Letter Tae a Namesake
by: Birnie, Rev. Charles
I hiv the J. for John in my signature. Ma mither aye threepit that I hidna tae miss oot the 'J.' an neither I did. It wis her that gied me some notion o yer dear personality, sir. Yer tricks tee, like the time ye gaed tae the Cutty Hill o Rora ae Hogmanay nicht 'n put a divot on the tap o the hingin lum, an syne gaed in fur a crack wi the folkies.An ay Mrs Thomson remarkit 'We're nae in the wye o haein reek.'
Ye wir a gallus chiel, John. Ae time, fan a teacher at Peterheid Academy wis o a min' tae confront ye, ye contered wi the hame-ower challenge:
'Awa ooto ma road, mannie, afore I takk ye ower ma knee an skelp ye.'
Ay, John, gallus oot in France lad.. I've heard auld Gordons declare nostalgically:
'We hid Johnny Riddel'
Ye wis weel likit as a second-louie, John. It wis a Kininmonth loon caad Lunan that helpit stretcher ye oot the nicht the Jerry shell hit yer hut. A cousin, ane o the Cheynes o Bogs o Kininmonth saw ye in the hospital efter gangrene set in an wis telt:
'It's aa richt. Ma prayers are said.'
I ken ye wis gyaun tae be a missionary, John. Yer sister Annie, my mither, aye winted me tae makk good that dream. So I thocht ye'd mebbe like tae ken that efter pitten't aff fur many years I took a twa years course in 1967 an wis a minister doon in the Robbie Burns country fur twelve an a hauf years. afore I cam hame tae Buchan tull the twin pairishes o Aiberdour an Tyrie, finally retirin on ma 70th birthday.
Wull that makk up for't, John? Yer sister Annie wis awa afore I becam an auld kirk minister, so I'll lippen tae you tae let her ken. The only foreign field fur you wis Flanders, an that claimed ye. Ye niver got oot tae the mission field in China far ye'd planned tae follow in the footsteps o Great Uncle Willie, ( him that attendit the Emperor's concubine fin she took a dwaum). Bit oor French teacher, a grim, ill-naturet besom, gaed us the name o anidder kin o field...Les Champs Elysees, an ah'm sure they're aa the greener for you bein there.
Tell them aa I'm speirin
Charles John, as ma mither likit tae caa me.