The annual cringe festival that is Wallace day took place a week last Saturday; once again it was inflicted on the completely innocent people in the village of Elderslie, this is grossly unfair when you consider that no one actually knows a/ whether he was a real person and b/ where he came from; Elderslie people despite having little or no interest in it still have it thrust upon them. I have now witnessed 3 of them and it gets no less painful and embarrassing to visit and observe it, it actually gets worse and that’s saying something; that was my last one.
There is of course a surreal and pythonesque quality to it all which brings laughter and incredulity by turns; the costumes; the swords and shields; the pipes; the obligatory yapping dugs demented with the noise; the jeering weans; the oh so serious speakers; the sinister guys in black with black flags with strange Neo Nazi crests on, which have everyone saying “what kind of flag is that & who are they; some kind of storm troopers; yes but can they fight”? They are probably quite harmless I suppose but some of them are clearly p****d off about something, they reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse’s famous observation; I paraphrase; “it’s easy to spot the difference between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine”
This load of nonsense is of course harmless and indeed provides an event and a cause for some rather poor souls who see it as some kind of highlight of their year; it takes all kinds I suppose but my concern is with the image which it projects of Scotland and it’s citizens. There were people there who were to all intents and purposes serious; they were trying to look as fierce as possible and some were brandishing swords and daggers not unlike County Square on a Friday night in fact but honestly they need to get a life.
Would it not be better to turn it into a happy celebration similar to what happens elsewhere; St. Patrick’s Day and St. George’s Day are great fun but no one actually believes that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland or that St. George actually slew a dragon, Nottingham would be a poorer place without the Robin Hood legend but he is the same as Paddy and George a legend, in the German town of Hamlin they celebrate the legend of the Pied Piper who cleared the town of rats; these are all great excuses for a knees up and why not? The Wallace charade takes itself too seriously; the site of a wee guy with a guitar quivering with emotion while slaughtering Scots Wha Hae and a bizarrely dressed bearded old man wearing a white tent giving a very solemn speech were enough to move you to tears; whether they were tears of doom or laughter is debateable.
I noticed that even the SNP have abandoned it such is its comedic effect; the SNP have been out growled by these even more fierce patriots and they have bigger beards as well; now that’s real patriotism for you. Perhaps the SNP have at last succumbed to the obviously untenable and down right stupid position of claiming Wallace for Elderslie while the SNP in Kilmarnock claim him for their own town. Yes of course it’s quite funny; just like the 29 (at the last count) caves where locals claim Bruce met the spider; and they have the tea towels for sale to prove it.
What is not funny is that these people are serious and that makes Scotland look funny but not funny ha ha more funny peculiar. Time for a rethink surely; what about an “oor Wullie day” or a “see who can last the longest without spending any money day” or; "a fleecing the tourist day" we have plenty of alternatives which might be more fun right?