Aroon the Toon


from The Constitution 15th February 1913

Supplied by Charlie Reynolds, Ulster-Scots Researcher


Sur, Perhaps you would gie me space in your valuable paper tae ventilate a wheen o’ things A hae on mae min’. These times there ir plenty o’ things tae grumble aboot. Why, there’s the bad wather, there’s the influenza, or something lake it, there’s the tak’ aboot what we will suffer under Home Rule, there’s the tax under the Insurance Act, the mumblings o’ the petticoat troupe aboot women’s sufferage, an’ the pranks o’ yin and anither that wud nearly turn yer heid. A thocht this mornin’ if A didnae get speakin’ oot my min’ on yin or twa o’ these metters A wud burst, but as soon as A took up the pen all A had tae say vanished, and A wuz in a sort o’ a quandry.

A wish somebody wae mair brains than the common o’ folk wud gie me a few lessons on the Insurance Act. Naebody seems tae know much aboot it, and they say the man that framed it is always contradictin’ himsel’. Some o’ our local administrators o’ the Act seem to know as much aboot it as A dae, an’ that’s naethin’. Av coorse, there’s a whole lot o’ smert folk goin’ aboot who can talk a lot o’ blarney, an’ would fain fill your mouth wae an empty spoon, but A pity them that will be fooled in this way. This week A was told o’ an aul’ man who claimed the sick benefit, an’ afore he got his 6s he was oot 7s 6d gettin’ a line frae the doctor, a bottle o’ medicine &c. Anither instance concernin’ the injustice o’ this Act wuz forcibly brocht tae mae notice the ither day. Twa freens had been ill, and claimed the benifit. Yin got 10s for the week he wuz aff, and the ither, wha wuz earnin’ mair money tha him, was offered 7s 6d. He kicked up a shindy wae the local agent, wha said tae keep doon disturbance, A’ll gie ye the ten bob, but A’ll lakely hae tae pye this halfcroon oot o’ mae ain pocket! What dae ye think o’ that for an Act? Then there’s a lot o’ folk under the impresshun that if yer in the hoose four days ye get paid, but it hes been pointed oot tae me this week that ye get naething for the first four days at all. That if ye wur aff a week ye only get paid for the last twa days. A heard a gie heated argument on this point a few evenin’s ago amang a lot o’ the nuts, and some o’ them very near came tae blows aboot it. A doot there hes been a guid wheen o’ mistakes made since the Act saw the light o’ day. For maesel’, A gie the metter up for a bad job!

A suppose ye heard the talk aboot the blue motor? Some say it’s sea-green. It is wonderful how easily folk ir gulled in some things. The whole gossip is the prank o’ some mischievous body wha hes set the metter gaun, and A’m tellin’ you it is travellin’ as quick as the motor wud dae itsel’. In the country districts some o’ the lively boys are dressin’ at nights an’ getting the loan o’ tall hats, an’ gaun roon some o’ their neighbours dressed in what is known as claw-hammer coats, an’ tryin’ tae hae as foreign an appearance as they can. They inquire usually if there ir ony servant lasses in the district, and scare the wits oot o’ the poor folk — usually aul’ women — whom they interrogate. A’m informed o’ a certain place some o’ these boys visited, thinkin’ the man o’ the hoose was oot. He went tae the door, when he heard the rap, and av coorse they asked the usual questions. He asked them tae tak’ their time till he wud get his hat. Instead o’ that he seized a revolver, but when he got tae the door the foreigners wur makin’ towards the gate. He fired the revolver in the air, and the foreign men maun hae been very scared, for part o’ their claes in their hurry were left stickin’ on the gate, where they had caught. Noo, weemen dear, dinna believe such fool nonsense as folk bein’ spirited awa’ in a blue motor. It’s all a yarn. The country is in a bad enough state, but it’s no as bad as them that swallow this yarn aboot the blue motor wud mak’ us believe. Home Rule cudnae be much worse than what A hae been hearin’ aboot this metter, and, mind ye A dinna think that Home Rule wud be yin bit guid for ony o’ us.

This yarnin’ aboot bein’ spirited away makes me think aboot the necromatic arts that oor forefathers or should A say grandfathers aften times related as havin’ happened in the days lang ago. Some people ir very superstishus in metters o’ that sort, an’ some o’ them wud tell ye that they wurnae feared o’ onythin’, when efter hearin’ yin o’ these yarns they would tak’ fright o’ their ain shadow. It’s no the first that haes done that. Well, sur, if you will permit me, A’ll tell ye a story A heard from an’ aul’ man with whom A wuz acquainted. He said in his young days there lived near him a man wha had the black art. This man had a farm, an’ the man who was relatin’ the story says he wuz sent to him for the loan o’ a wheel barrow. When he arrived in the yard he saw the man he dreaded riddlin’ corn in a laft, an’ he delivered his message.

He told him to tak’ the barrow, but when he went to lift it, it fell in twa, an’ then the owner started swearin’ at him for breakin’ it. He then asked him to catch the riddle, and he held out his arms, but was all amazed the next moment to see it converted into a fiddle with a bow, and he himsel’ playin’ a lively tune. Takin’ fear, he raced frae the yard, an’ when half-way hame he was surprised tae hear the barrow comin’ after him itsel’. He never stapped till he got tae his father’s door. He then ventured to look aroon, an’ there stood the barrow which had broken in two in his hands, wae absolutely naethin’ the metter wae it. If all this is true it is nae wunner his hair turned grey before he wuz very old. But, sur, A hope yer no gettin’ feared o’ the wee folk already. If ye hae tae travel at nicht maybe it wud be better for me tae say nae mair in the meantime, but wish ye all sorts o’ guid luck if ever ye should meet ony o’ them.




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