Tuesday 7 October 2014

The Perils of Listening in English, Part 2

At the end of a recent shift at the Yard, I was preparing to lock up when a chap in a red boiler suit appeared, casting his eyes this way and that. I began to explain that most areas of the Yard were now shut and asked if he was looking for anything in particular, so that I could target my 'unlocking'.

In a broad accent, he replied that he "didnae want oot at aal", but he had "gey many spoots", if I was interested.

Fortunately, I knew that 'spoots' were the local name for razor-shells as, when we spent last Winter on Burray, we would occasionally see folk out on the sands of Echnaloch Bay searching for them. Sherlock Holmes-like, I figured that the red boiler suit indicated that he was a fisherman. Not being aware of any gender issues with razor-shells, I also assumed that they were not, in fact, gay, but that my customer was referring to 'gey', as in 'very'.

Having the knowing is one thing, but in a recycling context, how do you answer a question like that?

OK, we're a kind of reclamation yard, but just not that kind of clam.

My scarlet-clad companion must've recognised the signs... the confused expression... the struggle to find the right words... the big sign saying 'numpty southerner', so he took pity on me and slowly explained that he was working in a nearby housing estate, replacing all the soffits, guttering and downpipes. Rather than putting all the unwanted plastic into landfill, he correctly figured that it was re-usable and was offering it to the Yard.

Like the Moon rising over the horizon on a hazy night, my face must've gently lit up with understanding, as I realised he meant spouts, not spoots.

"Aye, we can always use those, many thanks," I replied, embarrassed yet again.


Martin said...

Lovely! Halfway down I was looking forward to seeing what you thought of Razors. Personally i think they are very tasty, but just don't overcook them!

laligalover said...

How way bro', even I got that one, it was almost near perfect Geordie, from the gadgie in a reed gansey.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Martin, I'm not so keen on shellfish, to be honest. Then again, I've never sampled the culinary delights of guttering!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Ha ha, bro, though you did have the benefit of knowing I was wrong!