Tag Archives: Bulgaria

New Scots comic Machete Hettie on she gangs, Bulgarians & the big black wave

Machete Hettie at The Grouchy Club in Edinburgh

Machete Hettie at The Grouchy Club in Edinburgh last month

When I was at the Edinburgh Fringe last month, I occasionally posted blogs about what had happened at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club which I co-hosted with comedy critic Kate Copstick. But the shows were an hour long and what I mentioned in the blogs were only 5 or 10 minute excerpts.

One character who never turned up in the blogs was someone I did blog about last year – newbie comic Machete Hettie.

She lives in the Leith area of Edinburgh – or ‘Leithiopia’ as she calls it.

When she called in to The Grouchy Club, she had just come back from a holiday.

“Where did you go?” I asked.

“I went to Sunny Beach in Bulgaria,” she told us, “and the place was mental. The taxi drivers are really fucking crazy. They drive aboot wi’ a bottle of beer in one hand and a phone in the other and nae hands on the wheel. They charge what they want. They’re the dearest part o’ yer night oot.

“Everything over there’s fake, from yer handbag to yer fake lighters. They even sell ye fake lighters wi’ nae gas! Look!” she said, rummaging in her handbag, “I’ve got twelve bloody lighters! They’ll give ye one light and that’s it! Everything’s fake-it-an-bake-it.”

“How long were you there?” Copstick asked her.

Machette Hettie in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Machete Hettie in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

“A week,” Machete Hettie replied. “Ma liver is in pain. Seven days of shots. I managed to get steamin’ drunk for like £2 a night. They give you great big tubes with a half bottle o’ vodka in them. It’s meant to dae ye from midnight to 6 o’clock in the morning. Great big tubes. But they’re that heavy you can hardly carry them. You end up using them as a dancing partner, ken? They’re that big.

“Till 6 o’clock in the mornin’ ye can get steamin’ in Sunny Beach an’ I’m sure there’s loads o’ people that must come back pregnant an’ call their baby Sunny cos that’s no very hard cos they’re all at it in the streets an’ that..”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Cos I seen it,” said Machete Hettie. “Cos I was there. It happens oot in the street. It happens everywhere.

“I didnae have any shenanigans wi’ them myself, like for sex or anything like that, no matter how much they were nice-lookin. I had it in my mind that, if you done anything wi’ those Bulgarians, you’d end up wi’ no flip-flops. But I ended up getting robbed o’ my flip-flips and my phone anyway. There was a great big fuckin wave came and took it all away. It took ma handbag, ma shoes, the fuckin lot.

“I was sunbathing a bit too close to the sea and a great big wave came and snatched ma bag and the whole shebang, then it threw it back at me wi’ a broken phone and ma money all tae fuck.”

“You’re used to nicking things,” I said. “Surely.”

Kate Copstick & Machete Hetty after Grouchy Club show

Kate Copstick and Machete Hettie after Grouchy Club show at Edinburgh Fringe

“But I’m no used to stuff getting fuckin robbed offa me,” replied Machete Hettie. “Especially by a Bulgarian Black Sea wave. I thought it was gonna be from some sort of Bulgarian/Romanian/Russian gypsy. I didn’t think some black wave was gonna come along and tax us.”

“Why did you decide on Bulgaria?” I asked. “Because it was cheap?”

“Aye. Cheap and nasty,” replied Machete Hettie. “It was a last minute deal.”

“Was the nasty bit good as well?” I asked.

“Nasty was very good. That good that I’m going back.”

“How did they manage with your accent?” I asked.

“Extremely hard. They were asking me which part o’ Bulgaria I was fae.”

“I’ve known you about a year,” I said, “and you’ve never ever told me why you’re called Machete Hettie.”

“Well, how do I explain that?” she replied. “It was basically shit that happened when I was younger. Let’s say I was up to nae good in the neighbourhood. Dysfunctional shenanigans. I was in my twenties.”

“What sort of no good?” I asked.

“Well…”

“Remembering,” I told her, “that this is being recorded.”

“I probably just hung aboot in she gangs and things like that. It was gang related.”

“They’re called She Gangs?” I asked.

“Aye. I’m originally fae Dundee. I’m a Dundonian/Leithiopian.”

“That’s scary,” said Copstick.

“That’s scary,” agreed Machete Hettie. “Now you can maybe understand ma nature.”

“So you were in teenage she gangs in Dundee?” I asked.

“Yes. They were called the Hull Toon Huns.”

“Why Hull Toon?” I asked.

“Cos I was fae an area called Hull Toon – the Hull Town – which was quite a rough area. I done some shit years ago and I got the nickname Machete Hettie. I’m using it as a comedy name now because it’s catchy, but the balaclava and the whip, well… I’ve dropped them now; they was causing too much trouble… where airports and that were concerned. I’ve been accused of everything.

Machete Hettie celebrates in a Clerkenwell street last night

Machete Hettie in a London street last year

“They’d say: A gimp mask? They’d ask: Did you knit that yourself?… I wouldn’t like to be your neighbour if that’s what you go about doing to your neighbours. A lot of men thought it was quite kinky, ken. But I was fuckin sweating. I couldn’t handle it nae mare underneath them lights.”

“Have you ever in your life,” I asked, “held a machete?”

“Aye, of course I have. When you were allowed to bring them back fae Spain – and big Samurai swords an’ that.”

“The fact you were allowed to bring them back,” I suggested, “didn’t mean you HAD to bring them back.”

“Oh,” she said, thinking about it, “maybe you weren’t allowed to.”

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Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

For ages, I have thought there was mileage in a Real People chat show on TV – if you go to any bus queue in any town in Britain and choose any person at random then, with the right questions, that person will reveal the most extraordinary life story.

Life truly is stranger than fiction. Novels are very often watered-down versions of the truth and they have been watered-down simply to make them believable.

I was reminded of this when I was passing through the food department of Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday and I was offered a free tea sample by a Greek-Bulgarian sales specialist working for the East India Company which was bought by an Indian entrepreneur in 2005 and which opened a shop in London’s West End last year. It turned out the tea-offerer was from the island of Santorini (claimed by some to be the origin of the legend of Atlantis). He told me he spoke six languages including Japanese and Scots Gaelic – which he then proceeded to do.

Speak Gaelic.

It is a tad odd to have a Greek-Bulgarian from Atlantis who works for the East India Company (given its charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) speak Gaelic to you when you are passing through the food department of Selfridges department store.

To surprise me, it would have been enough for him, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company because I hadn’t realised it had been re-born.

While being one of the most successful commercial companies ever to exist –  at its height, the company allegedly generated half of world trade and it established Singapore and Hong Kong as trading centres – it also effectively ruled India with its own army on behalf of the British government 1757-1858 and virtually built the British Empire by monopolising the Opium Trade – it was responsible both for the Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny!

That Indian entrepreneur – Sanjiv Mehta – who bought the name in 2005 and re-started the company last year is a near genius. People are buying recognisable brand names for millions of pounds/dollars all over the world and the East India Company must be one of the most famous names worldwide – it has been around for 411 years – though I’m not sure trade with China will be easy!

So it would have been enough for the tea-offerer, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company but, good heavens – perhaps you had to be there – a Greek-Bulgarian who works for the East India Company, comes from the original Atlantis and speaks Gaelic! What are the odds of that combination happening? If you wrote a novel with a character like that in it, people would laugh at how stupid you were for including such a literally incredible character…

What price a Real People chat show?

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