‘Bible Talk’ by James Robertson

We were oot for oor usual dauner roond the toun, Tam and me, and had stopped for a pech at the tap o the hill, whaur they’re plannin tae build eichty new hooses if naebody objects, and probably even if they dae. We had got ontae the Bible, some wey or ither.

“In anither thirty year,” Tam said, “maist folk willna ken the Bible. No like we dae. Naebody’ll ken the language, the stories, the allusions. I honestly dinna ken hoo they’ll mak sense o the warld. Literature, for instance. Hoo can ye read literature if ye dinna get aw thae allusions? No that I’m religious masel, ye ken that. I canna mind the last time I set fit in a kirk if it wisna for somebody deid or gettin mairrit. Why else wid ye thole a minister deavin ye wi his nonsense?

“But the Bible, it’s second nature tae the likes o us. Ye say, ‘the prodigal son’, or ‘water into wine’, or ‘David and Goliath’, and we aw ken exackly whaur ye’re comin fae. Ye mention the road tae Damascus, or Daniel in the lions’ den, or turnin intae a pillar o salt, and we get the reference. ‘Consider the lilies’, ‘I shall lift up mine eyes to the hills’, ‘let this cup pass from me’. Ye hear whit I’m sayin? It’s in oor banes, man.”

Below us the toun swithered in the heat. A scooter bizzed up the brae like a wasp. There wis claes hingin on lines, cooncil mowers cuttin the gress, folk gaun their messages. “Tam,” I said, “ye’re haiverin. Nane o them doon there’s considerin the lilies or liftin their eyes tae the hills. They hivna got the time.”

He looked at me as if I wis an eejit. “Christ,” he said, “ye hivna heard a word I’ve said, hiv ye?”

Share this:

James Robertson

James Robertson is is a poet, editor and writer of fiction. The Professor of Truth (2013) is his most recent novel. He is the founder and Director of Kettillonia, a publisher of pamphlets based in Angus, Scotland, which aims to put original, adventurous, neglected and rare writing into print. He is also a co-founder and general editor of, and contributing author and translator to, Itchy Coo, the Scots language imprint for children and young readers.


More articles by James Robertson

All pages © 2007-2022 the Association for Scottish Literary Studies and the individual contributors. | The Bottle Imp logo © 2007-2022 the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. For information on reproducing these pages for purposes other than personal use, please contact the editors. | Logo design by Iain McIntosh | Website by Pooka.