Standard Fanfic Disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: based on characters and situations owned by somebody else. Only the supporting characters (the parson, the children at the nursery, etc.) were created by me; all other characters belong to Auntie Beeb. They're just borrowed and will be returned relatively undamaged or else suitably bandaged. Amateur work of fiction, no financial profit made of it or likely to be made off it (since Random House UK won't accepted unsolicited submissions, darn them). In the unlikely event I ever do manage to sell this story, I'll be taking it down from this website before the lawyers see it. Balamory is no longer broadcast in the US, but if you have small children, check out their website. It has some fun games. Gaelic footnotes at the bottom.
Archie's Missing Glasses
A Balamory story by Susan M. M. and Son
Off the western coast of Scotland, there is an archipelago called the Hebrides – a beautiful group of islands. On one of the loveliest of these islands is a fishing village called Balamory. Balamory is not a big town, but it is very pretty. The houses are painted all the colors of the rainbow, and the people there are usually very happy.
One of the happiest people in Balamory is Miss Hoolie, who teaches at the Balamory Nursery. One sunny afternoon, just before time to go home, Miss Hoolie was singing to her children.
"I can spell can: c-a-n. I can spell cat: c-a-t. I can spell cut: c-u-t. But I can't spell hippopotamus," the auburn-haired teacher sang. The students had been working on the letter C today, and she wanted to review what they'd learned. All her students – Tommy McKenzie and Jenny Wong and Heather Campbell and Duncan Graham and Anjuli Rajasthani and all the others – sang along with her.
"Very good," said Miss Hoolie. She was an attractive woman in her early to mid-twenties. "Gle mhath. (*1) Now who can tell me something that starts with C?"
"Car," said Tyrone Smith, a little Black boy with a thick Jamaican accent.
"Candy," said Fergus Montgomery, a kilted four year old.
"Me!" shouted Catriona Guthrie.
"Very good," said Miss Hoolie. "Gle mhath. Now, who can tell me what time it is?"
"Clean up time!" everyone shouted. Miss Hoolie smiled, and all the children scrambled to their feet. They started putting toys away and singing. "Clean up, clean up, everybody do their share. Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere."
Suddenly there was a crash outside.
"What was that?" asked Miss Hoolie. Five of the children echo'd her words. "Stay here," she instructed, "and I'll go see what that was." She walked to the door, opened it, and peeked outside. What she saw made her rush out.
Archie the Inventor lay sprawled on the ground.
She hurried to his side. "Archie! Are you all right?"
"I think so." The red-haired man looked up in her general direction, his blue eyes unfocused. "Is that you, Miss Hoolie?"
"Tha." (*2) The schoolteacher reached down and helped him to his feet. She dusted off his orange sweater. Archie brushed the dirt and grass off his blue kilt himself. She took a good look at his freckled face. "Archie, where are your glasses?"
"My glasses?" Archie reached up and touched his face, feeling for his glasses, realizing for the first time that he wasn't wearing them. "I must have lost them."
"Come into the school," she ordered him. Taking his arm, Miss Hoolie led Archie into the school and helped him to a chair.
"Archie! Hello, Archie." All the children called out greetings. Archie the Inventor was a favorite visitor to the school, and all the children loved him.
"Now then," Miss Hoolie asked, "where was the last place you had your glasses?"
"I don't remember. I was thinking about a new invention, and I …" Archie spread his hands in dismay. When his mind was on a new invention, he didn't notice if it was raining or sunny.
"That's Edie McCredie," Miss Hoolie realized. "The bus is here."
A moment later, bus driver Edie McCredie came into the school. She was a middle-aged woman, old enough to be the mother of Archie or Miss Hoolie, though not yet old enough to be the grandmother of the nursery students. "Is everyone ready to go home?"
"Edie, Archie's mislaid his glasses," Miss Hoolie explained. "Could you take him home safely?"
"Certainly I can. Where did you lose your glasses, Archie?" asked the curly-haired bus driver.
"If I knew that, they wouldn't be lost," Archie pointed out.
Miss Hoolie turned to the children, who were busy grabbing jackets. "Who should we ask for help if something is lost?"
"PC Plum!" the children shouted in unison.
"Aye, Plummie will be able to help," Edie McCredie agreed. "If you call him and ask him to look for the missing glasses, I'll see to it that Archie gets home where he belongs."
Miss Hoolie nodded. She bid goodbye to the children. Then she grabbed her sweater, because even though it was a sunny spring afternoon, there was a cool breeze blowing in from the sea. It was, she thought, perfect kite flying weather. It took her only a few minutes to walk to the white building that served as Balamory's police station.
Inside the police station, PC Plum was hanging a picture of Queen Elizabeth on the wall.
"Hello, PC Plum. What are you doing?" Miss Hoolie asked.
"Oh, hello, Miss Hoolie. Feasgar math." (*3) The chubby constable pointed at the wall. "Just hanging a new picture of the queen."
Miss Hoolie looked at the two pictures hanging side by side. One showed Elizabeth II as she'd looked at her coronation, back in 1952. The other was a more recent photograph, showing Her Majesty as she looked now. "I suppose you were overdue for a current picture."
"Budget cuts." The dark-haired police constable shrugged philosophically. "We had to wait a while to get a new picture. So, what's the story in Balamory?"
"Archie's lost his glasses." The nursery school teacher explained how the inventor had stumbled outside the school. "Edie McCredie is taking him home. But we wondered if you could help him find his glasses."
"It'd be my pleasure," PC Plum announced. The short policeman straightened the picture of the elderly monarch. "My pleasure and my duty. I'll start investigating at once."
PC Plum found Josie Jump in her garden. She was jumping rope. "Hello, Josie."
The Black woman stopped jumping. "Hello, PC Plum. How are you today?"
"Fine, tapadh leibh,"(*4) he replied. "And yourself? Ciamar a tha sibh fein?" (*5)
"Couldn't be better." The slender dance and aerobics instructor wore a yellow sweat suit. "What's the story in Balamory?"
"Archie the Inventor has lost his glasses. Have you seen them, by any chance?" The police constable pulled out his handy-dandy notebook, just in case Josie had any clues for him. (*6)
She shook her head. Two black ponytails bounced as she shook her reply. "Sorry, no. I haven't seen Archie – or his glasses – all day."
The chubby constable tucked his handy-dandy notebook back into his pocket. "Ah, well, thank you, anyway, Josie."
"Good luck finding them." She began jumping rope again.
PC Plum saw Spencer the Artist painting Mrs. Kirkpatrick's front door. The Black musician and painter wore white overalls to protect his clothing as he carefully repainted the door a bright turquoise.
Spencer looked up when he saw his friend the police constable. "Hello, PC Plum. What's the story in Balamory?"
"Archie the Inventor has lost his glasses," PC Plum replied.
"That's too bad. Where did he lose them?" asked Spencer.
"Well, if he knew that, they wouldn't be lost," PC Plum explained.
Spencer nodded. "I guess you're right."
"I don't suppose you've seen them, have you?"
Spencer thought a moment. "The last time I saw Archie, his glasses were on his nose, where they belonged."
PC Plum pulled his handy-dandy notebook out of his pocket. "When did you see him? And where?"
"This morning, just before lunch. I was heading to St. Andrew's, to have lunch with Pastor McCallum." Spencer gestured to his wagon, which held three cans of paint, a collection of brushes, a pennywhistle, and a guitar. "Pastor McCallum and I practiced some hymns for Sunday after lunch. And I saw Archie just outside the church."
PC Plum scribbled the information in his handy-dandy notebook. "So this morning, just before lunch, Archie had his glasses when he was walking past St. Andrew's. Was he going east or west?"
Spencer rubbed his chin, considering. "East."
PC Plum jotted that down. "Thank you, Spencer. Tapadh leibh."
"Glad I was able to help." Spencer dipped his brush into the paint can and returned his attention to Mrs. Kirkpatrick's door.
PC Plum headed down to the wharf. Most of the fishing boats were out, so he couldn't ask the fishermen. The ferry that took people to and from the Scottish mainland was tied up at the dock. Fiona at the Fish & Chips stand had seen Archie, but she'd been busy with customers, and hadn't noticed whether or not he had his glasses. Then he saw Dhugal the Ferryman.
"Ciamar a tha sibh,(*7) PC Plum?" Dhugal greeted him. He held up a white cup. "I was just about to have a cuppa. Care to join me for a cup of tea and some scones?"
"Morag's scones? With her homemade blackberry jam?" PC Plum's mouth watered at the thought of Dhugal's wife's baking. "Well, I suppose I could stop and take a break." It had been a long while since lunch, and stopping for a snack sounded like a wonderful idea.
Dhugal led the constable into the ferry office. He found a second cup and poured some tea. He offered PC Plum a plate of home baked scones with blackberry jam. After the constable had sat down and helped himself to a scone, Dhugal asked, "What's the story in Balamory?"
PC Plum took a sip of tea before replying. "Archie the Inventor has lost his glasses. I'm trying to help him find them."
Dhugal the Ferryman nodded. "He was at the dock this afternoon. Lost in thought – probably working on another invention."
"Was he wearing his glasses then, did you notice?" asked PC Plum.
Dhugal thought a minute. "No, no he wasn't." He reached for another scone and smothered it with blackberry jam.
PC Plum set down his cup of tea and pulled out his handy-dandy notebook. "He had his glasses before lunch, but not in the afternoon. That's a clue, Dhugal, a very important clue."
PC Plum wandered into the Village Shop and Café, a red building on the town's High Street, not far from St. Andrew's Church. His pen had run out of ink, and he knew Suzie Sweet and Penny Pocket could sell him a new pen.
"Hello, PC Plum," said Penny. The dark-haired young woman rolled her wheelchair forward to greet him.
"Hello, Penny," replied PC Plum.
Penny's business partner, Suzie, came out of the storeroom in the back. "Did I hear a customer? Oh, hello, PC Plum."
"Hello, Suzie," he greeted the older woman.
Like her friend and partner, Suzie Sweet had dark hair, and was slightly overweight from sampling her own fare. However, she was in her forties, easily fifteen to twenty years older than the woman in the wheelchair. She asked, "Is there anything we can get for you today?"
PC Plum nodded. "I need a new pen."
"That's no problem," Penny Pocket said. "We have lots of pens: black ink, blue ink, red ink, even purple ink."
"And pencils, too," Suzie added, "and colored markers, and – "
"Just a plain black pen will be fine, thanks," said PC Plum.
"Just one pen, or shall I get you a pack?" asked Suzie Sweet.
PC Plum thought a moment. He only needed one right now, but he did use a lot of pens at the police station. "The pack might be better."
"By the by, could I impose on you for a favor?" asked Penny.
"If I can," PC Plum said.
"Archie left his glasses here. I don't suppose you could return them to him, could you?" Penny opened a drawer and pulled out the spectacles.
"You found Archie's glasses!" PC Plum gave a wide grin.
"He came here for lunch," Penny began.
"Shepherd's pie and apple juice," Suzie interrupted.
"But he left them behind, and we've been so busy today we've not had the opportunity to return them to him," Penny explained.
"I've been looking for these. I'll be happy to return them to him."
PC Plum hurried up the hill to the pink castle. (Actually, it was the only castle on the whole island.) He knocked on the door.
After a few minutes, Archie answered the door. The sound of bagpipe music wafted through the open door. "Hello?"
PC Plum reached out and took Archie's hand. He placed the glasses in the inventor's hand, and gently curled his fingers around them.
"My glasses!" The inventor hurriedly put them on. "Thank you."
PC Plum listened for a moment. "Is that 'Silent Night'? In spring?"
A sheepish expression on his face, Archie shrugged. "I meant to put on an album on Peruvian flute music, but without my glasses, I grabbed the wrong CD. Where did you find them, Plummus?"
"You left them at Penny and Suzie's shop."
Archie slapped his forehead. "Of course! I stopped there for lunch, and then took them off to scratch my ear when it itched. Then I had a notion on how to make my new invention work," he pointed to a pile of wheels and gears on the table behind him, "and wandered off to ponder the problem whilst I walked. Thank you, Plummus."
PC Plum smiled at the mock-Latin nickname and touched his fingers to his cap in salute. "Just doing my job."
And that's the story in Balamory.
Author's Note: My son came up with the idea for this story, when he was very much younger and Balamory was still on The Learning Channel. I wrote it down and fleshed it out a little. Balamory is a BBC Scotland show, the Celtic equivalent of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. For a Hebridean island, the population is amazingly multicultural. I learned the songs that Miss Hoolie sings from my daughter's Headstart teacher, and regret I can not properly credit the composers. The episodes we saw before TLC stopped broadcasting (to my co-author's great dismay) didn't use Gaelic, but since the show is set in the Hebrides, it ought to, so I added it. Many thanks to Rhoda MacDonald of the TV show Speaking Our Language (currently broadcast on BBC Alba), and Donnie Macdonald of the band Men of Worth, for teaching me (and thousands of others) a modicum of Gaelic. Since Random House UK, the publishing company that has the rights to do Balamory books will not accept unagented, unsolicited manuscripts, I have given up on selling this as a children's story and am posting it here.
Saoghal fada is soirbheas: Live long and prosper. SMM
1 Gle mhath, pronounced glava, is very good in Gaelic.
2 Tha, pronounced, ha, means is, are, or am in Gaelic. Gaelic does not have the words 'yes' and 'no,' so one says is/are in reply when one means yes, and cha neil, not so, when one means no.
3 Feasgar math, pronounced fesker ma, is good afternoon in Gaelic.
4 Tapadh leibh, pronounced, tap-uh lay, is Gaelic for thank you.
5 Ciamar a tha sibh fein, pronounced kimmer uh ha shiv fee-ain, is how are you yourself?
6 To quote Ernest Pratt in UPN's short-lived Legend, "It's not plagiarism, it's an homage." For the benefit of readers without young children, the allusion is to Nick, Jr.'s Blue's Clues.
7 Ciamar a tha sibh, pronounced kimmer a ha shiv, is how are you in Gaelic.