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Life as a Scot in California

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Spike and OorMargit

Posted by berkeleyscot on February 9, 2008

On his last 2 programmes, ‘The Reel Blend,’ (BBC Radio Scotland) Robbie Shepherd has mentioned my Doric writing. On his most recent broadcast, February 3rd, he also mentioned that I used to write with the late Bob Johnstone. Bob had worked at the Aberdeen Press & Journal. That’s the paper in which Robbie’s Doric column is published.

I knew Bob Johnstone as ‘Spike.’ That was the pseudonym he used when, for many years, he wrote serial stories, in the Doric, for the Buckie Paper (Banffshire Advertiser.) Granda enjoyed Spike’s column so much and when I was a wee quinie, he read it aloud to me. We’d baith be greetin wi lachin.

I loved all the characters Spike created: Peter Rawn, fa wis skipper o the Mochba; Q. Coull, the poet o the Catbow; an Q.’s brother-n-law, Silas Jappy. Silas wis Buckie Thistle’s No. 1 supporter an finiver the team lost, he’d chase peer Q. doon tae the Yardie beach, threatenin him wi the widden drifter.

Syne there wis Geordie Plowter, the fairmer o Muckledubs, fa’s claim tae fame wis funnen a kangaroo-shaped tattie. There wis Julie McClype, the bus conductress, fa aye accused Spike o swikin’ on his ticket. There wis Feel Wisset, an Gerrick, the bobby an a hale curn mair. Fit an imagination an talent Spike hid!

Bit he wis affy generous tae me an gied me characters tae write aboot. I took “OorMargit” as my writing name. That, of course, means, ‘Our Margaret,’ which is what Mam and Dad called me and I’ve been “OorMargit” ever since.

I hid Dinah Dottie and her husband, Clint Coup. They ‘lived’ in San Francisco and my contribution was to describe their reactions to life here in the Bay Area. It certainly gave me a lot to think about, but Spike was very encouraging. He told me he wrote his column in about 30 minutes, but I struggled away with mine.

I miss Spike a lot. He was a great mentor and a classic Doric writer.

An naebody cwid read Spike oot loud like Granda!

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