Hootlander - Part 10

The Corries

Skye and Angus are paired up to stay with Mr and Mrs Corrie.

“Call me Morag, and my man is called Joe”.

“Is your name related to the Community Centre.” asks Skye.

“In a way,” replies Joe. “My grandfather was the poet Joe Corrie, and the Centre is named after him. He was born in Slamannan and worked in the coal mines. T.S Eliot described him as "the greatest Scots poet since Robert Burns.”

“We know who Robert Burns was from our Burns Suppers at the Scottish American Society, but who was T.S.Eliot?” asks Angus.

“T.S.Eliot was one of your countrymen, and reckoned to be one of the twentieth century's major poets. I believe he became a British subject and renounced his American nationality. My Grandfather Joe wrote some great poems about the realities of Scottish working class life. My two favourite poems are hanging on the wall here…”

I Am The Common Man - Poem by Joe Corrie

I am the Common Man.I am the brute and the slave,I am the fool, the despisedFrom the cradle to the grave.I am the hewer of coal,I am the tiller of soil,I am serf of the seasBorn to bear and to toil.I am the builder of halls,I am the dweller of slums,I am the filfth and the scourgeWhen winter’s depression comes.I am the fighter of wars,I am the killer of men,Not for a day or an ageBut again and again and again.I am the Common Man.But Masters of mine take heed,For you have put into my headOh! many a wicked deed.

It’s fine when ye stand in a queue
at the door o’ the ‘Dole’
on a snawy day
To ken that ye leive in the bonniest land in the world,
the bravest, tae.

It’s fine when you’re in a pickle
Whether or no’
you’ll get your ‘dough’,
To Sing a wee bit sang
o’ the heather hills,
And the glens below.

It’s fine when the clerk says
’Nae ‘dole’ here for you!’
To proodly turn,
and think o’ the bluidy slashin’
the English got
at Bannockburn.
— Joe Corrie

“Was your grandfather one of those progressive socialists?” asks Angus. “We are Republicans, like Robert Burns.”

“Oh no, my grandfather was a Communist and very proud of it. And by the way, Robert Burns supported the ideas of the French Republicans and the early American Republic. He would be horrified to be associated with your modern Republican party.”

“Let's no get involved in political arguments,” begs Morag.

“Why no?” retorts Joe.

“Weel, these folks are oor guests an it's rude tae discuss politics an religion.”

“Since when?” replies Joe. “I'm sure these lads would like to explain their beliefs, and why they are so enthralled by a TV series about Scottish Highlanders and the Jacobites. I bet they don't even ken whit a Jacobite was.”

“I think the Jacobites were followers of Jacob...out of the Old Testament...him with a coat of many colours,” offers Skye. “I’ve seen Jacob’s biscuits for sale here in the shops. Are they some kind of holy wafer?”

Joe starts laughing and laughing. After he composes himself he says, “Jest as I thought—you are totally clueless. For your information, the Jacobites were followers of King James II of England and VII of Scotland. The Latin for James being Jacobus. King James II was a Catholic and was deposed in favour of King William of Orange, who was a Protestant. Around here King William is referred to as King Billy, and most folks in this toon are referred to as Billys. Do ye get it? In America ye have these Protestants loyal to King William who came from the North of Scotland and settled in the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. They were called hill Billys—hillbillys!”

“Joe continues, “The Jacobites mostly believed in the Divine Right of Kings and these Catholics were mostly in the Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Ireland and parts of Northern England. Besides the 1689-1691 war between James and William, there were several Jacobite revolts in Scotland and England between 1689—1746, and many unsuccessful plots. The collapse of the 1745 Rising ended Jacobitism as a serious political movement. You see, yer Jamie and Claire were supporting the Jacobites, and if they were to come here, they would not be welcome. They would probably get horribly killed. The Orange Lodge and its flute-and-drum band still hold an annual parade here to remind the populace of the Proddy dominance and the victory of Parliamentary Law over Divine Rights.”

“But what about the Bonny Prince? Where does he fit in?” asks Angus.

“He was jist an opportunist who in the end abandoned his followers to save his own skin. Just a debauched scoundrel, in my opinion.” adds Joe. “The war of 1745 ended the clan system, but that was inevitable. Many people who joined the Jacobite army were opposed to the Union of Parliaments in 1707, and wanted an Independent Scotland. Some were Episcopalians. Some were out for the adventure and loot. And some were Catholics loyal to James and Bonny Prince Charlie.”

“I take it that you don't like Outlander,” asks Skye.

“Far from it!” retorts Joe. “we all love Outlander around here.”

“Why is that?” asks Angus.

“Maist o us were lang term unemployed afore Ootlander. The mines closed in the 1970's an there has been precious little work since. The toon went doonhill. A lot of folks moved oot and wi paedophiles and nutters being sent tae fill empty Council hooses, druggies and criminals made Slamannan their headquarters and decent folk were scared tae gang oot. Then there were the “Ice Cream Wars.” You see that hoose ower there? It was burnt oot by an arson attack. It was a revenge attack over druggie turf wars. The Italian family that lived there all died in their beds. Incinerated!”

“Wars over ice cream? Are you kidding?” asks Angus.

“Weel, there are vans or mobile shops that go around these poor areas selling ice cream. But that's jist a cover fir sellin’ drugs an cheap bakky (tobacco). Loads o’ money involved, so turf wars were waged over territory and profits. Efter the murders, the Polis clamped doon on the business and things have been quiet for a year or twa.”

Cumbernaulds Bonny Toon Centre

Cumbernaulds Bonny Toon Centre

“So, why do you all love Outlander?' asks Skye.

“Weel, not far away, jist ower the hill fram here is the Bonny Toon o' Cumbernauld. But I'm being sarcastic. Cumbernauld is a place town planners visit tae learn what no tae dae. Efter Hull, Cumbernauld wis voted the second crappiest toon in the UK, but has won the Scottish Carbuncle Awards twice (2001, 2005) an wis runner-up in 2015 for “Plook on the Plinth” Scotland's ninth most populous town wis designed tae plug Glasgow's hoosin’ crisis in 1950's.

“Its Toon Centre is probably yin o' the ugliest buildings ever conceived. But noo its claim tae fame is the huge Outlander filming set inside a large former clothing company warehouse. A huge indoor studio complex his been built in the auld warehouse just off the M80 motorway in Cumbernauld. Outlander maks a significant contribution tae the amaist £70 million in film and TV production spent in Scotland last year, as weell as employing around 300 crew in Cumbernauld and takin’ on nearly 100 trainees tae develop their industry skills.

“The owner of the Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, his recently unveiled ambitious plans that wid see the complex become the first dedicated film studio in Scotland. I read that Scotland’s tourism numbers are also bein’ boosted wi Outlander showcasing Scotland’s landscapes and tourist attractions, wi some attractions reporting a 92% rise in visitors. A lot of people in Scotland are daeing verra weel oot o' Outlander, oorsells included.”

“How do you do well out of Outlander?” queries Angus.

“Weel, a lot o' us hae jobs, building the sets, makin’ costumes, driving actors aroond an getting parts as extras on the film sets.” replied Joe.

“That explains things,” says Angus, “I thought some of the people's faces in the town looked familiar. I must have seen them in episodes of Outlander?”

“Aye,” says Joe, “They are always looking for extras, and maist o' the toun hiv appeared in various Outlander episodes. Extras in the Outlander series are aboot the only regular work around here, nowadays. In fact they are filmin' a big scene for Outlander in a couple o' days, an' they need lots o' extras. I'll speak tae the producer the morra and if yer flight is still delayed we may be able tae get ye pairts on the set.”

“Wow. That would be incredible. To actually take part in a real Outlander episode. Wow, wow, wow, that would be fantastic. And we'll maybe get to see Jamie and Claire and the Real Stone Circle.

“Aye, ye'll get tae see the REAL Stane Circle,” says Joe with a chuckle and a wink.

“We've made up yer beds in the upstairs rooms an I'll show ye whaur the toilet is, “ says Morag. “Just follow me. Breakfast will be at eight. Do ye like parritch an tea?s