Mindin’ o’ James – Apéro

(Ra first para. here, some o’ it wuz took frae ra start o’ “Gravediggin’ Days”)  Raisin’ a gless or three tae James; it was aye that monicker used by his freenz at school (thaz “skil” in ra vernac’lar) in Perth lang syne in the early 1960s. James’s pals were Ewen, now in Glesgey; Lynda in Eberdeen; Dennis in Perth, an’ John an’ “Chud” baith deid. Ah wad also include Alan McDonald, Tom Bell and Rod Muir, guid freenz at medical school in Embry – Alan’s noo in Barnsley, England; Tom’s in Brisbane and Rod’s in Embry. A’ o’ them ca’ed him James  … or Jay Bo … Jay Bor … The Man … The Doc … or oft-times summat thaz unmentionable here oot o’ a basic sense o’ decency and decorum. Ae teacher at Perth Academy used to ca’ him “Borovitch”, saying quite often, “You’re a bit of an eccentric, Borovitch” … confirming whit we a’ weel kent but uzyins preferred ra Sco’ish endearment … “half-daft”.

It was hert-warming fur me, unable tae visit James in his last weeks, tha’ Tom an’ Karen managed tae see him, to be wi’ him and report how he was latterly – Tom’s carefu’ description was a real ee-opener coz ah hud nae idea tha’ he was hellishly suffering, fair pit oot wi’ a’ kinds o’ drugs, emotions up and down, betimes befuddled an’ incoherent, but straungely also fair normal an’ lucid … if I can use these words fur yin o’ ra maist eccentric people ah’ve ere kent.   

JayBo had a quick turn o’ phrase tha’ verged on the weird, tossing in a solid dollop o’ the vulgar, even mawkit. Ah hope the wee stories and memories here highlight his distinct character an’ personality. Also tha’ they help tae highlight his goodness an’ kindness, fur sure his eccentricity – ye could ca’ some o’ it potty humour!

Ah’ve tried here tae highlicht sides of James’s character and personality revelling in the daft, the humorous, the quirky, also the huge friendliness. I remember as young lads we walked oft times in ra hills, especially aroon’ Pitlochry in Scotland. He lo’ed open country and hill walking, goin’ tae the likes o’ Ben Nevis, the Pentlands and Arthur’s Seat, also tae Aviemore for skiing. He lo’ed gettin’ oot in the open, up oan ra tops, appreciating the freedom an’ the views. I will aye mind o’ him keenly when I look at mountain tops (Fur sure no’ from them!) whether the French and Swiss Alps, the South Island o’ New Zealand or the Bens o’ Scotland. 


Note the plastic apron and the Tam O’Shanter with false hair.

Then there was Country music – Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash – in their day, C&W of course. And the comedians: yin o’ his fayves was Chic Murray from Greenock near Glasgow, a genius o’ stand-up comedy, wi’ tha’ crazy ability tae lauch at himself. James widdah lo’ed the likes of, “A Scot is a man who keeps the Sabbath, and everything else he can lay his hands on,” or “Mah faither was frae Eberdeen, and a mair generous maun ye couldnah wish tae meet. Ah’ve goatta goldwatch that belonged tae him. He sold it tae me oan his deathbed. Ah wrote him a cheque for it, post-dated of course.”

He enjoyed simply and oft jokily speaking in the Scots dialect, emphasising the rhotic “r” and the lilting style for mair fun. I can hear him the noo using expressions like “Whit’re ye sayin’?”, “Piece o’ piss, man”, “Yer bawzarra mince”, “Ur ye fu’ yet?” and “Get it doon ye!” all oft used, aye raising a guid cackle. He wid say as the evening wore on well, “Aye, this is braw!”  – usually on ra second or third large dram … efter apéros o’ lager an’ then wine wi’ denner. 

James lo’ed Scotland, a’ things Sco’ish, in partic’ler the Scots songs bah the likes o’ Kenneth McKellar an’ the Corries, such as their “Braes o’ Killiecrankie”. Ah sometimes thocht he saw ra world through tartan-patterned spex, fur sure ra bagpipes seemed to skirl in his lugs. He wid dress up in tartan, maistly for a bit o’ fun, an’ ah could hear playin’ on ra turntable sic as “Haste ye Back”, “No’ Awa’ Tae Bide Awa’” or “Keep Right oan tae the End of the Road”.

When we talked Sco’ish an’ recalled the great guid times back hame lang syne, a faraway, a’maist tearful look would cross his face – Sc’lun’ was in his soul. How he and Claire left the hameland lang syne ah’m nae sure but they arrived in New Zealand aboot three years efter me. Aiblins my extolling of Kiwiland virtues helped, in which case ah could say ah was the cause o’ much future creation, summat whilk I didnah manage in mah ain life … except a’ the braw writin’ sic like as this, fur share!