In the limpid afternoon, with sunlight dappled through overhanging leaves, as she lay safe and soft in Maude's embrace, Ello could almost fancy she heard a weary penitent shuffle to the garderobe, remove his hair shirt and slip on silken hose and cambric dress, which womanly attire earned him his soubriquet of Wullie the Wench!
Now Izzy's idea was deceptively simple in the extreme, but it was this very simplicity which gave it its particular attraction: she proposed that the Eightsome Reel up to Dirleton Castle, four in Daphne's car and the rest in her van – if they didn't mind the risk of being arrested and the vehicle impounded as she hadn't yet passed her driving test and therefore hadn't yet taxed the van – it is insured, though, she said, for she was very particular about not ignoring the sensible laws and regulations, and anyway it's only a hop, skip and jump, but it's got lovely views and it's perfect for a picnic and was where she always took visiting ladies – which she implied was not infrequent – and afterwards, they could leave the vehicles there and cycle back to The Jolly Boatman, for she just happened to have four Tandems – well, she could lay her hands on them, implying that a nod's as good as a wink – and a couple of her chums would bring the motors down later; she laughed and the Caddies who possibly didn't fully understand what she was saying - for her accent was quite broad - cheered, jumped up and down and clapped their delicate hands in pleasure, at the sight of which Maude felt her own little twinge of pleasure, and smiled despite herself; and it was Perfection – the Castle almost looked like a bespoke ruin, so picturesque and incomplete as it was, with access to the dungeons and a tiny hoosegow for recalcitrant prisoners, and the heights of its battlements sufficient for them to imagine repelling a siege and having a view “to die for” said Phemie – although Maude had never been a great one for heights – she'd only been up the Scott Monument once, forty years ago, and the memory rather upset her proprioception and she couldn't remember where her hands and feet were and for an instant she seemed to have 360 degree vision, as if her head was going right round, like an Owl's, which made her feel sick; but it passed and the picnic supplied by The Jolly Boatman had plenty of food and drink for an army and after eating and drinking their fill, the eight lay about and talked of cabbages and kings; Izzy, who said that on her mother's side she was descended from one of the Ruthvens who had been Lords of Dirleton in the 16th Century and that she was also descended from Griselda of Longformacus – the very same Our Lady as Father Finnegan's Chapel, though she thought it was more like a small Cathedral, and certainly a place they must visit before daphne and Maude returned to The City - “and my Grannie St Bathans was named Griselda after her: my mother used to sing a song about Grannie, for she was a Polar Explorer (I once met her, Maude whispered to Daphne, who whispered back that she knew, because she had been there too) it went:
My Maw's a Millionaire,
Would you believe it,
Blue eyes and Curly hair,
Would you believe it,
Sitting among the Esquimaux,
Playing a game of Dominoes,
My Maw's a Millionaire,
or would've been if she'd accepted Howard Hughes' offer of a Million pounds to fly one of his sea-planes for the Polari Circumnavigation but she said 'no thanks, mate, I'll do it in a Sunderland,' she flew those Flying Boats in the War and always said they were the best of the lot, and she would only use British equipment,” and Daphne asked her if she flew herself, “oh, yes, I've had a licence since I was 21 – don't have one for the roads, but I'm legit in the air, I've got a little Spitfire over at the East Fortune airfield – I'd take you girls for a spin but I'm a little short of cash and haven't paid my last fuel bill yet – the antiques trade's a bit slack at the moment, everybody's looking for Van Gogh's and Wedgwood Green's, for a couple of bob at a Car Boot Sale, not prepared to pay a fair price to a dealer, that's why I've been concentrating on selling through ebay, and just opening the shop at weekends and holidays, and why I'm looking for a good assistant (she surreptitiously glanced towards Conchita) but next time, and I know there will be a next time, I promise it'll be up, Up and AWAY!”
"Well, Kenny," breathed Jubbly into his ear, "when ah wiz a wean in Partick, ma Maw's bespoke hoosegow played Merry Hell wi ma proprioception, an me a guid Catholic lassie!"
As they watched Jubbly, arm in arm with Kenny Cramond, stroll across the foreshore, and become lost among the dunes, obviously planning to spend the livelong day in his company – seeming to have forgotten her intention to Ride like a Valkyrie into the sanguinary clash with Angus and his Advocate, the despised Martin Elginbrod QC over the custody of their only daughter Carmelita in the Divorce Court that very afternoon, which – if she carried out her implied threats could only end in her being flung into the hoosegow – the Clink, the Lock-up, the Jugs, the Jail, they tried to explain to Ello, Ullo, Cristal and Conchita; Father Finnegan bade the friends “fare thee well, Mesdames, for I must leave thee, but if ye's find yersels in the vicinity of Our Lady of Longformacus, don't hesitate to pop into the Vestry for a wee glass o the Pure, and I mean that, I'm not given to casual invitations to any old Tom, Dick or Harriet, and yer all Bosom Buddies of Jubbly so that means yes're friends of mine, and don't worry about me getting' defrocked for consortin' an cavortin' with Ladies of your Inclination – sure t'was for defrocking a number of Nuns to the displeasure o their Mother Superior who had her own designs that I got sent to this place – apart from the Brothers of Sancta Maria Monastery near Haddington, most o me flock are Poles an' I don't speak a single word o their lingo – too many consonants an' no nuff vowels for me,” so the Ladies all promised to look in on him whenever they were passing his Chapel when Phemie said that she had been checking the off-shore weather forecast and that today wouldn't be the best to venture Bass ward, so did anyone have other ideas; golf was dismissed as taking too long when all eight – for the Caddies were regarded as part of the family now – were clearly alcoholically unfit for the trek; added to which this week's Scottish Open would mean crowds of spectators and none of them felt up to even tackling a Putting Green before the steely gaze of critical observers; it was too fine here onshore to spend in the cellars of Father Finnegan's Chapel searching for historical evidence even if there was a definite hope of turning up anything as spectacular as Sir Walter Scott's discovery of the Scottish Crown Jewels – what a fisc – in an abandoned, battered and filthy old chest, adorned with ancient graffiti and encrusted with historically significant excrement, in a sealed-off oubliette of Edinburgh Castle, the very thought of which rather gave Daphne a shiver as she recalled, all too vividly, her own brief incarceration, and she pulled Maude close for a sudden embrace and warm, loving kiss, to express genuine gratitude for her rescue from what would otherwise have been a long, slow, and ultimately certain death - which drew loud cheers and wolf whistles from a group of men in waders heading for the Harbour, and a round of applause from the Caddies who, all being rather excitable by nature, were given to sudden, spontaneous, and rather joyous expressions of delight: whooping, jumping, embracing and kissing, which both Daphne and Maude found very touching and rather loved them for; which was when Izzy had the best idea of the morning!
Being possessed of telegnosis, or the Third Eye as her wee Heilan' Great-Grannie Maude MacGregor was wont to call it, in her wee Black Hoose on the Misty Isle of Skye, Maude Lyttleton's 'feminine intuition' as it was airily dismissed by the materialists of Academe, rarely let her down – if there was an emotional Higgs-Boson particle zooming around the circle of her Lovers and Acquaintances, threatening a cataclysmic explosion, she could detect it with unerring speed, and her categorical declamations were ever heeded by those who knew and trusted her discernment; but the one accidence of intonation – often referred to as the Antipodean Interrogative because of it's origination 'down under', obviously – that enquiring uplift at the end of a statement or sentence always caught her off-guard, and she would begin to offer an answer before realising that none had been called for – so when, over breakfast the following morning, when the Eightsome Reel were eating with the ravenous hunger of the sexually sated, Ello, her Caddy, turned to Maude and gently laid her small tanned hand on Maude's thigh and asked, in an undertone, “hey Maude, you really shagged me last night?” and Maude, unprepared for it, began to mumble something which might have been an explanation of extenuating circumstances, or an apology for acting under the influence, or simply that she found Ello's delicate features and caramel colouring irresistibly sweet, but she stopped as Ello squeezed her thigh and said, in a voice as soft as down, “best night I've had since I came to Scotland,” and Maude realised that her normally razor sharp acuity had once again let her down when faced by a person from the farthest reaches of the Good Old Empire and she lifted Ello's hand to her lips and kissed it gently.
As it turned out, neither Daphne nor Maude, nor Phemie, nor Izzy, nor indeed any of the Caddies, returned to the Golf Links that day, for after eating their fill and drinking much more than their fill, the eight friends – oh yes, the Caddies were quite definitely their friends by now, having been present to witness Jubbly Johanssen's abduction, and probable seduction, of Father Finnegan and while there were certain points of difference between understandings of the import of that particular incident, and also Ello and Ullo's grasp of the precise meanings of many of the things spoken of around the table, due in no small part to their unfamiliarity with either the Scots or the English languages, and that much of the blether was simply drunken bunkum anyway, they were pretty smart cookies and between them had a pretty fair general idea of the gist of what had happened and was likely to happen, and as they had already been paid for the day's golfing, had no difficulty with accepting that their professional duties would not be required until the next day and so were free to enjoy the rest of this day as they pleased – and they were very pleased to remain in the company of the four 'golfers' (if applying that title to Daphne, Maude, Phemie and Izzy isn't rather stretching it) for whatever transpired; and so it was that as the day drew towards closing time, the eightsome reeled towards Daphne and Maude's bridal suite in the Forth View Hotel and played a kind of 'Tag Team' version of Strip Monopoly, with the added excitement of Forfeits; I'm sure I need say no more, and so will draw my delicate wisp of gauze over the happenings in Forth View Hotel that night, until the fine morning that followed, when the eight rather rumpled, but delightfully gruntled friends, with puffy faces and sleepy eyes and wild bed-hair, made their way, after rather hearty breakfasts – considering their alcoholic consumption during the night before and the complete lack of sleep for most of them – made their way to The Jolly Boatman and were just in time to catch Jubbly and Father Desmond (for that was the Priest's Christian name) Finnegan exiting the building in order to enjoy a refreshing and invigorating stroll along the beach, with a mien of sated exhaustion which was when Jubbly noticed that the figure slowly maundering along the foreshore towards them was none other than Kenny Cramond, the famous Scottish Film Director, and she emerged from the group in an attempt to gain his attention by discarding as much of her clothing as it would take, so that she might request his autograph – on her tummy, in wash-proof ink, or permanent marker (which she could have tattooed later, she thought) – now wouldn't that be one in the eye for Angus, later today!
“Choices, choices,” grumbled the celebrated Scots auteur Kenny Cramond as he maundered along the Gullane foreshore, kicking stones into the foamy brine; the stringent budget cuts imposed on him by STV were wreaking havoc with his shooting schedule for 'Rob Roy' and he felt his artistic integrity being quickly eroded, helped by his tight-arsed producer, Mungo Macpherson, and knew that he needed to pluck some sort of rabbit out of the hat to kick-start the floundering project; not that he couldn't demonstrate artistic integrity on a shoestring – why, his 'Birdwatching' had won the 'Palm D'Or' at the Oban Film Festival and Georgie Corcoran and Felicity Dalwhinnie owed their Hollywood status to his 'Dancing with Kelpies'; “what to do, what to do”; his reputation for 'double-speak' was well founded and he cursed himself for the irritating habit and stared towards The Jolly Boatman, wondering if it was too early for a wake-up shot of Laphroaig, when he suddenly caught sight of a group of women of all ages and shapes, accompanied by an elderly priest, not nuns, surely, he reflected and suddenly, out of their midst emerged a simply stunning vision – a voluptuous woman highlighted in a blaze of sunshine like the Virgin in a painting by Giotto, seemingly stripping for an early morning dip, “out of many.” he murmured and he knew he only had to say it once and his future and the success of 'Rob Roy' were assured: “forget all the difficulties and hazards for – e pluribus unum – she's the one!”
But it was when Jubbly's surgeon had left, for he had to pick up his daughter from her Riding Lesson as his wife was too pregnant to drive, that Jubbly became first morose – at herself for getting involved with a married man when she had forsworn herself done with men after Angus's many misdemeanours; then funny, telling many risqué tales of the famous and infamous, which the Caddies could not quite follow, but they still enjoyed the animated way Jubbly told them; then in a maundering way she spoke of walking the West Highland Way with her daughter's Nanny who has been her Heartthrob, she said, for the past five years; she then became angry – at Angus for attempting to win custody of their daughter on the grounds that a mother who seems unable to decide whether she is Straight or Lesbian is no good role model for a child entering her teenage years; then falling over – in which recurring activity she had become so versatile as to avoid actual injury, despite the indignities often experienced; then outrageous – flashing her bra or knickers in the direction of anyone injudicious enough to be staring at her (quite blatantly challenging them to look away or admit their desire for her) and it was something she did very effectively; incandescent about Marting Elginbrod QC and not. It seemed only about his nefarious acquisition of copyrights and patents or his representation on the morrow of Angus at the family Court, but also – it seemed, though she gave no explicit details – rather that there had in the past been some kind of involvement with him, its exact nature not entirely made clear, though probably involving (well, she is Jubbly Johanssen after all) some degree of intimacy, from which Jubbly had emerged not at all unscathed, and certainly the fires of her fury were well stoked and few listening would like to be Martin Elginbrod should ever he encounter Jubbly with a pair of dressmaker's shears in her hand, the thought is enough to make men's eyes water and women cower with their ears stopped up to keep the Advocate's screams of agony from entering their heads; then openly flirtatious – she seemed to have particularly caught the eye of Father Finnegan, for the priest had come over and during the animated conversations which had been taking place, much to the undisguised amusement (if not also bemusement) of Ello and Ullo and the other Caddies, had taken advantage of a slight change of positions around the table, when one or another had by dint of bladder weakness or over indulgence, been required to visit what Jubbly kept referring to as “the Little Girls Room” managed to find a seat for himself and as the sands shifted, gradually moved closer to Jubbly until he was tightly squeezed between her and Conchita (Phemie's Caddy) and because of his intimate proximity to her, Jubbly's conversation with the whole party seemed to have turned into a dialogue between herself and the Quixotic priest, who suddenly declared – to Jubbly and the company: “by the Saints in Heaven and the Holy Mother herself and Our Lady Griselda of Longformacus may her memory live on and may I long be the Keeper of Her Holy Vault (at which Daphne's ears twitched and she made a mental note to make enquiries of Father Finnegan on the Morn's Morn and perhaps conduct an interpellation of him on the subject of The Lady) I'd be willin' to change me sex and become a Nun if you'll only be me Mother Superior,” at which Jubbly assured him that he wouldn't have to go to such lengths, for she was sure they could come to an understanding – and she kissed him full on the mouth, while the silence in the cubicle became heavy with anticipation – and then Jubbly stood, drawing Father Finnegan after her and took him to the door which led up to the room she had booked earlier and he, with the panglossian innocence and naivete often found in those who enter Holy Orders too young without ever having experienced many, if any, of the sins of the flesh (or the soul) and are therefore quite out of their depth when finding themselves in the voluptuous arms of an experienced seductress like Jubbly; still, no-one spoke until Jubbly turned, blew kisses to Maude and Daphne, and disappeared up the stairs towing the unresisting Man of God after her; “what he sees in her I really don't know,” said Maude and the whole booth rocked with laughter – it was that kind of release of all the emotions and tensions which had become so pent up – and Daphne called for another round of drinks and just at that moment the food arrived and everybody began to tuck-in.
Now, just how it came to pass that, unpredetermined by the Great Architect of the Universe, as part of his (or her) great master-plan, with its detailed instructions for every thought, movement, action, sound and word uttered by every individual person (not to mention the beasts of the sea, land and air) who ever has or ever will walk the face of the earth, Miss Nikki Marianella – described by Theresa as a Dresden Shepherdess, but in truth an Optician practising in Galashiels and Melrose in the Borderlands – should, after the passage of several days since Teri's momentous sighting of her at the Doune Antiques Centre, only to lose sight of her, transpire to arrive at Rosie's cottage door just in time to rouse Teri from an apathetic ennui which threatened to disturb her mind, body and soul;
but Nikki explained how, having been to the toilet, she emerged into the bright sunshine, just in time to catch sight of Teri and Rosie, on the red motorbike, gun out of the car park, and she watched them turn right at the end of the drive, on to the main road; now, Nikki was nothing if not diligent - she had identified the make and model of the motorbike, its colour and registration number; armed with this information, she had contacted the DVLA and spoken with an extremely sympathetic girl there, who promptly explained the process for discovering the name and address of the registered owner who had dropped a fardel, and bundled in its folds an item of great value, as she drove away; Nikki had filled in form V888 and submitted it, with the payment of £2.50 for a search and, just this very morning, she had received an e-mail and a telephone call from the extremely pleasant and helpful girl she had previously spoken with; armed with this information and supposedly clutching the item of value, she had set off almost immediately for it took no mastery of the science of Geodesy or Geophysics – nor even Chinese Geomancy – to find the cottage hidden in the folds of the Campsie Hills (just like a jewel bundled into a fardel) and on her arrival there spotted the red motorbike sitting outside; without a shred of apprehension or thoughts of possible rejection, she rapped on the door with her knuckles; at her knock, the door had been opened by the passenger she had seen sitting behind the young woman who had caught her eye at the Antique Centre – so she had asked if Miss Theresa Somerville was by chance at home, at which Rosie laughed – the same musically, tinkling laugh as that possessed by Teri, which always delights her aunts when they hear it; Rosie explained that this was her home and that her cousin Teri lives in Edinburgh; and quickly observing the crestfallen look which had passed over the visitor's face, as a cloud will pass over the sun or moon, she added that her cousin was staying with her for a few days - the resulting expression of relief and delight on Nikki's face was a joy to behold, and Rosie had no hesitation in inviting the one whom she still thought of as Teri's Dresden Shepherdess into her cottage and swiftly darted off to make Teri aware of her visitor – now, these are the bald facts: what they hide is a far more complex and significant tale of Veni, Vidi, Amavi; for in that first glimpse of each other, casually, inadvertently, while each was apparently engrossed in an examination of the delightful objets d'art displayed in the Antiques Centre, an enormous amount of information had passed (just as when we bring our tablet into the range of our laptop and enable their pairing) which, while lacking the practicality of such prosaic details as name and address, age and marital status, employment history and how each had voted in the Referendum, nevertheless had paired them as effectively as we pair our telephone through Bluetooth with that of a stranger encountered in a Cafeteria or Bar; it was a look which spoke of longing and passion, of unrequited love and desperation, it told of warm embraces and gsoh, of the matching of tenderness with strength, of a tinkling laugh expressed through the upward curl of smiling lips, of fun and fancy in the sparkling of blue eyes (Teri's) and amber eyes (Nikki's), and of a deep and lasting love possible for two who until that moment had been strangers, completely unknown to one another beyond a chance encounter which had brought a bloom to each other's cheek and a parting of their lips in wonder at the possibility of what was surely impossible; and here, and now, they were both in one small room, Nikki having followed behind Teri's introduction of her as a Dresden Shepherdess, 'what is she talking about' flashed through Nikki's brain but was immediately forgotten, as her two eyes locked on Theresa's and she needed no dragoman to interpret what she saw, and in a moment she had crossed the room, Teri had risen and dropped the book of Seneca's Collected Letters from her lap, they had embraced and kissed – oh, such a kiss and such promises it held and such a commitment it contained for both of them – they do say 'the first kiss is the deepest,' but WOW!
Sipping The Mother Vine 'Scuppernong' - Nikki's ice-breaking gift to Teri and Rosie - as she rambled around the brambles and honeysuckle in her cousin's pretty cottage garden, Teri marvelled at the precarious lot of human beings, for the purest chance events which had brought herself and Nikki together might be seen by others to hint at Predestination and contrasting that interpretation with her own firm belief in Free Will, by their very contradistinction, caused Teri to catch Nikki's eye and raise her glass in a toast to “Lady Luck”!
Angus Og opened his eyes and realised that two people were seated at his bedside, watching him; that they were Police Scotland Officers there was no doubt in his mind – he had been expecting them since he recovered consciousness yesterday; his mind was still fuzzy, with jumbled thoughts tumbling around in a mixture of remembrance, imagination and dark fears; and he recognised them as being based at the Grassmarket and Cowgate Community Policing Hub – the married Sergeants – but now the husband, Gordon was speaking, his voice seeming distorted, probably be dint of the dunt Og had had on his head (or IN his head, he reminded himself) and had to concentrate to make sense of the words; so he had been promoted to Inspector – Og wondered if Bunty already knew that, and where was she, was she all right, it seemed as though everything had stopped when he came along the passage at the back of Deacon Brodie's, heard the whistling and then saw stars in an inky blackness, or was the whistling after the crack – that was the sound of his skull being broken by the stiletto heel, OMG he had been shown the photographs of his head with that evil-looking thing piercing into his brain, he shuddered, what was this guy saying, something about Robbie, his ears pricked up, he tried to ask 'where is Robbie,' but the only sound was a scratchy croak of “where Bobby” and the two officers exchanged glances and the wife, Golda, Goldy, yes that was it, Goldy Brevity, leaned forward and took his hand in hers, with a sad expression on her face, and the only word he caught was “dead,” oh bloody, bloody hell, where's Bunty now, her needed her to keep him safe, he tried to shake his head to clear the thoughts that were piling in in him, but a spasm of pain shot through his neck and he yelped - “whodunit” he managed, and the husband, who was he, oh yes, Gorden, something like that, said “we hoped you could tell us,” and Angus closed his eyes – what was the world coming to, he felt nausea sweeping over his body and was suddenly leaning over, being violently sick – he hadn't eaten anything so it must just be the sorb fluids they had given him to keep his body hydrated – and when the nurse, quickly called by the cops, had mopped him up and settled him back on the bed, he wondered if the mention of Robbie was just an attempt at disinformation, to unsettle him – well, if so it had worked, he felt quite wretched – normally a good humoured man – since he had been obliged to retire prematurely and hang up his Postie's bag – he now felt himself sinking into miserabilism, thoroughly, dejectedly, nihilistically, bereft; a blubbering, snivelling, Moaning Minnie – NO, he wouldn't let them do it to him, so he looked up, screwed a lopsided grin onto his face and said: “a funny thing happened to me on my way to the Gents!”
Both Daphne and Maude woke expeditiously early on a fine morning in late Spring, or early Summer, quite dependent on how one divided the Seasons across the calendar, when the sky was so wide and blue that each felt she could sew a Sailor's Shirt from it's fabric; barely a trace of haar was left fading into the dunes and the whole world could be seen shimmering in the heat of the sun; “this is,” declared Daphne, with as firm and vigorous a voice as Maude had ever heard issuing from between her lips, “a fit day for the Links,” and despite herself, well, almost despite herself, Maude could only agree, for, as she confided in a brief call to Theresa, not yet back in Maude's round bed, but rather, ensconced in her cousin (and, naturally, Maude's niece also) Rosie's cottage in the Campsies, if one really has to walk across a sandy field hitting at white balls with sticks and trying to poke them into tiny holes dug out of a billiard table, it's probably as good as it's ever going to get; but who's going to have to carry all those sticks about – and Teri suggested that there'd probably be some unemployed youths hanging around the clubhouse hoping to be engaged for a round as Caddies, at which Maude wondered where Teri got her information from and concluded it was probably from some of the Elinor Glyn books she had been reading on her Kindle, for the scene she conjured up was definitely pre-war and more likely to be pre-Great War than Second, Wodehouse, she decided, that world of flannelled fools and bright young flappers, so she bade Teri farewell and prepared herself for 'The Great Outdoors'; and so it was that Maude and Daphne found themselves in a kind of Paradise, one that they had never dared to anticipate: for today was the one day of the Quarter when the particular course recommended by Tuffy Ladywood and Lettice Pumpherston, the two more sporty members of The Famous Five, hosted it's Lady's Day – with an absolutely strict and sacrosanct injunction that ONLY Ladies may set foot on it's Tees, Fairways, Bunkers and other Hazards, and Greens; an injunction which applies to Club Stewards and Servants, Players and their Caddies, and any casual observers who may wish to enjoy the pleasures of watching muscular womanhood whacking balls all over the place; and The Ladies saw, and it was Good; now, Daphne and Maude had invited their new friends Phemie Lauder and Izzy Dalkeith to join them on this glorious day, but after the exciting game of Monopoly the four had enjoyed into the wee small hours, before Phemie and Izzy had left for Izzy's flat nearby, and they arrived looking slightly dishevelled and hung-over, and for the first time since all four had met, the two local girls were barely able to string two or three words together, until Maude doled out a stiff Irn Bru and Cognac straightener to everyone – and Maude and Daphne having done their homework and established that there were various options for four players to partake of the game of golf and Daphne, affecting the casual nonchalance of the connate, as though skill at golf was inherited like a predilection for Lapsang Souchon or the ability to construe an entire Dinosaur from it's fossilised toe-nail, casually asked Phemie if she preferred a Four-Ball or a Scotch Foursome, at which Phemie chuckled and said she'd only ever played Pitch-and-Put before and Izzy admitted that while she was a dab hand at crazy golf in the Public Park, she'd no idea about this strange game they were going to undertake; so after a quick confab it was agreed that for this first round, as they were none of them particularly proficient, they would each play their own balls, score their own cards and whoever won would stand the rest a drink in the Clubhouse afterwards; and they could work out some kind of Handicap for any further rounds they might manage over the period of Daphne and Maude's stay in Gullane; the locals were impressed with Daphne's decisiveness and four hands shook each other, shoulders were embraced, cheeks were pecked and, being good sports all, they genuinely wished each other “best of luck” and made their way to the first tee; It was from this point that the four friends, and Maude in particular, began to experience distractions the like of which they had never suffered for many a long year: not only were they all fine specimens of womanhood themselves, but they had also secured the services of four strapping girls as their Caddies; and – it seemed – all around they could see other Lady Golfers in scant apparel, addressing balls, taking fearsome swipes, bending over, squatting, striding along fairways or climbing in and out of Bunkers, and they all suffered lapses in concentration; to such an extent that after only six holes they felt extremely frazzled and decided to call it a morning – repair to The Jolly Boatman for lunch and return later, refreshed and invigorated to tackle the full 18 holes, and out of a sense of fairness and sportsladyship, they took their Caddies with them; and that was when Jubbly Johanssen appeared, an old friend of both Daphne and Maude - “oh, please, leave out the 'old' for goodness sake” she said as they introduced her to Phemie and Izzy - and the sight of her quite revived the Honeymooners, for they hadn't seen her for yonks, absolute yonks, since, in fact, the day she'd run off with her daughters' Nanny and had last been seen boarding a flight to the Seychelles, hand in hand with the young girl; where had she been, what had she been up to, with whom, what was she doing in Gullane with a man in tow – well, glued to her side, actually – and she carelessly introduced him as her orthotist, and the Ladies look at her shoes and couldn't think of any reason why an orthotist would provide shoes like them, before Jubbly realised what she had said and explained that he was a highly skilled gastrointestinological surgeon who had been having some problems with the BMA and was temporarily resting, but that, as a close friend, he had removed an enterolith from her intestines, but she really didn't want to say more about it at lunchtime and Daphne asked if Jubbly was convalescing, for she was surely not here for the Golf, so soon after a major procedure and a Birdwatching Holiday would seem too passive, for one of her temperament “no, no,” she assured them, “I'm just back for the Divorce Hearing in the Family Court tomorrow, and you'll never guess who Angus has representing him,” at which the Ladies cried, do tell, do tell, and Jubbly told them; both Daphne and Maude were shocked at the gall of the man, for Angus was very senior in The Royal Bank and not short of a penny or two, and in fact he could quite easily pop back after hours and print himself a few million and nobody the wiser; but Jubbly was still speaking of the Advocate retained by her husband, “it's that man Elginbrod, that slimy toad-faced bag of shite, and do you know what he's just done,” and this time she didn't wait for them to respond, but continued, “he's only just gone and copyrighted the use of the Royal We, the Individual Plural – so that if ma wee Carmelita wins a game of Dominoes and jumps up chanting 'We are the Champions' she'll have to pay a Royalty to that inflated Balloon in a wig and gown – he's nothing but a sick-faced nyaff – ah mind him frae University,” she said, rather slipping into the Glesca Patois of her native Partick, “he copied work straight oot o' books and submitted it as his ain – and when he was challenged, produced some affidavit that said it wis his ain copyright and the Professor had tae back doon – that wis afore we fund oot aboot the unnerhaund buying up o' copyrights and patents in just aboot onything that wisny double-sealed in a strong-boax and drapped intae Loch Ness, and come to thon, you dae ken that Nessie belangs tae him as weel,” at which there were gasps and tutts all around, and someone asked if the Ladies wanted Elginbrod sorted out, no questions asked – it seemed to come from an inoffensive looking wee man in a piebald Gannex mac that looked as if he'd bought it when Harold Wilson was PM and had worn it every day since; Phemie whispered to Daphne that he was Father Finnegan, the Roman Catholic Priest at Our Lady of Longformacus and that he was believed to have some contacts among the Ice Cream Industry, at which Daphne nodded a 'thank you,' then shook her head in a 'but not this time, though we'll make a note of your kind offer in case circumstances change,' and Father Finnegan nodded back, gave Daphne a conspiratorial wink, sipped his pint of Guinness, and drew his index finger across his throat.
Meanwhile, as our Magic Carpet flies once again over the rooftops of Edinburgh, passing above Mansions in which Oiligarchs plot, semis in which the middle classes slumber, the odd secure villa – the like of which shelters Martin Elginbrod, his sons and his servants – and Tenements and Tower Blocks which rise high into the sky affording the ordinary commonality views of The Pentlands to the South, or the broad expanse of the Firth of Forth which is the city's Northern shore, we come to rest above a building which is a hive of activity, even at this late hour, for here, in Daphne's flat – also the legal residence of her Dearest Maudie – and now the base in which Roxy and Trixie Davidova, Leigh Waters, Ginger Goldfish, the indefatigable WPC Isa Urquhart, Elvira Dumbiedykes and Goldy Brevity – nieces every one, of both Daphne and Maude, were working an astonishing variety of shifts – before after and between their day jobs – to assemble a dossier on Parlane MacFarlane, Griselda of Longformacus, and their Genealogy, as well as following the property trail from those dark years of Scotland's Middle-Ages right down to the present day: Elvira had eviscerated the national Archives stored at New Register House and elsewhere; Leigh – something of a cybrarian – had gone through the Scotland's People database with an internet tooth comb; the Davidovas had wiped away the röck döts – those flourishes which the aspirational have, through history, used to give themselves a better pedigree or origination than prosaic reality; and Ginger and Goldy, twin sister – though each with quite different hair colours – were raising a stinkaroo in their pursuit of MacFarlane and Griselda's trail through the Gene Pool (they had accessed the recent Scottish DNA Project and by a process of elimination were working to isolate the bloodline of direct descent and, as a result, discovering quite a few under-the-blanket liaisons which raised a few eyebrows – for others were monitoring their on-line activities: The Economic Migrant, despite his tender years, had such an advanced system of surveillance that he had picked up their extensive trawling by making use of a range of critical keywords, and had identified the computers being used and their location and by discovering the normal locations of the various devices, for all the cousins had brought their own laptops and tablets to the flat, he had identified the people involved – when he noticed that two of them were Police Scotland Officers normally based at the Grassmarket and Cowgate Community Policing Hub, he sent a secure message to The O'Hooligans (his clients, after all) to alert them – not bad work for a 12-year-old Syrian boy operating from an under-the-stairs cupboard in his family home in Drumchapel; he opened a can of Irn Bru and a Snickers Bar in celebration!
To the Bar of The Jolly Boatman in Gullane where we can float below the rafters; for there, squeezed into their usual corner of the booth and enjoying a preprandial drink – well, they are on their third, if truth really must be told, are Maude and Phemie, together with Daphne and Phemie's chum, Izzy Dalkeith; the four – all now firm friends – are plotting their adventures for the weekend (perhaps even the week) ahead: weather permitting, they intend to spend tomorrow on one of the Golf Links for which Gullane is rightly famous among the cognoscenti of clubs and balls; on the next day – again weather permitting – it has been agreed that Phemie shall take them on her jolly little boat The Lady's Turn, or, more commonly, just Lady, to The Bass, as Phemie said, “there to have a picnic among the sea-birds and explore the Rock, once the home of a Scottish Hermit, St Baldred, of whom it has been said that he had the gift, well, the knack, you might say, of being able to mesmerise the gulls into laying their eggs right into the palm of his hand – which is a jolly nifty little trick and beats dangling down the cliff on a rope and trying to extract them from what the birds laughingly call nests – and scrambling eggs is a lot less messy than having to pluck and eviscerate a gull; and as a member of the first family whose ownership of the Rock is recorded for over 600 years, I still have certain privileges granted by it's present owners, who bought it from the Lauders just a tad over 300 years ago” – but, in truth, Historians though they both are, Maude and Daphne were intent on leaving matters historical aside for the duration of their Honeymoon and had determined that their intention was to have 'Fun, Fun, Fun' in whatever form such 'Fun' might take and as things now stood (or sat) it was clear that it would include Phemie and Izzy; so when the time came, the bell rang, and the philandering barman indicated his intention to clear the room and get everything washed and stowed away, for he, and his buxom, blonde barmaid clearly had other fish to fry, the four friends linked arms – as much for steadiness as camaraderie, and wound their way the short distance to Forth View, there with considerable care and effort, to quietly climb the stairs to the Honeymooners front room - “The Bride's Sweet” said Phemie, and kissed Maude on the lips, bringing a flush to her cheeks, “and The Groom's Treat,” enjoined Izzy, similarly joining her lips to Daphne's, who, extricating herself from the searching embrace and probing tongue, asked Maude to prepare the scene, then all four took their places round the green baize card-table, Daphne opened the box and, while Maude cracked and poured from a chilled bottle of Irn Bru which she generously topped up with Laphroaig Quarter Cask, Daphne dealt out the money for a game of Monopoly: The Edinburgh Edition, and in the twinkling of an eye all four were intent on the play before them and each was determined to win the prize – but who is to say Which Prize each of the four had in mind – not us, for we too have other fish to fry and so, slipping through a gap in the open window, let us cry 'Hi Ho Silver, Away'!
As we drift southwards on our Magic Carpet, over the rooftops of Edinburgh, occasionally peeping in a window here, through a skylight there, noticing lonely people wrapped in their gloom, or lovers wrapped in each other, we pause briefly to consider our use of the Royal Plural (or 'we') to which we find ourselves rather pleasantly attached – it would be jolly to use it all the time, for it dispels any feeling of aloneness and gives us the sensation of being part of something greater than ourselves, but enough of this sentimental twaddle – and being paused, we catch a glimpse of a patient in the ICU Ward of the Royal Infirmary, his head swathed in bandages, seeming to sleep peacefully and, despite his battered and bruised aspect we recognise him as Angus Og of The Bog and as we watch a nurse comes to his bedside and touches his hand, briefly; his eyes open and he smiles – and so do we for Mr Og is clearly on the mend and we must hope for his recovery to be swift; but on we must fly, though just a short hop, to the little former mining village of Danderhall, where we immediately observe that Bunty and Dixie O'Hooligan and their dear cousin Bernie Westwater, are under cover at The Dog and Duck Club in Danderhall – this Friday Night Rave may have seemed incongruous, it's venue being The Danderhall Miners' Welfare Social Club, but it draws a colourful crowd who spend their money freely and the DJ (ex-Miner, vegetarian and presently munching on a not-dog, Jazz Brothers) is a regular of Forth FM with his eclectic dance mix of Garage, Techno, Skidd and Krash, with some mainstream Gumball-Pop for the older patrons; if he noticed three dancers, three girls who spurned any male interest, it was only for their dedication to the Beat; they had been on the floor for over an hour and show no signs of flagging; but, then, he didn't know who they were, nor the topic of the conversation they manage to maintain as they jump, skip, segue and writhe, to his constant supply of music – this is the perfect setting for a private discussion, linked as they are by the blue-tooth earpieces through which they can clearly hear each other and anyone who watches their lips move will think they are singing along to whatever record is playing; but they speak only of Martin Elginbrod and the latest moves they have made towards their intention to eviscerate him – ideally, literally, otherwise in ways which will destroy his reputation, his wealth and his position: according to Bernie, she will be seeing him tomorrow night, he had phoned her and almost begged her to meet him for dinner at a restaurant she could never have afforded to eat in herself – she will be wired; Dixie reported that she had agreed a price with The Economic Migrant who would set up traces on all of Elginbrod's telephones and monitor his internet traffic – “easy peasy,” was the 12-year-old's reply to the request, and he had asked if she wanted access to all his Chambers and Home CCTV, which she agreed would be useful; done deal; and Bunty has arranged for Elginbrod's two paramours to be exfiltrated from their 'love nests' that very night, by a pair of her waddies (both members of the Shottstown Quick-Draw Club in Penicuik who affect Stetsons, cowhide waistcoats and spotted neckerchiefs, which Bunty has advised them to leave off and to replace with black jumpsuits and to wear Balaclavas or even stockings over their heads, while Elginbrod wines and dines Bernie – she has a safe-house ready in the Cowgate, hard by the Grassmarket and Cowgate Community Policing Hub, which will be as good as anyone can get – and The Migrant is already monitoring all the Police Scotland communications networks in the city and giving her electronic updates through a secure system routed through The Cayman Islands and North Korea – she sometimes listened in to the banter among the officers based at the Hub and felt she knew them all so well already; she particularly found the intriguing WPC Isa Urquhart especially beguiling and wondered if she dared stage an accidental encounter, which might lead to........but setting that thought aside till later, let us command our Carpet to hie away for a very short flight to the Musselburgh flat where the two Brevitys – Gordon and Goldy – are both off-duty at the same time and lying abed, for they have an early start tomorrow, having heard that Angus Og is now conscious and both willing and able to meet them and, at this very moment they are discussing the nature of that interview, for what else would a married pair of Police Sergeants do when they are off duty and alone in their own bed, but discuss the case which currently fills all their waking thoughts – or are we being cheeky, too 'pass-remarkable' as residents of that faraway city in the West tend to describe those of us more fortunate than themselves – well, let us not intrude on their conversation, we are tenderfoots (tenderfeet?) in the business of detection and had best leave it to the professionals; no doubt The Economic Migrant has already had their home bugged and is doubtless listening to their pillow-talk in real-time (as a 12-year-old he is no doubt quite innocently ignorant of other activities which adults may engage in, in the privacy of their own bedroom) so Eastward, Carpet, and take us to the Honeymooners we last heard of in The Jolly Boatman, for we would know how they fare!
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