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TITLE
'The Credit Draper'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_J_DAVID_SIMONS
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
J. David Simons
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1389
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'The Credit Draper' by J. David Simons, published in 2008. It is read here by the author.

'The Credit Draper is set in 1911 and is the story of a young Russian Jewish boy, Avram Escovitz, who is shipped to the Gorbals in Glasgow to escape conscription into the Russian army even at the tender age of 11. He grows up in Glasgow but the intervention of The First World War and events in his adopted family lead him to being sent to the Highlands to be a credit draper - a peddler selling goods on credit on behalf of the warehouses in Glasgow.

Here he meets Megan, the gamekeeper's daughter.

Even dressed in a maid's uniform, she strutted beside him with a sense of ownership of the land worthy of any laird. She could name the birds from their song, place each sheep with its owner from the brand on its flanks, point out the shielings for the summer shearing. She stopped to pick bluebells for her hair, a feather off the ground to wave as she walked. She was full of stories of the shire, the gossip of the villages, the scandals at the castle. He envied her this rootedness in place for he drifted over this world like the mist on the hillside. Like a wandering Jew. Like a credit draper.

With a nose for the direction of her destination, she led him on paths no more than sheep tracks across the hillsides, ways she knew from playing as a child with her older brother. She described Jamie as a big lump of a lad but handy with a rifle. Just a glimpse of a tail or a snout was all he needed to find his target. She imagined him picking off easy any German soldier who dared put his head above the trench line. That was how she preferred to visualise Jamie's war. As a sniper. Hidden away from the action. Invulnerable. Always the hunter, never the hunted.

By midday, the coach-road came into sight where it split west for the Laird's castle, north for Glencoe, south for Lorn and Glenkura. They scrambled down the scree, turned into the Laird's estates where the terrain changed immediately. Fir trees were set out orderly to mark the road, there was an orchard of apple trees standing among its shed blossom, the stone walls were properly maintained, the land was flatter, given up to acres of barley and cattle, not just sheep and crofts. She dropped away from him a few paces, became silent.

He heard the dull humming noise first, dismissed it as a party of bees hovering around a hive or a cluster of pollen. And as the drone grew louder so did the size of the swarm in his imagination. Megan cocked an ear to the sound too and soon she was scanning the sky.

'Bees?' he asked.

Before she had time to answer, the flying machine burst into view, skimming through the tops of the trees lining the road. Instinctively, he dived for cover under the gorse bushes on the side of the road. Megan fell in right behind him. The bi-plane passed overhead, its engine coughing as it circled the open field beyond the whin.

'It's an aeroplane,' he shouted. 'It's a bloody aeroplane.'

'Is it a Gerry?'

'Don't be silly.' But he checked the red, white and blue roundels on the wing to be sure.'

J. David Simons was born in Glasgow in 1953. He studied law at Glasgow University and became a partner at an Edinburgh law firm before giving up his practice in 1978 to live on a kibbutz in Israel. Since then he has lived in Australia, Japan and England, working at various stages along the way as a charity administrator, cotton farmer, language teacher and university lecturer.

In his most recent guise as a journalist David has written extensively about the Internet and new media. He returned to Glasgow in 2006 but as a keen hill-walker spends most weekends tramping the western and southern Highlands. His short stories have appeared in the international magazine 'Printed Matter' as well as 'London Magazine.

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'The Credit Draper'

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: J. David Simons

This audio extract is from 'The Credit Draper' by J. David Simons, published in 2008. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'The Credit Draper is set in 1911 and is the story of a young Russian Jewish boy, Avram Escovitz, who is shipped to the Gorbals in Glasgow to escape conscription into the Russian army even at the tender age of 11. He grows up in Glasgow but the intervention of The First World War and events in his adopted family lead him to being sent to the Highlands to be a credit draper - a peddler selling goods on credit on behalf of the warehouses in Glasgow. <br /> <br /> Here he meets Megan, the gamekeeper's daughter.<br /> <br /> Even dressed in a maid's uniform, she strutted beside him with a sense of ownership of the land worthy of any laird. She could name the birds from their song, place each sheep with its owner from the brand on its flanks, point out the shielings for the summer shearing. She stopped to pick bluebells for her hair, a feather off the ground to wave as she walked. She was full of stories of the shire, the gossip of the villages, the scandals at the castle. He envied her this rootedness in place for he drifted over this world like the mist on the hillside. Like a wandering Jew. Like a credit draper.<br /> <br /> With a nose for the direction of her destination, she led him on paths no more than sheep tracks across the hillsides, ways she knew from playing as a child with her older brother. She described Jamie as a big lump of a lad but handy with a rifle. Just a glimpse of a tail or a snout was all he needed to find his target. She imagined him picking off easy any German soldier who dared put his head above the trench line. That was how she preferred to visualise Jamie's war. As a sniper. Hidden away from the action. Invulnerable. Always the hunter, never the hunted. <br /> <br /> By midday, the coach-road came into sight where it split west for the Laird's castle, north for Glencoe, south for Lorn and Glenkura. They scrambled down the scree, turned into the Laird's estates where the terrain changed immediately. Fir trees were set out orderly to mark the road, there was an orchard of apple trees standing among its shed blossom, the stone walls were properly maintained, the land was flatter, given up to acres of barley and cattle, not just sheep and crofts. She dropped away from him a few paces, became silent.<br /> <br /> He heard the dull humming noise first, dismissed it as a party of bees hovering around a hive or a cluster of pollen. And as the drone grew louder so did the size of the swarm in his imagination. Megan cocked an ear to the sound too and soon she was scanning the sky.<br /> <br /> 'Bees?' he asked.<br /> <br /> Before she had time to answer, the flying machine burst into view, skimming through the tops of the trees lining the road. Instinctively, he dived for cover under the gorse bushes on the side of the road. Megan fell in right behind him. The bi-plane passed overhead, its engine coughing as it circled the open field beyond the whin. <br /> <br /> 'It's an aeroplane,' he shouted. 'It's a bloody aeroplane.'<br /> <br /> 'Is it a Gerry?' <br /> <br /> 'Don't be silly.' But he checked the red, white and blue roundels on the wing to be sure.'<br /> <br /> J. David Simons was born in Glasgow in 1953. He studied law at Glasgow University and became a partner at an Edinburgh law firm before giving up his practice in 1978 to live on a kibbutz in Israel. Since then he has lived in Australia, Japan and England, working at various stages along the way as a charity administrator, cotton farmer, language teacher and university lecturer. <br /> <br /> In his most recent guise as a journalist David has written extensively about the Internet and new media. He returned to Glasgow in 2006 but as a keen hill-walker spends most weekends tramping the western and southern Highlands. His short stories have appeared in the international magazine 'Printed Matter' as well as 'London Magazine.