Monday, May 27, 2013

The Scottish Play; Macbeth

I am a secret squirrel. On a secret mission.


(the secret castle; our mission)
I am undercover to do a dangerous and thrilling investigation for Murder is Everywhere. I am standing in for Caro Ramsay who knows absolutely nothing about my secret quest.  My current position is somewhere on the battlements of Cawdor Castle.  My mission (as I wished to accept it) is to find the truth about the Thane of Cawdor. I am the 'Wean of Cawdor'. If you are from Glasgow, that is a really funny joke. If not, laugh anyway. Who is the Thane of Cawdor I hear the illiterati ask?  You may know him as another name.
Yes that one. But it's bad luck to say it, so it's Mac****!

Mark McManus
I always thought that Taggart was the best murder drama to come out of Scotland but it turns out that the Shakespeare chappie got there first.
All that  'Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?' stuff ( Was he on drugs? Od'd on the Irn Bru? I need to know).  Him of the double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and caldron bubble. Wouldn't know about that, we have an Aga.                                         

The pink pest err princess from Inverness

 I will be both assisted and hindered in my assignment by The Pink Princess of Inverness (see poetry and everything!!). She is mostly a hindrance due to her pink addiction.  Also on duty is the Hound of the Baskernuts ...  Hector is a ferocious hound. A dog who will defend us to his death, against all enemies fearless and brave - unless you give him a hobnob. He doesn't bite.  The thought of him sitting on you is terrifying enough.
           Descended from a wolf, evolved into a sofa

Our quest, dear Murder Is Everywhere readers is to prove or disprove that Macbeth was a  murderer. Or if he existed?  Where does the fiction stop and the fact start? Or vice versa?  I will examine the detail of the transgressive nature of  Macbeth  within a psychosocial  framework of the history in a temporal space and the literature using the Frankfurt school of critical theory.

                                                                                 Me, secret squirrel at your service
 First I will have an ice cream.
Once I have passed my first challenge, getting the ice cream in my mouth and not all over my face, I am going to begin by exploring the Scottish play that the Brummie bloke with the funny beard wrote while considering his beard and his hairstyle and thinking that he might have his head on upside down.
The play-that-must-not-be-named kicks off by being scary ... very scary indeed. The three old biddies like my granny and her bingo pals are having a wee chin wag  while boiling their underwear in a cauldron and  they  promise MacB*** great things. Probably a bit like being in front of Sharon Osbourne  on the X factor.
They tell him that he will become Thane of Cawdor, like a sheriff, then king of Scotland. The only problem is Scotland already had a king.
 Kings in these days were a bit like reality TV shows and cuts in public spending. Don't worry if you miss one, there will be another one along in minute.
 Mac**** has a wee think about all this but his missus is a bit of a pushy bird and forces him to do bad things.
I have no idea where Shakespeare went but he never came to Burnham wood - and the wood  never got as far as Dunsinane. "Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him."  I tried this journey, moving the forest twig by twig as you can see.
 Cawdor has a great wood of its own, thank  you! 
Dunsinane Hill is near the village of Callace in Perthshire. It is not very high. As hills go, in Scotland, it's rubbish.  
In a nutshell, Mrs. Mac**** is a bit pushy, she aids and abets the death of King Duncan so her husband can be king. But the old dears said it was the descendants of Banquo who will reign so Mac**** kills Banquo to stop that happening. But Mac**** is troubled by a ghost, his conscience, indigestion or just the fact that his missus never stops moaning.  From then on it's a bit like a Caro Ramsay novel, everybody dies, or goes mad, often both at the
 same time.  
Like most fiction writers, Shakespeare never allowed truth or geography to get in the way of a good story. The real Mac**** was a big red headed guy who told jokes a lot. When he was in charge the country ran well and at a profit. Which  is more than be said for the current situation.  Mac**** went on tour, a bit like Kate and William but without the frocks.  He also nipped over the border and bopped the English a few times for which we applaud him. This was all around the 11th century which makes him slightly older than my dad but Mac**** had more hair.  In Scots he was called Mac Bethad mac Findláich so you see why it's wise to resort to asterisks.  It means   Mac**** son of Finlay. Who his mother actually was is not agreed on, but presumably his dad had some vague idea.
Then the English butted in as usual, upsetting the peace and quiet. In 1054, Macbeth was  challenged by Siward,  Earl of Northumbria.  Siward was attempting to return Duncan's son Malcolm Canmore, (his nephew) to the throne.  Are you following all this?  In 1057, Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire by Malcolm, who then went on later to become Malcolm III.
Not Malcolm X, that was a different dude all together.
And that was the end of that. No witches, no ghosts, no wandering about seeing daggers before my eyes, no soliloquies on battlements. But then  how would we know about a soliloquy if the point is that nobody else hears it.  Or do you eavesdrop while hiding behind the arras while  discussing what  pencil to use.. 2B or not 2B. Or am I on the wrong play now?

Old Will knew how to coin a phrase. Fair is foul, and foul is fair... which is how my dad plays football.

“Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy”
Lady Macbeth finds that getting what you want doesn't bring peace. She knew that thing about you don’t get what you want - you get what you need.
This is my trip to Cawdor castle, this is indeed Cawdor castle but it might not really have much to do with anything, the family still live there, the young laird still goes around the village, starting the annual tug of war competition. The castle is open to visitors in the summer, but as this was too early, we went sneak about. With The Pink Princess of Inverness and the Hound of the Baskernuts.

The pink pest with her invisible Sig Hauer (left hand). See dead ted in the back ground, he was used as target practice.

 As I said, Cawdor Castle is famous for the Great Wood, it’s not great it’s fantastic!

It has loads of trees; Birch, Aspen, Rowan, Wych Elm, Holly and Juniper. Scots Pine, Oak and Beech. The wood is lovely with stitchwort, bluebell, ferns, mosses and honeysuckle all mixing with young saplings.
 There's also dippers, capercaillies, herons, wrens and numerous species of birds of prey mixed with migrants from crossbills to waxwings.  Wild pheasants are everywhere! The wild peasants stay in the village.
Red and roe deer have a wee wander in as well, relaxed in the knowledge that the hound of the baskernut is way too fat to chase anything except pizza.
I need to end my report now, as it is bath time.

Name - Secret Squirrel,
Location - Cawdor Castle 
Rank - very small person
signing off for Murder is everywhere, Monday 27th May 2013, bedtime.


  1. Dear Secret Squirrel. You and Pink Pest, assisted by the Hound of B***, have all done Scotland proud. I now understand the origins of Big Mac*** better than ever sadly I was first introduced to the fancy fellow by "English" teachers.

    You've earned your ice-cream. And I look forward to buying your personal bard a wee nip in less than a week in Bristol.

  2. I'm not sure I've laughed this much in a long time. I like your take on the Scottish play, especially the modern references. And Jeff, you are so-o-o funny. Big Mac, indeed. Is there going to be a new book from Ms. Ramsay?