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A sketch of a Adam Smith facing to the right

Sir, wasn’t it originally a concept of Adam Smith’s?

That Boothroyd-Smythe kid was really getting on his nerves.  He was such

a smart-a**.

Nigel had swapped hats and was standing in for the History teacher.  He

swallowed and counted three elephants.

Well, Robert K Morton, the sociologist, popularised it.

My dad said sociology is an easy option at A-level, butted in the irrepressible

one.  I was talking to him about this topic and he said it was akin to Murphy’s


Right.  Good for him.  As I was saying… We can exhibit hubris when we try

to act.  Who knows what ‘hubris’ is?

Nigel tried to avoid eye contact with B-S, as the staff liked to call him, but

the brat answered without putting up his hand.

My dad says it is what that Salmond man shows.

Enough!  Take a detention for calling out without raising your hand.

Nigel was breaking out in a sweat.  He’d been trying to have a class

discussion on something topical, but hadn’t been able to transmit his key

points about corollaries and-one he’d thought the boys would enjoy- the

cobra effect.  That was the ensuing consequence of paying Indians a

bounty for every cobra that they brought in.  The so-and-sos started

breeding the reptiles big time.

He’d imagined himself as some kind of fakir, mesmerising the class and

drawing them out of their collective basket by the entrancing flute notes

that he’d intone above their heads; instead, one of the deadlier and more

toxic blighters had struck him down fatally, like Julius Caesar in the Forum.

No, that wasn’t a just analogy: he wasn’t among friends…  He would never

hold an audience like that Pied Piper, the First Minister of Scotland.  His own

charges regarded him as a basket case.  But, maybe with hindsight,

that might also be the judgement the people of Scotland might dish out to

their erstwhile hero in five years’ time.  If he, Nigel, was a fakir, what did that

make Salmond?  Some people said ‘a snake oil merchant‘.  Nigel didn’t want to

go that far.  His wee sidekick could be said to share some similarities with a

mongoose, though.

Dwarf mongoose Korkeasaari zoo.jpg

Was Alex a leader who could handle deferred gratification?  Nigel doubted it.

He remembered the experiment where a child was rewarded with two

sweeties if they opted to restrain themselves from consuming one for a few


Somehow he felt that if Alex was put in a room with a pie, he wouldn’t be able

to resist it.  Whereas if Adam Smith was to be subjected to the same

experiment, he felt sure that his self-control would result in sausage rolls

all round.

And now he’d have to waste time at the end of the day supervising the

wretched boy.  From now on, the only cobras he’d be getting involved

with would be the alcoholic variety.