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Ma Thoats

  • Colin Burnett

Sheep Without a Shepherd

Updated: Aug 13

Ah wis born tae be nuttin maire than a footnote in someboady else’s memoir

Aw, ma life ah wis telt what tae hink, how tae feel and tae be suttin ah wis never meant tae be. Ma days wur meant tae be spent inside some callcentre fur a pittance ae pey. That wid barley keep the provi awey fae the door, lit alain the wolves. Or brek ma back oan some hopeless buildin site. Watchin ma mother and faither work thumsleves intae an early grave fur barley two pennies tae rub taegether. Sittin and listening tae ma granda tell me stories aboot how Thatcher raped and pillaged the workin class communities aroond this wey. And seein ma mum goin tae the social efter ma da passed awey, only tae be presented wae twinty quid as if it wis the golden ticket fae Willy Wonka himsel.

Ma parents kept faith in the system likes and done as they wur telt. In the end, what defined their years oan this planet wis a piece ae paper tae say when they arrived in this life and when they departed it. Ah mean this aw changed me and noo that the blinkers wur removed ah could see the road aheid clearly fur yince, a wis ready tae become a Someboady. Maist ae the boays a kent wur too busy chasin the dragon insteed ae a brighter tomorrow. And who could blame thum eh? Cos efteraw being high wis the only wey tae numb the pain ae reality. Wae aw the wonders oan this planet. Fae the Great Pyramids ae Giza tae the Colosseum in Rome. Aw we git tae admire is the dreary lookin violated Lego sets the government pit up tae keep us contained in. So, when they spike up its wae the purpose ae makin thum furget that the system wants tae keep us humble.

Sure, the lads and lassies fae ma area could see places further than the number 31 bus could take us tae. But only if yae wur willin tae die fur queen and capitalism ‘’Here’s a rifle, son. Go and shoot some cunts’’. Some ae us wanted maire in life, some ae us felt we wur nae jist born tae be mindless sheep. Waitin fur our Shepherd tae guid us fae the light and intae the darkness. Cos the workin man urnae aw book shy. We kin hink fur oorsels. And we kin be masters ae oor ain destiny. Ma weapon ae choice wisnae a rife or chisel, it wis a library caird.

See ah figured oot what gave the elite their power and it wisnae their connections or their wealth, it wis there education. Ah came tae realise that education is freedom and there is nuttin maire dangerous in this country than a workin man wae a library card who’s no afraid tae use it. That’s what ah did likes, ah spent day efter day in the library. Slowly becomin a reflection ae ma oppressor, an imitator if yae will. Ma speech becomin a foreign language tae ma mates. Ma ambitions being recoginised as an act ae class treason. But tae be a spectator in life is tae confine oor ain existence tae a lifelong commitment tae oor ain alienation. And by daein so validates the powerful’s perception that the workin man is a pawn waitin tae be deployed in order tae quench their ain desires and aspirations.

Yae jist need tae look at the land ah come fae tae see there’s nae future withoot action. Five million voices but nae cunt kin hear us. Someboady yince said ‘’It’s shite being Scottish’’ ah dinnae, its jist fuckin depressin. The yin hing that scares Scots even maire than a repeat ae the 1966 fitbaw world cup is no that we cannae dae it oan oor ain withoot England, it’s that we kin. And yin day we will aw wake up and realise the last three hunner years hus been nuttin maire than livin in someboady else’s coma. Take the new Tory prime minister, Boris Johnson, a guy who wis openly anti – Scottish in the past. This is the boay ah’m supposed tae trust wae ma future. Kenning this joker his first act in office will be tae reinstate Prima Nocta.

Now here ah um wae ma very ain piece ae paper. No yin that states ma time oan this planet or that ah died an honourable death fightin fur queen and country. Insteed yin that hus announced tae the world that ah’m oan ma wey tae be a ‘Someboady’ ‘’Mr Fraser we are delighted to inform you, that you have an unconditional offer to study BSc (Hons) Public Sociology at Queen Margaret University in Mussleburgh.

Kin yae imagine some dafty cawed Rupert. Fresh fae his summer holidays spent at his family’s holiday hame in Madrid, and who finds Lenny Fraser fae Granton waitin tae show him that yae dinnae need tae descend fae some ersehole ae the establishment tae huv an intellect. Aw, yae need is a library caird. Listen who kens, eh? Ah might end up being an advisor tae Nicola Sturgeon. Come tae hink ae it ah might run the hale show masel, fuck knows. Yin hing is fur sure, and that is the world is ma oyster.

An earlier version of this piece can be found at



Edinburgh, UK



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