There is no such thing in history as a boring story. There can be, however, a tale told too often, crowding out the other great stories waiting to be unearthed. Take the Tudors. Seriously, how many more documentaries, dramas and novels do we need about England’s upstart ginger brats? They just can’t see past Henry. Mind you, it was quite difficult to see past the older Harry. He took up a lot of real estate. Bet he could block a mobile signal.
Well, I take your Tudors and I raise you the Stuarts, with our very own spotlight-hogging superstar. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our very own royal redhead, Mary, Queen of Scots, the Kardashian of the Stuart dynasty.
Scotland’s rich history sometimes has a bit of a battle to get out from Mary Stuart’s supernova glare. Fortunately, BBC Radio Scotland have created a brand new magazine programme, dedicated to getting those stories out there. It’s a glorious, rich brew of incredible events and people, such as pirate hunting in Argyle, 18th century curry recipes and the story of an entire Senegalese village in Saughton Park.
They had a bit of a rush of blood to the head at the Beeb and asked a pop-eyed loon to be the presenter. That would be me.
There’s a phrase involving pigs and poo that sums up my current mental setting. Keep your Disneyland. An hour rampaging about the possible site of James IV’s lost dockyard under the Clackmannanshire Bridge, knee deep in saltmarsh glaur is way more exciting, and you don’t have to put up with singing dwarfs – well, if you don’t count me.
Tip: when standing on a marshy land, it’s a good idea to move occasionally or you might just end up as part of a different dig in about 200 years. The things you learn as your wellies sink into the mud.
Every family and every corner has a story to tell, and Scotland is full of people brim full of enthusiasm for those stories and a passion for sharing them. Why, I’ll bet there’s a tale or two out there. Listen in to the programme, it’s called Time Travels, and it’s on at 1.30pm on Tuesdays.
Look online, we’ve got contact details, get in touch and let’s go stand in a swamp together telling tales.
Indiana Jones and the Lost Dockyard
Uncovering Scotland’s history isn’t just a game for professionals. In fact, we seem to be a nation of amatueur Indiana Joneses, minus the whip, the hat and the unfortunate tendency to blow things up. For a trained professional, Indy is a bit on the destructive side. That lost dockyard? It was located by an ordinary bloke who stumbled on one word on an old map, and realised that it held the clue to the location of what was, in it’s day, an industrial complex to rival Rosyth.
He became obsessed with finding the yard built by a king who put Scotland on the shipbuilding map, long before the Clyde. It’s where they fitted out the massive “Great Michael”, a floating 300-gun Death Star, a behemoth capable of simultaneously smashing castle walls and winding up Henry VIII.
Come on, what’s not to love?
Time travel? I’m past all that, I’m afraid
If someone gave you a time machine, where would you go if you just had an hour? A stroll past St Giles’ on just an ordinary day in 1750, perhaps? Or standing on the Dundee docks watching the jute sail in and the Discovery sail out? Take a hike with a Viking?
Perhaps closer to us in time and space? I could go back to 1967 and spend an hour standing next to my dad again watching the last Clydebuilt liner glide into the water like the graceful queen she is.
Imagine buying a poet a pint in an Ayrshire tavern. He might tell you about his new work. It’s a long piece, about a man getting chased by witches. You could tell him about the suppers they’ll hold in his name, especially those posh ones, and watch the ploughman poet laugh until he’s sick at the notion of upstanding establishment pillars carefully enunciating Ode To A Haggis.
Can I just mention, though, that wherever you choose in the past, a wee bottle of hand sanitiser would be a good idea. I love the past, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
Boyz to men are the silent types
Well, good heavens, how did that happen? The Boychild is now 18.
He has re-established verbal communications again, but on a limited and need-to-know basis. Apparently, there are very few things I need to know. It’s like being in a particularly opaque French art film. There’s a lot of intense silences and then a bit of cryptic dialogue.
He is surprisingly tall. This is useful for getting things down from top shelves for mothers who remain vertically challenged. Good planning on my part