The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

I picked some garnets from the shore,

Once in vogue, alas no more,

Polished by the lapidary’s sand,

Then set in silver by a craftsman’s hand,

Hung as a pendant from her throat,

Or warn, Sunday best, upon her coat,

Now in a drawer bottom they lie,

Neglected, forgotten.

We are gates not posts Jimmy

We had been off for a week now and desperate for any kind of work, then one evening Laurimer chapped the door with good news, he had found them some work, they were to be chippies.

“Chippies!” Jimmy exclaimed “We will never get away with that”.

“Why of course we will, we will only be building gates into fields, nothing to it,” said Laurimer, as if it was going to be the easiest thing in the world, “money for old rope,” he said.

The company they would be working for was running new power lines across the land and to gain access had been demolishing sections of wall and part of the agreement with the farmer was to rebuild the walls and reinstate new gates where required. Arriving at the office the following day they were told what was expected of them, and shown where the timber and furnishing were in the yard.

“And the lorry?” asked Laurimer.

“No truck, you will have to carry the timber from the yard to the job” they were told.

“Oh no, no, that will never do we need a lorry to carry tools and timber” Laurimer insisted.

After a bit toeing and throwing, it was agreed they would be given a small truck. With timber and tools at the first gate, Laurimer had to go on an errand, leaving Jimmy to build the gate, something he had never done before and was thankful that something remained of the original gate to give something to work from. When finished and hung Jimmy move quickly onto the next gap and there again was a pile of timber all ready and waiting for him, but still no Laurimer. In fact, Jimmy would only see Laurimer when going home and coming to work in the morning. Laurimer always seemed to have a wee bit business to attend to. Notwithstanding each day that passed the gates were looking better and being built much faster.

Come Friday, as the two chippies walked home, Laurimer pulled 2 shillings, nearly a week’s wages, from his pocket and handed them to Jimmy. The wee bit business turned out to be, fetch, and carry tools and materials for the linesmen in the truck and was paid for his services at the end of the week.

One day Jimmy asked Laurimer to bring up a strainer post. “Why, would we want strainer posts,” he asked.

“Well to hang the gates on, this posts has had it” Jimmy informed him.

“No, no Jimmy, you see, we’re gates not posts”

“We will have a hard job hang the gate if there is no post to hang it on” he was told.

“I’ll see to it” and repeated, “We’re gates Jimmy not posts”

Laurimer came back with half a dozen strainer posts. “why did you bring all these posts, we only need one?”

“Well, you see I have agreed that we get an extra shilling for each of the strainer posts we have to replace, I’m sure we can find a few more that need replacing”. Strange as it may seem, most every gate needed a new strainer post from that point on. Laurimer was pulling them out with the truck ahead of Jimmy and his gates.

“We will get the jail for this if we are caught” complained Jimmy.

“Then let’s make sure we are not caught” was all the answer Jimmy was given. The two chancers were hiding posts in woods and ditches all the way up the line, by the end of the week they had made twice their wages from replacing posts than from making gates.

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