Friday, 1 May 2009

Pretending To Be Scottish

Last night I performed at a rather fun gig at Whitechapel Art Gallery, presided over by bitingly satirical Scottish poet friend Elvis McGonagall, (now a regular on Radio 4's Saturday Live).

The theme was Kilts, Caravans & Cookery and we all had to wear something tartan. Some very strange approximations abounded and a good-natured Clash of the Tartans ensued!

Which reminded me of the strange phenomenon that happens whenever one goes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and which inspired me to pen the following poetic monologue (print version beneath podcast for those without speakers).

Pretending to be Scottish

It starts innocuously enough, usually on day three of the Edinburgh Fringe
You're traipsing down the rain-reflective cobbles of the Royal Mile
For a traditional Scottish lunch of
vegetarian haggis, neeps and tatties at World's End
And you pass a knitwear shop
Selling jumpers five sheep thick
And suddenly you want one
No matter that the weather in England
Is never quite that polar and it's £200 quid
Then you see bolts of clan tartan for sale
And it looks quite nice
A piper on a corner pumps up a mournful dirge
And rather than flee the bag of cats being strangled
You are assailed by a wave of emotion, strangely nostalgic
For your adopted homeland
All normal thoughts of violence translated into a donation of 50p.
Day four. An unexpected obsession with Rabbie Burns
Prompts a lingering visit to your idol's museum
And a rash investment in his entire works, never opened.
You nearly buy a ticket for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, but wait until the feeling passes, usually 10 minutes along the mile long queue.
By day five, the cod Edinburgh accent has manifested
The locals are staring, the drunks no longer tapping you up and shirtless performers cease thrusting endless flyers in your hand.
Or could it be that you're carrying that caber in your sporran the wrong way round?
Och aye the noo, it's time to go home.

© LS King 2009


Rol said...

Performance artist too now?

Ah, Laura, will you remember us little people when you're famous?

Steve said...

Aye wee hen, an' will yer gi' us a coupla quid for a wee swallee?

Steerforth said...

You're right. It's as addictive as crack. I can't spend more than a day in Edinburgh without turning into a male version of Miss Jean Brodie.

Anonymous said...

Oh fab! I am awful for turning native wherever I go - it's so embarrassing.

I LOVE your podcasts. You sound wonderful. I think I might be falling in love!

Wisewebwoman said...

Jeez Laura, a friend and I were just talking about going to Edinborough (me for the 3rd time, her for the 1st) and here you go and write about it.
Marvellous poem, marvellous voice.
don't forget your wee fans when you go all JK and stuff.

Wisewebwoman said...

And don't you just love the way I spelled Edinburgh?

The Sagittarian said...

I don't understand how I can be nostalgic for a place I haven't been to yet! However, on my father's side we have some scottish blood so maybe thats why your lovely poem made me feel homesick!!
And yes, don't forget us little people when you hit the big time. I have a friend here from Scotland and she is always laughing at me as I somtimes start talking like her, I cannae 'elp it!

garfer said...

Edinburgh is freezing cold and full of Edinbuggers who've never bought anyone a drink in their lives.

Glasgae's miles better, even if half its inhabitants are borderline psychopaths.

teeni said...

That was awesome! I love hearing your voice! Too funny! You know, you sound as if you could be a newscaster on television or radio. :)

Donn Coppens said...

You are a riot.

If it's not Scots
it's crrrrrap!
That's from an old Mike Myers skit on SNL.
Who also furthered the comedic McCause with So I Married An Axe Murderer...
Will ya luk aht tha size o tha HEED!All hail groundskeeper Willy!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Hi Rol. Sure thing! Have been performing for some time now, but still new to podcasts so am still honing my recordings somewhat.

Steve. A wee dram wid be ma pleasure.

Steerforth, I'm sure that's a sight for sore eyes and you become a tourist attraction in your own right!

RB - Fair dinkum me old mucka. Falling in love with me? Blimey! Not sure I can change culture to that extent but you never know ;-)
(I'd probably make an embarrassingly unconvincing one and with a bad Scottish accent too!)

Aw shucks WWW. Are you going to go this year? If so, I hope you have a lovely time. Sadly it's doubtful I will be able to afford it this year, but I do love the place. A very upmarket spelling of Edinburgh!

Sagittarian, I get wistful for NZ too and hope one day to visit. However we have a very good import from your country by the name of comic folk singer Kath Tait who I have been privileged enough to share a stage with on more than one occasion.

Garfer, I have been to Stirling but not yet Glasgae. I look forward to sampling it. Am a big Mackintosh design fan. Am a tea-toter so it's quite ok with me if no one buys me a drink.

Thanks Donn. Can see I shall have to re-acquaint myself with 'So I Murdered An Axe Murderer'