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Why Every Car Should Have a Haggis

‘Isn’t it a glorious day Old Girl?  It’s lovely and warm.  Tell you what, let’s take the hood down.’  We pull over and stop on the hard shoulder of the slip road.  Her Ladyship gets out, removes my side screens, folds my hood back and tucks it away.  As she is doing this, we are approached by a tall, rather lanky apparition with rather a bony face.  He appears to be quite young, wearing a roll neck sweater of no particular colour, a kilt and a pair of long woollen socks inside some warm walking boots.  Between the top of the socks and the bottom of the kilt I spy a pair of knock knees.  He has a ragged back pack with a faded ‘Ban the Bomb’ sign painted on it.  I might be wrong, but this might be a native of Scotland.

‘Ah dornt suppose ye ur plannin' tae cross th' border intae Scootlund ur ye?’  Her Ladyship turns towards the newcomer, looks him up and down with a degree of distaste.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I said, ah dornt suppose you’re plannin' tae cross the border intae Scootlund ur ye?’  Her Ladyship looks confused.

‘I’m sorry, but – Do – You – Speak – English?’  The newcomer bristles.

‘Ay coorse I speak English, hen.  Scootland,’ he points up the motorway.  ‘Scootland, are ye headin’ to Scootland?’

‘Oh Scotland, why didn’t you say so in the first place?  Yes I am going to Scotland.  Indeed all the way to John O’Groats, why do you ask?’

‘Och stotin.  Would ye be guid enough tae give us a lift then?’  Her Ladyship stares at him while she tries to tune in to what he is saying.  A smile indicates that she has understood, well she assumes she has understood.

‘You want a lift over the border to Scotland?’  The newcomer nods.  ‘Ah, I understand now, of - course - you - can - have – a - lift - over - the – border.’  She speaks this very slowly.  It reminds me of when we were in Spain and she insisted on speaking very slowly and succinctly to anyone she met with a foreign accent.

‘That’s kind o’ ye hen.’  He opens the passenger door and swings his back pack in onto my rear seat.  The Asthmatic Barking Dog lets out a yelp, not happy about the sudden jolt out of his slumbers.  ‘Whoaps, sorry Dug.’  He pulls the bag back out, obviously fearing that Asthmatic Barking Dog might decide to make a meal of its contents.  He climbs into the seat and stuffs the bag firmly into my foot well.

‘Right, let’s go then.  You aren’t going to be a bit cold are you?  It’s a bit breezy in this car with the hood down.’  Her Ladyship glancing at a pair of hairy knees, engages my second gear.  Going into first would have taken her hand dangerously close to those knees and we shoot off to join the motorway north.  She keeps glancing back at the hairy items perched between kilt and socks as the swirling air in my driving compartment flicks the hem up and down.  She is so blooming obvious.  I know what she’s hoping.  Our new hitch hiker pushes his hands forwards to hold his kilt down and protect his vanity.  Madam though just can’t take her eyes off them.

‘Are you sure you’re alright?’

‘Och aye. I’m fine, dinnee worry hen.  A wee draught won’t do me any harm.  And afore ye ask, the answer is nae.  It’s all in perfect workin’ order.’

‘I don’t know what you mean.  What’s in working order?’ 

The Scotsman looks at her quizzingly. 

‘I’m sorry but ye Sassenachs always ask th' sam question to a man in a kilt.  Mah nam is Duncan by the way.’

‘How do you do Duncan, I am pleased to meet you.  I think you are the first Scotsman to have ever ridden in this old girl.  Mind you this is all a first for me.  I’ve never been to Scotland before.  I am only in your country for a few days, before I head back down on the other side of this road, heading for Cornwall.’

‘Och, the old John O’Groats to Land’s End then, is it hen?’  Madam nods.

‘Yes indeed.  Mind you, that is if we make it.  Where are you from then?

‘Och I’m from Glasgae, Dennistoun actually.  I’s a stoatin place.’

‘I am sure it is.’  There is a sincere doubt in Her Ladyship’s voice.  I think because she hasn’t a clue what stoatin means.  Mind you, I don’t either.

‘I’m not going quite as far as Glasgow actually, not today.  I’m planning on staying at a place near Stonehouse.  But I can drop you off somewhere convenient I am sure.  Oh look that looks like the border.’

‘Och it is hen.  Nearly home then.  We’ll soon be breathin’ braw Scottish air.  ‘An not that mingin stuff I’ve had to breathe in Englain.’

‘Yes, well.’  Her ladyship has obviously chosen not to go down that conversational route, and changes the subject.

‘Tell me then, what do I need to do to ensure a safe trip through Scotland?  I haven’t brought my passport.’ 

Duncan ponders this question very carefully and a light flickers in his eyes.

‘Ye need a haggis hen.  It’s better than a passport.  It’ll gie ye anywhaur an’ it has lots ay uses.’  Her Ladyship glances at him.  She doesn’t believe him.  I don’t believe him either, but I bet she’ll buy one in the end.  Just to be certain.

‘You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?’  Duncan sits expressionless staring at the approaching Scottish border.  He says nothing. 

‘You are not pulling my leg.  Are you really serious?  Are you suggesting that if I get hold of a, what did you call it?  A haggis?  It will be my passport through Scotland as I head to John O’Groats and back down over this border?’

‘That’s reit hen, it’ll be yer perfect Scottish accessory, and it’ll be yer perfect passport fur a smooth trip.’  He looks at Her Ladyship and there is still a significant degree of doubt in her posture.  ‘Look hen, it’s nae jist fur eatin', it has lots of uses. A pillaw tae sleep on, a wedge tae hold somethin' in place, a weapon.  Look, in th’ early days, in naval exercises aroond  Nelson’s time, th’ haggis was used in place ay th' canon ball in order tae test th' accuracy of th' gunners without inflicting damage tae ships or personnel. A weel placed shot could also benefit th' receivin' ship wi' an extra scran ur two; particularly if caught whole by a crew member. However, a shot fired through th' riggin' it took a while tae clear up an' presented a slippery hazard when spreid ower a wet deck.

‘I haven’t a clue what you are talking about.  But you are serious, aren’t you?  You are saying that if I get hold of a haggis, it really will ease my path through Scotland?’  She still seems doubtful.  ‘But before I drop you off, perhaps you would be kind enough to direct me to a suitable purveyor of this eponymous delicacy.’

‘Ah ken jist th' place hen.  An' ye will not need tae drive intae Glasgee to get it.’

‘No let’s not drive anywhere near Glasgow.  I’ve been told that getting onto the Glasgow roads is a nightmare and I would get lost.’

‘Ye’ll be fine, hen, promise.’

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