Letters / Simple honesty

Many years ago, I was told the true story of a cantankerous old woman who once lived in Fetlar around the early part of the 19th century. She was notorious for her sharp tongue, and never seemed to have anything good to say of anyone, invariably causing trouble for all who came into contact with her.


One winter’s day, in the midst of a prolonged storm, she died. The local minister was visiting in Yell and unable to return to Fetlar due to the gale-force winds and high seas. After a day or so, the kirk elders gathered together and decided they would have to give the old woman a funeral without the minister, and the most senior elder was elected to deliver the service.

The following day, a small group, battered by the sleet of a relentless force-9 gale, gathered at the graveyard near Tresta. They lowered the coffin into the newly dug grave, then looked to the senior kirk elder to say some words.

He stood silent for a few moments, then, bracing himself against the storm, he announced in a loud voice, “Lord, accept dis, the body o’ wir departed sister, though hit winna be aesy, fur Lord, du keens, and we keen, shu truly wis a bugger!”

Tomorrow sees the funeral of the former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see such simple honesty displayed on that momentous and expensive occasion?

John Coutts