The First Steps
Right boy, there it is, ach! ye’ll no see it till ye get oot. Ah’ll open the tail gate ye’ll see it then. Aye, ye are getting gey grey aboot the muzzle – in dog years, ye must be almaist as auld as me; an let me tell ye, that’s nae prize.
Ach, is it the arthritis? Ah know, its painfu’. But we both need to get oot – use it before we lose it, aye? Therrs a guid dog, Jet – here, one of yer meat treats that will sort it- here come oot c’mon. Here ah’ll help ye doon. Christ, yer heavy – less o the pudding for you this Christmas.
Ach, muddy here on the millpond track, well you can plouter through it, Ahm staying on the verge.
What is it boy? What’s up?
Rabbit ! Look! Seek him – just by the tree ahead – go boy, go boy.
Whit no? That’s no much of an effort. Rabbit is laughing at you.
C’mon, ah know you miss her too, this was her favourite walk before she got sick.
That why we have to do it-just you and me now, boy.
Dinnae look so downcast, if it is too much, we can crap out at the start of the brae. Ma hips no too guid either, but these poles help me. Let’s see how it goes. Fair enough?
Dinnae know about you, but ahm fair knackered, nae trees fur ye to pee oan noo just the bare hillside See that tower – ye widnae remember it – but that’s wherr we’re going.
Go ohn boy, ohhhn, cannae speak – go!
This is tough on ma hip and ma heid.
Whit was it the counselling lassie said:
One foot in front of anither.
Lift one boot, then the ither.
No need of anything beyond that.
She would know – imagine someone o’ her age climbing in the Himalayas eh?
Look, Ahm daeing it, let’s get tae that bench up the brae ahead and take stock. Nae mair talking till then.
We made it Jet, good lad.
Well its a bonny view down Strathmore, even if the colours are muddy – but you widnae know that onywey wid ye? Aye, maybe we have already got the best of the day. We could always do it another time?
Good boy Jet, sit up, sit up good boy. Mind when you were a pup, she sat and cuddled ye where you are sitting now? Aye, it’s naw ma landscape; she stole me frae the west coast. But nae regrets.
Gie’s a hug – Ah could do with wan now.
Aye, good boy.
It wid be easy to just go doon, but I owe her, I promised. We’re nearer the top than the bottom.
Don’t think, dae it. Up Jet!
Aye on ye go – the path between the two larches, almost there, my – yon lone pine tree looks as battered an broken doon as you and me. Haud a meenit, till Ah get ma breath.
Jet ! C’mon intae the building – Ah need a seat, even it is gonnae gie me a cauld arse. Aye… Ah thought ye wid smell thon Lorne sangwiches. If yer guid, ye’ll get a bit. Behave! Wow, this must huv been some place at one time. Jist a big shell noo wi thae amazing battlements.
Okay-dokay – let’s dae it. It’s time. Thon wee projection o the hill, efter the trig point – aye, thon white stone thing. Go to it.
Good boy. Heel!
Say goodbye tae Annie…she is resting wherr she wanted tae be. See her, drifting over her country.
`Bye, my lassie… my love.
Gie’s a minute Jet.
Naw, she’s no in thon urn anymair.
Haud oan, some yins been spray pentin oan the trig point. Fuckin hell – nae respect. Whit’s this?
Aye, a ainbow pented above ‘NHS’. Well cannae fault that – but shouldnae be on a hilltop.
Whit’s this – need ma specs tae see whits oan the ither side – whits that ? V for victory? Naw, it’s a guy, wi his arms up, standing on top of a golden mountain. Whits the words say?
‘When you reach the top of the mountain, keep on climbing,’ whits that aboot?
Jet! Up boy. They’ve have spoiled oor day wi therr slogans.
Doon, aye doon the hill.
We’ll rest at the bench.
Ach, maybe therrs a load lifted, an look at you wrigglin on yer back like a pup in the grass.
Maybe, Ahm too set in ma ways.
‘When you reach the top of the mountain, keep on climbing’. Aye right enough.
Ah’ll call that wumman at the community centre the morra.
Gottae keep climbing that mountain.
Know whit ah mean Jet?