Big Banana Boots

Balmoral Castle.

A fascinating story about Queen Victoria is centred on a man named John Brown. Brown was born on a farm at Crathie in 1826 and was employed at Balmoral. He rose to become Prince Albert’s personal ghillie and then the Queen’s servant.

After the death of her beloved Albert in 1861. The Queen began spending more time at Balmoral. She relished the solitude which calmed her shattered nerves.

Scandal threatened when she formed an emotional attachment with John Brown, leading to the Queen being popularly referred to as Mrs Brown.

Brown was a rather stern and blunt speaking Scotsman, a loyal servant but one who would call a spade a spade.

Comment: I suppose everyone needs a confidant, even a Queen.

Mary Queen of Scots had one such in the person of David Rizzio. He had many at court opposed to his close association with Mary, and David paid a terrible price.

David Rizzio.

Mary was dancin’, happy in the supper room

Wi’ a’ o’ her ladies, the four Marys, in attendance

David was pluckin’, at his mandolin tae tune

Getting ready for a two-by-two-by-two step dance

Mary said, ‘David, David, can ye play the minuet?’

So he bent doon tae the lute, so that he’d be nearer

‘David, David, have ye no’ got that thing ready yet?’

He said, ‘I havenae got the music so I’m playin’ it by ear’

Poor David Rizzio, wi’ his ear so sorely occupied

He didnae hear the rumpus on the stair

The Thugs rushed in an’ Mary’s favourite music died

Wi’ Darnley’s dagger in his back, an’ him lyin’ on the flerr

O’ a’ ye Scottish noblemen, hing doon yer heids in shame

Takin’ Mary’s melodies away

An’ the wee Italian troubadour, so far away frae hame

Will haunt ye a’, until ye’re auld an’ grey.

Cairngorms National Park.

The Motorhomers were sitting in the cafe at Balmoral. The ladies were enjoying pancakes with maple syrup;

‘I shouldnae be dain’ this, Phemie, I’m tryin’ to get doon tae a size sixteen,’ said Jessie.

‘Aye, Jessie, me as well, I’m tryin’ tae get tae a size fourteen,’ said Phemie.

‘Phemie, if ye get any bliddy smaller ye’ll need tae dae yer shoppin’ in the Baby-Linen shop on the High street,’ said Jessie.

The lads were having something a little more substantial; two Scotch pies and a cup of Bovril. The Queen was not at home. Francie had ascertained this fact when he had rang the bell at the large oaken door. His bottom lip was still trembling as he was telling Josie what had happened;

‘Josie, a wee fat doorman answered the door. I asked him if the Queen was in? He wasnae very pleased, Josie. Naw, ye wee eejit, she’s oot. Noo beat it ye wee git,’ he said. ‘He slammed the door in my face, Josie,’ said Francie, his petted-lip trembling.

‘Ye’re lucky he didnae call the polis, Francie,’ said Josie.

Francie’s eye-balls were spinning in their sockets and he was looking perplexed and bewildered. Josie knew that there was a question coming;

‘Josie, was that John Broon a big guy?’ asked Francie.

‘Oh aye, Francie, big John was a big guy,’ said Josie.

‘I thought so, Josie. I saw the film an’ he was up tae the hoarsie’s heid,’ said Francie.

‘That wasnae big John, Francie, that was big Sean, ye wee stumour,’ said Josie.

‘It must have been a sight tae see, Josie. Queen Victoria wearin’ her big green wellie boots an’ big Sean wearin’ his big yella banana boots,’ said Francie.

‘That wasnae big Sean, Francie, that was big Billy. Big Sean was the yin that played the bagpipes,’ said Josie.

‘Then whit did big John dae, Josie?’ asked Francie.

‘Big John wasnae even in the damn film, Francie, ye wee eejit,’ said Josie.

‘Then who was wearin’ the big yella banana boots then, Josie,’ asked Francie.

‘Och, Francie, the big bliddy Clydesdale was wearin’ the big yella banana boots,’ said Josie. ‘Look, Francie, let’s just forget this wee conversation we’re havin’, because ye’re daein’ my bliddy heid in, Francie,’ Josie pleaded.

‘Sure, Josie, sure, Josie,’ said Francie.

Joe Sharp.

For the book, the adventures of Francie and Josie, click here.

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