from the London to Falmouth train



An episode that I never got round to writing about…

On Saturday the 19th of November, I attended the Pavilion theatre in Glasgow to see The Magic of Scotland. Here is the blurb from their website:

“We make no apology for any nostalgia contained in this great show, now in its seventh year, The Magic of Scotland returns with a Brand New Production to the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow from 17th - 19th November.”

I shall do my best to paint the scene for you. The pavilion theatre is a grand old slightly battered looking red sandstone building right in the centre of Glasgow, just off Sauchihall street. Going inside, one walks up the gold banister’d sticky velvet staircase to the muffed sound of hits such as ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘Donald Whaur’s yer Troosers’. My allocated seat is a good one, on the front row of the balcony, and I only have to upset three people to get to it.

It is around this point that I realise I am the only person in the audience under seventy who is not accompanied by a carer. ‘Great!’ I think. ‘This is Scotland. These are the people that love Scotland, I’ve found them!’

Actually, I don’t think this at this point, because I am instead thinking that this show is going to be very, very bad. And very, very long (if you use the logic that pensioners would not be willing to pay £12 for a ticket unless they are going to get at least two hours of entertainment out of it).

Am I being ageist? Probably. Snobby? Definitely. Am I wrong?

No, I am very, very right.

The three hour tirade began with accordionist John Carmichael and his band, all in kilts, blasting out a few reels and jigs for the too-old-for-a-ceilidh audience. This was followed by a lone piper, and the only woman who performed the whole show, and we were then greeted by our host. The formidable Alastair McDonald who must be somehow famous, to this audience at least, in Tartan trews and lurid shirt he introduces ‘Clanadonia’, otherwise known as ‘those hairy guys in kilts who busk on Buchannan street at the weekend’. There’s probably not much point in mentioning the rest of the event, as it all involved combinations of the above. Lots of tartan, accordion and bagpipes.

So aside from the fact that it was all awful, why is it relevant? Well, because as far as I can work out here were the generation who felt some sort of identity with this classic ‘couthy’ Scottish-ness. Whilst most Scots would testify that they love a good ceilidh, a drinking and dancing type event, I think you won’t find so many who are keen on singing along to the Barras song and I’m a cat, I’m a cat, I’m a Glesga Cat on the same night. But sing along they did, and it did remind me of this tradition that does exist in Scotland, where we do all know these songs, and these dances. Even I know all these songs, and I don’t know many songs.

So have I found it? The tender bit of meat, the heart of it all? Probably not. But – a  viable format for my presentation?? What do you think? I’m willing to give it a shot.

It’s all going to kick off with coloured lights, a kilt, a microphone and – of course – Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia. Curious? Its at 9am on Thursday 5th January. Let me know if you want to come.*




*whoever ‘you’ are, oh mysterious readership of the internet, I bow to you  etc etc ad finitum blah blah blah