):||“Time are you?”|
|Inspector:||“This is you”|
|Driver C (newly-arrived, on pavement):||“Where’s mine?”|
|Driver A (getting off bus, and pointing humorously at other bus now moving away from stop):||“That’s yours there”|
|Driver C:||“Aw, thanks....”|
“There were cows here yesterday....” our Guide said,
Looking round vaguely, as if a herd of Freisians might be concealed
Within the hedgerows.
She was a German lady in her seventies,
With a Bohemian taste in clothing.
We glanced down nervously...
Cowpats lay like landmines, awaiting our defenceless shoes.
Over at the river’s edge, a strange sight met our eyes.
Two young men, dressed in togas,
Thrust stubby wooden swords at each other.
They stopped, and turned to stare meaningfully at us.
“We’d better move along,” Irmgaard muttered,
“The University owns this land.”
She ushered us back to the gate,
Telling us more about the golden days of youth spent here
By our heroes. (We were a little gathering of fans).
“Wait a moment...” said an Italian on my left,
“I’ve got their song on my Ipod”.
He produced a little gadget and earplugs,
And we took turns to listen to “Grantchester Meadows”
- while we stood in sunlight, in Grantchester Meadows.
As moments go, it was rather surreal.
After we’d all gone our separate ways, I walked back to my B&B,
Stopping on a little bridge over the Cam
To watch the rowing teams at their practice.
With their flashing oars and relentless pace,
They resembled a machine possessed by devils.
Barges lined the riverbanks,
Some trim and pretty for the tourists; others weary and lived-in,
With prams, saucepans, bicycles and sacks of coal perched on their roofs.
The unfamiliar shops looked exciting in the dusk:
Bright lights inviting me in, as I returned to my B&B.
On the pavement by a corner shop,
A row of giant orange pumpkins lined themselves up -
Their shiny faces waiting
To be carved into grins.
She finds herself suddenly awake,
Not sure what’s caused it.
It can’t be morning....already?
But it’s so bright...
Recognising the moonlight - like a blade
Slitting through the curtain gap,
She calms herself.
A grunt. HE’s still asleep, of course.
Nothing ever wakes him.
When their child was still a baby,
Unfashionably allowed into the marital bed,
She’d lie awake, protecting the tiny, warm body
From Daddy’s arm - thrust across while dreaming.
Nowadays, he sleeps like a corpse.
No movements in the night.
Not even the ones she would have welcomed,
Had they still been offered.
Everything slides away....
Like the sand in the breakfast egg-timer.
She feels that - with every day which comes and goes,
She knows him less, not more.
He has his own private world.
She supposes she must have one, too...
Sighing, she lifts the duvet gently,
Not to disturb him. A cup of tea perhaps...
Very quietly, she opens the bedroom door
To the dark warmth of the hall.
He watches her go.
Silent air and setting sun,
The maritime pines in black silhouette.
Beside peppermint caravans full of heavy air,
Tibetan prayer flags flutter beside freshly-laundered teeshirts.
Sand is crawling, silently, from one coast to the other,
Tiny New Age mongrels trot on by...
Craft work in wood and stone and glass:
Started, enthused-over, but never quite complete.
In the ‘Barrel Houses’ the ‘spirit’ people live,
With wind chimes - and security lights.
The caravan dwellers throng towards the Forres bus.
We are all here for something: God knows what.
Remembering other times, the dark cold bay
Lies, surrounded by the land’s embracing arms.
Some Scenes from a Village Chemist Shop
I’ve worked as a part-time Pharmacy Assistant for just over a year. As an ex-patriot Glaswegian I enjoy engaging with the customers and, as a nosy person, I enjoy seeing everything going on in the shop and the street outside.
The ‘Etape’ cycle race took place recently. Last year, the local shops took part in a window-dressing competition on the theme of this race. One of our staff made a great job of our window and won us a prize. Her props included a bicycle wheel, Deep Heat pain relief spray, blister plasters and Savlon. But it was surely her humorous additions of a portable gents’ toilet, and a rubber swimming ring which did the trick...
The changing seasons of the year are reflected in the items we sell: hay-fever remedies, tick removers and sun-cream give way later on to cold and flu remedies. When the school term recommences, anxious mums come in looking for head lice treatments. Recently, there were a few small boys with slapped face syndrome, following some kind of holiday-time outdoor activity.
I often struggle to keep my hands off overexcited small children who run about taking things off one shelf and putting them back on a different one, while their mums grab the chance for a quick chat.
The tourist season brings in hordes of hairbrushless visitors, and others who have left vital medication at home. And the wedding season produces a few ‘morning after the night before’ customers, who are directed to what I privately call our ‘Tums and Bums’ section.
During quiet times I tidy the shelves, carefully-avoiding the Elastoplast boxes which have wobbly bottoms and tend to throw themselves – lemming-like – from the shelves, at the least encouragement. However, the sleeping remedy ‘Nytol’ has a similarly unstable box and – if I am careful –can be set to rock as if it’s nodding off to sleep, which I find hilarious.
Most of the customers are very nice. I’ve tied a Rainmate under the chin of a tiny, ancient lady who has such a sweet face you’d do anything for her. But there is the occasional rude person, such as the man who coughed forcibly into my face then asked for a cough remedy. Some customers come in for a bit of banter, but sometimes there will be someone who is struggling under a burden of worry and it finally gets too much. We have a tiny side room which is useful on these occasions.
On Tuesday mornings, we have several dozen eggs in the shop. We buy them from a local lady whose chickens supply many people in the area. There’s always a keen interest to see whether anyone’s got precious ‘double-yolkers’ this week.
Some of our odder sales have included the following:
We also sell snow shovels, spectacle chains and soft toys in which to lodge your TV remote control.
I have sold a cough bottle to a famous folk singer. And only last week a very friendly lady came in and I nearly told her that she reminded me of a well-known comedienne, but stopped when I realised it WAS the comedienne!
I will leave you with this thought: “Things Happen After a Badedas Bath” – and knowing MY luck, it’ll be a rash...