A Quiet Community
Just over a 100km north of Inverness, Scotland in the small village of Braemar, on the Berriedale River, lived a gaelic speaking people of approximately 800. Raising cattle, farming and being good neighbours was the village’s primary mission statement. Winters remained dark and bitter but pints were rarely without gripped hands, thirsty gullets and high spirits. On one such night, a dozen or so frolicking and drunken Braemar folk kept a late hour at the Ox and Yolk Pub; an establishment in Braemar that was the pearl of the town. The pub, owned and operated by most the popular Braemar proprietor and primary instigator of Braemar wives’ angst Angus John MacDougall, rarely had its guitars and fiddles silenced and the laughter was perpetual. In the corner of the pub opposite the raging fireplace, Angus kept a piano that was rarely played and mostly used as a spot to lay your empty drinks. Angus saw to it that a doily was placed atop it to prevent any water damage. He bought it in Aberdeen at an auction and felt that it gave the place a bit of style but residents knew, as did he, that piano had no place in proper fiddle tunes. At least not here. Aila Gillis, the server kept the drinks flowing and was on her feeat for hours from the opening when dinner service started and the stews filled bellies and the chips never stopped, post-dinner. When Colin Kenworth laid his fiddle down to the boos of the few left, he did so with a smile and an apology. This was the dance. This was the routine each night. The music had to cease at some point and it was always to the yells of resistance of the patrons but they also knew that this signified their time to get the coats and hats on and head out into the crunchy snow and howling wind. After all, the wives would let them play for a while. Farming and cattle keeping was hard work and it was a trade-off. They would keep the peace and ensure that they had their nights of pints and repeated gaelic tales of northern prowess in hunting and iron guts that held their drink like no other.