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My Man Sandy
Chapter XVII. At the select choir's concert


Sin' Friday nicht I've been gaen aboot wi' my hert an' moo fu' o' musik! Eh, hoo I did enjoy yon Gleeka Koir's singin'. I hinna heard onything like it for mony a day. D'ye ken, fine musik juist affeks me like a gude preechin'--an' waur whiles. I canna help frae thinkin' aboot it. The tune I've been hearin' 'ill come into my heid at a' times; an' here I'll be maybe croonin' awa' i' the shop to mysel' "Will ye no' come back again?" an' gien somebody mustard instead o' peysmeal, an', of coorse, it comes back again, an' a gey wey o' doin' wi't, an' nae mistak'.

But, eh, I enjoyed the Burns Club concert! Sandy an' me was doon at the hall on the back o' seven o'clock, an' we got set doon at the end o' ane o' the farrest-forrit sixpenny seats, an' got a lean on the back o' ane o' the shilliny anes. We was gey gled we gaed doon early, for the hall was foo juist in a clap; an' gin aucht o'clock, Sandy tells me, they were offerin' half-a-croon to get their lug to the keyhole. It was an awfu' crush.

There was a gey pompis-like carlie cam' an' tried to birz Sandy an' me up the seat; but Sandy sune made a job o' him.

"Have you a ticket?" says Sandy.

"Ay, have I," says the carlie, curlin' up his lips gey snappish-like; "I have a three-shillin' ticket."

"Ay, weel, awa' oot o' this," says Sandy. "This is the sikey seats, an' we dinna want ony o' you chappies poachin' amon' his lads. If you've only a three-shilliny ticket, you'll awa' oot o' this, gey smert," says Sandy; an' a lot o' the fowk backit him up, an' faigs, mind ye, the carlie had to crawl awa' forrit again, whaur he cam' frae. The cheek o' the cratur! Thocht, mind ye, he wud get crushed in amon' his sikey fowk wi' his three-shilliny ticket!

Whenever the singin' began ye wudda heard a preen fa'. "There was a lad was born in Kyle," juist nearhand garred Sandy jump aff his seat. He cud hardly keep his feet still, an' he noddit his heid frae side to side, an' leuch, like's he was some noo-married king drivin' awa' throo the streets o' London till his honeymune. Syne at "My luve she's like a reed, reed rose," he smakit his lips, an' turned his een up to the ruif, an' lookit to me twa-three times like's he was genna tak' a dwam o'  some kind. That used to be a favourite sang o' Pecker Donnit's when he precentit up at Dimbarrow. Eh, mony's the time I've heard him at it. Ye'll mind fine o' the Peeker? He bade ower i' yon cottar hoose, wast a bittie frae the Whin Inn. He had twa dochters, ye'll mind, an' a he-cat that killed whitterits wi' a blind e'e. Eh, ay; that's mony a lang day syne! But I'm awa' frae my story.

I cudna tell ye which o' the bits I likeit best. I juist sat nearhand a' nicht fairly entranced. I thocht yon twa kimmers that sang "The Banks an' Braes o' Bonnie Boon" did awfu' pritty. Raley, my hert was i' my moo twa-three times when they were at the bitties whaur they sang laich, juist like the sooch-soochin' o' the hairst wind i' the forenicht amon' the stocks. Sandy was sweengin' aboot in his seat, like's he was learnin' the velocipede, an' takin' a lang breath ilky noo-an'-than, an' sayin', "Imphm; ay, man; juist that." He riffed when the lassies sat doon, till ye wud thocht he wudda haen his hands blistered; but I think he was gled o' onything to do, juist to lat him get himsel' gien vent.

When the koir startit to sing aboot Willie Wastle, Sandy nickered awa' like a noo-spain'd foal, an' aye when they cam' to the henmist line o' the verse he gae me a prog i' the ribs wi' his elba, as much as to say, "That's ane for you, Bawbie!" But I watched him, an' at the henmist verse, when they said terriple quick, "I wudna gie a button for her," I juist edged alang a bittie, an' Sandy's elba missin', he juist exakly landit pargeddis in a fisherwife's lap that was sittin' ahent's. There was plenty o' lauchin' an' clappin' whaur we was, I can tell ye.

I likeit "Scots wha hae," an' the "Macgregor's Gaitherin'." I thocht yon was juist grand. When they were singin' "Scots wha hae," Sandy glowered a' roond aboot him like's he wudda likeit to ken if onybody wantit a fecht. What a soond there was at the strong bits. The feint a ane o' me kens whaur yon men an' weemin' get a' yon soond. At some o' the lines o' the "Macgregor's Gaitherin'" it was like the wind thunderin' doon Glen Tanner, or the Rooshyan guns at Sebastypool. I cudna help frae notisin' hoo it garred a'body sit straucht up. When yon lassie was singin' sae bonnie, "John Anderson, my Jo," a' the fowk's heids were hingin'; but at "Scots wha hae" they sat up like life gairds, and ilky body near me lookit like's it wudna be cannie speakin' to them.

There was ae thing they sang that wasna on the programme that I thocht awfu' muckle o'. It was something aboot "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!" Ane o' the lassies sang a bit hersel' here an' there, an' eh, what splendid it was. She gaed up an' doon amon' the notes juist like forkit lichtnin', an her voice rang oot as clear as a bell. It was raley something terriple pritty. When she feenished ye wudda thocht the fowk was genna ding doon the hoose. "Man, that raley snecks a' green thing; it fair cowps the cairt ower onything ever I heard," says Sandy, gien his nose a dicht wi' the back o' his hand. "That dame has raley a grand pipe; ye wud winder whaur she fand room for a' the wind she maun need." A foll curn fowk startit to the lauchin' when Sandy said this; but, faigs, mind ye, the lassie fairly astonished me.

When the votes o' thanks were gien oot, Sandy riffed an' rattled oot o' a' measure. I thocht ance or twice he wud be up to the pletform to say a wird or twa himsel', he was that excited. Syne when "Auld Lang Syne" was mentioned, he sprang till his feet, evened his gravat, pulled doon his weyscot, put a' the buttons intil his coat, an' swallowed a spittal. An' hoo he tootit an' sang! I thocht the precentor that was beatin' time lookit across at him twa-three times, he was roostin' an' roarin' at sic a rate. He sang at the pitch o' his voice--

Shud auld acquantance be forgot,
An' never brocht to mind,

an' syne gien me a great daud on the shuder wi' his elba, he says, "Sing quicker, Bawbie"--

For the days o' auld langsyne.

There was a fisher ahent's that strak' in wi' the chorus an' made an' awfu' gutter o't. He yalpit awa' a' on ae note, juist like's he was roarin' to somebody to lowse the penter; an' though Sandy keepit gaen, he was in a richt raise.

"That roarin' nowt's juist makin' a pure soss o't," he says, when we finished. "Ye wud easy ken he had learned his singin' at the sea"; an' he glowered roond at him gey ill-natir'd like, an' says, "Haud your tung, ye roarin' cuif." Syne he grippit the fisher's hand wi' ane o' his, an' mine wi' the ither, an' startit--

An' here's a hand, my trusty fraend, eksettera.

The fisher lookit gey dumfoondered like, an' never lut anither peek; but Sandy stack in like a larry-horse till the feenish, an' he cam' hame a' the road sayin', "Man, that's raley been a treat!"

It was that, an' nae mistak', an' as the chairman said, it'll be a memorable concert to mony a ane.


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