My grandmother was a gentle soul. She was a humble Heelan’ lassie with no pretentions. I never heard her raise her voice. She was very kind to me and my sister. She was also very naïve and as pure as the driven snow.
We called her Lollol, or Loll for short. I don’t know where that came from, but her sisters, my great-aunts, called her Polly the Horse. Maybe, as very young children, we misheard ‘Poll’ as ‘Loll.’
Loll had some stories to tell and she often repeated them. My favourite was the one about what she saw as the most embarrassing moment of her life. It was made even more amusing because I knew that it most definitely wasn’t.
One day, before I met Nandy (our family name for my dear grandfather), I was at the croft on my own. Jimmy the Post came up to the croft with a letter for Pops, your great grandfather. He must have knocked on the door and called out several times before he made his way around to the back of the house. He took me completely by surprise, as I hadn’t heard any of his knocking or calling.
It was terrible! He caught me gnawing on a chicken drumstick, holding it with my bare hands! That is not the behaviour that one would expect of a young lady in those days.
I dropped the drumstick on the ground and apologised. Jimmy just chuckled but I could tell that he was almost as embarrassed as I was. I don’t think that I stopped blushing all day.
To make matters worse, when I walked down to Bonar the next day, people were imitating me chewing on that chicken leg, held with bare hands. Jimmy had obviously spread the news, as is a postman’s wont.
Most people, in this day and age, would be amused by Loll’s story and be left wondering why she should be so embarrassed by such an incident. But, as I told you earlier, dear reader, this was definitely not the most embarrassing moment of my grandmother’s life.
When my sister and I were in our early teens, we lived in North Anderson Drive, an gentile suburb of Aberdeen. Our mother and step-father went away for a week, driving around the Highlands in a repeat of their honeymoon. Loll and Nandy came up from Perth to look after us.
At the time, we had a blue point Siamese cat called Susu, Malay for milk.
We have no idea where it came from, but our grandmother got a word into her head which she attached to Susu rather than her correct name. The word was ‘Scrotum!’ Sometimes, she would corrupt this to ‘Scrottie.’
Every time she called the cat, my sister and I would be suppressing our giggles. It was painful.
In the evening, Loll would stand outside our back door, in that almost silent, posh suburb of Aberdeen, calling shrilly, “Scrotum! Scrotum! Come on little Scrottie! Where are you? Scrotum! Scotum! Time for tea, Scrottie.”
We wondered what our neighbours would be thinking. On one side of us lived a consultant surgeon who was also a professor at the university. On the other side lived a very famous Scottish singer who often appeared on television and performed in concert halls all over Europe.
Eventually, our parents returned and our grandparents departed on the road south. As soon as their car had disappeared around the King’s Cross roundabout just to the south of our house, the esteemed surgeon came running into the driveway.
He tears of laughter flowed as he reported Loll’s behaviour to my startled mother.
From that day on, whenever our grandmother related the story of her ‘most embarrassing moment,’ my sister and I would exchange glances and supress our laughter. To the day she died, we never told her that she actually had a moment which should have been much more embarrassing.
I love that woman more than any other.