Saturday, 12 June 2010


Hae ye ever done somethin that stupit that ye're black-affrontit wi yersel, but that ye're gled efterwards that ye did? Well here's a wee situation that ah got masel intae, an believe me, ye'll be thankin me that things turned oot how they did.

We're gaun back a wee bit now, it was afore the war startit, back when whit's noo the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh toun went by the name o the Empire Theatre. That wis back in the day when we actually had an Empire. Ma wee pal Maisie Crabbit wis aw excitit because The Great Lafayette wis comin tae the Empire, an she had managed tae get twa tickets through her Uncle Dod, wha used tae dae joinery-work oan the scenery there. The Great Lafayette wis yin o thae 'illusionists'. No ma cup o tea, but Maisie wis besottit wi him, she had photies o him oan her bedside cabinet an everythin, thocht he wis the bees-knees so she did, an he wis supposed tae be yin o the better turns o that sort, so ah agreed tae gang along wi her.

Ah picked her up aboot half-six. She came bouncin oot her stair door, aw dolled-up wi a touch o slap an a big cheesy grin oan her face. She wis that het-up she forgot tae even look up at her Golden Boy. Noo that shows ye the state she wis in.

Usin that as ma excuse, ah managed tae drag her intae Rutherford's Bar ower the road. "Ye'll be needin somethin tae settle yer nerves Maisie" says ah, "Come oan, jist the yin an ye'll feel a lot better"

Ah couldnae help but laugh at the look oan her face when ah got her inside. Ye wid think ah had taen her intae the auld Queen's private cludgie insteid o a fairly ordinary wee drinkin-shop! She wis like a startilt rabbit lookin doon the barrel o a fairmer's gun her een were that wide. Ah'm sure she thocht the men in there were gaunnae bite her arse. Awfy sheltered life she led, it wis a shame really...

So aye, efter a few sherries we daunered ower tae the theatre an got settled doon. The support acts werenae up tae much if ye ask me. Some auld wife singin oot o tune, a wummin wi a dancin dug, a wee laddie that looked like yin o thae eunuchs an singin the same way, that sortae thing. Ah wished ah had brought ma big gong wi me, an ah wid hae been beltin it non-stop ah tell ye. Then, at last, oan came The Great Lafayette. He wis quite entertainin actually, ah'll gie him that much, an ah wis really warmin tae him. Ah couldnae make oot how in heaven he wis daein some o his tricks. Maisie, as per, wis near greetin wi adoration, her cheeks aw pink an rosy-lookin, her een as big as ashets. When the Great Lafayette looked oot tae the audience an asked fer volunteers fer his next trick, well, ah couldnae help masel, the sherry wis workin its magic, an up shot ma airm...

Weel! Did ma handbag no flee up in the air, get caught oan yin o the gas mantles at the side an cowp it right ower oan tae the front o the stage, an a big flame shot oot an set light tae the curtain! Maisie's face wis a picture!

There wisnae really ony panic. Theatre fires were run-o-the-mill in thae days, hooses were aye burnin doon, so the band struck up wi the National Anthem, we aw stood up an made fer the doors, an the big safety curtain startit tae descend. Aw the way doon it came, tae aboot a fit-an-a-half aff the stage, where it ground tae a halt. An ye ken whit that meant.

Mind when ye were settin yer coalfire o a mornin an ye wid haud a newspaper ower the front o the hearth tae draw the flame? Well that's exactly how the Empire Theatre behaved, an whoosh! up went the back half o the hoose. Murder polis it wis, an absolute inferno. Gutted.

Me an Maisie had tae go back tae Rutherford's fer another wee sherry or twa tae settle oor nerves again. A'body wis askin whit had happened, an ah jist had tae play dumb, ah wisnae wantin the polis at ma door, no again. Maisie near gave the game awa so ah had tae kick her under the table, quite a few times as it so happens. Next day ah went back up tae the Empire tae retrieve ma handbag. Here ye can see me tryin tae find it (that's me in the big hat) Needless tae say ah nivver found it an had tae shell oot 4/6d oan a new yin. Daylight robbery so it wis.

The Great Lafayette perished in the fire ah'm sorry tae say, an they found his body the next mornin, then again efter dinner, an again later that night. "Eh?" ah hear ye say, "Three times?" That's right, three times in aw they found his corpse. Ye see, the great 'illusionist' wis actually a great 'imposter', an he had aw these body-doubles, the cheeky swine! Nae wunner ah couldnae follae his act an how he wis daein his tricks. The only way that they could be sure it wis actually his corpse wis by the ring oan his finger. Ye see, him an Houdini were great pals, awfy close they were, an Houdini had slipped his ring oan tae Lafayette's finger!

That raised a few eyebrows...

So how am ah gled that ah caused the fire that burnt oot oor biggest theatre an knocked aff a world-famous stage act? Because tae this day, aw ower the world, when ye sit doon in a theatre, an afore the show starts, they'll aye bring doon the safety curtain, aw the way doon tae the stage an back up again, jist tae show ye that they can, an that ye're no gaun tae burn in yer seats.

Are ye no awfy gled that ah had that bottle o' sherry?


  1. Eh've aye sid sherry is a grand tipple that gies ye thon Netherlands courage.

    Btw Sophia, my godmother's name was Maisie Crabb. Her nickname in the village was Maisie Crabbit. And here's me thinkin ye bide in Leith...

  2. Mrs Subrosa, they aften say it's a sma' world, an' there's yer proof right there. Are ye sure yer godmother never stayed up a stair in the Embra soo'side as a young lassie? Ah'm hopin' ah've nae stumbled ower a skeleton in yer closet so tae speak. Ah had a lot o' time fer wee Maisie, she might hae been a wee bit daft, but she had a heart o' pure gold.

  3. I don't know about a small world, but I've heard that there a lot of Crabbit women about - I don't know any, myself, so I can't back the statement up with facts.

  4. Wha needs facts tae back up their opinions? Ah've nivver depended oan them. When ye've been aroon' fer a while ye notice that the facts keep changin' onyroads.

    Mind when they said it wis a fact that the world wis flat? Then they said it wis a fact that it's roond, an' noo they're sayin' it's a fact that it's aw made up o' wee strings bundled up in eleeven dimensions.

    Ah rest ma case.

  5. String theory? Soonds like a Labour politico: "an article wi zero mass an' twa units o' spin."

  6. Is that no where ye loast that hat o yours. An there's you blamin' that wee Vaticano bloke... damned shame....

  7. tris ye may be right ye know. Come tae think o' it ah mind gettin' hame that night wi' only yin shoe oan, an' nae stockin's either. It got a bit hazy in Stewart's bar efter the fire, aw the men kept buyin' me mair drink ye see...

    Ah still think the Pope pinched ma hat tho. He looks the type.

  8. I've just posted on the subject Sophia... and how much damned money it's costing to get the damned thing back from him.....

    Oh... maybe I shouldn't say damned in a post about the Pope?

  9. Well, ah ken it's a lot o' money tris, but sometimes ye cannae put a price oan guid taste in hats.

    An' ye can damn an' curse aw ye want in here, it's an enlightened hoose. Especially aboot the Pope.

  10. It looks like the Empire, sorry, the Festival Theatre are wantin tae mak a song an' dance oot o' the centenary o' the fire when it comes up next year ( Ah hope they nivver found ma handbag, or read ma story...

  11. Maybe it would be worth letting them know about that wee German immigrant to that funny wee country in the middle of Rome, and a certain hat he has.... Maybe Plod would be interested in where he was on the night of.....

  12. Aye tris, come tae think on it, the wee German man's aye got wee laddies cairryin candles aboot wherever he goes. Ah could say ah saw the German shooglin yin o' the wee laddies oan his knee, an' he must've cowped the laddie's candle ower, startin the fire! Aye, an' then he must've pinched ma hat in the kefuffle tae get oot!

    Ah'll get that hat back yin day, some way...

  13. I knew you'd find the answer to the problem somehow Sophia. That germans predisposition for candles and such like had to be an asset to someone sometime....

    But I bet he thought it was worth it to have bagged that hat... pity about the shoes and bag, but you can't have everything...even if your the pope.

  14. Listen the wee German could likely walk better in ma heels than ah can! Ah've aye took a fower inch heel, they gie ye a purpose in life when ye walk, unless ah'm oan the stairs.

  15. It is a good thing to have a purpose in ife.... so now I know what yours is. I wonder what his is?

  16. Ye mean ither than shooglin wee laddies oan his knees till they're boakin?

    It worries me that the impression he gies ye is that that WIS his purpose in life, tae become Pope, an' onybody wi that purpose has tae be a bit suspect.

  17. You'll doubtless be pleased to know that I never wanted to be Pope... not even once. Although Vatican has a nice climate in the winter and Castel Gondolfo has a lovely climate in the summer.....

    Tell you what Sophia, if i get the job I'll let you have your hat back! Howzat?

  18. You go fer it tris, ah'll gie ye a reference sae glowin that we could shut aw the power stations doon an' still be able tae read in bed! It wid be grand if ye got the job tae, an' ye could bring a wee bit o' Scottish enlightenment tae the heart o' Rome.

    Ye're no jist gaun fer the job so ye can get yer hauns oan ma hat tho are ye? It's a bit o' an enchanted hat ye ken. Abody that pits it oan their heid starts talkin keich while thinkin they're bein aw sage an profoond. Apart fae masel that is. Obviously.

  19. Oh Good Lord no (see I'm practizing for when I get the job). No, I'll put yer hat in the post right away when I arrive there, although it may take a wee while to go through all the wee mans wardrobes and throw out all these long white and multicoloured frocks he has. So your hat will nevr touch my head. I wouldn't ever want to be accused of talking keich now would I?

    I'll modernise the place. I favour jeans and tee shirts for uniform...and on that I will not be moved.... and Scots enlightment will be my mission in Vaticanland.....

    You can come out for a visit.

    PS: I like red shoes though, so I hope he's the same size as me.

  20. Weel ye ken tris, there's guid reason aw the Cardinals ca him Imelda ahint his back. Ye should be able tae find yersel a pair that fit in his shoe wardrobe.

    An' if ye're postin ma hat tae me, mind an' pit it in a nice big hat box, aye?

  21. Don't you worry .... the box will be HUGE and loads of tissue paper to keep it safe....even from the Royal mail. There'll have a picture of me on the stamp. Pope Tris. That should get then m moving!!

    Imelda you say....? Yes, it suits him... it has a ring to it.