Saturday 6 June 2020

'Niver Titch A Woman’s Bahooky Less She Asks Ye' by Paula Nicolson

As I enter the lift, I’m hit with the smell of pee, sour ice-cream, then council disinfectant – a strange combination, but nonetheless, sufferable in the short space of time I travel from floor 1 to 12.

I’m visiting my sister on the usual Saturday afternoon; a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer in one hand and a bottle of sherry in the other. What can I say? I’m her brother and useless at second guessing what women like for presents.

Pressing the button for floor 12, the lift lurches into action until it stops, unexpectedly, at floor 6. A woman wearing a nylon purple flowery dress and baffies steps in.

‘We’re gaun up,’ I tell her.

‘Aaah, no bother, I want the 12th floor too,’ she replies, smiling at me. With the lift being small ‘n all, she stands in front of me.

To relieve my boredom of travelling the next six floors, I stare at the flowers on her dress, trying to see if I can name a few. But my attention is drawn to its hem – tucked inside her knickers – pink and 100% cotton, its tag sticking out showing me she’s a size 16.

I begin to sweat. Do I tap her on the shoulder and politely tell her that she’s made a good choice in where she buys her knickers from? Or do I ignore that she’s pulled her knickers too far up her bahooky after a pee?

Naw. I reach out and pull her dress hem down, only to be met by a skelp to my hand.

‘Keep your haunds to yeself, ye dirty auld man,’ she says, inches from my face.

Ping! – saved by the lift bell. The doors open and she flounces out of the lift, casting me a lingering dirty look across her left shoulder as she walks away.

Later that night in the pub, my mates laugh at my woeful tale.

Defending myself, I retort, ‘I thaught I was doing her a fauvour!’

After more laughter, I was given this sound advice, ‘Hell mend ye – niver titch a woman’s bahooky less she asks ye.’

The next Saturday, I visit my sister again. A bottle of diet pop and a tin of prunes this time. What can I say? She asked for them. The lift still reeks and stops at floor 6.

The lift doors open to reveal the same woman as last week. I blush, look away, and try to find the lift annual service date an interesting read.

But looking up, there she is. In front of me and with her back to me, again. And then I see her dress tucked into her knickers, again. She turns, smiles and winks. The lift goes up.


This piece was previously published on the Federation of Writers Scotland's website on 21 June 2019.


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