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  Wirkin' the Tang - a dialect tale

On the EbbHid wis a time whin some folk couldno deu without haein some dry tang tae burn tae keep thir fires gaan.

Weel hid wis puir times right enouch, whin wae hear thir sayings that hid wis "better a moose in the pot than nee maet ava".

Weel, of coarse, the pot on the fire hid tae be keepit gaan teu, as weel ais whit wis under hid, for aa the grain o' money they hid wis keepit for mair needfu things for thir livin and tae keep the hoose gaan.

Weel, the Guidman and Guidmife, wha lived in the peedie hoose o' Linn, wir a pair o' island wirthies if ever thir wis, livin a kindo near-be-gaan wey o' life, wae no miny comfirts tae enjoy bit a guid gaan fire o' wid and tang and dried coo-scones tae warm thir feet as weel ais thir herts whin night time cam.

Thir peedie hoose wis juist no far fae the banks whar they wrout in the tang, an that wis a mercy for hid meed their wark at the banks aesier.

In the dry time o' year, hid wis oot and aboot wae the lang daylight, gaan back and fore tae the banks an than doon in the ebb wae a gully or sumin o' that kind tae cut the tang, and aa the trachle o' kerryin hid up abune the banks tae the dryin green abune, whar hid wis skailed oot tae dry in the guid wather whin hid earn.

Weel, the pair o' them wir faithful folk, if ever thir wis, for hid wis shurly the gaan up and doon the banks sae often that meed them baith strong an healthy.

The Guidwife wis a hard ootside wirker an wid sweeng a cubby o' tang on her back like ony man doon in the ebb, an wak awa wae hid ower the slidy ebb steens an rocks, an than ower the muckle kungles o' steens, tae the face o' the banks and on tae the dryin green, whar sheu cuppit oot the tang an skailed hid oot, an thinkin neen at hid.

The Guidman keepit her gaan wae cuttit tang tae fill her cubbie - aye takkin a luk tae see whit the sea wis duin, wae ebbin an flowin, and tae the sky, teu, tae ken if hid wid bide dry fir twathree days o' fine wather, whin thir wis a guid chance o' plenty o' tang tae wirk in. Ony sign o' the sky changin, an weet comin, wis aye sumin tae luk oot fir, bekis the tang bed then tae be rooed ap tae run the weet.

Wirkin doon at the banks wis a lightsome piece in the summer time, wae the folk gaan back an fore wae the kelp wark an the fishin.

Whin they hed gotten a lok o' tang teen ap an skailed on the green, hid wis comin time tae geung heem fir a bite o' maet and hae a peedie rest afore gaan tae deu ether things aboot the hoose for, faith, the pair o' them dudno act the breid o' idledom, ais everyeen weel kent wha lived in thir neebourhood at the time.

The Guidman wis aye stravaigan aboot the banks lukin fir drift an gatherin ap aa the bits o' wid he could find for the fire.

He left nee steen unturned as they say, for whin he geed tae the Wast Banks he wid pick oot a bit o' wid that neebody ether saa fae atween the crevices o' the rocks. Mabbie he inherited the will tae live fae his early ancestors, for he wis aye findin sumin tae tak heem for he meed guid yuse o' his time. The rabbits wir aye plentiful tae get and noo wis comin tae the time o' year whin the sillos and cuithes wid be comin in the geos an he wid be doon there fishin aff o' the rocks some night sune.

Wan day, whin the baith o' them wir at the banks, they fand a muckle log o' wid an windered if the pair o' them wid be fit tae pit hid up abune the banks fae the fludemark, for they dudno want tae loss it.

They rugged and rived at hid, aye gainin a fit, or twa, ap the banks, bit faith hid wis a speel, and if the baith o' them no been banks-wint, neen ether wid hae been ebble tae deud.

When they got hid abune the banks, efter a great speel o' wark, they baith wir weel plaised, for the muckle log wid keep them in firin for maist o' the next year, wae whit they had gathered taegether forby. The log wid hae tae be braken ap at the banks an teen heem in peeces o' cuttit wid, an the auld fiteech wid hae tae be sharpened for hid and the twa iron wadges ais weel.

They gathered coo-scones fae aa around in the summer time an dried them on the flat tap steens o' the peedie yard dyke at the back o' the hoose. Whin they hed gotten aa this ready for burnin, hid wis stored awa in the oot-hoose, an hid wis grand tae sit doon at the fireside o' a evenin wae ony veesitor comin in an feel contented yarnin awa an hearin hoo everyeen wis gettin on, an ether news forby.

A grain o' tang an coo-scones wis aye dryin in the neuk-o-the-back afore hid geed on the fire for hid aa wis teen weel care o' whar hid wis needed.

Wan bonnie momin, whin the baith o' them cam doon tae the banks tae wirk in the tang, a boat wis settin oot for the sea wae twa men in hid.

They wir aa hard o' fish bein on the grund, an noo, wae the set wather, the fishermen wid likly no be apace bit try oot the fishin. They wattched the boat bein andoed farder and farder awa tae sea, till hid wis juist a speck on the water.

Nee doot the fishermen wir heedin for the Ooter Grund, whar the best haals o' fish wir got. Hid geed oot sae far, they lost sight o't in the far ocean. An than another boat set oat fae the noust and geed in the sam direction.

Thir must be fish on the grund that wis takkin the boats oot, and they thowt that they wid hae tae gae ap the tang wark an get thir man tae the fishin teu, for they baith wanted tae get some fish. Weel wae cunno be everywhar, they thowt, an if hids grand wather for the sea, hids guid wather for the tang, bit aff the tang gets dune they might be a days chance o' the sea than.

They spak hid ower atween the twa o' them, bit the Guidwife wis set on wirkin in the tang for, ais sheu explained, the tang wis a needfu job, wae whit could be got, and the right wather for it, an if they wirno wirkin in it someen ether wid run awa wae hid fae thum.

"The tang at wir banks is gettin aboot dune, bit thir aye tang at the Cockle Banks thats far easier tae gather an put ap whin the sea washes hid ashore alang the banks," sheu said.

So they set oot fur the Cockle Banks that evenin tae hae a luk at hid tae see whit tang wis there, an caal inby the shop tae get thir errands on the road heem.

The evenin wis clear and calm, wae the sea juist like a millpond.

Whin they got tae the banks, hid wis sune seen wha o' the pair wis right, for the tang stretched in lang rowes for maist o' the wey alang the banks — juist whit wis expected.

Weel they meed a start tae gather tang, an sune hid wis gaan ap the banks in skurtfu efter skurtfu wae nee bother ower the flat banks tae the grund abune. A lassie wis wirkin hersel, farther alang the banks, rooin ap her tang, bit they dudno meet in wae her o' the evenin.

Efter a time o' interestin tang wark, that geed weel intae the evenin, wae the grimlins comin doon, hid meant that hid wis time tae mak tracks for heem, so they santered awa heemwards, takin thir time an seein aa the things aboot them — for a wak on sac bonnie a night wis like a holiday tae them. The tang wark wis noo set tae continue wae the guid wather that they hoped wid lest.

Comin tae the shop, they met in wae a low o folk comin an gaan back and fore, aye clatterin aboot the wather and the wark and the news o' the day, till hid wis a while afore they hed a chance tae get thir errands.

Some folk mentioned aboot the tang and the fishin, bit hid wis the fishin they spak maist aboot, for some boats hed come ashore wae big haals o' codlins and haddicks.

Hid seemed they aa thowt that everyeen should be at the fishin an no fiddlin in the tang wark whin they could be deuing better things. Hooever, they left the shop and conteenued on thir wey heem slowly, for the burden o' errands wis heavy and aye spaekin tae folk on the road heem, whin they set doon the errands an hed a peedie rest at the sam time.

Bae the time they wir near the hoose, hid wis comin ap tae the heuld o' the night, bit they had enjoyed thir trip tae the Cockle Banks.

Whin they got tae the door o' thir hoose whit they met wis mooth-waterin, for hid wis a muckle sea-cubbie full o' the grandest codlins an haddicks they hed ever seen.

The men o' the sea bed minded them on an helped them oot.

Hid hed been a guid day fur the Guidman and the Guidmife o' Linn, an, wae mair o' them tae come, thir thanks geed oot tae Guid for his blessings. The pot wid noo be filled wae the best o' fish, wae plenty o' fire under it tae keep them baith gaan for mair hard wark in the tang.