Big Dave, one of our sub-contractors at work, is standing at my desk looking at my elastic band-ball in some consternation. “Whit,” he says finally, “is the craic wi’ yon thing?”
Big Dave is from Cloughmills, and listening to him is like trying to follow a foreign language in which you’ve only achieved GCSE standard. I remember the first time I encountered him, in a phone call that I could only – in my innocence – assume to be a prank. I hung up on him, to everyone’s amusement. Since then, I’ve gradually learned that by employing joint strategies of (a) intense concentration and (b) clutching at straws, I can pretty much get the gist of what he’s saying. I’m not even exagerating, here – honestly, Glaswegians are easier to understand than Big Dave.
Zed sees my thunderous expression as Big Dave casually picks up my band-ball and begins undoing one of the outer bands. “Err,” she says hurriedly in response to his inquiry, “we’re not really supposed to touch that. It’s like a project or something.”
“Whit? Well ah nid yinna they listic bawns, lick.”
I look blankly at him. He tries to remove the afore-mentioned elastic band, which gets twisted into a knot, and my frown changes to an outright glare. Zed jumps in to try to ease the tension. “Err… what do you need it for?” Big Dave looks increduously at us. “Ah ainly wann a listic bawn, lick! Tay houl a wheena things the gither. Whit d’ye wann me’ey dae, file a report? Ah tell ye whit, ah’ll tek a photie o’it when ah’m feenished, an’ ye kin c’mower tay the hoose an’ inspect it, lick. Ah’ll email ye the details, hoo’s that?”
We are slightly embarrassed about our band-related selfishness, and yet I note that neither of us makes any move to remove an elastic band for him. He replaces the ball on the desk and we all look at each other. It is a stand-off.
Finally, Zed nudges me rather forcefully, and with painful reluctance I lift the ball in silence and remove a band, giving it to Big Dave without saying a word. He gives us a final annoyed look as he leaves.
“Dinny hae a clue whit yizzeronaboot,” he is heard to mumble as the door closes behind him.