The Sair Knee

When I was a child I learned, “The Sair Finger,” as part of our Burns’ Day celebrations. (Please note – it’s not a poem by Robert Burns.  It’s by Walter Wingate.)

You’ve hurt your finger? Puir wee man!
Your pinkie? Deary me!
Noo, juist you haud it that wey
Till I get my specs and see!

My, so it is – and there’s the skelf!
Noo, dinna greet nae mair.
See there – my needle’s gotten’t out!
I’m sure that wasna sair?

And noo, to make it hale the morn,
Put on a wee bit saw,
And tie a Bonnie hankie roun’t
Noo, there na – rin awa’!

Your finger sair ana’?
Ye rogue, You’re only lettin’ on.
Weel, weel, then – see noo,
Row’d up the same as John!

By Walter Wingate.
Scots Glossary
skelf = splinter of wood
saw = salve
row’d up = wrapped up
greet = cry
Now, why (I hear you cry) do I feel the need to expose you to a little Scottish culture?  Clearly, the poem could stand on its own merits as an excellent, thought provoking piece, but actually you may be surprised to hear that it was somethingelse that brought it to mind.
Today I nipped to the loo. I know – a terrible crime when you have children but my bladder could hold out no more (thanks also to said children).  In that short dash to spend a penny/do a tinkle/wee wee etc the Monster gave out a blood curdling scream.  I dashed to his side ready to give the Minx/the Monster/both a row for not playing nicely, but when I got there I found the Monster with a badly skint knee.  I still don’t know how he did it, but once I pulled him off the ceiling I gently cleaned it and applied a plaster.
But how does this apply to the poem?  There’s no skelf and all fingers are in tact and feeling good, so why bother to share this?  Well, not wishing to be left out, the Minx insisted on a plaster too, which I put on the back of her hand. Since then she keeps wailing and insisting her hand is sore (just like the sibling in the last verse of the poem).  Concerned that the plaster was hurting her I tried to remove it but no, it would appear that the Minx is just a drama queen who was milking the attention for all it’s worth.  Two years and 1.5 weeks old and she has got this down to a fine art already.
God only knows what the next 20 or so years will be like…

One response to “The Sair Knee

  1. when i was 7 years old..53 years ago i returned to Edinburgh with my family from living in Malta. I had an English accent.
    though I am scots/irish, and was put into school in the Broughton area. My teacher was a wee wizened spinster called Miss Brown and she hated the English. The ‘poyem’ on the syllabus was ‘The Sair Finger’ and because i couldn’t say ‘finger’ to rhyme with ‘singer’ she stood me up everyday in front of the class and humilliated me over and over by trying to make me pronounce it ‘properly’!
    I hope she died roaring!

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