But today when I arrived home this afternoon after mopping, cleaning and shopping for Matty I was ever so slightly peeved to find that Bert ‘hadn’t lifted a cup’, which is local parlance for completely ignoring domestic tasks. Instead I found him on top of the turf shed allegedly dismantling the roof. Says he,
“This is a good thing to be at isn’t it?”Oh yes Bert. Excellent idea. The house is upside down, it’s Christmas in five minutes and we’ve got lots of people coming. When I was writing my Christmas list of things to do I had ‘dismantle roof of turf shed’ right at the top just before ‘order turkey’ and ‘buy presents’.
His Aunt Lizzie came in for a chat later on and I was having a bit of a moan about his undomesticated ways. She said,
"Of course he was very badly spoiled when he was a wee boy. Never had to lift a finger. His father would have wanted him to go outside to help him with the cattle and his mother and his Aunt Tilly would have said ‘Sure the child will catch his death out in that cold air. Let him stay in the house where it’s warm.’”Later that evening Clint was in and I asked him if this was true.
“Is that right? That would explain his hatred of cold and rain.”
“Oh he was ruined. His mother and Aunt Tilly were that afeart he would catch something. They always had him well happed up in hats and scarves. He would never be allowed to wear anything darned or patched. Everything always had to be the very best of quality.”
“Is that why he was called Dandy at school?”
“It likely was.”
“It’s funny you should say that for I said to him once that I’d bet he never had to wait his turn for new shoes.”
“Shoes! They had him in at the best shoe shops in the town getting his feet measured and all for fear the shoes would hurt his poor wee feet.”
“I’ll say it was. He was spoilt rotten. He got every thing he wanted and never had to do a hand’s turn. “And what was Bert doing when Clint and I were talking about him? He was enjoying being the centre of attention. He just loves people talking about him no matter what they’re saying. His only quibble? He says he was called ‘Dandy’ after Dandy-Long-Legs. I said it’s Daddy-Long-Legs. He argues it’s ‘Dandy’ around here. Clint disagrees. He says it’s definitely Daddy-Long-Legs around here. And in those days Clint only lived at the bottom of Bert’s lane.
“Lizzie said Pearlie kept him in great style. Had he a velvet suit and a lace blouse then?”
“Well I don’t know about velvet but he had a wee corduroy suit he wore with a bow-tie.”
“The dressy thing didn’t stick with him?”
“No. He rebelled against that all right.”
“Lizzie said he never did a hand’s turn and hated going outside when it was cold.”
“Och sure the mother and him were always wrestling each other for the seat nearest the fire. She was as bad as him. The two of them would be sitting at the kitchen table cutting out and pasting into scrapbooks or some other fool carry-on and the men would be outside raving with hunger and not a bite ready for them to eat.”