Susan Morrison: Hosiery help got me out tight spot

Performers take on the roles of Dunbar and Kennedy for a re-enactment of the Flyting. Picture: Rob McDougall

Performers take on the roles of Dunbar and Kennedy for a re-enactment of the Flyting. Picture: Rob McDougall

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The juggernaut that is the History Festival rumbles on, and with it fresh demands on our resources and ingenuity. The requirement for tights was a surprise to me. Tights had so far not figured in my event planning, especially not for men.

Historic Scotland threw open Stirling Castle to stage a recreation of the Flyting, that verbal battle between Dunbar and Kennedy, first staged at the court of James IV, probably around 1508. The Great Hall was to be opened, and more, the huge fire was to be lit, and two fantastic performers were taking on the roles of the warring makars.

The jolly nice, supportive and all-round wonderful folks at Historic Scotland even agreed to entirely costume the actors.

Well, not entirely. Well, said Historic Scotland, we’ll give you jackets and stuff for your lads, but we draw the line at tights, for obvious reasons. No-one wants to share a crotch.

Advisement was sought to clothe the lower regions in a suitable manner, and the advice returned was simples, as the meerkat says. Just buy women’s tights. Well that all looks good and well on paper but bearing in mind that one of the performers stands 6ft 7, well, you can see my quandary.

Large tights would be required, I decided. So, in the hushed environs of the lingerie department I picked up a pair of large 80 denier. “You’ll not be needing those,” said a commanding voice, which belonged to a small woman lurking behind the balcony bra selection like some sort of knicker and bra sniper.

She emerged to take charge. No, I agreed, I probably need to buy extra-large.

“Och no”, she said, more comfortingly, “Not yet.” I’m still turning that “not yet” over in my mind today.

“No, no” I said, “they’re not for me. They’re for a man.”

“Oh”, she said. “Yes, that happens a lot. There’s much more experimentation going on now, isn’t there?” Clearly, Leith is even more of a rocking joint than I thought.

“Ah”, I said, “no, we’re recreating a 16th century performance”.

“Ah well”, she said, “have you considered the codpiece issue?” Now, the codpiece issue hadn’t actually raised its head, so this was a bit of a rethink for me.

“Not to worry”, she said with the air of a woman who had met the codpiece issue head-on, “two pairs per performer will fit the bill”.

“And you’ll need these,” she said. “They’re temperature controlled.”

Now that baffled me. Why would women need temperature controlled tights, far less blokes walloping out a soliloquy, or, indeed, fairly rude verse at the Court of James IV?

Magical history tour under way

So, the weather outside has started to show its wintery teeth. That rain, that wind, that terrible chitterin’ cold. And the kids will be doing your heads in a bit, I bet. Well, what’s this? The History Festival, the one I keep going on about, is having a whole day of activity just for kids.

Yes, on Saturday 22nd, you can come on into Adam House and join in all sorts of great things for all the wee folk in your life – and for very little money. Check the website for details and come along and have a bit of fun.

Time to quit wining and bag a bargain

The man on Radio 4 was explaining that a certain wine producer was irritated that his product was being sold in Lidl and Aldi. They felt the discount supermarkets demeaned their upmarket plonk. Snobs.

Honestly, what is the difference between a quaffable and a vintage red?

Usually about 15 quid a bottle and a snearing attitude, I find.

They had a wine expert on who’d brought along a selection from the Lidl and Aldi, to prove that they had good taste in wine.

Now, the Lidl rioja, said the expert, is absolutely amazing and is only £5.99 a bottle.

Well, I thought, there we go. Decent red plonk as endorsed by a posh man on Radio 4. Superb. I’ll take a toddle along.

There was a big gap on the shelf where the Rioja should have been.

There must be more secret radio 4 listeners in Leith than I had previously thought. It could be the assembled bench-sitters of the Kirkgate, a gallant band whose dedication to Buckie

and Brew is etched in their faces.

I now suspect they are actually listening to Radio 4 when they sit at the feet of Queen Victoria, and they took note of the plummy-voiced expert and got to grips with the finer points of Spanish Rioja.

GREAT HALL OF FIRE

They looked magnificent, tights, shirts jackets feathered hats and all. The Great Hall looked incredible, but even more, the scent of wood smoke in the air swept us all back in time. The heat from the fire was fair roasting. Those temperature-controlled tights fairly came in handy.