Three times this morning the Herald misspelled the word ‘shielding’ triggering something in the creative mind of our resident Hill-farming Correspondent and leading academic, Professor Jock Robertson, as he was relaxing in his bath – ‘SHEILINGS! THAT’s IT!’

What is a sheiling and what does it have to do with coronavirus?

The term sheiling is mainly Scottish, originally denoting a summer dwelling on a seasonal pasture high in the hills, particularly for shepherds and later coming to mean a more substantial and permanent small farm building in stone. Farmers and their families lived in shielings during the summer to have their livestock graze common land. Ruins of shielings are abundant in high or marginal land in Scotland and Northern England, along with place-names containing “shield” or their Gaelic equivalents, with names such as Pollokshields in Glasgow.

Prof Robertson –

‘It’s obvious. Any symptoms and you have to go and stay in the nearest sheiling for the whole summer. The weather’s been grand for it. The Scottish Government will provide warm shawls and sheep to keep you company and keep your spirits up. We can ask Alister Jack to coordinate it all. He has the time.

We’ll have to be careful though not to send folk to pubs called ‘The Sheiling’ by mistake. There’s one up the braes near Falkirk where I once won the pub quiz. There was only one question:

‘Wha’ d’ye think yer lookin et sur?’

There was no one correct answer but my:

‘I don’t ken, the label’s fell aff.’

was the winner that night.

Footnote: Some readers, maybe educated Bairns, will have spotted the spooky synchronicity with the prof having an Archimedean Eureka moment in the bath and the possible hydraulic pressure fluctuations from the nearby Archimedean Falkirk Wheel.

Footnote 2: The Flann O-Brien Appreciation Society of Falkirk have just awarded the above idea this year’s FOBA!