Takin throu han By Bill Johnston

Weel, weel an, n foo’s aa mi freens e day?

It’s nae verra aften that A begin mi monthly screevins on a sad n doolsome note, bit es wik A’ve jist learned o the passin o a gentleman faa A’d first got tae ken awa back in 2005, Neil Mutch frae Aberchirder – the Waater Mannie. In 2005 a local publisher speired if A wid be interaisted in screevin a beuk on e life o Neil Mutch n cwid A screeve it in e Doric? Efter A hid scratit mi heid for a twa three meenits A telt them aat A wid dae it.

So it wis then aat A met Neil n whit a winnerfu, active aal man he wis wi a grand fund o stories tae tell. Ower e neist five tae sax months w met regularly, sometimes here in oor Sitootery here at Mossies, n sometimes in his fairm kitchen at Rowantree. I wid hae mi tape recorder goin n apairt fae haein ane ar twa questions screeved in mi note pad as a wee guide, A jist lat Neil spik awa. Efter a twa three ‘oors A wid get m’sel intil mi Study n screeve oot his wirds n his reminiscences. So efter aboot haaf a dizzen meetins ar so A hid githered eneuch tae pit igither his story o his life.

He stairted aff his wirkin life as a horseman, then he become a shepherd n fae bein a shepherd he then set up his ain sheep-shearin business. Bit fin he wis a young lad he discovered aat he cwid dowse, ay, he cwid divine waater. In fac he wis sae guid at it aat he travelled aa ower Scotland helpin tae fun in wi waater for lots o fouk n for lots o big n weel-kent firms asweel, the Glengarioch Distillery in Auldmeldrum for ae local example.

Noo e hinmaist time aat A spoke tae Neil wis on e phone aboot three month back, w hid a guid aul-fashioned natter aboot this n that, ay, w waur jist takin throu han! He wis a gey special one-aff character wis Neil Mutch n wull b sairly missed b lots o fouk, m’sel included.

Noo than as A sit here screevin es wirds wir haaf wey throu October n A’m weel yokit eence again daein mi Winter circuit o spikkin n showin m picter slides. A stairted aff at Banff spikkin til their Pot Pourri Club, then A wis ower tae Insch n spoke til a Community Care Luncheon Club, they waur a richt bunch o cheery craiters, great fun tae spik til.

Es wik e Wife n me hid tae mak e journey ower tae Rhynie tae spik tae their WRI, it wis yon nicht aat e rain stairted, whit a drive ower it wis, n it wis eyven waur comin hame at aboot haaf past ten o the nicht, whit a sotter o waater on e roads! Hooiver, efter gettin tae Rhynie wid ye believe it, w cwidna fun in wi e Hall!? Noo A ken aat Rhynie’s nae aa that big a placie, bit in e dark in a poorin nicht o rain wi naebidy gaan aboot, w cwidna find e Hall. W gid up es street, doon anither ane, roon es corner bit nae sicht o the Hall! Eveentually efter makin wir wey alang e main street for aboot e third ar fourth time A spied a lad stannin in e pub doorway haein a smoke so w stoppit n speirt at him. Wid ye believe it he wis a stranger tae e place n didna ken! Nae maitter he stuck his heid roon e Bar door n anither lad appeared n he wis able tae pint us in e richt direction.

Nae muckle winner w cwidna fun in wi e Hall – it wis doon a wee lane ahin e skweel n nae a signpost tae tell ye! Hooiver e Rhynie WRI wis a gran bunch o verra cheery ladies fa wis a pleesure tae spik til so A seen forgot e problems A hid gettin there – n they did mak afa fine sandwiches!!