Aberdeen humour from Sir James Taggart

Found - a slim volume titled Stories told by Sir James Taggart. (Dundee, London : Valentine & Sons 1926.) This book is in a series of Scottish joke books which include the famous 'bizarre' book Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen.

Lord Aberdeen's pal Sir James Taggart, a former Lord Provost of Aberdeen, was also a famous storyteller, notably against his own townsmen of 'the granite city.' It was said of him that he told 1000 jokes a year. His mournful look in the above photo reminds one of the old saying that '...to a Scot a joke is no laughing matter..' Here are a few short ones to get the flavour:  'An Aberdonian went away for a month's holiday, taking with him a dark green shirt and a pound note. He changed neither of them.' Or try this: 'A traveller at Euston Station was booking a third class single to Inverness and was informed, "Change at Aberdeen.'' "Na, na," said the traveller, "I'll lake my change now, l've been in Aberdeen before."

Almost all  the jokes are on the themes of incredible meanness and/or  drunkeness. Here are a selection of four the better jokes -the first about Lord Aberdeen himself :

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Warding off the Evil Eye

According to R.C. Maclagan's Evil Eye in the Western Highlands (Nutt, London 19 02) the Evil Eye superstition was widespread in the area well into the late 1800s. Possibly it still lingers in the Western Highlands of Scotland. The simplest way of telling who had the Evil Eye (the 'diagnostic mark') was to look out for persons with different coloured eyes but as he says 'all the parti-coloured eyes in Scotland would not account for a tenth part of the results accredited to evil eyes.' Atrtractive children were particularly prone and various dress codes are suggested to ward it off:


A woman of twenty-eight, whose information is quite
reliable, the daughter of a respectable man in one
of the inner islands, remembers when young people
talked a great deal about these things, and many were
very much afraid of them. "The idea was that it
was always the best and prettiest of beast or body
that was most liable to be injured by a bad eye.
(My) youngest brother was awfully pretty when a child.
They used to have him dressed in a red frock and
white pinny, and with his fair skin, fair curly hair,
and red cheeks, he was the nicest-looking child in
all the place. Many a time, when my father would
take him out, the neighbours would be warning him
to take good care lest some one might do the child
harm, and some would advise my father to go in and
take the frock and pinny off him, so that he might not
draw one's attention so much."

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