...An' running awa'.
By the time ah wis twelve ah kent fine well ah wisnae gonnae grow up tae be a man. It still bothered me cus a’ ah wanted wis tae be a fitba’er. It wis ma passion. Bit the boys widnae play wi’ me nae mair. Mainly cus I scored tae many goals against thum. Fer a year or so they let me play goalie, bit ah wis guid at that tae an’ they jist got fed up wi’ playin’ wi me and so ah hud nowan tae play wi’ an there’s only so much keepie uppie ye can play when everywan aroon ye is playin games.
But that wisnae the worst hing aboot bein’ twelve. Na, at twelve ma ma hud anither o’ her great ideas an’ decided that ah wis gonnae join the Girl Guides.
‘You liked the Brownies, so much,’ she said, ‘I remember how upset you were when we moved and you couldn’t go back.’
Ah wis scunnered. How far from the truth wis that eh? Ah wis upset, aye bit no cus ah loved the Brownies! Ye’s ken why. She’s niver kenned. She jist thocht that it wid be ‘good for you to mix with girls a bit more.’
An’ ah wished ah’d niver complained aboot the local boys no wantin’ tae play fitba’ wi’ me.
‘You can’t play with boys all your life,’ she says.
‘Why no?’ I asked.
She didnae respond. Ye didnae answer back tae ma ma if ye kenned whit wis guid for ye and sae ah ended up at the Girl Guides the next Friday nicht.
If ah’d hated the Brownies, bye it wis nuhing compared tae hoo mich ah hated the Guides. The uniform wis horrible. I wore a skirt tae scuil, ye hud tae in theym days, bit ye niver saw me in a skirt any other time, an’ noo here ah wis, expected tae wear wan ivery Friday nicht. It wis appalling. An worse, upstairs the Boys Brigade met on a Friday (but we werenae allowed to ‘mix’ wi’ them) an they hud a boss uniform. An’ fae the soon’ o’ baby elephants camin’ doon through the flair above, they wis huvin’ a mich better time as we were.
An the Girl Guides badges were just crap compared tae even the Boy Scouts. Ye hud tae dae sewing (an ah’ve niver been able tae thread a needle) an housemaking and daein tea parties an’ a’ that kinnae hing. Nuhing proper. Just rubbish kinna stuff that wid mak ye a great housewife which wis wan hing ah wis sure ah wisnae gonnae be. Cus ah’d worked oot that if ah cudnae be a fitba’er (whit wi bein’ a girl) ah’d be a sailor. Even if ah niver got tae gang tae sea. Ah kinna thocht that if ah wis a guid enough sailor ah’d get tae gang tae sea nae matter whit. It wisnae realistic, bit it wis some kinna a hope. An’ ah clung tae it.
Meantime, we hud tae get through Friday nichts. Cus hoo’ever mich ah whined aboot it, ah wisnae gonnae get oot o’ the Girl Guides that easy.
But hings tend tae turn up if ye look oot fer them. An’ ah made a freen’ at the Girl Guides. Anither girl wha hated the whale hing. Her name wis Wendy. Well, when ah met her I thocht her name wis Windy, cus she cam frae Belfast an’ hud a hell o’ an accent on her. A Falls Road Proddy accent she proudly telt me. An’ Windy didnae want tae be at the Girl Guides. Windy didnae want tae even be in Embra or even Scotland, an she wis only ower here cus o the ‘Troubles’ as they ca’ed it then. So there we wis. A pair of wee disgruntled refusenicks. In skirts Bit Windy wis a bit mair clued up than ah wis then, an she cam up with the beginnin’s o’ a great plan. For we went tae the Guides and hame frae the Guides under oor ain steam, as it wis only across the park, an’ she said no wan wid ken if we niver went. So we stopped gae’in. Which wis a great plan tae start wi’. But did kinna leave us hingin aroon the streets on a Friday nicht. An’ sometimes we cud gang tae Windy’s hoose cus her ma wis oot (her da’ wis still in Belfast) but sometimes we couldnae and that’s hoo, wan day we found oorsel’s standin aroon near the Guide hall which wis quite close tae the bran’ new car wash at the back o’ the local petrol station. An’ we watched the cars gaein’ through the car wash and wan time we saw this wumman an she couldnae reach tae pit the money intae the box, cus her car wis tae far away, an she got oot o’ her car and before she got back in the hing started and she got a soakin’. An’ we laughed at that. Bit we cam up wi’ an idea as well. Ca’ it a money makin’ scheme. If it wis the eighties it wid probably be seen as entrepreneurial, bit it wis the seventies an it wis jist a variation on chappin’ doors an’ cheatin’ Brown Owl oot o a tube o Smarties.
And here’s what we did. We stood aroon the pay in box and we says tae fowk, as if we wis jist passin,
‘Dae ye want us tae pit the money in fer ye? Cus it’s real quick an’ ye micht get a soakin.’
An’ an incredible number of fowk fell fer this. They couldnae see anyhing wrang wi’ whit we wis sayin, an’ mebbe’s some o’ theym hud hud a soakin’ like that wumman. We felt like quite a success. An’ it wis better than ‘homemaking’ badges. An’ then we decided tae adapt oor plan, tae oor advantage.Ah cannae mind whae’s idea it wis an’ ah dinnae want tae blame Windy cus it micht jist as well hae been mines, or at the very least ah hink we wis baith tae blame as mich as the ither .Egged each ither oan so tae speak. Well, blame aside, here’s the plan:
We did the usual schpeel tae the punter (we wis getting the vocabulary o’ the scammer ye see) an’ then we suggested tae thum that instead o’ gaein’ fer a simple wash, they shud pay that bit extra an’ get a wash an’ wax. An then, here’s the hing – we wid pocket the difference and leg it afore they discovered they’d been diddled. If they ever did. Cus we did used tae hang aroon an see whit happened and maist o’ the time they didnae even seem tae be payin attention an when the brushes stopped they jist drove aff nane the wiser.
It wisnae aeways plain sailing, bit we managed tae stay wan step ahead o’ the game, sae clever were we noo at telling lies. One man asked us why we wis hangin’ roon the petrol station an’ we telt him oor dad ran it. That seemed tae work. An’ we worked it intae our ‘routine’ cus we hud developed quite a wee ‘story’ tae tell the punters by noo. Which wis probably oor undoin. We started oot jist ‘happenin’ tae be there an no wan payin’ that mich attention tae us, but then we got tae big fer oor boots an’ oor story got sae big and sae unwieldy that people started payin’ attention tae us. An’ when they did, they started payin’ attention tae the fact that they micht no be getting’ as guid a deal as they’d thocht. An’ it a’ cam crashing doon roon wur heids wan nicht. We wis sprung by the petrol station mannie.. Someone complained. An he cam roon and caught us, red handed. Well, we wis aboot awa’ on oor heels but he cud see we wis in Girl Guide uniforms an he kent where tae look fer us. He thocht. An when he went tae the Guides an described us, they pit twae and twae the gither an got in touch wi oor ma’s and oor ma’s gied us the biggest row. No just the ‘I’m disappointed in you’ wan, which is bad enough, na the whale ‘disgusted that you can be so duplicitous and don’t you know how dangerous and what were you thinking of and…’
And tae mak matters worse they made us gang back tae the Girl Guides. Or tried. The Girl Guides wis worse than ‘disappointed’ wi’ us an a’, an decided they couldnae huv their name dragged in the mud, an we wis banned frae them ever again. Result. Except ah wis niver allowed out on a Friday evenin’ till ah wis fifteen. That’s hoo angry ma ma wis. Windy, ah dinnae ken. She went back tae Belfast as far as ah ken. Ah certainly wisnae allowed tae play oot wi’ her an ah niver seen her efter that in the play park when ah wis allowed oot again durin the day. An there wis little point gaein oot aeyways, cus nae boys wid play fitba’ wi’ me. Sae ah hud nuhing left tae dae but sit in the hoose an read books. Cus we wisnae allowed tae watch TV mair than an hour a day, an’ homework only lasts so long even if yer spinnin’ it oot, and even wi a nine o clock curfew, ye cun get a fair amount o readin done in an evenin, especially when wan o’ the few places yer mam trusts ye tae gang is the library. A place o’ safety. Where ye cannae git intae trouble, richt? Wrang. But that’s anither story.
* * *
Cally Phillips writes in Scots but more usually in English. She has 20 years experience in dramatic writing with many stage and screen credits. Her first novel The Threads of Time was published in 2003 and reissued as an ebook in 2012. Her second novel Another World is Possible (2007) which started off as an online serial blog novel, is now the backbone of a trilogy (in four parts) which will be published in 2013. Her third novel Brand Loyalty was published in 2010 and is now also available as an ebook. Her other ebook publications include A Week With No Labels is crossover drama/fiction, charting the journey of a fictional drama group; a collection of short ‘flexible plays’ on a Fairtrade theme ‘5 Fairplay dramas’, the stageplay Chasing Waves (2004) and two short story collections wrttien in Scots ‘Voices in ma Heid’ and ‘It Wisnae Me’ both available as ebooks.
‘…and running awa’’ is a short story in the It Wisnae Me collection and forms the second part of the series 'Chappin' Doors...', which was showcased at the Edinburgh ebook festival Short Stories section on August 20th
You can find out about all Cally’s work on her website www.callyphillips.co.uk or through her Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cally-Phillips/e/B003YKX1YA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Festival website: http://www.edebookfest.co.uk
Festival Facebook page http://on.fb.me/NBlyPf