The Stookie

Slightly humourous tale about a young girl's ambition to have a stookie that everyone can write on.

"Urr you up yit?"
Patsy was awakened by the sound of her Ma screeching through from the kitchen.
"Hurry up! Ah'll miss mah turn at the Steamie."
Patsy sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. It was Thursday, and every Thursday during the summer holidays, Patsy helped her Ma with the washing. It used to be Maggie, her big sister, who went with their Ma to the Steamie. Now that her big sister had a job in Lairds and was on piece-work, Patsy had to do it.
Only the other day, Patsy’s Ma had been saying ...
"Noo that Maggie is oan piece work, she’ll want tae go oan her ain can."
Patsy was still trying to figure out what Maggie’s 'can' was and how she would 'go oan it'.

She got out of bed, took the sheets and pillowcases off for the wash, then took them into the kitchen.
"Put thame in that floowery pillowcase alang wi' the whites, and then go and get the pram oot o' the washhoose." her Ma said.
"Ah've no even goat mah claes oan yit!" complained Patsy.
"Well hurry up and get some oan then, and get oot tae that washhoose and get that pram, and ye kin jist empty that pail in the midden while ye urr it it!" retorted Patsy’s Ma, giving her a smack on the back of the head, by way of hurrying her up.
"And don't gie me nane of yir lip!"
Patsy went back into the room with her lip trembling, muttering under her breath.
"If ah don't gie ye nane lip then ah hifty gie ye some."

Patsy was feeling less than appreciated, especially since her pal Irene had broken her arm during PE at the school and had been the centre of attention for a fortnight. Didn't have to help with the washing, either!

Patsy got into her frock, the one with the ruched elastic bodice. She liked that frock, but her Ma was always saying to her ...
"Ye wid think you hid nae claes, ayewiz werring that froack aw the time. It's getting too shoart fur ye. Ah might hifty let it doon."
Patsy shuddered. She remembered the last time her Ma had let a frock down for her. There was a big line at the bottom, and the bright new colours of the let-down bit looked daft beside the washed-out look on the rest of the frock.
"Don't know how ah canny jist get a new froack, exact the same." thought Patsy, feeling indignant at the injustice of it all.
She opened the sash window and retrieved her sandshoes from the sill. She had put them out there the night before, after she had whitened them, and they had been soaking wet. They were nice and dry now, and looked bright and white.
"Dae ye want a piece and a cup of tea?" her Ma shouted from the kitchen.
"Aye! Whit's oan the piece Ma?" said Patsy, walking in to the room, where her Ma was standing beside the blue and white kitchen cabinet. It was brand new, and her Ma's pride and joy. This meant that her Ma could keep all the food together in one place. All the neighbours had been in to see it, and all agreed that it was a lovely cabinet and they all said that they were all going to get one with their next Provvy cheque.
Ma was buttering bread. She wore a crossover flowery overall, and her hair was wrapped in a scarf, tied under her chin. She always wore a scarf when she was going out of the house. She said that it made her look tidy. Her face was clean, and clear of make-up - she only wore make-up when she was going out on a Friday or Saturday night.
Patsy put the last of the coloured washing in the other pillowcase, and mother and daughter sat down with their tea and bread.
"Whit's oan the piece, Ma?" said Patsy again, opening the bread and examining its content.
"Eat it, and y'll see, win't ye." replied her Ma, laughing.
"Och its spam! Ah don't like spam."
"Get it ate." said her Ma. "Since when dae ye no like spam?"
They both sat there, quietly eating and drinking.
Patsy's Ma looked at the clock on the mantlepiece.
"Come oan noo. Ah'm gonny be late. If ah miss this turn, ah'll no get wan tae Saturday moarning, and ah don't want tae be washing claes oan a Saturday."

Patsy ran out to the back court and into the washhouse, and got the pram her Ma used for the steamie. It had seen better days. The pram had been a twin with two hoods, but one of the hoods had been prised off by some boys when Patsy and her pals were pushing each other up and doon the street in it. It only had one hood now, and that had a great tear in it.
When she returned to the close, the woman next door was out on her doorstep.
"Stoap stampin through the close, Patsy. It's like a herd o' elephants passin."
"Sorry, Mrs Greg, bit mah Ma’s gonny be late fur the Steamie if ah dinnae hurry up."
"So's yir Ma gaun tae the Steamie, hen? Ask her if she’ll take a perr of sheets fur me."
"Awright, Mrs Greg, ah'll ask her." said Patsy.
Patsy left the pram in the close, and went into the house.
"Mrs Greg says will ye take a perr of sheets tae the Steamie fur her." said Patsy.
"Aye, awright. Bit this is getting tae be a habit wi' hur. It wiz towels last week. Whit'll it be next week? Her man's drawers?"
Patsy and her Ma started laughing at the thought of Mrs Greg's man and his drawers.

They loaded the two pillowcases full of washing, and a small message bag with the woollens in it, onto the pram and set off for the Steamie.
It was a beautiful sunny morning, and Patsy's Ma was saying ...
"Great weather fur drying this! Ah'll hing the washing oot when we get back and it'll be dry afore tea time."
As they walked along, Patsy's Ma kept stopping to talk with folk.
"Hello Annie." they would say, and invariably stop for a blether.
Patsy wished that her Ma would hurry up. "Ah thote she said she wiz gonny be late" thought Patsy.

She couldn't wait to get to the Steamie. She wanted to play on the dryers, pulling them out and hanging on to the handle, then getting hurled back in again by her Ma.
Her Ma would say "Kerrfull Patsy! Urr y'll breck yir leg."
Patsy didn't care about that. It was her ambition in life to break her leg and get a stookie - a prized possession!
When Peter McGregor from Newhall Street had one, everybody signed it and drew wee pictures on it, and all the big people gave him sweeties.

Patsy loved going to the Steamie with her Ma. Besides getting to play on the dryers, all the women were nice to her. They would all sing songs, laugh, and talk to one another, and tell her how she was going to break all the boys' hearts when she grew up.
Patsy always thought "Ah don't want tae breck aw the boays herts. Their necks mibbe, bit no their herts!"
This day, when Patsy walked into the Steamie with her Ma, she had a funny feeling. Somehow, it felt different. Like somebody was watchin her. She looked around quickly, but there was nobody there.
She started to take the washing out of the pillowcase and put it in the machine. She had to stand on a box to reach into the machine.
"Don't furget the pooder." said her Ma "And leave out that white blouse. Ah'm gonny haun wash that wi the woollens."
There it was again. That feeling that she was being watched. There was nothing there watching her, but still, she could definitely sense something. She told her Ma.
"Och! That's probably that woman that goat mangled!" she said, winking at Molly, who was scrubbing her man's shirt- collar on a washboard.
"Aye!" said Molly. "Flat as a pancake, she wiz. They hidty slide her oot o' the mangle, and wi' her jist hivin h'd her herr done in that new cottage loaf style, it wiz merr like a pancake by the time they goat her oot of that mangle."
Patsy was horrified.
"Ma! Did they really get her oot o' the mangle? That's terrible!"
"Aye hen, it wiz a horrible sight. They say she still haunts this place." said her Ma, trying to stifle the laughter.
"Aye, that's right." said Molly. "She slinks aboot the place and floats ower the dryers. She is trying tae use the hoat air oot of the dryers tae blaw hersell back up again."
Patsy began looking around the Steamie for the flattened woman, but the place was full of steam, and it was hard to see anything.

"It probably is her haunting the Steamie." thought Patsy. "Ah wish ah could talk tae her, and ask her whit it felt like tae be flattened."
Patsy's Ma had threatened to 'flatten' her many times, but had never carried out her threat. Now, here was a woman who had really been flattened, and Patsy wondered what it felt like. She was lost in thought, thinking about the flattened woman, and when she looked around, there was nobody there. Her Ma and Molly had gone, and so had all the other women.
Patsy felt frightened, and shouted "Ma! where urr ye!"
No answer!
Then she heard a noise, coming from the direction of the mangle. She looked over, and there she was - what looked like the flattened woman. She was lying across a table, with her feet at the mangle. She was flat as a pancake.
Patsy gingerly tip-toed over. One step at a time, stopping to peer through the steam at the flat body lying on the table by the mangle. She didn't dare breathe, trying not to make a sound.
Just as she neared the table ...


shouted a voice from behind the mangle.
Patsy jumped up screaming, slipping on the wet floor. She crashed down onto the concrete. The pain stabbed into her. Her leg! Oh, how it hurt.
Ma and Molly ran round from behind the mangle. Patsy was crying her eyes out.
"Ah think she's broke her leg." said her Ma.
Patsy stopped crying immediately, and through the tears, said "Hiv ah really broke mah leg, Ma?"
"Aye, ah think ye hiv hen."
"Thank you, Goad!" said Patsy. "Dis this mean ah'll get a stookie, Ma? That everybody kin write their names oan?"
"Aye, hen, ah think ye will."
"YAAAA Dancer!" shouted Patsy, as they took her away to the hospital for her stookie.
Sore - but very happy.

The End

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