The Merry Muses of Caledonia by Robert Burns
This particular book was part of my inheritance from my father. He liked things Scottish, and, I suspect, he liked things bawdy. That may come as a surprise to those who knew him all quiet and polite; it came as a surprise to Dan and I when we found the "novel" Deep Throat
in the filing cabinet when we were sent to retrieve some paperwork.
In any case, I found this collection a bit disappointing. At the outset, one of the editors seemed to go on at length how certain words, such as See-You-Next-Tuesday, were replaced, in prior editions, with dashes, leaving all the good (or bad) bits up to your imagination. My impression was that this version was going to say the unsayable and print the unprintable - and maybe it was incorrect, I didn't re-read the forewards and introductions and scholarly notes to verify. I don't believe I'm wrong though, as the foreward itself had a selection of said unsayables printed quite clearly in uncensored black and white.
So imagine my surprise when I had to figure out what one word rhymed with "saunt", "complaint", "ayont", "upon't", "runt", "brunt", "covenant", and "affront" - and the only clue were all these long dashes that disrupted the text.
Anyway, and now for something completely different:
A newly qualified doctor arrives for his first day at a hospital, deep in the Welsh valleys. He is met by one of the sisters, who has been given the task of showing him around the hospital and introducing him to the staff and patients.
It is a large hospital and it takes the whole day to get round. By late afternoon they are working their way through the psychiatric block and as the time approaches for the evening meal they arrive at the last ward. They follow the dinner trolley into the ward and wait while one of the nurses lifts the lid on the food tray. To the doctor's surprise there is but a single haggis on the tray to feed a whole ward.
One of the patients moves towards the trolley in a purposeful manner addressing the haggis,
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.
Before he can reach the haggis another patient sprints forward, grabs the simple repast and dashes up the ward. He proudly holds the haggis aloft and cries out in a commanding voice,
Some hae meat and cannae eat.
Some cannae eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
At this, a kilted dervish leaps from his bed, whips a skien dubh out of his sock and lunges at the haggis carrier. With a deft movement the haggis bearer fend off the flashing blade with the haggis. Although this prevents any injury it does result in the top of the haggis being hacked off. A small mouse obviously waiting upon this event dashes out from under a bed, grabs the loose piece of haggis and scampers up the ward, running the gauntlet of slashing claymores and hurled dirks from various patients. At the end of the ward stands a bent and wizened old man with a wild fire in his eyes. He screams at the mouse,
Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
Wi murdering pattle!
And then dives upon the poor little mouse. With a left dummy and a right feint, the mouse dodges between the old man's legs, through a hole in the skirting board and to safety with his prize. The doctor turns to the sister and asks, "Why is this psychiatric ward so full of Scotsmen?"
"Oh no, doctor, these are not Scotsmen, they are genuine valley dwellers born and bred", she replies, "and, anywa, this is not a psychiatric ward, it is the serious Burns unit."
(This version found on Electric Scotland
- it's closest to they way I first heard it...)