“…I had a conversation in Dornoch with Lorna and her elderly mother about a ‘cran’ as I shifted stoneware pots about her garden. “You need a cran for this, you need a cran for that”, said her mother, until finally I interrupted her flow of speech to enquire what a cran was. “It’s a cran”, she roared, as if that explained everything. And then it clicked. A “cran” is a crane for lifting things (like stoneware pots for example). I was speaking to a Glaswegian.
Not long after this I came across a guy called Mr. Cran. “A cran is a measure of herring, as well as being a scale on the Irish pipes,” he said, “and most folks called Cran can trace their roots back to Aberdeen.” So there you are, a man called Cran who knows his etymology from his elbows.
My old chum ‘Bingo’, the ex-world war two pilot who adopted a scorched earth policy in his garden by burning weeds with a flame thrower, has now relocated to a residential home for the elderly where he continues to enjoy life to the full. I still tend to his garden and in particular note the absence of scorch marks and the lack of spent smoke once so prevalent amidst his shrubberies and flower beds.
Bingo’s friend, the mysterious Mrs. ‘Mac’ also comes to mind, an espionage expert during WW2 who insisted that I put goose fat around her roses to encourage vigorous growth. This is an interesting idea and possibly a throwback to horticultural practices from earlier times. I mentioned this in print which caused a few emails to fly thick and fast in my direction from the Beechgrove Garden Team..."
(Extracted from The Bit in the Middle: the Curiously Comic Tale of a Gardener in the Scottish Highlands. An Ebook by Patrick Vickery)
Chapter One can be read here