Document 632

Dipper: 20 - Cops and Robbers

Author(s): Dr James A Begg

Copyright holder(s): Dr James A Begg


At the back-en, whan the big seatroot an furst grilse stert rinnin the burns, some in their bleck or tartan spawnin jaikets an ithers still fresh-run baurs o siller, there are times whan the byllies dinnae ken whit wey tae turn.

If it's no gangs o poachers doun the watter nettin puils stappt fou o fish, it's hauf the village oot wi lichts up the burns, luikin for "yin for the pot", an cleekin dizzens o saumon and seatroots aff the spawnin redds. As there's a wheen o "pots" in the village, we cuid hardly turn a blin ee tae thae ongauns, an I mind fine o yae nicht in parteecular whan we set oot tae gie them a fricht.

Wi oor walkie-talkies we cuid cover a lot o grun, an while Alec, Wull an mysel gaed up tae check the burns ablow the loch, Jock, Mick an Ian were watchin the Kirk Puil doun by the auld Airn Furnaces, whaur there's nou a coal-ree for the open-cast workins up on the muir. Aa wis quait on the burns, aither because the last run o seatroots were spawned an awa the nicht afore, or else they hadnae spawned, but were still awa, the nicht afore!

Heich on the hill abune the village, we were juist stertin tae chitter a wee bit wi the cauld whan, aboot hauf-eleiven, the walkie-talkie crecklt intae action.

'Hullaw, Delta Bravo Yin, dae ye read me?'

'Loud an clear, Delta Bravo Twae,' - an so we cuid, even tho they were fower miles awa doun the glen - 'Is that you, Jock?'

‘Aye, Andra,' cam back the reply. 'We micht as weel caa it a day doun here. The hale bluidy place is hotchin wi polis! Come doun an get us at the Auld Raw.'

Curious tae ken whit the devil wis gaen on, we wheiched doun the road in jig-time an met up wi the lads as arranged.

'Whit's aa the excitement, then?' speirt Wull, seein nae polls, nor ocht else for that matter.

‘Aa, it's aa by nou,' said Jock. 'But it wis guid while it lasted! Wisn't it lads?'

‘Weel, let us in oan it!' demanded Wee Alec impatiently.

‘Aa richt, Alec,’ lauched Jock, ‘Keep yer hair oan!’ Wee Alec poued his bunnet further doun ower his bauld heid.

‘We had juist set oorsels doun ahint the hedge by the roadside whaur wi cuid see ower tae the Kirk Puil, whan this caur comes alang an stops on the faur side o the road by the coal-ree. Twae men cam oot o the ree humphin secks o coal, sclimmt the fence an dumped the coal in the buit o the caur; then aff it went back tae the village wi twae o them in it, laein the third fella by the roadside. This yin hung aboot for a wee while, luikin gey conspeecuous, an then did he no decide tae come across the road tae hide ahint the hedge aside us! We cuidnae believe it whan the bugger crawlt alang the side o the hedge an courit doun nae mair nor five yairds frae Big Mick withoot even jalousin we were there!'

‘Aye,’ grinned Mick, 'But he shuin gat the message whan Ah whuspert tae him tae get tae bluidy Hell oot o there. He wis aff his mark an oot yon gate like a whuppet oot a trap!'

‘An juist then his mates arrived back wi the caur for anither raik o coal, continued Jock, 'An they were nae shuiner oot the motor whan this polis caur, that must hae been hidin ahint the Auld Raw aa the time we were there, comes fleein oot on twa wheels wi its blue licht flashin an its siren screamin, an corners them in the lay-by. The polis lowpt oot an got them streitcht ower the bunnet o the caur….. It wis juist like somethin oot o Starsky an Hutch!'

‘Aye, an their language wis somethin terrible,' complained Ian. ‘We cuid here every word they said.'

‘Ach, awa! Ah bet ye cuid hae learnt them twae or three mair nor they kent aaready!' cut in Wull - for big Ian himsel wis niver short o three sweir words whan yin wad dae!

‘Onywey,’ Jock went on, 'In case the fella pyntit the finger an got us arrestit as weel, we cam oot o hidin an went across tae let the polis ken whit we were up tae. An that's the story!'

‘I’m shuir there'll no be a poacher within five miles o here nou, wi aa that cairry-oan!'

We aa agreed. But it wis juist gone twal o'clock, the nicht wis young, an there wis nae future in gaein hame tae bed juist whan the wife wis drappin aff tae sleep! Sae we decided tae gae doun the Big Hoose watter for an oor tae check the Gairden Puil, for it had shown signs o bein nettit at the week-en. Wi a wee rin on the watter since then, there wis a guid chance that it micht be done again the nicht.

It wis a nicht mair like August than October, wi nae mune, an thick laich cluds maskin the stars an smoorin ony reflectit licht frae the touns an villages. Whan we got tae the wid, it wis as bleck as the Earl o Hell's waistcoat, an gaun doun the pad by the watter-side, ye cuid see nae mair nor twae feet forenent ye, an aa that kep ye frae duntin the man in front wis a wee gliff o licht, like a luminous watch, frae the mirrored gless o his torch. It wis gey eerie, an we were gled tae reach the open spaces o the Big Hoose gairden whaur we sprauchlt on the gress ablow the rhododendron busses anent the puil.

Bein October, we were weel happt up, wi heavy jaikets, twa pullovers, an twa pair o troosers on tae keep oot the cauld, an it wis sic a close nicht that we were gey snug aneath thae busses. That snug, in fact, that yin by yin we aa fell fast asleep! It wis weel efter twae o'clock whan Big Mick woke furst an roused the rest o us wi a gentle thump frae his fermer's buits.

'My, ye're some bluidy byllies!' he scoffed, wi aa the virtue o the yin that woke furst. 'Ah cuid hae nettit that puil fower times while ye aa lay there sleepin, an ye'd been nane the wycer!'

Then, as an efterthocht - 'Mind ye, if Ah had been a poacher Ah'd been mair like tae hae run a mile insteid, for wi aa that snortin an snorin, the wid soundit like it wis hauntit wi a pack o were-wolves!'

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APA Style:

Dipper: 20 - Cops and Robbers. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 19 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Dipper: 20 - Cops and Robbers." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 19 July 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Dipper: 20 - Cops and Robbers," accessed 19 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

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


Information about Document 632

Dipper: 20 - Cops and Robbers


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 1991
Word count 1151
General description Anthology of prizewinning and other Scots poems, and short stories in Ayrshire Scots.

Text medium

Other Audiocassette

Text publication details

Publisher Luath Press
Publication year 1991
Place of publication Barr, Ayrshire
ISBN/ISSN 0946487227
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in The Dipper an the Three Wee Deils: Tales and Poems in Ayrshire Scots
Editor Authors: Dr. J. A. Begg and J. Reid
Page numbers 44-46

Text setting


Text type

Short story


Author details

Author id 623
Title Dr
Forenames James
Initials A
Surname Begg
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Medical Practitioner
Place of birth New Cumnock
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Ayr
Region of residence S Ayr
Residence CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Clerical Officer, NCB
Father's place of birth Sandbank
Father's region of birth Argyll
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Arg
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary Teacher
Mother's place of birth New Cumnock
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
Danish No No No No A little
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Holidaying in France
Norwegian No No No No A little
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work