The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

William’s father had died before he was born, although there were some who would say, he was never there in the first place. Jean had just arrived one day out of the blue, heavy with child and telling everyone how she had lost her husband in the war, but with no Widow’s War Pension being collected at the post office, so the postmistress had said, it was hard to know what to believe, but Jean was a hard enough working lass, so not much was said about it all.

She called her newly born son William, “after his father”, she told folk, well she would have to say something, wouldn’t she? William, she always called him William, although the lads at school called him Bob or more often than not Black Bob, for he always looked a bit like an orphan from the storm, no matter what clothes his exasperated mother put on his back.

Whoever his father was, he must have been big, for William soon outgrow his cloth’s, and was already as big as the teacher and head and shoulders above his classmates, so the Black part of the name was soon dropped.

Bob had one other attribution that would materialize during Physical Training, shorts were mandatory, and Bob’s were always a wee bit jimp at the best of time. It would not take long before the titters would start to go around the gymnasium, whereupon Miss, Nisbet, without having to look over at Bob, would simply say

“Put it away William”,

For it would have snaked its way out from the bottom of his shorts. To which Bob, in his slow country droll, would reply

“A canny help it Miss”.

To help his mother eke out what little money they had, Bob would work up at the farm over the weekends and help out during busy times such as harvest, and as his last term at school grows ever closer, the Truant Officer would never be away from his mother’s door, Bob had given up on school, only making a token appearance when his mother was being threatened with the law.

On leaving school, Bob found work at the local sawmill, He liked the open air, and his size and build had given him a head start, so to speak. The work was not always at the mill, there was planting, first and second thinning and clear-felling to be done, it was good work for a man the likes of Bob, and being piecework he always comes home with a thick wage packet.

Called up for National Service, Bob found himself in the Army, and after his eighteen months, he came out with a wee bit money put by, Bob decided to buy a second-hand Forwarder and succeeded in finding a few contacts with the Forestry Commission. It was not easy but having been discharged from the army did help.

Contract after contract came his way, for Bob was, if nothing else, hard working and very dependable, hail, rain or snow Bob was out there working away. He had a few self-employed men working under him now, the men liked Bob, for he was quick to jump down from his tractor and help anyone out. With a few dependable men around him, he was able to move more freely around the country, keeping the work moving along, this was to endear him to the bosses at the Forestry Commission, well Bob was a likeable lad.

The years had flown in and Bob all too soon found himself married and was now blessed with five kids and another one on the way when disaster struck. Working, clear-felling a wood of mature trees, a lapse of concentration and a log rolled off the stump, his chain saw shot into the air with such speed, catching his leg it snapped it like a dry twig.

The hospital at Perth, soon had him fixed up, and in a plaster cast, he would be off for weeks. His wife was informed, whereupon she phoned the hospital and asked the reception to pass on a message to her husband, that she would make her way down from Inverness to Perth on Saturday. He had asked the nurse to ring her back with the message that she was not to bother coming down, it was not worth it, being pregnant and all, and anyway I will be home in a day or two. 

Ignoring his suggestion to stay home until he was discharged from hospital his wife organised herself and the kids, piled them onto the train and made the long journey down to Perth. A taxi soon had then dropped off at the hospital. Making her way over to the reception she had asked which ward William was in. The nurse informed her that she could not see William, at this time, there is a limit to the amount of people around the bed at one time and at the moment his wife and children were at his bedside. Ops, your sins will find you out.   

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