Elaine C Smith and the good burghers of the Silver City

I went to see Elaine C Smith’s stand up show last night. She filled Aberdeen’s big theatre, His Majesty’s, she has much that is hilarious to say on Scotland, Glasgow, Aberdeen (where she’s a regular star in the Christmas panto), the relations between the sexes, and a lot else besides. She also has a powerful voice and regaled us with, indeed made us sing along to, some songs we all knew, making us realise how weird they were, not least ‘Living Doll’ with its dodgy line

Gonna lock her up in a trunk.

It was great stuff.

I say all that (a) because it’s true and (b) because of what I’m about to say on one aspect of the evening.

She said three things about the independence referendum.

  1. She’s for Yes. I think most of us in the audience knew that but she confirmed it in a way that could scarcely cause offence to anyone
  2. Whatever our view, we should get out there and vote (quite right)
  3. The referendum was a once in a life time opportunity and had caused a ferment of discussion and creativity across the nation (this last is a paraphrase as I don’t carry a notepad and pencil in the theatre).

Point 3. annoyed me for the reason these sorts of statements annoy most people who want to keep Scotland together with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you believe in independence, of course you’re stimulated, excited etc etc by the potential. If you’re not, well hell’s bells you’ve been dragged into years of indecision about something you never wanted and will hate if it happens. So not quite so exciting for us (and before anyone jumps in with a reminder of the mandate the SNP has to carry out the referendum, yes I accept that fully. But it’s still a pain).

Point 1. was most interesting for me. In her usual gallus fashion, Elaine made a bit of a performance about telling us she was for Yes – a full cry of ‘Yeeees’, a punch in the air, arms extended to embrace the entire audience and encourage a positive response.

That response was fascinating. A small minority of people wooted, clapped as hard as they could and cheered. There was one near me so I know how hard they tried. As for the rest, they sat politely and mostly silently for the hue and cry to be over. I’m sure I even detected a tut of slight disapproval from some.

And that was just like the whole referendum debate itself. The professionals on both sides apart, an extremely vocal and enthusiastic minority making all the noise, the rest of us sitting there quietly letting them get on with it, just emerging now and then to ask a question or, sadly, correct a blatant falsehood.

The danger of course, with all the recent polls (indeed all the polls) is that the quiet majority think it’s all over and don’t turn out to do on 18th September what they need to.

I hope Elaine returns to His Majesty’s Theatre for this year’s panto and I hope she’s not too downcast by the No vote that the good burghers of the Silver City will surely deliver in a few weeks’ time.

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