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THORNS FROM THE THISTLE THORNS FROM THE THISTLE

Category: Mrs. Brown News
Article Date: August 20, 1997 | Publication: DAILY MAIL (London) | Author: Roddy Martine
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The clan trash that may have a wry tale to tell

IN COMMON with a large number of Scots around the world, I have a maternal connection with Clan Donald, and am therefore fascinated by what is currently taking place on the island of Islay. For 400 years, Macdonald chiefs lived on two islands in the middle of Loch Finlaggan, and Army specialists have now been recruited to help archaeologists sift through the silt at the bottom of the loch looking for clan relics.

David Caldwell, curator of the Scottish mediaeval collections at the National Museums of Scotland, explains that what they hope to find is long-ago clan rubbish thrown into the water. In contemporary terms, this is not dissimillar to searching the garbage cans of the rich and famous. If Elizabeth Taylor's bin bags can reveal details of her sex life and diet, just think what the Lords of the Isles might have got up to.

When bad publicity is good for business

BY AND large the Scots are a welcoming race, but there is an understandable resistance to the English sneaking north of the Border and taking the Scots shilling. So it was to be expected that the arrival of London's much-hyped Groucho Club, in the capital for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival, would be viewed with suspicion. Even so, the announcement by certain members of the Scottish media's chattering classes that after just a few days in business the Groucho had proved a monumental failure was far from fair.

Curiously, however, it was to prove just the kind of publicity boost the Groucho required.

Far from deterring locals and would-be thespians from going along to see for themselves, it has positively encouraged them. By the end of the first week of the Festival the place was mobbed.

BOTH Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly are tipped for Oscars following their performances in the film Mrs Brown, which depicts the friendship between the widowed Queen Victoria and the Aberdeenshire ghillie who became her constant companion. Only Connolly's distinctive Glasgow accent and that of his brother, played by Gerard Butler, tends to let the part down. Two elderly ladies leaving the premiere at Edinburgh's Dominion Cinema last Saturday were overheard discussing the subject. 'I had nae idea them Browns frae Dunfermline were related,' said one of them. 'Not at all, Sadie,' said the other, 'you'll be thinking of them Clyde shipyard Browns. They're the ones with the royal connections.'

THOSE who have received the Scottish Office's guide to the referendum vote may have noticed that on the back page there is a postscript to say that copies are available in six languages - Gaelic, Cantonese, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati and Urdu, revealing just how multicultural Scotland has become these days. These different versions are all available free on request. My tip, therefore, is to take the trouble to get hold of the full half dozen.

Irrespective of how the vote turns out on September 11, a complete set will almost certainly be a collector's item in years to come. And as far as I can see, it's the only sure-fire way any of us will make money out of devolution.

WARNED that Edinburgh has become the most car-hostile city in Europe, Bristol-based painters Rowland Wallis and Jonathan Macfarlane decided they would stop off with friends en-route to the Festival this year. From there they completed the second half of their journey by train. When asked where they had managed to park the car, Rowland replied: 'Yorkshire'.

Copyright 1997 Associated Newspapers Ltd.

 


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