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Bed, booze and feeling peely-wally



You’re never too old to do it in 2024.

My much-missed significant other (she’s been on the other side of the world, in Brisbane, for the past three months) trumped my “Scottishness” in a recent phone call when she said she longed for our hurkle-durkles.

Regular hurkle-durkles, she said, were one of the main contributors to keeping our relationship vibrant. Like most boys, I learned to hurkle-durkle as a teenager.

Some of my most memorable hurkles took place after my mother left for work and said durkling meant I skipped school assembly more often than not.

As I grew older, I learned that you don’t have to hurkle-durkle alone; there are infinite possibilities and permutations. Since Rose-mariè’s been in Australia, I’ve been doing it with my cats.

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As I’m sure you’re all well aware, having a hurkle-durkle is old Scottish for having a late lie-in.

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a “bed-in for peace”, pictured, in protest against the war in Vietnam while they were actually revelling in room service at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam for a marathon hurkle-durkle in front of the cameras.

My friend, Lindsay Scott from Falkirk, has been in bed a lot longer than John and Yoko. He hasn’t been durkling though… he’s what older Scottish people call peely-wally.

Strictly speaking, someone who’s peely-wally (“wally” rhymes with rally) is “pale, wan and sickly looking” but it’s generally taken to mean you’re feeling awf ’y crappy – something of a national affliction for Scots at this time of the year.

While Eskimos might have 97 words to describe different kinds of snow, the Scots don’t fall far short when it comes to being under the affluence of inchahol: steamboats, scunnered, blootered, foutered, tooteroo and tramlined are a few that come to mind.

However, admitting you were “fou as a coo” does not count as an extenuating circumstance with many magistrates. Similarly – and you’ll know this if you’ve spent time in Caledonia – there is a plethora of words for rain and bad weather (the latter ranging from dreich – mildly miserable – to “Baltic”).

You get a haar (cold cloying mist) that drifts in from the North Sea, smirr (fine drizzle) and goselet.

The last will leave you drookit or absolutely drenched. Theoretically, Scottish is a dialect of English but there are few English-speakers who understand much of what spews from the mouths of “Weegies”, “Aberdonians” and “Cunfaes” (people from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh respectively).

I chortled mightily during an episode of the Graham Norton Show in which his guests sat blank-faced every time Weegie comedian Kevin Bridges flapped his gab.

It reminded me of the night my ex-wife joined me and a pal in watching an early Billy Connolly concert video.

All she could understand, she said, was the f-word… nothing really to brag about since it probably made up 40% of his patter.

Two of my favourite Scottish phrases refer to people not being as duumb as one might assume: “You think I’m buttoned up the back?” and “I’m no so green as cabbage-looking” being the cases in point.

The Scottish accent is often said to be the sexiest on the planet and who can argue when it trips off the tongue of the late Sean Connery.

Nonetheless, even Commander Bond’s mellifluous utterings can give cause for confusion and consternation; the perfectly innocent “a lady’sh underwear should be shilk and not shatin” might raise an eyebrow or two.

Anyway, happy 2024 to all youse bawbags: gie it laldy. Or if you prefer your convivial greetings from closer to home, gooi mielies.

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