October Night in Dunblane

Needing some munchies , I took the car down to the co-op tonight. The lads were stacking shelves but spotted me standing at the counter, a slab of diet Irn Bru under my arm. Hows it goin? Ach we been mobbed the day – still catching up. I try a different tact : Never mind,at least its Friday. Aye well, I’m in again the morra.

I put the drink in the boot of the car then open the passenger door. The Shitzu jumps out, ready for a walk. Its a calm mild night and we go down the dark wee steps next to Tilli Tearoom, the underground burn beneath us. This is a favourite short cut for locals, especially for punters leaving the Tappit to get a cairry oot fae the co-op.

Walking across the cobbles, I mind of an old teammate who said he honed his football skills in this courtyard whilst his auld man worked as the barman in The Chimes. A ball and a wall. Simpler times. As I walk through the archway, I can hear the punters in The Tappit Hen, the traditional sound of happy chatter.

Someones been out for a smoke, maybe a cigar even. I peer through the window, it looks like an advert for a pub, folk chatting, laughing, the barman pouring an ale. You cannae go in anyway, I tell myself, you’ve no’ booked a table. Covid rules. Capacity of 37 is the rumour. Complicated times.

Folk are looking at me now, my face pressed against the window haha. Back in January, the football team went back to the pub after a home tie. Thirty of us surged in the door, pressing in against the rugby crowd who were watching Scotland on tv. The place was rammed, John Hills steak pies all round. We sold the card, a local winning £100 ( I’d better no’ name them coz I doubt the missus ever knew!).

I walk on, crossing Kirk Street and into the Cathedral graveyard. The cathedral is in darkness, towering above me. Its ancient. They say the English stole lead offof the roof in 1304 during the wars of independence. I should learn more about this ancient place, I tell myself.

Wheres Shitzu? I’ve lost the Shitzu. I peer across the graveyard. Theres an opaque full moon rising above Old Churches House. Its a classic spooky graveyard tonight. I imagine a drunk coming out the pub, walking unsteadily across the graveyard, mumbling to himself. Suddenly, a spooky white shape shoots past him. He shites it ! But its just the Shitzu running to catch up with me.

We walk along The Haining, the river below us, swollen by the recent rain. I deliver meds around here and theres an elderly couple who play dominoes, the auld boy hunched over the table. He always see me coming and gives me a wave.

Walking back to the car, we pass the Tappit again. Maybe I’ll go in one day. Heading up the narrow Sinclair Street, we turn right to pass St Blanes church then down the hill to the car. That’ll do Shitzu, I say, that’ll do.

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