Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Guest blog post: Mrs. Riach


Mrs. Riach, talented cook, has graciously condescended to an interview for the benefits of this blog, though of course we are forced to acknowledge that her time is short and she has better, much better, things to be doing than talking to us (please to remember a key point about Mrs. Riach’s charming dialect – the ‘f’ sound intrudes in place of the ‘wh’ of normal speech.)

Fit’s ’at? Ye’re wanting to speir me questions? Fie? I’ve no done a’thing wrong!

Ye’re wanting to interview me? Are you looking a cook, is that it? I’ll have you know my rates are high – I dinna go to work for just a’body, ken? And I’d want a good accommodation, generous days off, and regular hours. And no bluidy cats, pigs, nor bairns, ken?

Oh, aye, hens. Hens I can just thole, if they’re no in the hoose.

Fa am I fae? I’m fae this place, fae Ballater – well, Tullich, ken. My brother’s lad still bides there, useless cankert gapus that he is, and his woman little better. Aye, they’ve begged me to go and stay with them fae time to time, but I just canna handle it. I’m an honest working woman, ken?

Is that a decanter of brandy I see there ahint you? Could I trouble you, for my throat’s that parched I might never get through all your speiring. Aye, that’s grand – is that all there was? No, aye, up to the rim – that’ll be finey. Your good health.

Aye, I’ve worked in a few households about the three parishes. I’ve worked for two fine physicians, and a clergy and his sister – no fae the proper kirk, ken, but whiles decent enough, as far as a’body could tell, onywyes. And I’ve worked for a fine woman who had her own business – oh, she was braw! I liked fine working for her. She had the right ideas about a household, all under control and a few fine handsome boys about the place, forbye.

Oh, my, the state of my throat! But I canna help feeling yon brandy’s doing it good, ken? Oh, well, I dinna mind if I do – no, up to the rim again would be finey. It’d be a shame to waste the space. Your health.

But it seems I’m doomed to go back again to yon long-nebbit lassie, the doctor’s fancy Embra wifie. Fie he had to bring a quine back fae Embra is beyond me – had we no fine enough lassies up here to tempt him? I might have taken him masel if he’d asked me! But no, no, he brings yon one here, and the house has been like an asylum ever since. If it’s no strange men in the attic, it’s floods to the gate, and dogs under the kitchen table and dead birds in the parlour and dinner at fa kens fit time and cats, damned white cats like bluidy ghosts everywhere you look. And bairns! And have you met her relations?

Aye, it’s my throat again – the pain is fair making my eyes water. No, no, I can go on a bit yet, if there’s any more … aye, that’s lovely, right enough. Grand.

But it’s my duty to go back whiles and see yon Ishbel hasna burned the place down or destroyed my good pans. An’ young … fit’s the lad’s name … aye, Wullie. He’s no a lad bad – I mean a bad lad. He needs lookin’ after, that’s what he needs. An’ I need another of those fine wee glasses – I mean to say, you could barely fill a hole in your tooth with what’s in yon wee glass, could you? Aye, I’m sure I could manna … manage another yin …

The Napiers? Aye, that’s where I bide, ken. Is it? Fa was I last? See, whiles I get a wee bittie confused. I’ve been lost up on the moor more than the once, ken, for I’ve no sense of direction at all, and the moor – I’ve been lost up on the moor more than the once, did you ken? Chasing the white cats … or were they chasing me? White cats, everywhere. It’s no’ right, at all, is it?

And did I tell you about the white cats?

Where did you go? I wasna finished! Hi!

Och, well, it’s maybe time I had a wee nap before I make a start on the dinner. The fire’s fine and warm and this chair’s awfa comfy. Just make sure they white cats dinna come near me, ken?



  1. I do so enjoy reading your character studies, Lexie Conyngham! I laughed aloud as I enjoyed your portrayal of dour, drunken Mrs. Riach. I discovered your work a few months ago and, sadly, have devoured all your Murray and Hippolyta books. Now I must wait patiently for the next installments of their stories.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying them. The next Hippolyta is out on 10th May, but I'm not sure about the next Murray just yet!