Document 211

The Fremmit Tail

Author(s): Iain W D Forde

Copyright holder(s): Iain W D Forde



The Fremmit Taill

'The auld faither wes first ti luik eftir thaim. Whan he slawlie hechilt doun ti the laich en o the lang, growthie gairden he cam upo a fremmit clog liggin athort the peth. It wes weill kent fur the burn at wimpelt by the gairden fit ti up-kest aw kinkyn o wattir-wrak i tyme o spate, bot this stok wesna siccan houstrie. Housomdevir, the gaffer thocht nae mair o'd ontil he retoured a fyow days eftir, ti snouk the schent o the flouers o the hinniesikkil an ti waatch the wie trout fliskin i the burn. Than it wes at he nottit at the clog hed muived an at anither wes ti be sein neirby, i the humloks. Bot nivver a wird did he say ti'z faimilie, fur thai wes aw i ower mukkil o a rousch ti leisten ti'z yairn about clogs.

Aw simmer mair o the clogs kythit as the ryce an growth died bak. The auld man kep hiz ei on thaim as littel-bi-littel thai crep ti ae syde o the platt whaur a gryte auld midden o foustie gress sneddins, manner an kail blads wes haiped intil a bing. The clogs semed ti lyk this mound an bi the bak en wes aw bouracht roun an about it fur thare wes nou about thrie dizzen o'm. Cam the cauld wedder thai hed ted thaimsells out, pyntin up ti the lift lik a wig-wam. The auld faither tuik peitie on thaim an happit thaim wi strae ti beild thaim frae Jok Nip-Nebs.

Abies the bodach, the faimilie wes aye in a fizz. Thai nivver ventured doun the gairden, bot wes aye wheichin in an out o the houss wantin tyme ti set doun fur thair maet, or ti hae a crak wi the auld yins or ein ti redd out thair chaumers. The hale houss wes a bayin o alairms. Thare wes ane fur raisin yeirsell the morn, ane fur the maet bein stovit, a whein ti warnish o smeik, ane ti let stoutherie frae ben the houss an ane fur ilkane o the kers out-by on the drave (fur thai didna hae tyme ti pit thair kers intil the gairage).

Day an nicht automatik noks snekkit machines on an aff, ti waash the claes, ti synd the chienie an pats, to waarm the houss, ti licht the foirpad, ti veidzeo the tellie (fur thai nivver hed tyme ti gie addisence til the programs whan thai wes on the baird) an the warst madrim, fons wi awnserin machines (fur thai wes nivver ben the houss ti tak caws).

The faimilie wes daein beinlie nane-the-les. Thai aw hed a guid employ an a fouth o freins, an wur fain o ither. Bot thair warl wes lik an emmet's byke, nivver lown or at pace fur a meinit. Ane o the neifs wes, at thai wes aye tintin thair geir. Wi sae monie fowk breingin about, naethin ivver restit i ae bit fur lang. The bairns wes aye argle-barglin about the los o claes or shuin or siclik, an cryin at thair minnie ti halp. Bot the mither wes warse, fur shae hed aw hir peypirs frae hir wirk mixtermaxter i hir brief-cace wi the messages coft frae the chop on hir gate hamelins. Warst o aw wes the faither. He wes a chantie- wrassler at aye forleit hiz lumes an nivver hed the tyme ti redd up hiz shade at wes a constant midden.

About the sam tyme at the auld faither first sein the clogs i the gairden, the picher o the faimilie raise ti a pein. The mither cuidna kepe trak o the houshald maet. Ivverie ither day shae hed ti coff mair fuid ti fordel up the pantrie an the flake staun.

Shae wyted the younkers, bot fun at vittals wes mizzlin awaw ein whan thae vorax hempies wes outby. The througal auld faither wes than fautit bot he eithlie cuid pruive at maist o the fuid at wes stown wes sicna sort at he nivver aet ataw, an hedna duin sae fur saxtie or mair yeir.

Maitters gaed frae bad ti warse. It wesna juist the maet. Aw kinna graith wes bein muived about an pit i antrim an fremmit spats. The faimilie wes nou plaged wi the throuithers bot wes aye i siccan a brattil at thai cuidna wun ti the ruit o the trubill. Housomdevir, eftir a nummer o throchs o gryte importance wes skailed about aw ower the flair, the faither cawed a tryst ti set tung ti the quaistioun. This wes mair eisie ti say than ti dae, fur thai wes aw skitterin about as uiswal lik as monie wattir clerers. Bot he gied thaim a warnishin at thai aw maun bi praisent sae the maitter cuid bi haimmered out atwene thaim wiout onie excaises fur no bein forrit.

Sae, cum the day an our appyntit, the hale clanjamfrie set doun ti wun ti the hert o the meisterie. The yunkirs wes aw fidgin an ettlin ti be about their neist ploy bot the mither an faither garred thaim set quaet an leisten. Eftir giein the maitter a guid gaun ower tho, thai cuidna fin an awnser. At lang lest the yingess o the bairns says. "We maun hae a ghaist."

Aw the ithers begoud ti mak maenin souns an pou faces ilk ti frichten the tithers sae the faither telt thaim ti gae but, fur an idaia hed cum t'm.

He hyred a seistem o veidzeo chaumeraes an set thaim up about the houss ti nik the skellum at wes pittin thair housshauddin intil sic a kerfuffil. I the air days o the prattik, the weans aye chowlt thair chafts at the chaum-corders, lik thai hed juist aet cordisidron, bot eftir a whyllie thai myndit-na ti dae ein this. Apairt frae fowk kythin i thair scuddies or scartin about i thair nebs fur bogies (at wes geylies lauchabill fur the ithers) the faither wes frustert i hiz skame ti airt out the ill-daer an gied ower hiz attemp. Bot the ferlie appinins devault-na.

The auld faither an the bairns didna fash thaimsells. Housomdevir the mither an faither gat mair an mair pitchert an phanatik about out-funnin the raison fur the fremmit daeins, at continit ti accur.

The auld faither wes michtie drearie-fu about'z guid dochters fykie state. Aft tymes he tuik a step out by ti vizzie the gairden an cogitat. I hiz mynd, the gairden wes a quaet, lown pleasaunce, whyles the houss wes a ram-stam, jing-bang kinna plece. He cam ti conseider at the gairden plaunts, the pacient stoks an hissell as aw ae kin o cattil, anerlie muived bi the slaw tids an saisons.

Ae day, he wes sattilt on a bink about hauf-gate doun the sklent, whan a flocht o linties cam fliein throu the rones o the gairth at sicna spede at the auld wicht cuid haurdlie sei mair nor a straik o daurknes agin the lift. He bot kent thaim fur linties bi thair chirmin. Than, wi fell funk, a spara-gled wheiched throu the flocht an sessit out a wei lintie fur'z denner. The auld faither raicogneised the gled bi the mainner it strak at the prey an flied aff joukin intil the hege an ryse ayont, fur the swiff o the gled wes that fest at the ei gruppit-it-na. Thons lik ma faimilie, he thocht, no maitter hou fest thai ging thair ghaist gings fester. A wunner, he sayed t'hissell, gin ghaists ir puir fowk, condampt ti drie thair weirds at an unco spede, sae fest at we canna ein sei thaim. Whit a baur ti hae siccan a veisitautioun on ma faimilie. He hed a wie bit snicher t'hissell.

The ouk eftir, the weans wes waatchin a program o naitral ferlies on the tellie. The auld faither wes keikin at it wi ae ei, bot stertit ti pey hede whan the skrene shawit a flim o corss-fits on the sie bed. At uiswal spede, the beass wes liggin about an no muivin. Bot gin thai yaissed tyme-devault foties, it up-spedit the corss-fits frae bein stok-still ti birlin an breingin about an tichin ither wi thair feit lik jyvvirs at the jiggin daein the twust. Nou, thocht the bodach, cuid-ye-na applie the preincipil ti wir fremmit veisitors anerlie bout-gates?

He collogued wi'z sin an thai hyred a hie-spede flim chaumera ti slaw doun mudgins, an speired a scientiss frein ti kittel up onie eimages thai keppit. Richt eneuch! Eftir wirk on'z compuitir the frein shawed thaim foties o wie blae bogills about the bouk o bubblie-joks, lowpin an rinnin about the houss scrannin maet frae the baudron's dish afoir the puir craitur cuid wun hir mou t'it an steilin succar an mulk frae the keichin bunkers. The bogils hed the lait o thae wie runkkilt fungie cryed "Elfs Lugs" aw snurled about lik the intimmers o a cheitie's lug or the tap o a Scotch mutton pey. Thai wes mair nor a whein ugsum. Baith men gried ti say nocht ti the faimilie ontil thai cuid furm a consait fur the reddin o the fankil .

Bot nou at the faither kent about the veisitautioun hiz fleyitnes infekkit'z guidwyfe. The guidman i hiz tirn, desyded at fur thair ain guid, they maun allou the beasties ti hunt thaim out o houss an hame. He tuik hiz faither intil'z traist an telt'm at thai wes aw ti lae thair hame fur a whyllie an tak ludgins, ontil aither the guidwyfe wes better or thai hed an awnser ti the mishanter at hed befawn thaim. Thai wes daunderin alang a loan neirby the houss fur ti haud the leirichielarichie saicret frae the lave o the faimilie. The auld faither wes laith ti gang awaw bot the sin threipit at the beasties wuid tak thair gate suin's thare wesna onie mair maet ben the houss.

"Ay," reponed the elder man, "Thai'l bot flit ti anither puir buddie's houss an stert thair cantrips aw ower."

"A'm feirt at ma ain flesh an bluid cums first," wes the openioun o the faither.

"A grie wi ye, bot A think A wul byde a whyllie eftir ye hae gane fur thare maun be a wey ti dael wi thae wie brounies fur aince an fur aw."

Sae thai med a pactioun on'd, fur the man kent hiz faither wes a craiftie wicht an soupil, an weill cuid maister the viceissituids o lyfe.

"Tel the bairns ye ir bot gaun a vacancie," sayed the bodach, "an coff me a mukkil busche o cans o baudrons maet fur a wiss-na ti sterve the kelpies or the katt."

On that, thai birled roun an tuik thair gate fur hame. It wes nou mid-winter an the cauld air wes makkin thaim reddies fur thair antrum.

The mirk days a winter slawlie harlt by. The callan, pensefu an pacient, waatcht an wyttit. Days wun by fur'm lik the blink o an ei. The kelpies nivver engreved him fur he wes that slaw an deleiberat. He maistlie aet parritch, tatties an kail fur'z maet sae thai didna pauchil it, fur thai lyked succar an buttir an maet, bot abuin aw he fun out at the farin that thai wes the maist i favour o wes ham an egs, wi blak puddin an frythit breid. The guid faither nivver aet sic farin, bot he wuid mak it fur the bogies an thai wuid polish the plate afoir the creish wes cuil.

Baith pairties als wes i griement about the rinnin o the houss fur thai baith ettled ti be verra waarm. The brounies suin leirit ti up-tirn the central hetin, bot snekkit aff aw the ither machines fur thai didna ken the uiss o'm. This shuitit the auld faither fine.

Nou ye mauna think at hiz faimilie wesna cairin o'm. Thai wes aye hurlin roun ti mak siccar at aw wes weill furby thai wes unco disjasket whan the fon wes aff snekkit bot the auld man lyked better ti hae veisiters an no ti crak ower the weirs. Hiz anerlie nedecessitie wes a fou flaik-staun an pantrie fur "the petts" as he cryed thaim ti hissell. Itherwyss it wes a pleisur t'm at hiz guid dochter wes kepin better an the bairns wes aw flourissin an sonsie. Bot thai wes sair wantin thair auld hame.

"Haud yeir horss," wised the auld faither. "aw things cum ti he at wytts."

Suin the ware wun roun. The thrawn auld yin cuid nou daunder outby an vizzie the braidin plaunts wiout skytin doun the staps at bene grene wi fog or whyt wi snaw aw winter. The wedder wes saft an waarm fur the tyme o yeir. Ein the fremmit clogs wes chippin an acherspyrin lik sauch stobs at'l growe lang eftir thai bene doun sneddit. The auld faither happit mair strae roun thaim ti heize thaim an shauchilt doun ti delf'z kail bed.

Bi Pask, the spruits o the clogs wes twal fit i heicht an wi the het sin fell blae flouers kythed thaimsells. O a suddent the callan kent at the stoks i the gairden an the kelpies i the houss wes aw ae ou, fur the furm o the flouer foilzie wes ti a shavin as it bene muildit frae the runkilt buddies o the bogils he sein i the foties.

I the gloamin the flouers aff-gied an antrin an unco odour at waashed throu the houss frae the gairden. Fur the first tyme, thon nicht, the baudron aet its ain maet an the frythit eg liggit cauld on its dish. The auld faither wes maist cairous.

"A'l daunder doun ti sei gin the clogs hae onie thing to dae wi this." An he tuik hiz auld paraffin bouet ti licht the peth. Thare wes a lectra licht at the hinner duir bot ye cuidna sei oniething ayonts its lemes fur thai wes that strang an blinnit awbuddie.

Shair eneuch, the shanks o the flouers wes boud ower wi the wecht o the bogils at wes liggin ticht set intil the petals, lythe as ye lik, on-muivin an quaet, ane ti ilk flouerheid. The auld faither cuidna sei thaim cleirlik bot he raxed abuin'z heid wi the lanthern an cuid detek the critturs couriet doun, ilk wrunkil o thair bodies the marra o the wimpil o the flouer foilzies. Ein the cullour wes the sam.

He liggit the lanthern on the grun an gied ae stok a bit shak. The beastie didna lat bug an roift wiout ae meivie or a mavie. Thai mynded'm o as monie fozzie bies aslep i's monie bels o a Keings Ellwand.

"Weill," says the auld man ti'hissell, "thons slawed thaim doun a pece an gin A mynd onie naitral historie thur ongauns ir ti dae wi houchmagandie o sum sort!"

Juist at that mament the muin cam out frae ayont a cloud an lichtit the yird sae bricht at the peip o the lanthorn wes pit doun ti a wie skinkil. Furby the faimilie hed cawed roun ti gie'm thair crak an cuid be hard gollerin an pleyin dunt wi the duirs ben the houss.

God kens, wi the blinnin muin licht an the suddent soun o hiz faimilie cryin eftir'm the puir auld sowel forleit hiz lamp an gied it a dunt wi hiz buit. The licht ower-cowpit an, i the blink o an ei the strae wes alowe. The bodach wes about ti stramp out the flams an roup fur halp bot the rovin tuik haud an forsed him bak. Nou, the bogils maun bene gey creashie wi siccan a saimie dyet an brust ilkane intil a whoumin gleish, ti mak a fine shamak o thaimsells. Bi the tyme at the faimilie hed cum rinnin doun the peth thair auld faither wes staumin luikin at a bing o drieshach.

"Whit kinna splore ir ye at nou?" they speired at'm.

"Ach, A wes bot brunnin a whein alishunners, fur A'm seik o thaim scomfishin ma herbauciuss bed". Fur as suin as the bodach hed raelysed at he cuidna sauf the bogils, he hed sein at it wesna a bad reddin up o the maitter. I the fyow meinits afoir the faimilie fun'm, the auld man hed up-makkit'z mynd. He hedna mint ti brun the clogs or the bogils, or at laist he wes onawaur o daein't knawinlie. Nou the dede wes duin tho.

"A winna ken gin a brunt a waasp's byke or Christopher Columbus", he thocht."Housomdevir, A'm ower auld ti leirn. Gin A ivver sei'm, mebbies Saunt Peter'l gie me a heize wi sic conundrums, fur A'm no gaun ti scrat ma pow ower it nou".

"Faither," sayed hiz guid dochter, "we hae guid nyows fur ye. A hae desydit at A'm weill eneuch ti cum hame an at ma illnes wes o ma ain daein. Gin we leive mair douce lik an hae a mair hummil style, A dinna sei whitwey we suidna be's cosie as yeirsells i the houss."

"A'm verra blyth ti hear't," says hir guid faither, "an A think at ye hae the richt o'd. A wes about ti propone the verra sam idaia."

Hiz guid dochter cruikit hir airm intil hiz an wes about ti wauk'm bak ti the houss. He wes giein a lest luik at the diein balefyre ower hiz shouther whan he sein at hiz sin wes haundin the brunt hek o the lanthern. The lang heidit auld pensionar gied'm a blink o the ei. The sin gied'm ane bak an flang the remayns intil the balefyre whaur the aises swallied thaim up.

"We maun haud the temper up i the houss tho," says the auld faither, "fur a rakkon A wul nede ti busk an boun fur a verra het clymat whaur A wul be gaun praisentlie."

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APA Style:

The Fremmit Tail. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 12 April 2024, from

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"The Fremmit Tail." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 12 April 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 211

The Fremmit Tail


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Teenagers (13-17)
General public
Informed lay people
Other For own family and for anyone interested in Scots
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 1983
Word count 3072
General description ch1 of bk3 a self contained story written by characters within the novel

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Iain W.D. Forde
Publication year 1996
Place of publication Edinburgh
Part of larger text
Contained in The Paix Machine
Page numbers ch1 bk3 p136
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Trilogy - "Paix Machine" (1996), "Hale ir Sindries" (2001), "The Kirk, the Skuil, the Buik" (2007)

Text setting


Text type

Prose: fiction
Short story
Other short story written novel


Author details

Author id 624
Forenames Iain
Initials W D
Surname Forde
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment College
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired Architect
Place of birth Edinburgh
Region of birth Midlothian
Birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Publisher
Father's place of birth Edinburgh
Father's region of birth Midlothian
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Teacher
Mother's place of birth Edinburgh
Mother's region of birth Midlothian
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area midLoth
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Everywhere
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Where appropriate