6/25 Scotland’s Storytellers, Supernatural Theft, and Ronald MacDonald

This morning I finally tried haggis for the first time at breakfast. Though this was cafeteria haggis and I’m sure there is better, it was okay, but not that great. I felt that I couldn’t leave Scotland without at least trying haggis once, though with knowing what is in it I had my reservations. With being Polish though, I know I’ve eaten stuff just as peculiar, but at least I didn’t know what was in it! It has always been a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of thing with that.

We then had a class meeting in which we all talked about our project status. Because of losing my laptop, I now had to start from the beginning again on my book, and lost many hours worth of work because I already had a lot of it written. Dr. Rushing was able to save most of my pictures though, thankfully the most important ones from my weekend in Skye and Inverness, but I still lost all the pictures before the visit to Stirling on the last day of our Highlands weekend. When I saw my Isle of Skye pictures popping up on Dr. Rushing’s computer, there are not words to describe the joy I felt knowing they were saved. Several in our group have said they will share pictures with me as well, so I will get some pictures from them from prior to Stirling.

I decided that because I lost all the journals I had been working on as well (almost a weeks worth), I would just wait until I got back to the states to do them. Because my final project will be a book that will be very expensive to order online at blurb.com, I am assuming that most people will not read it, so I want to bring out some of the main points of my research in my journals (and hopefully people will read these).

Losing my computer was a big blow, but knowing my time left in Scotland was limited was almost equally sad. I absolutely love this country, and rather than spending the remaining time staring at a computer screen in the university lobby trying to redo my lost writings, I wanted to experience as much as I could before my sad departure, and rewrite everything after it was over.

Rather than just writing some simple journals just to get them up quickly, I have so much to say about my experiences and research that needs to be said. Showing some what I have gathered is more important to me than getting them up in a timely manner, because these journals will be up forever. This day would turn out to be yet another highly important day for my research, as it was time to check out the Storytelling Centre the guide on the ghost tour had told me about a couple days earlier.

Chelsea, Bre, and I headed down to the Royal Mile after the meeting, and walked around to look at some shops. We then found an ATM next to Edinburgh Castle and ventured down High Street to the old John Knox house, which is where the Scottish Storytelling Centre is located.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre was exactly what I was looking for. It consists of a café, storytelling court, theatre, library, and bookstore. I spoke with the man at the counter and he seemed eager to be as much help as possible. I could tell I was in a special place. This is where all the stories of Scotland are celebrated and enjoyed, and these people at the centre are very proud and eager to share them.

The man at the counter told me I could normally schedule a meeting with some folklorists and storytellers, but because I was leaving in two days there wasn’t enough time. He gave me a bunch of literature about the centre and told me to check out the storytelling court to begin my research, and then come back to talk to him for further information on what I saw in the court.

The storytelling court wasn’t very big, but it hit on the major stories through Scotland’s history. The thing that made me feel very good about my research thus far was that I was already familiar with almost all of them. This reinforced the feeling that I had certainly gained much of the knowledge I set out for in my plan for writing my book, and everything was now coming together. Then Bre came over and told me the man at the counter wanted to talk with me again.

The man showed me a book called “Storytelling Scotland: A Nation in Narrative,” by Donald Smith, the director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre. When flipping through the book, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on the pages of this book was exactly what I set out to study, and was laid out similar to the manner of my pre-departure essay for the class: a chronological journey through Scottish myth, folklore, story, and legends, and how they have shaped the interpretations of the history and culture of Scotland.

This book would be possibly the most important source for my research, and the man gave me Donald Smith’s e-mail address so I could contact him with further questions. I was on “cloud nine,” and the sour thoughts of losing my computer had dissipated for the first time since the incident. Lady Luck was on my side once again.

After purchasing the book, Chelsea, Bre, and I then looked through a few more shops on the Royal Mile, then set off to Princes Street to do more shopping. I saw a guy shooting bubbles from a bubble gun, and there were bubbles flying all over Princes Street. It was pretty neat.

We then went into a shopping mall and roamed around to different stores. The majority of these stores were women’s stores, and women’s departments of stores, and we spent a great deal of time in them while Chelsea and Bre browsed. Although this doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun for me, I am an easy going guy so it didn’t bother me. I flipped through the book a bunch while I was waiting. One shop we were in had some pretty funny books that I flipped through as well, particularly a hilarious book about midges.

We then went into some more shops down Princes Street, one of which we were in for what seemed like forever. The shop clerk was very friendly and was telling Chelsea and I about this crazy sport called Shinty, which is a more hardcore version of field hockey or hurling. He told us that he played one time and would never play again. The sport is primarily played in the Scottish Highlands, which doesn’t surprise me because Highlanders are pretty crazy hardcore.

After that we headed back to the dorms to rest for a bit, and then I met Chelsea up at the campus pub to do some things on the internet on her computer. Dr. Rushing showed up and I talked with him a bit. It seemed like Dr. Rushing was just as upset about me losing my laptop as I was from the time I lost it (and some in the class have said he seems more upset about it than I do), so I think it is good to make as much light of the situation as possible, even though the situation is steeped in darkness.

We were joking around about it and then Dr. Rushing came up with a highly likely explanation of what happened. With my research in Scotland probing into the fairy realm, I obviously must have angered the fairies and they put some sort of spell on me to steal my computer. That seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation to me for what happened, so I’m sticking to it!

If I had more time, I could go back up to the Isle of Skye, break into Dunvegan Castle and wave the Fairy Flag to ask the fairies for my computer back. Although the MacLeods would be pretty ticked if I used the third and final remaining use on that!

Chelsea and I then met up with Bre, and went to eat some Indian food. I ate some curry that was very good. It had coconut in it so it was kind of sweet, and I had never really eaten curry that tasted like that. It was a LOT of food too, as that was probably the biggest meal I had eaten the entire trip. It was so good though, I couldn’t stop until it was finished.

We then hopped on a bus and went down to the Royal Mile to check out some pubs. This Highlander guy with a thick accent came out of one of the pubs, directed us to the ATM, and then began trying his Highlander charm on Chelsea and Bre, particularly Bre. We then went to a pub he recommended that was supposed to have really cheap drinks, but it wasn’t cheap at all, and maybe even higher than some of the other pubs I had been to. There were some girls dancing in there, which seemed a rarity to me from what I had seen in Scotland so far as the pubs are mostly packed with dudes, so that was nice.

I had gotten a flier for a pub that was supposedly haunted, called Nichol Edwards, so we set off to look for it then realized it was just a few doors down from where we were. The flier said it was a three-level club with DJs and stuff, and from the looks of the flier I was thinking it would certainly draw an interesting crowd.

We got there and only one level was open, and there was hardly anyone in there. I asked one of the bouncers about the supposed hauntings and he didn’t know anything about it. He said that the pub was a stop on one of the ghost tours though, and there would be a group coming through soon so he would ask them for me. He then found me and told me the guide told him that there was a history of witches being killed there, and that there were some vaults similar to the South Bridge Vaults below the pub that are believed to be haunted with the ghosts of witches.

The pub wasn’t really happening that night, so we decided to go back to the Royal Oak, the pub that Bre and I had so much fun at a couple nights before. The Royal Oak was packed. It was so packed that we could hardly get through the door. Bre ran into an Irish guy she had met previously, and this swarm of guys came up to greet the two new female arrivals.

This has been a phenomenon throughout the trip. As I said previously, from my personal experiences with the pubs in Scotland, there are mostly guys, so when girls show up they get swarmed. I have hung out with most of the girls on this trip, and this happens every time. I want to keep an eye on them to make sure the guys don’t get out of hand, but at the same time I feel the need to stay out of the way so they can do their thing. I’ve even gotten a couple free drinks just from having the girls with me, so that has worked out well, as I did on this night again.

A problem is that there hadn’t really been many Scottish girls for me to talk to the whole trip (most of the girls in the pubs were there with their boyfriends), so while the girls with me are talking to guys, I just have to join in on their conversations, or try to strike up my own with random people.

I got in a conversation with this old man and found out that his name was Ronald MacDonald, which was hilarious, and he even showed me his ID to prove it. When I told him I was Polish, he kept going on and on about how he had so much respect for me for being proud of my Polish heritage, because he said most young people these days don’t think much about it. He was pretty hammered, and kept talking trash about Ronald McDonald saying he was a stupid clown with hamburgers, and that Ronald MacDonald was the real deal. I then introduced him to Chelsea and Bre, which I could tell he got a big kick out of.

After closing the pub down, we walked back to the dorms. I had a fun day hanging out with Chelsea and Bre, and with having so much luck at the Storytelling Centre, which put me in high spirits and made me think less about my computer. Hopefully the fairies will return it!

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2 thoughts on “6/25 Scotland’s Storytellers, Supernatural Theft, and Ronald MacDonald

  1. Shinty – It’s not as bad as you were lead to believe

    Go check out the official Shinty or Camanachd web site http://www.shinty.com/, only the goal keeper is allowed to use their hands and it’s against the rules to deliberately hit someone with your caman (stick). yes it’s a rough, physical, hardcore game, but also is fast moving and requires a high level of skill.

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