Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Butterflies, speaking Scots and the pouch of doom

Things I've learned from my children today.

Butterflies taste with their feet. Boy Two sneaked into bed with me at stupid o'clock this morning.
"Mum I'm going to tell you something you don't already know."
I quite often ask the boys to tell me something I don't know in an attempt to get them talking. Lord knows why. For a while we did Good News Bad News, where they had to tell me a piece of each at bedtime, but they've stopped playing, each using it as a chance to moan about the other.
"Mmmm."
"Butterflies taste with their feet. And now I'm going to tell you some jokes."
And with that he slammed the light on and started reading from his depressingly fat joke book. I suppose there are worse ways to start the day.

I am uncertain about the teaching of the Scots in schools. Boys One and Two came home last week with poems to learn. Now the poems were in the Scots dialect and included the rather splendid Jeelie Piece Song. Both Boys had a good go at reciting theirs, in Scots. Now neither of my boys has a particularly marked accent, or at least I don't think so. The Panther has a soft Yorkshire burr and I don't think I speak with anything other than a hint of slightly posh and Northern.
So I sat and listened to the Boys proudly knowing - if not quite understanding - the words of their poems. But it just felt too peculiar. It wasn't them - their voice. Especially Boy Two who, arguably, sounds the most Scots of all of us. The words gummed up his mouth like a particularly truculent toffee. I can't really get to what I think about this. On the one hand it's important for the Boys to know about the country they are growing up in and about the sometimes lyrical nature of its dialects. On the other hand, why did hearing my Boys using those words make me feel quite so peculiar?

Beware the pouch of doom. Pelican bibs - remember them? They're great. They catch all the bits that baby-led-weaning tots cast aside. They keep the clothes dry and even let them have a second go at some of the more tasty morsels. And now they aren't even that rigid scratchy construction. But how truly horrible is the moment you plunge your fingers into the pouch filled with now cold, half-gummed, slimy stuff. Yuk.

Here's the poem:
THE JEELIE PIECE SONG (SKYSCRAPER WEAN)
(Adam MacNaughton)

But I'm no gaun oot to play ony mair,
I'm a skyscraper wean, I live on the nineteenth flair,
Since we moved to Castlemilk, I'm wasting away,
'Cause I'm getting one less meal every day.

O ye cannae fling pieces oot a twenty-story flat,
Seven-hundred hungry weans will testify to that,
If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,
The odds against it reaching earth and ninety-nine to one.
On the first day my maw flung out a piece o' Hovis brown.

It came skyting oot the winda and went up insteid o' doon,
But every twenty-seven hours it comes back into sight,

'Cause my piece went into orbit and became a satellite.
One the second day my maw flung me a piece oot once again.
It went and hit the pilot in a fast, low-flying plane.
He scraped it off his goggles, shouting through the intercom:
'The Clydeside Reds have got me wi' a breid-and-jeely bomb!'

The Salvation Army band was staunin' doon below.
One the third day my maw thought she would try another throw.
But the oompah-man was playing a piece-on-marmalade.
'ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS' was the piece they should have played,

We're going to march to George's Square, demanding civil rights,
And a' the weans in Castlemilk have formed a ''Piece'' brigade;
We've wrote away tae Oxfam to try and get some aid,
Like 'Nae Mair Hooses Over Piece-Flinging Height!'

6 comments:

  1. There is only one cure for the Big Joke Book: Heckling ;)

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  2. It's a great poem, I can almost say the words in the Scottish dialect. Living near the Borders I hear a lovely accent all the time. My husband uses lovely Scottish slang occasionally.

    CJ xx

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  3. thats a lovely poem. I used to date a Scott and the one word that i could never get my head around was piece. confused the heck out of me.

    'Would you like a piece?'

    'A piece of what?'

    Arrgghh! sorry brought back old piece rage there.

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  4. Oh I must show this to my husband, Dougie, he would love it. Interesting how some of the words are familiar to me as a Geordie: we say "skiting" too.

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  5. You and the boys will have to keep practising your Scottish accents - and the only way is to keep saying it out loud! Your Grandfather would be very proud of you!!
    Mxx

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  6. Jo, tried that but I just get a serious lecture about not butting in.

    CJ, It's good isn't it? Boy One recited the whole thing to me today - accent perfect.

    Heather, Yes, that and messages as in "I'm just off out to get my messages".

    Trish, I think there's a lot of crossover of northern English and Scots dialects. I supose we're all a mongrel race in the end.

    M, I suppose he would. Thanks x

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