From “LOWRIE” by Joseph Gray, being a humorous account in the dialect of incidents in the life of a Shetland crofter. First published in 1933. This story is a look into the future, written at a time when 1936 represented the future.
Scene: A Shetland Cottage, 1936
Lowrie's son Gibbie is a sailing man and is shown here as speaking sailors' English.
Lass, I hear some een's fit apo da concrate waak. Doo micht see wha it is. Heth, it's maybe Gibbie, toe I needna be lippenin him yit, aless he's ten it in his head ta come wi da aerial mail. Wi yon dey wir a collieshang i da trance, an whin I leuks, here's Gibbie, wi Kirsie hingin in till him.
"Boy," says I, "A'm gled ta see dee. Whit wye is doo, an hoo cam doo sae shune?"
"Wall, dad, when we comes to Aberdeen the Conder II, with mails and passengers was about leaving. Says I, its only a quid or two extra and I want to get slick home. So here am I, four hours from Aberdeen. But I say, dad, you've made some dandy improvements round here. I scarcely know the old place."
"Yea, boy, its a hantle better is hit wis. Bit we hae ta tank da Eddication Athority fur a lok o hit. Set dee wis in, an tak a mooth o tay fill I tell dee aa aboot it. Doo ken hits a lok o years noo frae da Govirment wraet da Athority it dey coodna affoard ta keep da hen wife an da man body it dey hed at dat time gyaan aboot da kjuntry, aless da Athority gae dem £400 a year, so dey . . ."
"I say, not to interrupt you, dad, what the Dickens have you got up here where the old muzzle-loader used to hang? A bookpress?"
"Yea, yons twartree buiks it Janey hed ta git fur da zeminations, bit we read awa apo dem toe." Wi yon he raise ta scrime ower dem.
"My word, they are good. Why, here's Darwin's 'Origin of Species', 'Atmospheric Nitrogen as a Fertiliser', 'Insects and their uses', 'Egg production' by Davis, 'A Treatise on Finger an Toe' by Mill, 'Rabbit Breeding for Flesh and Fur' by Herr Dee Yunsen, 'Basic Slag versus Seaweed' by Von Tay Jeigh. Why, you have got quite a library here."
"Weel, man, da sorra idder thing Kirsie an me haes ta duu bit sit an read, fur da bairns juist wirks da croft noo wi kemikals an lectric poo'er an da help o da Agricultural Booard."
"Well, I'm blessed!"
"Yea, so doo may say. We're aa been blissed iver sin da Athority accepted da Boord's offer ta taech da bairns da richt wye o doein things an paid dem yon £400. Noo aa da bairns its gyaan ta wirk apo da laand gits tree days agricultural eddicashion i da week, while da tidder eens gits twa oors. So dey dunna juist growe up numskulls aboot eart wark."
"But, I say, dad, whatever is that darned contrapshon on the shoulder of the hill?"
"Whit means doo boy? Yon thing wi da lum stikkin up frae it?"
"Man, yons da neetrogen factory whaar dey extrack da neetrogen frae da air. Doo kens we buy nae manure, slag, or onything noo, its aa made yonder. Da Boord pat een o yon factories fir ivery perishon." Wi yon I sees Gibbie scoitin trow da butt windoo is he heard da snore o da nort districk aeroplane.
"Whatever is that fellow dodging round here for? He must be out of his course."
"Na, no he, boy, he's been nort trow saain Joannie o Gord's bere. We saa naethin noo bi haand. It juist taks him aboot ten meenits ta saa aa wir rigs, baith aits an bere. It coms doon laek a hail shoo'er. Bit mind dee elbick, boy, doo's nearly strukken da wireless. Yons a boannie set it da Boord gae is a first prize ta Janey fir a essy on Mooratoogs. Does doo ken it fower or five years ago I toucht dis wireless wis juist da de'il's invenshun, bit noo I widna be athoot it. We hear aa da news, an we nedder oese paets or parafeen. Sees doo yon klok thing abune it? A switch I tink dey caa it. Da bairns kens aa aboot it. Onywye, whin dey pit da haand ta da figger 8 it lichts up da hale hoose, an besides dis, tree lichts i da byre, een abune Sholma an twa abune da young baess. Dan figger 4 haets da wireless stove ta mak wir aer o maet. Dir a man comin frae Lerrick da moarn ta pit in a haeter i da been end tu. It's aa dune wi wireless noo. Bit com dee wis furt. Doo's no seen da fool hoose. Hit's aa lichted up tu, so it da hens lays nicht an day noo. Dan dis peerie room ben aff wi da gless peens is whaar da hen wife bides whin ony o dem is ill an shu haes ta watch dem aa nicht. Shu wis tellin me it dey wir layin 400 per cent better is whin we hed dem apo da baak i da byre afore doo guid awa. I kenno, bit dir a lok mair eggs onywye."
As we cam oot o da fool-hoose I hears Gibbie sayin, "Who has been fool enough to cultivate that part of the hill where we used to gather duff?"
"Means doo yon bit up i da hill gaet?"
"Man, yon's da Boord's plot. Doo minds afore dis dey oesed ta try a bit ivery year edder fir taaties or neeps, an dey schoised da best bit o grund dey cood fin, bit dat's aa shanged noo. Dey tak ony bit o barren truck oot-a-daeks juist to shaa wis whit can be don. Da man frae da Boord coms wi his lectric ploo an shules it aa flat, da aeroplane drooks it wi kemikals, an athin twartree days its nae langer moer bit guid black aert, so its juist saain alang wi da rest an a pritty crop comes in nae time. Sees doo yon windmill apo Flangafield. Yon maks aa da treecity we need fir da crofts frae here an wast. I ashure dee da Boord is wroucht nae want o impruvements. I kenno hoo da £400 hadds oot.
Bit its dennertime. I hear Kirsie tootin apo da lectric hoarn. Com dee wis in an A'll shaa dee peerie Janey's meenagaree, is I caa it. Sees doo aa da bottles?"
"Aye, I guess it looks like a wholesale order."
"Na, no hit, dir aa foo o craeters, edder livin or dead. Dis een it da end o da skelf is foo a fleein mochs it Janey fertilises da kale seed wi, da neist een is hundy kloks an storeys an aa da truck it aets da neeps, Shu tells me it dey hae ta study dir life histry. Heth, I oesewally end dir life histry wi da back o me spade whin I come across dem."
"Now, look here, dad," says Gibbie, "with what I see crofting is simply a picnic, and I guess it won't be a life on the ocean wave for yours truly this year."
"Weel, weel, my joy, bide doo wi my blissin."