Today I borrowed a stack of books from my dear friend, Willie. In fact some of them weren’t really books at all, more like booklets written by local people and produced in small runs for other local people. But within them I found this wonderful piece of writing which made me at first laugh, and then shed a mournful tear. I think it is utter genius, and another example of the diverse writing which Upper Nithsdale folk have produced over the years. But sadly, I think the character of ‘Wull’ is probably right.
PROGRESS by Davie Graham
Weel Wull, ye’ll be getin ready tae celebrate the millennium then?
The Millennium, I don’t see oucht tae celebrate, a lot o palaver aboot noucht.
Och, come on Wull, they’re celebratin the stert o anither thoosan year.
No they’re no.
Whit dae ye mean “No they’re no?”
Well it’s no the stert o anither thoosan year till next year, wa thoosan an yin. So if that’s whit they’re celebratin, they’re a year ower sine. An I’ll tell ye anither thing, that dome that they’re buildin is a complete waste o money, an even if it isnae, they’re buildin it in the wrang place.
Whit dae ye mean, “They’re buildin it in the wrang place?”
Weel they should be buildin it in Carlisle.
Ah, come aff it Wull. Why wid they build it in Carlisle?
Because Carlisle is richt in the centre o the country, as near as dam it. An if they build it there, it wid gie everybody the same chance tae visit it, especially us fowk up here in Dumfriesshire.
Ah weel, I’ll concede ye micht have a point there. But are ye no even a wee bit excited aboot the next thousand years, Wull? I mean, when ye look back at hoo things hiv chynged since the last Millennium. My the mind boggles at whit micht jist happen. Oor organic fules are gan tae run oot an we’ll hiv tae rely on the sun, the wind an the waves tae supply us wae aw oor heat and oor energy. We hiv Europe unitin the noo. Maybe durin the next millennium we’ll see the hale world unitin just as oor ain national bard predicted. “Man tae man, the hale world o’er, shall brithers be for aw that”. An see the advances in science since the last Millennium. Wha kens whit ither miracles oor scientists will come up wi’ in the next thoosan years.
Och, yer talkin a lot o nonsense man. We hiv advanced nane. Twa thoosan year ago, the hale world, weel aw the world that wis discovered at that time, wis united under ‘The Holy Roman Empire’. An twa thoosan year ago, we were aw heatin oorsels frae the sun. There were nae coal, gas or electric fires then an aw oor energy came frae natural sources. Muscle pooer, or in some cases, the mair priveleged fowk, horse pooer. That wis aw the energy that wis aboot then, an if mair fowk yased muscle pooer noo, there widnae be as mony young fellahs gaun aboot wae big fat bellies. As for yer scientists, whit guid hiv they din us? Nearly pushioned us wae B.S.E an pittin things intae oor grub an oor water. No only that, they’ve din their best tae pushion the atmosphere roon aboot us as weel. Aye an just tae feenish aff, the nearest date I can mind tae the start of the Millennium is ten sixty six, ‘The Battle O Hastins’. We were fightin amang oorsels then and I’ll bet ye a pound tae a penny that we’ll still be fightin amang oorsels at the end o this next Millennium. As I say, we hiv advanced nane. In fact I think we’re gaun backwards mun.