Friday Fictioneers – Speaking English

Before the story, help needed

I need your support with a flash fiction competition. My 150 word story was posted today on Ad hoc fiction (click the link to get to the story) and remains there for a week until 14 December. If I get enough votes I progress to the next stage of the competition. If you like the story please press the Vote button. The stories are anonymous, but mine is called Parting. You may have to scroll to get to it. It is number 13 of 60 stories. Vote early, vote often. Thanks so much.

PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

Breakfast was oatmeal porridge, with a little milk or treacle. Then it was off along the coast to school. On the way, I glanced at Bob who shoved his face into mine. “Whit are ye glowerin’ at, John?”

“I’ll look where I please,” I replied staunchly, “and hinder me if you dare.”

I knew the rules. In school we spoke English, but around the fields it was our own honest Scots. Using English outside the school was unacceptable – it showed you had lost your temper.

The boy put up his hands. “Nae, I’ll no fecht ye. Ye’re speakin’ the English.”


This story comes from the boyhood of John Muir, later founder of the Sierra Club, before he emigrated in 1849, aged 11, from Dunbar to the US. His own account of his childhood can be found here.

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

78 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Speaking English

  1. Good story, Neil. I loved the Scottish accent on the English. Good writing. I also voted on your story in the competition. I hope yours was the only one with the title “Parting” as I kind of lost count with all the clicking I was doing. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grouse, mate! Thought I’d throw some Australian into the mix. I admire your use of the diologue and what I assume to be Gaellic? I have some ancestors from Islay in the Hebrides but that was a long time ago and there are no cultural hangovers at all.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It made me laugh. I learned English as a young adult and spoke it fluent just a couple of years later. Well, I thought I spoke English until I visited Scotland and Ireland. Goodness gracious, I didn’t understand a word and they looked at me funny. Here in the U.S. they ask me if I am from the UK, there they ask me if I am Yankee. Funny how language works.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting – I would think in Britain around this time the languages would be reversed and using Scots would be a sign of losing your temper and English the accepted speech. Nice take.


  5. 150 word story read and voted for and what a good one too. Good luck with it. I like this little snapshot of school life, the rules that kids run their lives by. Such a great little view onto a different world. Nice dialect and nicely written

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I, too, would have thought using Scottish would show temper! (And our Scot liked it too…) Fun stuff! Off to read and vote!


  7. When I was John’s age, and would lose my temper, I’d say some words that weren’t in the English dictionary. The punishment was washing my mouth out with soap.

    Excellent writing, Neil. I could just picture the boys.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my … I just learned something about the Scotts: tempers. I hope it’s just when your being pushed around. No matter, it’s a great story in so few words. As always, giving me something to learn.
    Interesting accent … I wish I could hear it, Neil. Have a nice weekend.
    Isadora 😎


  9. Nice story. We all look back on childhood as a simpler time, your story was a reminder that even a walk to school could be hazardous. Loved the dialect. Read you Parting story and voted. This was a beautifully crafted story, loved the imagery. As a dog lover I especially liked the line about the afternoon sprawling like a lazy dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As in Muir woods? Lovely snippet of childhood.
    I think I’ll use the ‘I’ll look where I please…’ line next week if anyone stares at me on the street when I visit my daughter in Edinburgh. I have a very BBC English accent.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great story. If everyone had these rules, we could avoid a lot of conflict. Read Parting and recognized Philippa. She was in FF land a while ago. I liked it then and like it now, and voted. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this story. I can hear echoes of my Scottish grandfather in the dialogue. My mum’s not quite so broad after a lifetime in Australia, but she’s still definitely Scottish. I’ve voted for your Ad hoc fiction – fantastic story there too. Wonderful images and mood.

    Liked by 1 person

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