David and Goliath
 
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A TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH FROM AN AULD SCOTS BALLAD (Based on an even older one in 1 Sam.17.)

I have a narrative I wish to relate. I hope you will like it, but if not, that is a matter of indifference to me. It concerns a small boy who later became well-known. He lived in one of the northern suburban areas of Glasgow and his name was David.

David's father had been without remunerative employment for several years, So the family decided to emigrate. They travelled to Gourock and embarked on a ship, eventually arriving in Judea.

The Judean environment was not exactly compatible with their tastes, it being foreign, and there were no establishments for the retailing of fermented liquors. There is an abundance of sand there, but cement is in short supply, so most people lived in rudimentary shacks or, occasionally, in a small tent.

The inhabitants of Judea were all Jews; the discovery of which fact, for those of the protestant persuasion originating in northern Glasgow, called for some adjustment of attitude. David, however, had no objection. "There is a superficial resemblance to Saltcoats." he remarked to his mother. "I agree," said his older parent, "except that there is a dearth of precipitation. In fact, it seems to be an excellent environment for the upbringing of children."

However, it would appear that the Jews were receiving a great deal of provocation from their neighbours, the Philistines - at least that is what we understand they were called. The person who was causing them the most concern was a gentleman of considerable size and strength named Goliath who originated in Gath.

Goliath it seems, was about fourteen feet tall, and he spent his time causing general mayhem. The leader of the Jews found himself becoming somewhat irritated so he decided to call a meeting to try and resolve the problem.

The people wandered down, without great enthusiasm, to the assembly hall provided by the local authority. Among the assembly was David, who, by way of contrast, had needed little persuasion to attend. The Jewish leader did not prevaricate, and he told them, "This unbalanced man is causing havoc amongst us. The only way to deal with him is to call for a courageous volunteer to take the situation in hand."

As he said this, he scanned his listeners, hoping to detect some sign of a spontaneous offer to deal with the situation. However, no-one seemed enthusiastic, and no offer was made. Then David stood up and called out, "I am prepared to give the situation my immediate concern and action." Then, turning to his Father he said, "Would you be so kind as to pass me the necessary equipment which is at present in your custody, so that I can deal with this Philistine problem?"

His Father, however, was considerably embarrassed and accused David of over-reaching himself. Acknowledging the Jewish leader he advised him to pay scant attention to the boy since he was inclined to over-estimate his own capabilities.

However, the leader was, in the circumstances, willing to take advantage of any offer of assistance. He shook David's hand and then repeated the process with his Father and Mother. "I appreciate your proposal very much," he said, "May I suggest that you employ Glaswegian methods of assault? However, the use  of weapons of extreme violence I do not consider to be desirable, since we wish to emerge from the dispute with credit."

This was agreed and they departed to the place where Goliath, in his tent, was taking his ease. His tent was rather large, but nevertheless inadequate, such was his size. The enclosure of his feet obviously posed a problem.

The boy hailed him as they approached. "Kindly emerge!" he imperiously demanded, "and prepare to defend yourself."

After a slight delay, there emanated from the tent, a voice which carried such force that the ground appeared to quiver.

Then emerged a man whose appearance suggested that he would have no difficulty in elevating a large female music hall entertainer from the ground without mechanical assistance. In comparison with him, a certain wrestler, whose size had hitherto been likened to a haystack, was reduced to a seven-stone weakling. He had a comprehensive hirsute appearance and his visage, disfigured by acute and chronic acne, was in no wise mollified by the warts on his nose. In fact, he conveyed a nightmare-like effect.

His untended beard was reminiscent of a mattress, the seams of which had become unstitched. The lateral measurement of his shoulders was approximately 2.13 metres and his chest bore superficial resemblance to one of the major products of the former Govan shipyard.

Projecting his voice with considerable force, he addressed David as follows: "Do not dare to approach further, you small contemptuous person, or I will box your ears, apply corrective measures to your hind-quarters and cause undue oscillation to your lower mandible. You will then hastily return to your Mother in a state of distress!"

But David replied, "In order to put such threats into effect you will undoubtedly require military assistance. I am not in the least perturbed by the apparent superiority of your bulk!"

However, aware as he was that the big man was becoming somewhat irascible, David fitted a small pebble into the sling of his catapult, rapidly extended the elastic, and struck the Philistine in the exact centre of his forehead.

As might be expected, Goliath succumbed to this stupefying blow so that his communications became incoherent.

He had on frequent occasions over-indulged in alcoholic beverages, but had never, hitherto, become unconscious as a result thereof. Furthermore, he was distressed to realise that he had been overcome by a much smaller and weaker adversary.

David remarked that size both increased momentum on falling, and is not an essential adjunct of quality. What, furthermore, is sauce for the goose, is also sauce for the gander, and the hoarding of small increments results eventually in the accumulation of considerable bulk. (He added other somewhat nonsensical remarks which are of little consequence)

It was not long before Goliath became unaware either of his plight or of his environment; he uttered just one unprintable epithet, overturned and breathed his last. David delivered the coup de grace to ensure his passing, and then proceeded to remove his head with his pocket-knife.

The large gentleman's associates gathered round and removed the corpse to the local mortuary, There, the result of the post-mortem was unexpected, regarding the cause of death.

It was discovered that it was not the blow to the temple, delivered by David, which had caused Goliath's demise, but something which had not, hitherto, been considered.

He had been over-indulging the previous evening and had reinforced his usual consumption with spirits, in the mistaken assumption that this would improve his prowess on the following day. He was undoubtedly subject to alcoholic addiction, and at the precise moment that he was struck, he succumbed to liver-failure.

Now, what lesson can we draw from this account, remembering that David did not, in fact, have a part in Goliath's death?

Just this, if you meet a man who is more than twice normal height, and whose weight you judge to be approximately 320 stones, do not try to emulate the example of David. On the contrary, do not tarry upon the order of your going, but retreat as rapidly as possible from his immediate presence.

The Estate of William John Green, 2004