This is a short passage from the book I'm reading.
Context: A young boy has gone over to his friend's farm to play with her, but he hasn't told his parents because they had forbidden him to go. His friend's mother unknowingly phones his parents to ask if he can stay for lunch.

Her mum said 'You didn't tell us that your folks had forbidden you to come to the farm on your own, Fin.'
Aw, hell, I thought, the ba's in the slates
'Your father's on his way over now to pick you up.'

I don't think I have the whole picture here. What is the ba? I'm guessing slate could refer to a writing tablet. So maybe it's a way of saying "What is done is done."
I think I should mention that the story is set in Scotland, in case this is a regional expression.

Can you please help me?
Thank you


EDIT: I have found the ba' in the dictionary.Emotion: embarrassed A game played in Scotland.
So I'm guessing the meaning is something like "the game has been announced". Figuratively, the game, the secret, has been given away.
I found another informal dictionary of Scottishisms

The expression the ball's on the slates, is a Scottish way of saying, the game's up, we're finished. It derives from children's street games ending abruptly when the ball is kicked accidentally onto the roof.

All the roofs in Scotland are made of slate, since the material is locally plentiful.
Ba' is simply a written representation of the way the word 'ball' is pronounced in some Scottish dialects.
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Thank you AS.

Do you find the difference in spelling and grammar not particulary significant – a writer's or a character's quirk – or could they be two slightly different expressions?
1) The ba's in the slates
2) The ball's on the slates

 fivejedjon's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Henry74Do you find the difference in spelling and grammar not particulary significant
In such localisms, dialectical variation is par for the course.
OK. Thank you all.


The phrase means an element of uncertainty has been introduced, as the bal in a game has landed on the roof and it is unsure which part of the roof it will roll down from

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It means quite literally - the ball ( football normally ) is on the slates ( ie roof) so the game cannot continue . It means whatever this is referring to is over . It cannot go on . In other words - the games a bogey !!!! .

I did not realise scottishisms was a thing. All these phrases make perfect sense to me being a glaswegian. I think scottishism should be changed to glaswegian local dialect within scotland and with the uk, as is within england each local dialect.

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