Scottish Traditional Tales

Scottish Traditional Tales

Scottish Traditional Tales

Scottish Traditional Tales

Excerpt

All over the world traditional tales used to be told at the fireside, or whatever marked the centre of a family's life, until their place came to be taken in developed societies by books, newspapers, the radio and most recently television. They are still told in pubs and clubs, lounges and waiting-rooms, on trains or boats or anywhere that people meet, though most of us may not think of jokes, shaggy-dog stories, tall tales, contemporary legends or ghost stories as 'folktales', certainly not as anything like 'fairy-tales'. All the same, they are, and they can be just as old. For instance, ten or twelve years ago, Bob, one of the servitors who kept the door at the School of Scottish Studies — the research and teaching department of the University of Edinburgh where Donald A. MacDonald and I work and whose archives are the source of all the stories in this book — told me a story he had heard from a comedian in an Edinburgh club. It was about two Irish twins called Pat and Mike who had been put in different classes at the same school. Pat was just a bit too clever, and his teacher decided to take him down a peg. He set him three questions to answer: 'How deep is the sea?' 'How heavy is the moon?' and 'What am I dunking?' If he couldn't bring him the right answers after school next Monday, he wouldn't be allowed on the class excursion.

Next Monday the boy turned up, and the teacher asked him: 'How far is it to the bottom of the sea?'

'A stone's throw.'

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