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Widney’s Fuil

Fa’s fuil ar you?

Out o an aafu wee village, cam an aafu big chairacter. At first glance, Langside is juist a kintra village aside Peterheid, wi nae much gaun on. Wi a population o less than a thoosand, fowk can even sometimes forget that the placie exists. But, ‘at disna mean that great things, an fowk, hinna cam fae there, an nae lang ago ah wis lat in on the story o a great Langsider — the story o Widney’s fuil.

Sae, come on than, “fa wis he?”, ye ask. Weel, some puir bugger wis wunnerin the same thing fan he says tae Jamie Fleeman, “Ar you the Laird of Udny’s Fule?”, tae whilk the Doric spikkin loun shairply replied, wi his best kent wirds: “Aye, an fa’s feel ar you?”

Born in Langside in 1713, Fleeman went on tae be ane o the very last o the faimily jesters in Scotland, whilk in itsel maks him staund oot. Fit really made Widney’s fuil spécial, tho, wis the fact that he wisna really a fuil at aa. Aye, he wis a chiel wi a sense o humour, fa enjoyed naething better than kickin aboot the kintra. He even conformed tae the stereotypical glaiket-leukin appearance o fuils. Houiver, aa o the anecdotes o his life suggest that he wis faur fae stupit. In fact, Fleeman wis sic a significant chairacter in Scots history that he’s haen a beuk — The Life and Death of Jamie Fleeman — written aboot his life, an wis even mentiont in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories.

Ane o the maist important roles Jamie Fleeman played wisna the Joker, but raither something mair crucial tae the history o Scotland. Fan the Countess o Erroll raised an airmy in support o Bonnie Prince Chairlie an the Jacobite Uprising o 1745, Fleeman assistit her by rinnin errands an deliverin saicret messages. He also saved the lifes o his Laird, an aabody in Knockha’ Castle (aside Neebra), fan he alertit them o a fire whilk burnt the castle tae the grund, by throwin the Laird’s kirst oot the windae.

There’s hunners o anecdotes aboot Widney’s fuil, that tell o his cliver banter. Ae time Fleeman really shaad fou socially awaur he wis, fan a weel-tae-dae loun askit him, “Hullo Jamie, where ar you going today?”, tae whilk he juist said “Ah’m gaun tae hell.” A wee fyle later he met the same fowk again, an this time they askit, “Well Jamie, and what were they doing in hell?”. The witty loun kent fit he wis daein fan he said back tae them, “Ye ken, jeest the same’s they’r daein here: lettin in the rich an keepin oot the peer.”

Sae nou that ah’v telt ye fa he wis, ye’r probably wunnerin, ither than historical interest, “Fit wye should ah care?” The thing is, ah’v bade within fower mile o Langside for aamaist the hale twinty-ane year ah’v been on this earth, an the existence o sic a local legend still wisna brocht tae ma attention until a conversation ah haed aboot a month ago. Nae ance durin ma seiven year o education at Langside Primary Scuil, whilk fan ah attendit the ‘aal sculie’ wis less than twa hunner yaird fae the very spot Fleeman is buirit, wis the chiel’s name even mentiont. Nou, ‘at means that there’s a hale generation o bairns, an young adults, fa hiv nae clue aboot a sae-caad ‘weel kent’ historical figure, fae the very village far they themsels war brocht up.

Nouadays, young fowk in partícular ar relyin mair an mair on stars fae across the watter tae provide them wi role models. Ah’m nae sayin that bairns ar iver gaun tae gie up worshippin the Kardashians in order tae get mair acquentit wi local fowk fae the past. Nivertheless, naebody can be inspired by a local hero they dinna ken aboot. O coorse, mair focus on local cultur an history in scuils is the wey tae gang, but that mebbe isna happenin because even the younger teachers themsels dinna ken eneuch aboot it. Until it daes happen, it canna dae ony hairm tae spreid ony tales ye ken aboot yer local area by wird o mou, nae maiter far ye come fae. Ye dinna ken ony? Dinna fash yersel! Gang an find somebody fa will hae stories tae tell, ask yer Granny or yer pal’s Mam. Heid doun tae yer local library. If aa else fails, juist gang for a walk an tak in yer surroondins, read fit it says on that moniment ye’v walkit past a thoosand times in yer life. Ye get the idea. Juist dae onything ye can tae educate yersel, sae ye can help ithers unnerstaund far ye cam fae an the fowk fa hiv, ower the years, made yer local area even mair spécial.

Ah, for one, will be takkin a turnie doun tae Langside kirkyaird, tae see for masel the place far Widney’s fuil wis buirit, an his stane that wis erectit in 1861, whilk reads his poignant last wirdies: “dinna bury me like a beast.” Ah’m also gaun tae be a lot mair conscious aboot the history o ma local area, an sae should you, because if we dinna ken far we cam fae, fa’s fuils ar we?

Antonia UriAntonia Uri is a twinty-ane year auld Doric-spikkin student o Modren Furrin Leids at the University o Aiberdeen. She is currently the Alba Editor at The Gaudie, an a scriever for The National. Claik awa wi her on Twitter @teuchtertoni.


(Ye can translate ony wird atween Scots an English at the Online Scots Dictionar.)

Scots English
buirit (pronounced ‘beerit’, ‘birit’, ‘boorit’ or ‘börit’) buried
fa who
fan when
far where
fit what
fuil (‘feel’, ‘fil’, ‘föl’ or ‘fül’), fule fool
fyle while
glaiket silly, stupid
kintra (‘kintra(e)’ or ‘kwintra(e)’) country
kirst chest
Knockha’ Knockhill
loun (‘loon’) man
Neebra Newburgh
puir (‘pair’, ‘peer’, ‘pör’ or ‘pür’) poor
stane (‘stain’ or ‘steen’) stone
Widney Udny