31st March

The Eejit

Jack was fed up with everybody thinking him foolish, so he went to the village schoolhouse and said to the dominie,* ‘Will ye gie me an education so I’m no an eejit ony mair?’

The dominie looks Jack up and down. ‘Even I cannot do that, boy,’ he says, ‘but come in and sit at the back of the class and see what you’re missing.’ So Jack goes in and the lesson continues.

The dominie is chanting numbers and the bairns are chanting them back. What a daft cairry-on, thinks Jack. There’s a big craw sitting on a branch by the window. ‘Caw, caw, caw!’ says the craw. ‘Caw, caw, caw!’ says Jack. And soon they’re newsing away fine till the dominie bangs his desk lid and tells Jack he’s an eejit for not paying attention. (Actually he says ‘idiot’ but Jack kens what he means.)

‘I wis peyin attention,’ says Jack. ‘I wis peyin attention tae the craw.’

Then the dominie has the bairns open their books and read aloud, going round the class. Jack has never heard a more boring story in his life. He dozes off. The next thing, the dominie is banging his desk and telling him he’s an eejit for not staying awake. Then the dominie starts asking the bairns questions about the story, and if the answer’s right nothing happens, but if the answer’s wrong the dominie calls the bairn out and belts his hand with a leather strap. Then the dominie asks Jack a question. He hasn’t a clue what to say because the story was that boring, so he decides to say nothing.

‘Are you deaf, boy?’ the dominie yells.

‘Naw, I’m no deif,’ Jack says, ‘and that’s the right answer so ye’d better no belt me for it.’

‘That’s impertinence, boy. Come out here and take your punishment like the rest.’

‘I’ll come oot,’ says Jack, ‘but I’m warnin ye, if ye hit me wi yon thing I’ll hit ye back.’

‘I’ll not have that kind of talk in my school,’ says the dominie. ‘There’s the door.’

‘I’m on ma wey,’ says Jack. ‘Ma name’s Jack, and if that’s an education, I’d rather be an eejit.’

* schoolmaster (Scots)

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harp: Esther Swift
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