The Split

by Irene Macleod

Image provided by VisitScotland/ David N Anderson


I could never quite bring myself not to offer some form of farewell, so “I’ll be seeing you.'

It was a long and tiring road home from work but the day was kind and it was summer, plenty of light in it. Even so, it was with weary bones at the end of the day that I called into the old neighbour with the message she had asked me to get her in town. In earlier days of the Mail Bus all kinds of supplies would be delivered to our Post Office to await collection. These days if you heard someone was heading for the town you asked them to pick up your requirements. 'Mission impossible' my work colleague called it as I was asked to source rubber tips for ends of walking sticks; big bloomers; lisle stockings; gauze bandages!

I stopped the car at the gate and walked up the last 100 yard of grass path to the door. Dressed in my smart work shoes, blouse and skirt, I was glad the path was dry.

Even with the good day I was surprised to find Hughag sitting inside by the fire as usual, 2 or 3 cats round her, and wearing sunglasses! She'd recently had cataracts done but where had she managed to source the sunglasses at such short notice?

"Oh yes, Geordie brought me them back from Bombay when he came home from the war"...waiting 50 years in a drawer for just the right occasion!

Like many of that generation, Hughag and Geordie were the original eco warriors and recyclers with consuming for the sake of it not being on the agenda. I did a bit of hoovering for Hughag one time that I was tidying up before she came home from hospital. There was more dust bellowing out of the hoover than I was picking up. When she was home I was saying to her that I couldn't make much of her hoover. "Oh yes", she said, "I got that with my first lamb cheque."

She was cautious with her money too, never having had very much at all in her younger days. Babe, Lall and Annie were a bit fed up with her when she wanted to go to Thurso with them as they ended up paying for everything and buying her her tea. One day they were all there they pulled the car into the garage to top up with fuel and as Lall got out of the car, Hughag said wait a minute and started to rummage in her handbag. Much to their surprise, they all thought she was going to make a contribution to the fuel. Hughag found what she was looking for, 'a marshmallow' she said.

Co-dhiù! After a good ceilidh catching up on the news and the gauze bandages delivered, she came to the door to see me off.

The place had had so many folk in it in her youth and they were in and out of each other's houses, so nobody said Hello and Goodbye. If we`d known 'Au revoir' we might have used it, but instead we just kept on talking till you were shouting at each other and nearly out of ear shot. I could never quite bring myself not to offer some form of farewell, so “I’ll be seeing you."

Which was why she shouted at me half way down the path and noticing my work skirt with the fashionable split up the back for the first time,

“I’ll be seeing your backside more like!"


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