Daily Express, Friday, October 30, 1903

Poem 27

(By P. G. Wodehouse)



Wee MacGreegor’s parents, 1 going
To the Zoo one day, were showing
Him the elephants and camels
And the lions with the roar,
When a Parrot from his perch in-
Side a cage informed the urchin
As he munched his bowl of porridge,
That his Food would cost him more.

“But whit wey?” in accents eager
Cried the undersized MacGreegor,
“Will the parritch be expensif
Which I’m gettin’ frae my paw? 2
Shall I lack that best of sweeties,
Which at present such a treat is?”
“You are right,” replied the Parrot,
“For ‘Your porridge will cost more.’ ”

Then MacGreegor (who was tiny)
Felt his optics fill with briny
Tears; they quivered on each eyelid,
For the prospect grieved him sair. 3
But his granpaw, who had listened,
As he dried the tear that glistened,
Said, “Ma mannie, don’t believe it, 4
That ‘Your parritch will be mair.

“He’s a unco daft auld birdie,” 5
Said sagacious Mr Purdie,
“And he blethers without thinking, 6
Does yon fulish cockatoo. 7
Though it’s certainly a bore, its
Just the way of sumphs of paurrits— 8
They can’t keep themselves from squawking,
Parritch wull cost mair the noo.’ ” 9



Wee MacGreegor was a character created by the Scottish author and journalist John Joy Bell (1871–1934). The MacGreegor stories, which were mostly written in Scots vernacular, first appeared in the Glasgow Evening Times but were later collected in book form. The first book, with the title Wee MacGreegor, was published in 1902 and quickly went through several editions; a new, illustrated edition was published in June 1903.

It is clear, from the many points of similarity, that Wodehouse was familiar with the book. In chapter two, MacGreegor’s parents take him to the zoo, where he sees the lions (one of which interrupts him with its loud roar), elephants, camels, and ‘paurrits’, and pesters his father with questions, the first being “Paw, whit wey dae they ca’ it the Zoo?” Later, while gazing at a pair of camels, he observes that the smaller one’s face “is unco like Aunt Purdie”.

Except for ‘expensif’ and ‘fulish’, which seem to be Wodehouse’s own phonetic renderings of a Scottish accent, all the other unusual words and phrases that Wodehouse uses—sweeties, sair, ma mannie, mair, sumph—are Scots vernacular and occur either in the glossary at the front of the book or in the opening chapters.


“Why will the porridge be expensive which I’m getting from my pa?”


Sair: sore


Ma mannie: my little man


“He’s a strange daft old bird”


Blethers: talks nonsense


Yon: that, used of something that is being referred to, ‘that parrot, there’.


Sumph: a slow-witted, stupid person, also a lout


“Porridge will soon cost more.”