Document 529

Craiters: 05 - 'Dirty Beast'

Author(s): Alexander Fenton

Copyright holder(s): Alexander Fenton


If ye geed till e wid on e fairm, ye’d tae rin doon intill e howe, cross a burn at e boddem, an syne pech up e lang, slopin parks. E wid wis dividit atween three fairms, ilky bit wi its ain naiter, palin’t aff fae een anither. E middle bit hid mair trees, e ither twa less, bit it hid been cut doon tae some extent for e First World War an ere wis wide spacies full o funs an breem an roddens Ere wisna mony nyeuks o’t I didna ken. Ere’d been fowk aboot e place lang seen for ere wis a steen cairn I howkit intill eence, an got bits o decoratet pottery an a bonny goldie-yalla flint scraper. In anither pairt ere wis e foon o an aal hut circle, bankit up aa roon except for a laich bit on e east side, an a gran place for e rabbits tae howk eir holies. I keepit a ticht ee on eir scrapins tae see if onything wid turn up, bit naething iver did. Aa roon e wid wis a bank of earth an a ditch on e ootside, plantit on tap wi funs an breem, an faar at wis worn awa ere wis a palin tae gie extra protection, bit it wis a bittie holiepied an aa an e beas roved oot an in much as ey likit. E wid hid been plantit aboot e hunner ear seen, ir mair noo, ower plooin o e aal style, wi e corrugations o rig an fur still tae be seen here an ere, though neen wis tae be spottit ootside e bouns o e wid.

Ere wis a lot o history in at wid, an in e palins roon aboot it. Ye niver jist kent fit new thing ye mith come upon. Een o ma ploys fin I wis a loon wis tae set weer snares – e great hunter, ye ken – fae e nethmist straans o e palins faar I cd see e rabbits’ runs. Weel, we’d a cat eence aboot e craft, a great big strippit beast caad Timoshenko. It wis ill for wannerin miles oot aboot, seein till its ain gamekeepin. Ae time it wis tint for days, till it managet tae get craalt hame wi a snare roon its neck. It likely used up mair’n some o its lifes on at expedeetion, an it mn a been lyin somewye tit-tittin at e weer for days an nichts or it knackit e straans, een be een, an won lowse. A strong breet. It wis ill tae get e noose aff its neck. Ahin at, I niver set snares, though it likely wisna een o mine.

Bit it wis palins I wis spickin aboot. I noticet ae day at a een at e back o Pitties’ side o e wid (faar I eest tae dee ma snarin), hid been sortit an a new strainer put in at e far eyn. Jist a rich gweed job. I wis haein a look at e smairt handiwork, fin ma ee fell on some scrattins at e heid o e strainer. Some prood lad hid used eez knife tae cut eez initials an pit on e date o e job tee. Be es time I’d been awa fae e districk for a gweed file an I wisna acquant wi aabody ony mair, an I niver did fin oot faa e laad wis, bit it wis aye jist anither tickie tae eke oot e story o e wid an fit hid geen on aboot it.

Ye get roe-deer in e wid files, an plenty o craas’ an cushie-doos’ nests, an smaaer birdies in e clumps o funs an breem. Es breem got aa wull an straggly files. Ye ken, it’s mint gae gang throwe a kinna seyven ear cycle, an maybe at’s richt enyeuch. Ere wis ae ear I wis up fae Edinburgh. I min Charlie at I files vrocht wi caad it ‘Doon by’. I’d be hyowin neeps wi im, an e’d speer –

‘Ir ye ay, eh, wirkin eh, doon-by, like?’


I wis gyaan ma usual roons ower e parks an throwe e wid, syne doon by e aal souter’s shop at Pitties an up till e heid o Fleer’s Hill, skirtin roon be e quarry an on till e Geese Peel. Hooiver, it wis e wid at took ma attention es day, for gey near ilky buss o breem hid startit tae straggle, an e queer like thing wis e amoont o bark at hid been strippit aff in sae mony places at ere wis jist acres o’t wi a greyichtie-fite appearance. Es nott thinkin aboot. Sae I plunkit masel doon on a steen an jist lookit aboot’s. Wi me nae meevin, I didna caase ony disturbance, an shortly I noticet smaa birdies, bluetits an ither eens, fleein fae branch tae branch, ruggin aff strippies o bark wi eir beaks an seekin e sma caterpillars an maggoties an craalin craiters at hid eir roadies in anaith. Ere wis nae doot – e breem wis comin till e eyn o its life, e bark wis growin aal an harbourin wee beasties, an sae e little birds wis deein eir bit tae feenish e seyven ear story. It’s winnerfae fit ye see if ye’re willin tae sit quairt.

E wid sat like a bonnet at e heid o e parks. Kye cd wanner oot an in, an it geed graan shelter on a caal an winny nicht. Fae ilky edge o e wid, ere wis a maist splendid ootlook, in fitiver airt ye lookit ere wis mile aifter mile o parks, different colours depennin on e season an e crap, wi lang lines o dykes an palins, an e scatter o fairms gettin smaaer an smaaer wi e perspectives as yer een ran till e horizon. An e sky wis even bigger’n e landscape, blue on a simmer day, or speckled fite wi driftin cloodies, or wild an winny files. Ere wis aften e soon o laiverocks in e air, noo an aan sae thick, ye’d a thocht be e noise at e sky wis mint for naething ither’n tae be a soonin boord for em. E curlew’s bubblin caal (I canna think o ony ither adjective tae describe e soon) wid echo ower e parks, an bade in yer memory foriver aifter. An coortin skirlywheeters, e black an fite minstrels o e air, wid flee roon in great circles as ye men’t a palin, brobbin yer fingers maybe on e spikes o e barbit weer, ilky pair wi eir territory weel stakit oot. Ye cd gey near feel like Christ crucified wi yer fingers dreepin wi bleed files an e curlew’s lament an e skirly’s scream aboot yer heid.

At times ere’d be flocks o geese, honkin awa even in e darkenin o e nicht as ey heidit for e Geese Peel, deein fit ey’d been deein since e beginnin o creation, maybe, followin oot eir ain instincts as lang’s water wis tae fin in e Peel. An I’ve niver kent it dry yet.

Forby ere wis e zip-zip o e wings o peesees, black an fite tee bit nae as busy as e skirlies, layin eggs in e breer o e tilled parks. E loons watchet faar ey took aff fae, geed till e spot an got eir nests, maybe takin een or twa o e eggs tae bile in a trycle tin o water on a fire o dry branches an cones – we caad em yowies – at e wid side.

In e early pairt o e spring, fin ere wis still a chance o a fluffer o snaa, ye’d get some queer effecks. I min eence e spring sin was strong bit ilky sae aften ere wis a fleein flizzem o a shooerie o hailsteens. E bullets stung, bit it didna haad em lang tae melt. I chancet tae gang throwe e middle o e park o aal girse in front o e hoose. E beas hid croppit e girse rale short an it hidna startet tae rax again, bit ere wis siveral foggitchy clumps o lang taily stuff at ey couldna hae likit, for ey left em aleen. I took a thocht tae pit ma han intill e hairt o een o em an God it wis jist amazin e warmth at hid gaithered ere fae e sin, niver min gin e air be caal. Ye couldna bit think on e pooer o life at e warmth geed, an e new growth tae come jist lyin ere waitin tae sproot an mak a rowthy season.

Anither time, I happent tae be teetin throwe e kitchen windae fin I wis haein ma denner an I spottit a hullock o seagulls gaan in big circles. It wisna jist be chance. Ey hid eir wings oot, an roon an roon ey geed, canny’s ye like, heids peerin fae side tae side, risin an spreadin oot ay in wider rings as ey raise. Ere wis nae doot ey’d come upon a thermal caased be e warmth o e spring sin. Ye cd see fine ey were enjoyin emsels, wings oot an lattin e updracht tak em, as ey swung roon an roon on es invisible carousel.

Bit I doot I’m gettin awa fae ma tale. At’s nae ill tae dee, for ma heid’s ay lowpin aboot aa ower e place. I set oot tae tell ye fit happent eence in e farrest ower park, below e wid an neesht e mairch wi Currie’s. I min aboot it ay fin I gang up at park on e wye till e wid, followin e trackie at beas ay mak roon e edges o a park.

Ere wis a lad keepit kye on e place an ere wis a time fin een o em wis gey near at e pynt o drappin er calf. E’d speert gin I’d keep ma ee open an let im ken if onything wis likely tae happen. Es day as e cam in by I wis fine pleaset tae see im, for I thocht e coo’s time hid come. I held ower till e park wi im, ben be e plantin an slantin ower e slope, crossin e spot faar, fin I wis hyowin neeps, I eence fun a flint arraheid. E lad at startit it hid niver feenished it, an maybe nae winner for it was smaa an aafa fykie tae wirk, bit it wis richt near ready an I doot it hid jist gotten tint. Sae on ower e park, wi a sprinklin o heich yalla tansies amon e girse – jist a richt pest ye cd harly get redd o – tae faar we cd see e coo stannin, a black een. Er heid wis doon an we cd see she wis lickin a bonny black calfie, weet an shinin an new till e world, fine an healthy lookin. E coo peyd’s little attention; she wis ower teen up wi mitherly maitters. As we steed she humpit up er back like tae mak water, bit it wis e aifterbirth at cam awa. Syne she did fit aa kye dee if ey get e chance, if ey’re free in e air an nae crivved up in a byre at e calvin – she ate it. E lad at echt it watched for a meenit wi a solemn-like face. Syne e said, maistly till imsel –

‘Dirty beast’.

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Craiters: 05 - 'Dirty Beast'. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from

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Information about Document 529

Craiters: 05 - 'Dirty Beast'


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1994
Word count 1953

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Tuckwell Press
Publication year 1995
Place of publication East Linton
ISBN/ISSN 1898410739
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in Craiters. Or Twenty Buchan Tales

Text setting

Other Putting the dialect on record, Aberdeenshire

Text type

Prose: fiction
Prose: nonfiction
Short story


Author details

Author id 27
Forenames Alexander
Surname Fenton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Academic/Writer/Editor
Place of birth Shotts
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Father's place of birth Aberdeen
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife\Crofter
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes At home and wherever possible