Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Roup

 The dictionary gives the definition of  " roup " as a disease of poultry or a word for  " shout ". In the northeast of Scotland it means  " auction ". The  " Doric " dialect of that part of Scotland has many strange words.
 When we lived in Kemnay, Aberdeenshire , during the late 70s and 80s a  " roup " was held every week in the Village Hall . The estate we lived on was very small and all the inhabitants were  " incoming workers ", mostly involved in the oil business . I made many friends but my very best and closest was my nextdoor neighbour , Esther . She was originally from Ireland, by way of South Wales  and was instantly a soulmate and woman after my own heart . We shared the same hobbies and we were both adventurous and full of joy.. Both our husbands worked offshore for two weeks at a time and so we were together for long spells and got up to all sorts of madcap schemes and had enormous fun .
 We started to go to the  " roup "because someone in the village had mentioned it and we were always up for a new activity !  At first we just sat at the back and watched  the proceedings . The roup was very popular and people came from all over the area and the hall was always packed . We had no idea what the heck was going on as most of the dialogue was in Doric and some other strange autioneer language that was spoken so fast it was completely unintelligible. The auctioneer said something , an object was held up or pointed to by an assistant and then hands bobbed up and down to a soundtrack of complete gobbledegook until finally the hammer was battered on the desk ; someone  looked pleased ; some other people muttered darkly and then it all began again .
 Gradually, however, by some sort of osmosis , our brains began to make a little sense of it all and we sometimes  wildly held up our hands ; usually to be glowered at by others nearby . Once I was actually successful and purchased a mixed box of  " objets "  mainly consisting of assorted old knives and forks ......destined for the  " third drawer " !!  My success was probably due to the fact that no one else bothered to bid for the damn stuff !!  Anyway we got hooked and became fairly well known and people nodded and smiled as we took our seats each week . We even started going to the  " viewings " on the Monday afternoon and make a note of anything we were interested in .
 I was keen on restoring furniture at the time and I was thrilled when I successfully bid for two lovely little chairs , fighting off fierce competition from the local butcher and the Ministers wife . Esther and I loaded them into the back of her estate car , already planning what colour I would use to re-upholster them .  We were Professionals !!
 One Monday afternoon we were viewing the lots as usual when Esther spied some kitchen cupboards and a few lengths of worktop . There and then she resolved to bid for them. In her minds eye she could already see them installed in her kitchen  ! I was less enthusiastic , but .......in for a penny....  Evening soon came and we were seated near the front , all the better to secure our prize . To pass the time I bid for , and won , a sweet little hall stand in need of some TLC . The evening wore on and eventually the  "kitchen " was the next  "lot " !  It was a popular lot and the bidding was fast and furious but Esther kept her nerve and eventually won ! We were overjoyed ! It was now about 10.30pm and we  had to get the stuff home ! We lived about half a mile from the village hall so we decided to do it in a few trips  . We loaded as much as we could into Esthers car and then left a chum guarding the rest of the kitchen while we drove home and unloaded . I was sort of pinned to the side window by lengths of worktop  and we had the tailgate half open , secured with my best silk scarf !  Soon everything was piled up in the garden at the rear of Esthers house .  I was quite " tuckered out " by all our activities but after a cuppa in her kitchen and a few scribbled sketches on the back of an envelope , Esther had persuaded me to carry on !
 Her kitchen was a large square with cupboards and sink etc. at one end  and the other end was just bare walls intended as an informal dining area . Esthers plan was to use the new cupboards and worktops to make one large kitchen with an island unit . Simple !!!     Haha !   Well we pulled and pushed and dragged and heaved the units about until we made them all fit . It was like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle with no picture on the box lid ! And Esther kept changing her mind about where she wanted things until finally I threatened her with mortal  danger should she want the damn things moving again !  My patience wears rather thin at 3 in the morning ! Then we had the worktops to fit and make level . By now we had every power tool that our husbands possessed ; and we were not afraid to use them  ! The dust from the jigsaw and drill was very annoying and I foolishly began to vigourously blow it away . It was only when I almost fainted  that I realised I was hyperventilating !!  We really needed some 2ins by 2ins blocks to screw to the walls to sit the worktops on and make a sort of breakfast bar . We had scoured our garden shed and used any odd bits we had found but we were still short . I wondered if we ought to just wait till morning and buy some at B&Q or some such place but Esther was most disappointed as the kitchen was so nearly completed. Then I had an idea ! Whizzing home I grabbed a torch and went out into the pitch black garden and heaved and poked with a screwdriver until I managed to prise the top, decorative edge  off our interwoven garden fence.  It wasnt 2x2 or even the right colour , but it wouldnt be seen and seemed to do the job so long as we put the slightly warped bit at the bottom !  We worked through the night and as the dawn broke over the rooftops and the birds chirped down by the river , we swept away the sawdust and wiped down the worktops . The newly installed cupboards opened neatly, the drawers closed smoothly and the fridge looked great in its new location , tucked neatly under the level counter !  We were women ........We were kitchen fitters......We could do anything !!!!
 I sometimes think of that kitchen nowadays and wonder if  part of my garden fence is still screwed to the wall !
       ............................Incidently, when Esthers husband came home a few days later he had been in the house for 4 hours before he noticed the kitchen !


  1. Crackers! Totally crackers, Rosalie!

  2. That sounds so like the you I am getting to know!! I have an image in my mind causing a few giggles, but wasn't that so typical of a man!! I have often said that I could put new furniture in the living room & OH wouldn't notice the change till I told him!!

  3. Another wonderful episode, you make it feel like we're reading a book of short stories, looking forward to the next 'chapter'. x