Sunday 30 July 2023

A fairytale that has nothing to do with Scotland. Part 17

 Part 16

Once upon a time there was an old courtier and after a lifetime fighting for the ecosystem he was known as Sir Ecosystem. He had also been the first to win a minor skirmish for the sake of Ecosystem it had taken place near the site of a much older battle that also reminds us of Old Mortality, Nelson’s mistress and a founding father of the USA who died in a duel. For winning this skirmish Sir Ecosystem was known as Wonnie.

When it became time to have a eulogy for Sir Ecosystem there was only one choice. This man had not merely won a skirmish he had very nearly won the war. Former King Alan stood up and he told a story not merely about Wonnie, he told a tale about former Queen Nancy and former King Paul who were skulking at the back not quite sure if they were welcome or not.

For film enthusiasts it was like the scene in How green was my valley in the church.

Your sins have found you out, and now you must pay the price of all women like you.

Alan said looking directly at Nancy, but Nancy did not come forward.

Prayer is wasted on your sort. You shall be cast forth into the outer darkness till you have learned your lesson. Nancy, do you admit your sin?

But still Nancy didn’t admit any of her sins. She just looked at King Hārūn ibn ʿImrān as if he could save her from Alan’s wrath and the fact that everyone in the church knew precisely what her sins were, both the older sins and the newer sins.

I did my best said Hārūn ibn ʿImrān. I tried to make it a crime to say anything nasty about you. I tried to have trials where there would be only one person deciding the verdict and that person would be specially trained to give the verdict that was wanted.

Too late, said Nancy. We had him hook line and sinker, but he got off the hook and now it has opened a whole can of worms.

It was indeed a fishy business. But you see when a tree has its roots in sin it will form branches that are equally in sin because it has grown out of original sin.

A bow a branch an unformed twig of a bow a branch a twig. And of all the forgotten passwords.

It wasn’t the forming of the branch that was at the root of Alan’s denunciation. It went further both forward from the original sin and backwards too.

'I'll gie you a pennyworth o' preens,
That's aye the way that love begins;
If ye'll walk with me, leddy, leddy,


It was perhaps such a tempting offer almost as tempting as pulling the fruit from the branch formed from the tree of knowledge.

But it was precisely knowledge that Nancy was trying to prevent even as everyone in the church knew how Nancy had herself denounced King Alan in order to banish him into outer darkness and bar linen trousers from his wardrobe forever more.

Everyone in the church knew how Nancy had taken her fiery cross and gathered the clans to tell of all that Alan had done. But the light from the fiery cross was not allowed to fall on the faces of any of the clans and the names of each clan were as proscribed as that which had been “altogidder abolished” in 1603.

But those in the church knew the names and knew where they had really been when they were supposed to be somewhere else. Knowing the names was key to seeing the frame rather than only the picture. The congregation and the family’s being able to see the frame was the reason why former King Alan was standing up in front of all of them.

"I'll buy you a braw snuff box
Nine times opened, nine times locked
If ye'll gang alang wi' me m'dear, if ye'll gang alang wi' me?"


Once you go down the road of dishonesty, there is no obvious place where you stop. This is why sometimes a mother would take her child back to the Woolworths to apologise for it having stolen one of the sweeties. But what Nancy had tried to do was rather worse than steeling sweeties. To bar linen was a cruel and unusual punishment for merely being an opponent who had to be got rid of.

But Nancy got away with it. Everyone in the church knew what she had done to King Alan, but no one said a word. You see despite being tempted by preens [pins], despite being tempted by braw snuff boxes, women could never lie. It was a myth to suppose they gave into temptation or ever told an untruth. It was not Eve. It must have been Adam.

"You can hae your silken goon
Wi' nine stripes up and nine stripes doon
For I'll never gang wi' you m'dear, I'll never gang wi' you."


But everyone in the church knew that Nancy lied. She lied each year that next year there would be a Pole, but after a year it always turned out that there was no Pole and instead a Hungarian. But everyone in the church lied about this too and lied about Nancy’s honesty and virtue while knowing what she had tried to do and knowing also what she had gone on to do.

Having gotten away with the picture framing business without the pictures, Nancy wondered what else she could get away with.

"I'll gie you a kist o' gold
Tae comfort you when you are old
If ye'll gang alang wi' me m'dear, if ye'll gang alang wi' me?"


If there was to be no Pole, then it was necessary to think of another future. The key to future prosperity is to obtain things that keep their value. Stocks and shares go up and down, property prices rise and fall, but gold is perhaps the best hedge against inflation. There is also nothing on a lump of gold to tell you who bought it. There is nothing to stop it being moved somewhere else.

"These are fine words you say
So mount up lad you've won the day
I'll gang alang wi' you m'dear, I'll gang alang wi' you."


Once you begin to lie, once you begin your dishonesty, then why not go with the laddie for a kist o’gold? This is the connection between the branch forming into a twig and the root of the sin which was the picture framing business with out the picture that used the impossibility of the clans lying and it being forbidden to tell who they were to prevent everyone except those in the church from knowing what Nancy did when she was constructing picture frames.

It was the fact that we were not allowed to talk about what Alan did or did not do, that enabled Nancy to continue on the path of dishonesty and everyone in the church was complicit in this, because they preferred the chance of a Pole arriving rather than a Hungarian than telling the truth.

But this changed when it became clear that there would never be a Pole, because the highest court of all had forbidden Poles from migrating. Only then did the church turn on Nancy.

They'd scarcely gone a mile
Before she spied his cloven heel
"I rue I come wi' you" she says, "I rue I come wi' you."


"I'll grip ye hard and fast,
Gold won your virgin heart at last
And I'll no part wi' you m'dear, I'll never part wi' you."


She may rue it indeed that she got on a horse with the devil, but it is an open secret that everyone in the church knows and though this congregation has been very good at keeping secrets it now no longer wants to.

When Nancy tried to destroy Alan, we were left guessing about who did what and when and who knew it and when. Nobody could tell the truth because that would mean admitting that a myth was not a myth. But now the tree of sin that has its root in this, is festering as it forms new branches, twigs and leaves and we likewise are not allowed to tell about it. We have only fairytales.

And as they were galloping along
The cold wind carried her mournful song
"I rue I come wi' you" she says, "I rue I come wi' you."


Rue away Nancy. It’s too late. Too many know. The eulogy was for Wonnie, but for you it will be for Lossie. Your lost jewels, your lost gold, your lost liberty, your lost Ecosystem. 

Part 18