21st July

Jack and the Bluebottle

The bluebottle had been racing round the room for twenty minutes, driving Jack daft with its frantic buzzing. Now at last it had settled on a shelf. It was about a foot away from where he stood, hand raised ready to strike. This was the moment he’d been waiting for. He was about to smack the beast into oblivion when he had a sudden attack of guilt.

‘This bluebottle is only gaun aboot its ain business,’ he said to himself. ‘It canna help being a bluebottle, and the reason it’s drivin me daft is because it’s a bluebottle. I shouldna kill it just for being itsel. How would I feel if I was a bluebottle?’

He lowered his hand. The bluebottle sensed the movement and recommenced its mad flying about. Jack already had the window wide open but the bluebottle seemed not to like the open air and refused to depart. To get some peace, Jack himself had to step outside.

It was late in the afternoon and the garden was full of midges. They began to bite and he slapped and swiped at them to make them stop. But then he had that same guilty feeling.

‘They’re only midges and they canna help themsels,’ he said. ‘What right hae I tae kill midges just because they’re daein whit midges dae?’ So he went back into the house, to the kitchen this time, where his mother was busy making jam.

‘Och, Jack,’ his mother says, handing him a rolled-up newspaper, ‘there’s a wasp in here trying tae get at ma new jam. Will ye watch till it lands on the table and then kill it for me?’

‘Och, Mither,’ says Jack, ‘think whit ye are askin. The wasp is only a wasp and it canna help itsel for that. What right hae I tae kill it for wantin tae eat yer jam?’

Jack’s mother comes across and gives him an almighty skelp on the head. ‘That’s what ye get for being Jack, Jack,’ she says. ‘I ken ye canna help yersel, and I canna help being yer mither, but life’s unfair like that. If ye want ony jam on yer breid, kill the bloody wasp.’

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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