43] Jamie Duff was an idiot whom Kay portrayed on several occasions, as he was particularly fond of whimsical characters. Jamie, a well known figure on Edinburgh’s streets, ‘lived on the charity of those who were amused by his odd but harmless manners’. He had a passion for funerals and invariably took his place at the head of the procession attired in ‘crape, cravat, and weepers and a look of downcast woe in the highest degree edifying’. He was usually rewarded with a small sum for his services. His other ploy was to assume the character of a baillie. To this end he acquired a brass medal on a chain and a cocked hat and wig and was usually cheerfully accepted by the public although he could react violently if provoked. It was said that he was reluctant to accept the donation of a shilling fearing that it might be a ‘King’s shilling’[i] and he had no wish to serve in the forces. Jamie overcame this loss of income by taking a nephew with him who was able to speak to the donor and determine that the donation carried no conditions.
[i] A shilling offered to a recruit for the army or navy. Acceptance confirmed the recipient’s willingness to serve.