Last week Michael and I had the chance to go to a matinee performance of this year’s Student Show, Mary Torphins. As always, we had a great time and a good laugh. It was in the beautiful His Majesty’s Theatre:
The student show has been on the go since 1921, and didn’t even miss a year during WWII. Since we came to Aberdeen 20 years ago, we’ve been to as many as we could go to and have enjoyed them all. It’s always a satire comedy musical, written and performed by local student talent from Aberdeen College, the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon’s University. The standard of writing and performing is always amazingly high. And all the money raised goes to local charities, as part of the Aberdeen Students’ Charities Campaign. Last year Sleepless in Seaton raised £56,000 – no small amount!
You will guess that this year’s show was a take-off of P.L. Travers’ famous creation, Mary Poppins. Her Aberdonian name comes from a small village on Deeside called Torphins – where Michael and I went to the grocery-store-in-the-church. In Mary Torphins, we meet the Hill family who need a new nanny. Mr. Brimmond Hill is a local councillor; his wife Rose Hill is a rabble-rouser demonstrating to save the rare ginger beaver against the Council’s plan for a golf course, and their two children are Summer Hill and Kirk Hill. The head of the council is the evil Countess Wells. All these names are place names in Aberdeen, needless to say. Mary’s sidekick is a scaffie (rubbish collector) named Dick Van Donald. At the moment when Brimmond Hill realises he has alienated his family and probably lost his job as well – having not allowed his children to give money to the Big Issue seller outside Markies – order is restored. Countess Wells is fired by her paymaster, Donald Trump.
With local elections taking place next week, and Donald Trump mounting a huge personal campaign against all wind turbines in Scotland, the audience really enjoyed the chance to have a good laugh. My very favourite part was the finale, when we had the Doric (local dialect) version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:
Aye, aye, fit like? Foos’ yer doo’s? Ye ken fit like, aye peckin.
Understood in toon and forty mile aroon I reckon.
People south of Forfar though, might find it quite perplexin
Aye aye, fit like? Foo’s yer doo’s? Ye ken fit like, aye peckin!
The Um-tiddle-iddle-iddle part was: Ken fit ah’m on aboot, ken fit ah mean?
The translation is roughly: Hi there, how are you? How are you doing? [literally, how are your pigeons?] You know how it goes, I’m fine [they’re still pecking] / Understood in town and for forty miles around, I reckon… And: Do you know what I’m on about, do you know what I mean?
The line that had me laugh til I cried was at the very end, where Mary Torphins remarks, “Or you can say it backwards, which is nick-ep-eya-kile-tif-nek-ey-sood-rey-soof-ekil-tif-eya-eya!”
Thank you, Student Show, once again. We had a great time out.
For anyone who is in Aberdeen today, this evening is the annual fundraising Torcher Parade in town. The students will be making floats all day long today and the route will be lined by young and old ready to throw their pennies into the buckets that come around. I will confess to having been in the Torcher parade my first four years in Aberdeen, when I was studying Gaelic. I had a wonderful time. The fourth year I was one of the torchbearers and wore a costume from a shop – bit of a cheat! I was dressed as Snow White. A few weeks later we adopted our son, who was nearly four. When he saw the photo of me from the parade, he said gravely, “I never want you to dress up as Snow White again!” And indeed, I never have.