Tag Archives: Wigtownshire

The difference between “bumming around” in rural Wigtownshire and with comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe

Misty Edinburgh as I left it last night

Edinburgh as I left it last night, worryingly like The Exorcist

I have escaped on the last day of the Edinburgh Fringe to Wigtownshire in south west Scotland, to see if any grains of my mother’s ashes are still around. She died in 2007.

So it goes.

My mother and father grew up in Wigtownshire.

I put my mother in a little space in the rocks of the breakwater by the cottage in which she grew up, just outside the village of Garlieston.

I put her ashes above the high waterline but sometimes the sea is especially high and I thought I would leave it to Nature to decide whether to wash her ashes out to sea or not.

At the Isle of Whithorn, the tide is out and so it T-mobile

The Isle of Whithorn: the tide is out & so is a T-mobile signal

I am currently booked into a hotel in the Isle of Whithorn – well, the only hotel in the Isle of Whithorn – the seaside village where my father grew up. But I am posting this from the confusingly unconnected small town of Whithorn. Same name. Different places, although both share a lack of any T-mobile phone signal.

Being in parts of Wigtownshire is almost like being in the 1920s and 1930s, when my parents were growing up.

As far as I can find, there is no T-mobile cellphone reception within 20 miles, even in the town of Whithorn. And the WiFi reception at the hotel in the Isle of Whithorn is, if I am being kind, erratic.

Edinburgh is a century away and – given the narrow, winding country roads on the way here  – about 45 minutes longer than the SatNav (Oh, it will only be 3 hours and 9 minutes) told me.

Ellis & Rose revealed as Punch andPunch puncher

Ellis and Rose last night, as both Punch and puncher

Before I left Edinburgh, I had a meal with the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show techies Misha Anker and Jorik Mol… and I bumped into Richard Rose and Gareth Ellis, who had no additional visible bodily wounds… and I belatedly saw Almond Roca: The Lost Cabaret at The Hive, which celebrated the cult of almonds.

I went to see the two-hander show because I had bumped into Adam Taffler aka Adam Oliver a couple of years ago, like one does, when I had arranged some spaghetti-juggling in the Grassmarket and he – out publicising his own show – joined in and acquitted himself as well as anyone can when juggling spaghetti.

Nelly as Nancy Sanazi at the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show

Nancy Sanazi at the Malcolm Hardee Awards

I also went because I discovered at Friday night’s Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show that Frank Sanazi’s extraordinarily and brilliantly OTT sidekick – storm trouper Nancy Sanazi – is actually Canadian one-woman dynamo Nelly Scott who is also half of The Lost Cabaret in her guise of Zuma Puma.

Before last night’s show Adam and Nelly, dressed in their white and gold ceremonial costumes. told me that they were not going to perform their normal show. They would, they told me, just make this one up and it would be a bit low-key…

LOW KEY ???? !!!!!

Adam (left) & Nelly (right) with two surprised audience members

Adam (left) & Nelly (right) surprised two audience members

About a third of the way through, Adam ran into the bar adjoining the venue and, as far as I am aware, simply kidnapped a poor unsuspecting girl whom he carried into the venue accompanied by about five of her friends. He ran in carrying her fireman-style over his shoulder.

The anarchy then involved a young man being enticed onto the stage with her and progressed via stripping the young man and painting his body with white paint… to human jousting, audience bouncing, marrying the two punters to each other and much chanting, climaxing with a finale in which both Adam and Nelly stripped naked and ran up and down the aisle.

The Lost Cabaret: Adam (left) and Nelly

The Lost Cabaret: Adam (left) and Nelly performing ‘low-key’

If this was low key, I clearly have to go out more often and stop watching re-runs of Come Dine With Me.

All I can say is that the sight of Nelly running starkers up and down the aisle waving her arms in the air and holding a giant gold-painted almond is one I will long treasure and it makes me understand why the Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s biggest and best arts festival.

Quite what the farmers of Wigtownshire would make of it, I do not know.

When I walked back to my Edinburgh flat afterwards to get my car to drive to Wigtownshire, I dropped into Bob’s Bookshop to say goodbye to Bob Slayer and his hard-working and resigned-to-oddity bar manager Cat.

She showed me an indistinct photo from the previous night’s Midnight Mayhem of a female audience member putting her finger up Bob Slayer’s bottom.

I would like to say this came as a surprise. But it has happened before.

When I arrived in Wigtownshire late this morning, before the phone signal went and the WiFi became erratic, I got what, by his standards, was an explanatory e-mail from Bob. It read:

Stompie, the Half-Naked Chef at Bob’s Bookshop

Stompie, the Half-Naked Chef, in the window of Bob’s Bookshop – the venue of an innocent?

“A couple of years ago, I had a young girl in the audience reply to my statement that she should be shocked by my nonsense with the words: You will not shock me.

“When she laughed at the most shocking thing I could say to her, I told her I was approaching 40 and had not yet had my prostate checked.

“One thing led to another and she ended up donning a rubber glove, spitting on the finger and double knuckling me.

“In the early hours of this morning, I told this story at the end of my Midnight Mayhem show. I told the audience: That girl gave me the all clear… but I don’t think she was medically trained…

“A woman in the audience asked me if I wanted a second opinion… It turned out she was a nurse.

“There followed another live prostate examination in front of my audience and I am glad to say it was confirmed that I do have the all clear.”

I do not know what the moral is to this blog about two worlds – the Edinburgh Fringe and rural Wigtownshire.

But I suspect it says something about something.

And, for some unknown reason, the words Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire spring to mind.

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Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh, Scotland

Last night, I saw toast hanging from trees and children sparkling with light

After what happened last night, I really must go to a Wicker Man festival.

The climax of The Wicker Man (the 1973 version, obviously) was shot at Burrow Head in Wigtownshire. I think my uncle’s ashes were scattered into the sea off Burrow Head; he used to sit there as a teenager and look out to sea. Or maybe it was off some other Head. There are quite a few Heads in the area.

For sure, several Wicker Man scenes were shot in the Isle of Whithorn (which is not an island), where my father was brought up. And several other scenes were shot in Whithorn itself (a totally different place to the Isle of Whithorn) where both my parents went to school and met again during the Second World War (I blogged about their meeting last year).

Nothing in life is ever simple.

There is a speech in The Wicker Man about how paganism is the real religion of Britain and how Christianity is merely a Johnny-come-lately cult.

I paraphrase but, after last night, I am all for paganism.

I went wassailing at orchards in semi-rural Hertfordshire, quite close to where I live. About forty or so adults and children went and blessed the trees. Pieces of toast soaked in cider were hanging from the branches of the trees and cider was poured round the trees’ roots to encourage them to grow and bear fruit in the coming year.

Wassail toast hanging from trees

Much noise was made with bells and horns and spoons on pots and pans to scare away evil spirits; a wassailing song was sung; the children went and told the trees to grow, then waved sparklers around; fireworks soared high into the air from the orchards; there was much cheering and clapping; and then we went inside for soup and bread and cake and cups of mulled wine and cider.

I have been to a local church the last couple of Christmases (avoiding the services) and they provided mulled wine and biscuits. But no toast hanging from trees; no children waving sparklers; and no eccentricity on this scale.

No wonder paganism is on the increase.

This was not a genuine outbreak of paganism in semi-rural Hertfordshire, of course. It was a bit of admirable British jollity.

But Christianity has to pull its socks up.

I think annual human sacrifice (a concept at the very core of Christianity) in Winter or Spring could be the way forward, though the supply of willing virgins might prove something of a problem.

Still, The Wicker Man shows that, where there’s a will, there are ways and means…

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Filed under Eccentrics, Movies, Religion, Scotland, Strange phenomena