In comedy you tend to exaggerate for comedic effect. However, when it comes to my parents, if anything, I underplay it. If I saw my father and mother depicted on TV, I’d roll my eyes and think it a terrible, clichéd portrayal of a pair of Scots. I then would have to do a double take as it slowly sunk in I was, in fact, watching a documentary.
After all, my mother managed to beat up a Russian mugger at the grand old age of 69. This is no mean feat. Mind you, anyone who has ever met my mother would appreciate that the mugger didn’t really stand a chance.
After her retirement, my mother went on an around-the-world trip to see the sights, but primarily focusing on countries where you could buy cheap fags, so not that surprisingly she ended up in Moscow.
One fine day (it was summer) the would-be mugger tried to take my mum’s purse, assuming (wrongly) that an OAP wouldn’t put up a fight. (She clearly didn’t realise my mum was Scottish). My mum turned round, grabbed the girl by the throat, throttled her, threw her to the ground, called her a c*** (rhymes with hunt in case you’re wondering) and grabbed her purse back. Not sure if the would-be mugger understood Scots or not, but believe me, when Scots is pronounced in anger, most people get the gist.
As for my dad, he of bagpipe clock fame, has turned his garage into a bar so Scottish that it would make those tourist shops on the Royal Mile look like they are simply not trying hard enough. The last time I brought someone there he had Jimmy Shand on in the background. I appreciate you have to be Scottish and of a certain age to know who Jimmy Shand is, but if you are, Jimmy Shand guys, Jimmy Shand.
As you may have surmised by now, my dad is proud to be Scottish and his 80th birthday party was a good excuse for him to highlight this fact yet again. Thus party guests were treated to members of a military pipe band in residence playing various Scottish tunes, my dad singing various Scottish songs and, of course, it was yet another opportunity for my dad to wear his kilt, sport a sgian dubh AND a dirk while drinking whisky, a glass in each of his hands.
It was also a suitable occasion for my father to reflect back on his life. In his moving speech he assured us that the best day of his life (here my brother and I looked at each other in anticipation) was when he joined the London Scottish; that the second best day of his life was when he joined the local bowling club. I wouldn’t have minded so much but I suspect the third best day of his life was when he got his free bus pass. On the plus side neither my brother nor my dad’s current wife made into the top three either.
Talking of Scotland, I recently gigged in Glasgow at a lovely little gig at the Yes Bar. It was there I realised how deluded I can be at times when a woman stopped me on the street. “Hi Maureen,” she said. I naturally assumed she must have recognised me from the poster at the nearby gig. (Editor’s note: there was no such poster). It then turns out there was a far more prosaic reason she knew who I was. She was my cousin.
Of course besides gigging, anyone who knows me knows I’ve become seriously obsessed with the TV show, Outlander. As someone who doggedly insists on reading German or Austrian literature and only then when the author has preferably been dead for a minimum of 50 years, not surprisingly the whole Outlander as a literary phenomenon had passed me by.
I only decided to watch the TV series for two reasons: it was set in Scotland and it took place around the time of the Jacobite Uprising, a period of history I find particularly interesting. And then when some of the characters started speaking Gaelic, I thought to myself I’m going to like this. I then spotted Sam Heughan and thought I’m definitely going to like this.
I was right (on both counts) but I seriously underestimated how much I would like it. I originally watched the first series of Outlander on Lovefilm. (Needless to say, I like to be on the forefront of modern technology).
I’d watch the three episodes on the DVD twice through and then I’d watch the director’s podcast. I always wondered what kind of saddo watches those things. Then it turns out it’s saddos like me, because you try and convince yourself you’re not really watching an episode you’ve already watched two times before but you are in fact really interested in what the director/producer/writer has to say. Then 5 minutes in you’re shouting at the TV because you want them to shut the hell up so you can listen in to a particular scene.
It only really hit home though just how obsessed I’d become when I was re-watching the DVD extra features at 4 in the morning sampling the delights of the featurette: The Making of the Kilt, despite having been bored stiff watching it the first time round. (I’m proud of my Scottish roots but there are limits).
So yes I’ve spent a good few months constantly watching season one on a loop and then just happening to be up at 5 am on Sunday mornings so I could watch the latest episode of season two as soon as it came online. Thank goodness I’m a stand up comic. After all, it allows you to wake up at 2:30 in the afternoon and convince yourself that technically it’s an early start.