Joe Corrie

A NEW SUIT O CLAES

FOR mair years than I care to coont noo I hae got Peter Beggie to mak my claes for me. Sae, hivin a wee win aff thae fitba' coupons recently. I thocht I could dae waur than spruce mysel up a bit for ony special occasions that micht arise. Sae I teuk a daunder up to Peter's shop to see if he haed ony o the substantial claith that haes aye been my speciality.

Peter is sic a big, strang man that he should hae been a blacksmith an no a tylor ava. But tailorin' haes been in the bluid o the Beggie's since Adam emerged frae the Garden o Eden leukin for something to hide his naitral nakedness.

In his young days Peter haed wanted to be a Glesca polissman, but his faither said, "You'll bide here, my bonnie son, an cross your legs like the rest o us." But the grudge haes aye been in Peter's mind ; that's why he whiles pits awa his tape an gangs on the fuddle till he haes nae money left then pits the tape roon' his neck again. Mibbie I shouldna rake this up against the man but it haes something to dae wi my story.

Peter was ben the kitchen hivin his denner when I stepped into the shop, but, wi his mooth fou o tripe an tatties, he shouted to me to come ben. When I telt him what I wanted he bade me sit doon, puttin' aside his knife an fork to warn me that the price o claith was gaun up an up. I noticed that he was drinkin a lot o watter wi his denner, but I juist thocht it was a naitral thirst.

Efter leukin at his auld wag-at-the-waa he put aside his denner an asked me to follow him back into the shop. He let me see a web o claith which was juist the very thing I wanted, sae we settled on that. "The same auld style, Mr Lowrie ?" says he. "Exactly the same, Peter," says I. Still bein a cairter by natur I stick to the flaps on the pooches, the horse shae buttons, an the pipe shankitt troosers. There's naething smerter in my opeenion.

"Is a measurement necessary, Mr Lownrie ?" says he, "ye canna hae changed much since my last measurement." My troosers haed been gettin' a bit ticht at the waist recently, wi a change o cookery at hame because Maggie's tryin' to put on weicht. Sae I telt him, an he says. "Weel, I'll juist put the tape roon' your kits an that'll suffice."

He didna tak lang to dae that, then he said. "If ye juist put doon a pound deposit, Mr Lowrie, that'll be that meantime." An while I was takin the pound frae my pocket-beuk he was puttin' on his jaikit. Sae wi my pound in his poach he walked doon the street wi me, sayin as he slipped into the pub, "I'll get doon to your claes the morn, Mr Lowrie." But I haed heard that story frae Peter before an juist said to mysel, "Mibbie."

I telt Maggie what haed happened an she said "If he's awa on the fuddle again he's no startin' to your suit. I'll juist gae up an tell his wile that you're in nae hurry."

But less than a week later wha should knock on my door but Peter, wi a bundle alow his airm. "Your claes, Mr Lowrie," says he. "But I havena haed a fit-on," says I. He juist lauched an said, "I'm shuir I dinna need to fit you on," an he pushed by me an walked into the kitchen. He seemed in a desperate hurry, an afore I kent where I was he haed taen aff my jaikit an tossed it on the bed. I gripped my gallowses for I didna want to be stripped mither-naked seein that Maggie was ben the room an micht come throu ony minute. I mey say that his hands were tremblin very noticably wi the whusky tremors. He opened the paircel an was puttin' the new jaikit on me when Maggie appeared.

When he stuid back to leuk at me I gae mysel a shake an sensed immediately that there was something wrang. The sleeves were ower lang, it was ower ticht at the belly, an it was nearly fa'in doon aff my shouthers. But Peter said, "Fine! Here's the troosers."

I leuked at Maggie, she leuked at me, then we baith leuked at Peter, wha was leukin at the clock. "You've broucht the wrang suit, Peter," says I, "there must be somebody on your beuks the name o Goliath." Man, was he no angry. "You're the only man in the toon that wears flaps an horse shae buttons, are ye no?" "That mey be," says I, "but the only time I could wier this was on Guy Fawkes's day." For I was leukin at mysel in the leukin-gless an I was juist like a wee boy that haed put on his faither's jaikit.

"Mibbie ye think I've been drinkin?" says he. "You should ken that best yourself'," says Maggie. " If ye think I'm gaun to tak back that suit o claes . . . No, by hockey, I'll trail ye throu the law coorts first," says he. "You juist stand there." says Maggie, "an I'll gae an get the polissman." This calmed Peter doon a bit, sae he says, "There's naething wrang that canna be put richt. Try on the troosers." Sae oot I went wi the troosers in my hand an left him wi Maggie.

Maggie mey hae her fauts but she's very guid at gi'in' a man a lecture-especially on temperance, for I hae heard it aften an aften, an when I got to the kitchen Peter was in tears, while Maggie was sayin, "But it's never ower late Mr Beggie, if ye juist hae the commonsense an the will-po'er."

Noo, I wish ye'd seen me in thae troosers. The bottoms o them were up to the calves o my legs, an the waist was sae ticht that I was blue in the face. Peter leuked at me, then he sheuk his heid, an said, "If that's no a lesson to me, Mr Lowrie, naething ever will be." An Maggie, the reformer, patted him on the back an said, "As I was sayin Mr Beggie, it's never ower late to mend. Tak my advice..." "I've taen it, Mrs Lowrie," says he, "frae this minute on I'm a changed man."

Sae Maggie teuk him at his wird an left us. He wrapped up the claes again then he says to me, "Mr Lowrie, if I haed the wherewithall I'd juist hae yin mair dram, an that wad be me feenished for ever." "Why no feenish withoot the last dram?" says I. "Juist to let the publican ken that I'll never, never, never be back in his place again," says he."

Man, I didna ken what to dae. If I refuised him the price o a dram I micht no get my claes ava, an he haed my pound o a deposit. Sae, takin the risk, I gae him a ten shillin' note. Man, he was oot the hoose an ower the brig in nae time. "It's a peety that haedna happened to him years ago, Tam," said Maggie to me later, "he wad hae been a different man the-day, in a flourishin' business."

"Mibbie it haes happened afore, Maggie," says I. "Quite possible," says she, "but this time he got the advice that went richt to his hert."

Noo, naebody wad hae been happier than me to tell ye that Peter jined the Rachabites an became a worthy elder o the kirk, an made his puir wife fa' in love wi him ower again, but the very next nicht did Peter no come back to my hoose, wi the same paircel, an very unsteady on his feet. "Your claes, Mr Lowrie," he said to me, "try on the jaikit." Sae I tried on the jaikit, thinkin he haed been gey smert on the alterations, but it was the same jaikit as before.

"Man," says he, efter a hiccouch, "isn't that a perfect fit?" I shouted on Maggie. "There's nae difference in that," says she. "What d'ye mean difference," says Peter. "It's juist the same jaikit ye broucht last nicht." "Last nicht!" says he, "what are ye talkin aboot. I hae never been in this hoose afore in my life."

Sae that's the story o the suit o claes I'll never be able to wier-an the thirty shillin's I'll never be able to spend.