Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Clarissa and the Wild Scotsmen

This photo was taken on Coodham Loch on January 3, 2010, as a number of enthusiasts were enjoying a great day curling on outside ice (photos here). David Smith is talking to local resident Katrina Tweedie, not herself a curler, but enjoying herself with her family skating on the loch.

The scene reminded me of a story David had written for the Hogliner daily magazine when the World Ladies Championship was held at Paisley's Lagoon Centre in 2005. Here's what he wrote:

"By the 1920s, when the following poem was composed, curling was very popular in Switzerland in all sorts of Alpine places, such as Chateau d’Oex, and Wengen and Kandersteg and St Moritz.

The game was as yet little played by the native Swiss but large numbers of Brits - English as well as Scots - spent a week or more in fine hotels enjoying outdoor curling in what was often clear, sunny weather. The apr├Ęs-curl was very important.

The poem and illustration are from a delightful little volume, Winter Sportings, by Reginald Arkell, published in 1929. Clarissa’s picture is by Lewis Baumer. Both convey the spirit of the times vividly.

The Girl Who Was Torn to Pieces by Wild Scotsmen

Clarissa - isn’t it a shame,
I can’t recall her other name,
I knew it once, but I forget -
Was just a modest violet
Who simply couldn’t stand a crowd.
She only asked to be allowed
To luge or bob or skate or ski
When no one else was there to see:
Avoided carnival and ball -
Was not gregarious at all.

Clarissa, one December day,
Had just arrived at Chateau d’Oex,
When she espied a sheet of ice
That looked particularly nice.
It’s surface was beyond compare,
No single skater skated there -
Clarissa didn’t stop to think,
She skated on the Curling Rink.

Oh me! Oh my! Oh us! Oh you!
There was a Bonspiel overdue,
And fifty lairds had taken pains
To polish up their granite stanes;
And fifty lairds were lurking round
The Curling Rink - that holy ground.

Beginners, please! The stage is set!
Clarissa lit a cigarette.
She puffed it gaily once or twice,
The threw it down upon the ice;
Waved to the Scotsmen standing by
And started in to do or die.

She died! In agony untold!
The dreadful details I withhold,
But, if you see a piece of ice,
That looks particularly nice,
Dear Reader, ere you start to skate,
Ponder upon Clarissa’s fate."

Needless to say, Katrina did not venture onto the curling rink last Sunday. Indeed her presence at Coodham was much appreciated by all the wild scotsmen present on the day - she heated up the lunchtime soup for us all. Thanks Katrina!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done. Bob