Blether

I don’t usually think of myself as doing Scottish things. I’m pleased to be here and consider this my home, but I still feel very much the immigrant. So I was a bit surprised at the bank last week when one of the clerks told me I was “blethering”.

Scots will need no definition of this word, but my American readers will find it a bit cryptic. Blether is used both as a noun and a verb and means to chatter, or talk nonsense, to babble. It is to “chew the fat” with a special energy, vigorously. I know plenty of people who blether, who are blethers, but I don’t usually include myself in that category. I like to think of myself as filled with wisdom and thoughtfulness. I suppose most blethers do.

I was waiting to see one of the managers about a question when a friend of mine happened to see me. I hate waiting at the bank, or at the doctor’s or dentist’s office. Waiting makes me feel conspicuous and awkward and small. I am always suspicious that I’m being made to wait, that the person I’m waiting for is whittling me down to size before they grace me with their attentions. It feels like a power trip, and I’m at the wrong end of it; waiting leaves me a bit surly.

So, when I saw my friend I was perhaps a bit more eager than usual to talk to him. He may have been surprised to find me such an enthusiastic conversationalist. He was after all rescuing me and I was glad for the chance to do something other than sit there and stare at the floor.

As usual things were moving slowly at the bank and, after my friend left, I sat back down and looked at my watch for the third time. I was just about to leave when the clerk found me and said, “Sorry to keep you waiting. I did come to see you a moment ago, but you were blethering with your friend.”

Excuse me?! Did you just call me a blether?

I was taken aback. In my mind ‘blether’ is a mild pejorative; blethering implies a vacuous intellect. Bletherers revel in the sound of their own voice.

Was I blethering? Really?

I suppose I was and I ought not take offence. For once my conspicuous American accent was ignored and someone took me for a local. I suppose I ought to see it as a compliment, as a sign of my happy enculturation.

I’ll stop blethering now and let you get on with your day.

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