Dramatis Personae

Steven McNicoll: bongo jazz a speciality.

“Busy busy busy!” ~ Bette Davis in THE WHALES OF AUGUST.

We got our pigpen of a flat cleaned up somewhat, so we’ve been inviting people round for dinner. This evening we’ll be joined by Steven McNicoll and his fiancee Fran. Our dinner at their place two weeks ago was a delight, resulting in much scurrilous speculation on pressing issues such as “Why are showbiz dwarfs generally so obnoxious?”, material I can’t possibly reproduce on a blog intended for family viewing (the clan gathers round their flickering monitor, munching hungrily on their dinner of black pudding and Arctic Roll, the Wee Yins staring wide-eyed at the frame grabs while the Auld Folks click on the Hyperlinks).

Earlier this week, Fiona’s brother Roddy was up to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. How to describe this annual kilted jamboree? Imagine your dullest nightmare, painstakingly reconstructed by a cast of thousands in Highland dress, in a large car park atop a hill, at night. Roddy loves it. Roddy has learning difficulties. You should in no way infer a connection between these two statements.

Dinner with Roddy in a French restaurant (he enjoyed the fishcakes, seriously enjoyed the chocolate torte). A fly buzzed up and down.

“I would like to own a butterfly,” Roddy declared, apropos of nothing. “I would like it to be orange…and tangerine…and black…and white. And I would call it…Craig…Levein.”

Craig Levein (right).

I don’t think it’s necessary to know that orange and black and white are the colours of Dundee United, Roddy’s favourite football team, and that they are managed by a chap called Craig Levein, to appreciate this story. The idea of having a pet butterfly is clearly a very beautiful one (you could pin it to a cork board when you go to bed at night, release it in the morning, tether it to your wrist with a length of thread when you take it out for “walkies”) and if you had such a pet, “Craig Levein” is very obviously the most charming and evocative name you could possibly give it.

What else? Oh yes, movies. Bought tickets to see Sidney Lumet’s brutally dazzling THE HILL, introduced by Sir Sean Connery himself — my last movie experience with Sir Sean was perhaps not the ideal way to rub shoulders with greatness, so this should be a good palate-cleanser — and for Paul Merton’s The Silent Clowns, in which modern-day living breathing comic Merton will introduce extracts and films featuring the greats of the silent era. And picked up the programme for the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams event, occurring in Nairn later this month, organised by Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton. More on this later.

5 Responses to “Dramatis Personae”

  1. my mother loves the Miltary Tatoo and she doesn’t have a learning disability but lots of othe isshoos.


    I so agree with this.

  2. It’s interesting with Roddy that while some of his obsessions and phobias, which seem like character quirks, are actually symptoms asscoiated with his condition, lots of them are genuinely individual traits. I’d like to characterise Tattoo-fetishism as a sign of learning difficulty, but I can’t really.

  3. I suppose it might be tempting to continue the trend and shout at Sir Connery when he’s on stage!

  4. the problem with my mother is she loves massed bagpipes and bands… and the tattoo is ideal for that. I was dragged along annually and rebelled at some point during my teenage years as the glorification of the military got too much.

  5. I could chatter away so that Shir Sean shushes ME, thus allowing him his revenge.

    Somehow the Tattoo doesn’t bother me so much with the military glorification… if the spectacle itself was less naff, I would be more upset by the politics.

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