I'M no particularly fond o concerts nooadays; when a body gets on in years they havena the same fortitude an stamina to sit for three 'oors listenin to sangs they hae heard hunners o times afore, an, mair aften than no, wi little improvement in what is ca'd the renderin'. No that I'm sayin a wird against the folk wha get up on the platform to entertain us, for their intentions are aye o the best, namely to help some charitable cause, an at the same time, o course, gie their ain sel's some artistic exercise.
But my belief is that it's far better-for a body o my age, I mean-juist to buy a ticket at their ain door an spend the nicht in peace an quiet. But my wife Maggie haesna got that breadth o reasoning'. Oh, no, if she spends money on a ticket for a concert she must get the value o her money, even if she haes to thole the tortures o it a'.
Sae when I got hame the ither efternoon eften watchin' a wheen o young weemen playin' tennis, my favourite summer pastime, I mey say, which Maggie, sae fan, haesna discovered, she says to me, "I've gotten tickets for a concert the-nicht for the cruelty to animals, sae we'll hae oor tea early to gie ye time to shave an trim thae mutton-chop whiskers o yours, an get into your Sabbath claes."
This is maist essential, ye see, because Maggie aye gets sates near the front, an gets there late, sae that a' an sundry will see us passin throu the ha'. An as we hae been nearly divorced six times because o thae concerts, an it haes made nae difference to Maggie, I juist said, "Guid eneuch, I juist hope we hae the health an strength an patience to sit throu it."
We haed the uisual rowes aboot the dickie, an the buits, o course, which still need six months leisurely stretchin' before I can say they fit me wi comfort. But eventually I follaed Maggie doon the street, dressed in her best, an wearin' the feather boa, smellin' gey strongly o moth ba's, that aye comes oot on special occasions.
Maggie got a very pleasant surprise to finnd hersel sittin in the very front sate next to Bailie Birkie an his wife. The fact that they didna leuk at us didna maiter-we were in very select company, ye see.
When I leuked at my programme an saw that Captain McSwither was the chairman I gae a groan.
"What's wrang wi ye a'ready ?" said Maggie in a whisper, diggin' me in the ribs wi her elba.
"Oh, juist tryin' to cough politely," said I, "seein wha we're sittin aside." Captain McSwither, ye see, is a nice eneuch man, an aye willin to dae what he can for charity, but he likes to hear himsel speakin', an never kens when to stop. I mey say in passin, tae, that it was the Captain wha won the war. But when the concert was ready to start the Captain wisna there-he haed forgotten a' aboot it. An as we haed to want aboot hauf an 'oor on him I kent that my chances o bein oot before the pubs shut was null an void, which didna improve my patience ony.
The Captain eventually got on the platform puffin' an blawin, but he'd taen time to wax his wee moustache, an efter takin ten meenits to apologise, he drifted on to yin o his numerous campaigns, an as my neck was gettin' a bit stiff leukin up at him I juist lowered my herd an let him win the war ower again.
The next thing I kent aboot the concert was anther dig in the ribs frae Maggie, an when I leuked tip there was Willie Pirnie an David McAinch ready to divert us. Willie wi his cornet, an David wi his trombone, relics o the auld brass brand. An because o that, an memories o auld lang syne, I clappit my hands raither enthusiastically, for which I got anither dig in the ribs. The programme said that they were to play a selection o Scottish melodies, but something must hae gane wrang frae the start for it was a very discordant noise in my lugs. When Willie was playin' "The Auld Hoose" I'm shuir that David was dain "The Rowan Tree," an when Willie did get on to "The Rowan Tree," David was dain' "Loch Lomond" Hooever they ended wi a great flourish, an the appreciation was weel sustained, as they say in the papers.
Then Sandy Milraikie, the milkman, cam on the platform, wi as much muisic in his hands as if he was a hale choir. What Sandy lacks in feelin he mak's up for in lung-po'er. I got something in my ee which felt like a grain o chaff. He sang his favourite, "Taroo, taroo, till daith-a" makkin John Braxie, wha was playin' the peeani for him, fair wild because he couldna be heard. Sandy got great applause for his effort, an retaliated wi a sang aboot drinkin dron in a cellar-which didna help me thirst ony. He haed to sag a bit at the knees to get doon to his low note, but managed. An as the Captain said that Sandy wad be singin again in the saicont hauf. I didna bother clappin' my hands, to reserve my strength for which I got anither dig in the ribs.
Then we haed Miss Muriel McFluter, wha haes been singin for mony a lang, lang year. She aye likes to start aff bein classical, an gae us an imitation o a gentle la-ha-ha-ark. I'll no pass an opeenion aboot that performance, no bein an expert, but I here an noo utter a strang objection to her follaein sang. If a sang is Scotch, then let it be Scotch. But "Wheestle an 'e'll kim to you me led" JUIST WILL NOT DAE!
Then Rab McCulloch cam on wi a great flourish to play his bagpipes tae us. Noo, the bagpipes are very nice to hear if they're bein played at the ither side o the Larg Hill, an you're sittin on the Cree Brig, but they're oot o place entirely in a ha'. He walked back an furrit on the platform, the pipe cley on his gaiters jumpin' up like wee clouds when his feet cam doon, his cheeks puffed oot like two balloons, his kilt wagglin' wi a great swin, an his medals flashin' in the footlichts. An to mak things worse a wean started to greet at my lug. Haed Rab been playin' a penny whistle he wad hae been nice to watch, but the noise was simply bluid-curdlin'. When he got near the end o "The Road to the Isles" he thocht he'd treat us to a fine depairtin swagger as he went aff. But, unfortunately, his kilt got stuck on a nail that haed been knocked into an artificial tree, an he nearly pou'd the hale o the scenery doon. An the pipes gae a mounfu' groan as the Captain helped to get him free.
There's aye a comedian, o course, an this yin was a stranger to me, a Percival Purcell Pawton, accordin' to the programme. I thocht it was a gey queer name for a comic, an I wisna wrang aither. He must hae kent my Grannie in her day for I'd heard her tell the same stories mony a time. We a' haed to lauch, o coorse, to be mainnerable, which is a terrible strain. An he kept on, an on, an on.
When he did gae aff Maggie says to me, "You'll no hae ony aspirins, Tam?" "Unfortunately, no," said I. Sae when the Captain cam on to tell us that young Maister Duff, the boy progidee, was comin on to play the fiddle, Maggie whispered to me, "I think we'll gae, Tam, my heid's like to split."
Man, I was on my feet like a shot, an up throu the ha' like a twa year auld, Maggie hivin to run ahin' to keep up wi me.
I leuked at the clock, an was thankfu that I was in time for a dram. Sae I gae Maggie the key an let her gae hame hersel. An she kent better than say oucht for if she haed she'd hae got her answer.