Back in the days of black-and-white telly there was programme called the One O’ Clock Gang.
It was broadcast at lunchtime. Looking back, it seems like a dangerously daring experiment for Scottish television. A TV show? In the daytime? Can you imagine? Surely exposure to the horror of the cathode tube prior to the BBC news was a certain road to damnation. Watching television in the hours of daylight may be all very good and well for the Americans, but for the grim folk of Scotland in the sixties, this was frippery and madness.
Who would be available to watch this televisual bacchanalia? The men of Scotland were building big stuff and the women scrubbing their front steps until they gleamed a brilliant white, dazzling jealous neighbours and postmen alike.
Panic not. This was STV and so they went to extraordinary lengths to make this daytime extravaganza as far removed from the slick output of American television programming as they could, by making it utterly rubbish – no, seriously, even by the standards of black-and-white Scotland, this was appalling. In fact, it was so appalling, that in 1965, the man who ran the entire ITV network is reported to have sat through an entire episode of the show and then exclaimed, “How have you got away with this for so long?” and personally pulled the plug.
It all involved a bunch of folk called the One O’ Clock Gang, who had quite just been released from summer season in Dunoon, and were probably relieved not to be recycled as third on the bill at the Winter Gardens in Ayr. This is not to say that they were not great on stage – they were – but their acts soon became threadbare to the daytime TV audience. Even I, as a four-year old, could see that the comedian needed better material. There was a band and some singers, and this is where it really ran into trouble.
Given the paucity of the material, and the lack of rehearsal time, it was inevitable that there would be a certain repetition of the repertoire. At least once a fortnight, without fail, some wumman would be plonked in front of a painted backdrop depicting a wee wooden boat on a lonely Highland beach. She’d be wearing a white dress, with a tartan sash. Thus we would know, even before she’d opened her gob, that we were about to be treated to the Skye Boat Song. Again. The bonny boat would be urged to do that speeding thing, over the sea arrangement, Skyewards, carrying the lad that was born to be king.
Sometimes they tried to trick us. They’d stick a bloke there, but by the first chord, we’d got it sussed.
In praise of nuptial blitz
IT was a truly terrific wedding. It was everything a Scottish wedding should be. Wee boys in wee kilts who look like angels then find the sweeties and turn into wee kilted devils. A ceilidh band that know the moves to the Strip The Willow and the words to Dancing Queen. Grannies who sit sipping sherry, and young men outside smoking fags and looking sideways at the lassies who just ‘popped out for some air.’ Auld fellas who glanced askance at the white wine and asked where the whisky was.
Seriously, it was worth every second of the very, very long drive.
Time to get tongue-tied, lads
SCOTTISH wedding it may have been, but there was a daring break with tradition. The speeches, in the main, were by the women. There was no toastmaster – there was a toast-
The mother of bride spoke, and was fabulous. Her best friend spoke, and there was not a dry eye in the house by the time she was finished, and then the radiant bride introduced her new husband, and he got to say something.
This is an interesting precedent, but we should remember, sisters, that the only reason we usually let men speak at weddings is because they’re married now. They don’t need to speak anymore. They’ve got a woman on the team to do the talking.
In fact, for many Scotsmen, the last full sentence they get to say is “I do”.
Over the bridge at, er, Mordor . .
NOW, given the painted backdrop and my famously wonky view of geography, I grew up under the impression that Skye was just outside Oban, or some such other non-metropolitan locale. I have a famously dim view of rural anyway. Not keen. City rat, me.
So when my friend asked me to their wedding on Skye, I said why not? How far can it be? I did not realise that reaching Skye involves driving through Mordor, just past the Desolation of Smaug, turn left at Middle Earth. Skye is very far away.
At least I didn’t have to bother with bonny boats. There’s a really great bridge.