Scottish country villages are renowned for their desperation to cling onto the historical past. This has a lot to do with the constant denigration of anything Scottish by their dominating neighbours. Perhaps it also has something to do with the fierce subservience to the Presbyterian Church, which has striven for centuries to keep the lower classes firmly in their allotted place.
My paternal grandmother was a walking encyclopaedia of old sayings and biblical warnings. She always seemed to have some scrap of ancient wisdom for every possible situation in life. She did not even need an excuse – other than feeling that one of her children, her grandchildren or even her great grandchildren needed to be brought back into line – to be told.
An old Scottish mining-cum-farming village that consisted of a long row of opposing attached stone cottages with a pub and general store facing each other.
The time was at the onset of the Great War (WW1) when the regiments recruited from the towns and villages were situated close to their barracks. There was an enormous level of pride in these regiments and their deeds and exploits were followed much in the same way as football teams are today. The sacrifice of seeing your son dressed up in military uniform and being sent overseas, possibly never to return, was seen more as an honour than a duty.
The sons of this village were enlisted into the Royal Scots Regiment and were barracked in Edinburgh Castle. Before being posted overseas, the custom of marching the regiment through the recruiting towns and villages created an almost festive occasion, and every man, woman and child would down-tools and toys to wave and cheer at the regiments.
My grandmother was always there and on this particular day she was cheering goodbye to her two brothers, George and William, who, unknown to her at this time, would never return from the trenches of Flanders. Standing next to her was Mrs Walkinshaw who was out to let the world know that her son, Geordie, was doing his magnificent bit for King and Country.
Flags waving, people cheering, whistling and a little sobbing suddenly stopped when there was a loud cry from Mrs Walkinshaw: “Jist look at that,” she screamed in pride and admiration. “Thir a oot o step but my Geordie!” (Just look at that, they are all out of step, but my Geordie).
There is a lesson to be learned from this story. Sometimes in life we feel that the whole world is wrong and that everyone else seems to be marching to a different drum. It's on these occasions that I often stand back and look at the world just to make sure that I'm not marching to Geordie Walkinshaw's personal drum.