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Author's Chapter Notes:
Oops, I thought I had posted this here ages ago - still means you should get another chapter quicker than usual!

“ Ah, the wanderers have returned!” cried Rosalie Dene, as Grizel and Mary came into the staffroom on Monday evening. “Pull up a chair and tell us all!”

Grizel grinned as she accepted a cup of brown liquid from Jeanne de Lachenais. “ Well, the wedding was lovely! Dolly and Dunc were delighted with the wedding gifts and asked us to pass on their thanks. Letters will follow when they get back from honeymoon.”

“We have brought wedding cake which Megan is now carefully slicing and it should appear shortly.” added Mary. “Nell, we have a paper bag with carrot seeds for you, courtesy of Kate Kelly who thinks you will be interested in this variety. It's all explained in the note, apparently.”

“You also have a description, with illustrations, of an electrical experiment that young Mickey carried out from your book.”laughed Grizel. “I gather it was successful apart from the small matter of a scorched coal bunker top. Oh thank you, Megan,” as that worthy entered bearing a plate of thinly sliced rich fruit cake, “The wedding cake looked beautiful but, as Granny Graham said, there was only enough for everyone to get three crumbs and a currant!”

“What are Meg's family like?” asked Hilary Burn.

“Just what you'd expect, only...more so!” said Mary reminiscently.

…............................................

Soon women were bustling round bringing plates of steak pie, mashed potatoes and vegetables.. Apart from the top table and a long table for all the children, there was no seating plan and to Mary's disappointment Auntie Bella had been claimed by some old acquaintances and was sitting elsewhere.

“That'll be some of the crowd she was with in '26,” said old Agnes Graham, peering over her glasses. “Is that not that Joe Macintosh she was lifted with the Night of the Mounties, Teresa?”

Granny Kelly turned to look but it was Meg's father who answered. “That's the very man, and I'm sure that's Nellie Webster as well!” Seeing Mary's bemused expression, he explained.

“There was a mass meeting in Dundee during the General Strike, people from Angus, Fife and all over. It was peaceful enough, but one hothead shouted that we should march to where the Council was meeting. He was booted off the platform but the police decided on a charge with the horses. I was lucky, I ran up the nearest close, chapped a door and was sitting at the table with my jacket off looking like part of the family by the time the police got to us. But hundreds were rounded up and the people they thought were ringleaders were jailed, Bella, Joe and Nellie among them.”
“She got thirty days and the minute she was out she was away to Fife to support the miners.” chipped in Granny Kelly. “She got lifted a few times over here, once for shouting at Harry Lauder that he was a capitalist lackey and his act was bowfin and an insult to Scotland anyway! You see the way her shoulder is up like that?” Mary nodded.

“That was when the soldiers were sent in to break up the soup kitchens.” said Granny Graham with mingled pride and pain. “The women linked arms and stood in front of them to try to stop them and Bella got a rifle butt smashed down on her collar bone. She was jailed and it was days before they got a doctor to her and by then it was too late to set it right. But, God bless her, nothing dauntons our Bella!”

“Well, except a pair of looms!” countered Granny Kelly with a laugh. “She was the worst weaver I ever come across in nearly sixty years in jute and you know it's only God's mercy that stopped her losing bits of herself before your mother managed to get her into the tailoring, Ness. She did the pattern for Dolly's dress, you know, though Rosie made it, and she altered Meg's.”

Both bride and bridesmaid wore calf length dresses in the fashion necessary in rationing days, Meg's being reworked from the one worn at Gren's wedding and Dolly's created from a bolt of ivory satin that Auntie Bella had acquired from one of her former, and still occasional, employers.

“She managed to get a wee frock for the flower girl out of Meg's and she's enough left to redo it for Kate to wear at Alex and Nora's wedding!” said Stella. “and your sister will look lovely in Meg's frock, Norah, with her bonny red hair.”

“We'll maybe need to make it into a tent if I can't get a house!” laughed Norah. “Our name's down with every factor in the town but so far there's nothing doing!”

The chatter turned to the housing shortage, the plight of the squatters in the now disused army camps and airfields and the good fortune of Dunc and Dolly securing a hospital-owned flat in a converted Victorian house. “It's really modern” enthused Dunc's sister Jenny as she helped clear the plates. “Room and kitchen through-going, scullery and a bathroom with hot water. Everybody's got their own wee cellar and there's even a shed to keep their bikes.”

Just then there came cheers from the children's table.

“That'll be for the ice-cream!” said Jenny impressively. “Mr & Mrs Cabrelli gave them enough for the bairns for a wedding present, really good of them. And here comes our stewed apples and custard.”

The meal and the speeches over, the women attended to the dishes while the men reset the room ready for the dancing and fun. The band was local, cousins and friends of Dunc, and, to her secret delight, Grizel was asked to play with them, the Institute's venerable piano being rolled in for her use.

The happy couple took to the floor as everyone sang.

“Oh, how we danced on the night we were wed
We vowed our true love but a word was not said”

After two rounds of the hall, they split, Dunc to dance with Meg and Dolly with Tam Gellatly, his brother's best man, splitting again again to take the Gellatly parents and the Watsons onto the floor and soon everyone down to the smallest child was waltzing round.

The Grand Old Duke of York, Musical Chairs, Pass the Parcel and Forfeits delighted the children while the dances ranged from Strip the Willow to the Palais Glide. Various people were called on to sing or recite, Dunc's father giving a rousing snap to Joe Corrie's “I Am The Common Man”, an uncle with a fine baritone voice singing “Always”, while Granny Graham , Granny Kelly and Auntie Bella made an impressive trio on “The Collier Laddie” in tribute to their hosts. Meg, at Dolly's request, sang “Till The End of Time” before the happy couple were driven by Dougie to catch their train for the Edinburgh honeymoon which was their wedding gift from Gren's parents.

“The Buchanans are just the same, everybody has to do a party piece.” confided Gren to Grizel as they listened to Kate Kelly's sweet young voice voice singing “ The Rowan Tree”. “I usually just do “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God” with as much drama as possible!”

Kate's place was taken by Bess McGurk, an old friend from Hexington village dance days. “Oy, Griz!” she roared, “Get your backend over here and play for Maggie McQueen!”

Mary, Meg and Gren exchanged grins as the Chalet School's stern music mistress meekly obeyed this imperious summons, and played the familiar strains of “MacNamara's Band”

“Oh but says I, I’ll join the airmy
I’ll be a member o the wimmen’s core
But I sane foond oot that a wifie sodger
Was worse than all the jobs I’ve had afore!”

In this coal-mining district it had been the women rather than the men who had gone away to the war, to the services, the land or the factories so the chorus was taken up with gusto.

“Ach well, that's the tone lowered!” said Granny Kelly with a mock frown.. “We'll be on to “The Dundee Weaver” and “The Ball o Kirriemuir” if we're not careful.”

“And it'll probably be you that's singing them!” retorted Meg who knew her grandmother's wicked sense of humour well.

All too soon, it was time to leave, with hugs, handshakes and much good will. The Tay Ferries did not run at this late hour so they would have to go round by Perth. Eileen Baxter climbed into the driving seat.

“It's a dawdle!” she said, in answer to Mary asking if she didn't mind driving in the dark. “I did it many a time in the blackout, even when I was expecting. Dad's not so keen on it now and anyway he and Pat are both half canned!”

To the strains of “We're No Awa tae Bide Awa”, they set off, Grizel with small Martina, who had taken a great fancy to 'the piano lady' snuggled on her knee, Mary sitting beside Auntie Bella, ready for another living history lesson.

…...........

“Oh, you lucky people, I do wish Dolly had married during the hols so we could all have got there!” said Nell Wilson. “ All the excitement we have had this weekend was having a spoonful of jam on our semolina pudding!”



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