I have returned – and I can already hear some readers’ cries: “Oh no! We thought the editor had seen sense and pulled Grey Matter out by the roots.” Nae such luck.
However, I know many of you have missed this column over the past six weeks. I know this because when I returned from holidays and a week looking after the Hawick News, loyal readers had left electronic messages wondering where I was and if I was coming back to electronically pen this weekly column. Well, one reader did.
Thank you Joan Davidson for your kind email enquiry and inspiring words after I had confirmed to you by return email that Grey would indeed be Mattering this week. And thank you to the many (and there were) who stopped me in the street or in the shop or cafe and expressed the profound hope that Grey Matter had not been put out to graze.
Let me explain my absence. Last year, for various reasons, I didn’t manage to take my holiday entitlement by the due date of December 31.
Hence, I was off for the whole of February – the shortest month of the year and I’m still trying to work out if I’ve been diddled out of a couple days.
The first week was spent planning a bit of home decorating, and clearing out a cupboard that’s bursting at the seams and an attic that is putting much too much strain on the rafters.
The second week was spent not doing any home decorating, not clearing out a cupboard bursting at the seams, nor an attic that’s putting too much of a strain on the rafters. I did very little, but enjoyed a bus-pass trip to Galashiels and to that other capital, Edinburgh.
Week Three, I had decided, would my away week.
My late dad worked for Morrison and Murray, the engineers in Gala, and spent two weeks each year carrying out maintenance and repairs at the tweed mill, Hunters of Brora.
I have only been a couple of times, but had a hankering to return and booked (50p) a bus -pass seat on a luxury coach departing Edinburgh 12.30pm and travelling to the far north-east via Inverness.
On the due day I boarded the trusty X95 and got as far as Bowland where a jack-knifed lorry was blocking the road. It was back to Gala and an assurance from a Firstbus employee in a white shirt that we would be going straight up the A68. We did. For a bit. And then we turned left and trundled across country somewhere around Tynehead to join the A7 (fighting re-routed traffic coming the other way) where the trusty X95 once again became a city service.
I missed my Brora connection by seven minutes. I was miffed and headed for The Hebrides in Market Street to replan my Week Three.
A call to my son, Matthew, and his laptop had me booked into the Rob Roy Hotel at Aberfoyle. A train to Stirling and a bus took me there.
I stayed three nights and enjoyed some wonderful company, not least on my last evening which was the start of a line-dancing convention arranged by a lovely bunch from Glasgow.
Yes, I admit it. Grey Matter learned the elementary steps of line dancing. The music was still reeling in my heid as I headed next day for Dunoon.
Week Four was spent wondering what I had done.