by: Taylor, Alistair
Ma mither’s brither Sandy bedd in the hoose far they war aa born in Gladstone Place, Braemar. It wis caad Gladstone Place... bit it wis niver officially Gladstone Place. It wis caad Gladstone Place because Gladstone hid geen up the back road…I dinna ken fit he wis deein up there... bit he wis on a visit tae Queen Victoria tae Balmoral an he gied up the back road and ever efter that it wis caad Gladstone Place. It’s noo caad School Road. Sandy, my Uncle Alec, worked till he wis 90. He wirked on the estate fin he wis a loon. Afore the First World War he wirked wi John Milne the cairrier, Col. Milne. And ae wintertime the hotel across at Glen Shee winted curlin steens teen ower frae Braemar tae the Spittal. Sae Uncle Sandy, the young loon, got the job o takkin the horse an the cairt an the curlin steens ower the Divil’s Elbow tae the Spittal in the middle o Winter.
He’d teen the horse tae the smiddy tae be sherpened, an fin he wis at the smiddy gettin the horse sharpened a wee shard o metal gaed intae his ee. ‘Sharpenin the horse’ wis pittin metal bits intae the hooves tae haud on the the icy roads. He drove the horse an cairt an the curlin steens ower the Cairnwell and bi the time be got tae the Spittal he wis in a bit o pain.
Well, he’d tae bide the nicht at the hotel cause he cudna come hame the same day. The ee wis gettin worse an worse. He cudna sleep ava, he wis jist in agony the hale nicht. And aa the lassies in the hotel war powkin him in the ee wi bits o hankies an makkin things waur.
He’d tae come aa the wye back the next day. An his mither sent for the doctor, and the doctor said, ‘For God’s sake draw the blinds!’ Eventually, on the third day, they got him rushed intae Aiberdeen, an fin they saw him there, they said ‘Oh yer far ower lang in comin here ma man, ye’ve lost yer eye.’
So he hid an artificial ee. An it wis a badly fittin artificial ee. Bit as a loon I wis affa intrigued wi this ee, cause he tuik it oot at nicht an put it in a bowlie aside the bed, in the same wye as maist folk dee wi their false teeth. I used tae luik in through the keyhole tae see fit it wis like, floatin aboot in the watter.
Fin he wis in his 90s an livin on his own, I eesed tae ging up an see him a lot, Uncle Alec. An he said tae me,’ I think I’ll get anither ee.’ I dinna ken foo mony een he’d hid durin his life. I thocht tae masel, ‘Och, if I wis 93 or 94, I widna bother wi anither ee,’ but I didna say that, I said, ‘We’ll makk arrangements.’
An in he went, an they made an affa fuss o him. They gaed him the maist perfect ee ye iver saw. Beautiful! They war gettin rid o his auld ee, ye see, bit he says ,‘Na na, I’ll takk the auld ee hame wi me fur a spare.’ And he did!