Tag Archives: glasgow

The Haggis, The Spaceman and the Glaswegian Elvis (based on Theseus and the Minotaur)

Over the past two Saturdays I have worked with Whizz Kids Clubs in Scotland. In the first session we told Theseus and the Minotaur. I then challenged the group to make up characters who might live in an alternative labyrinth. The characters were so spectacular that I decided to throw them all into one wacky and wonderful reinterpretation of Theseus and the Minotaur. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed telling it.

Dramatis Personae

The Purple Haggis – King Aegeus

The Emperor Zurg – King Minos

The Half Pig Man from Granny’s Farm – Theseus

The Fire Monster – The Minotaur

Elvis with a sooth tooth and in need of a haircut – Ariadne

The Story

Not so very long ago the Emperor Zurg from the fifth quadrant had sent his warships to attack the people of Scotland.  To protect them their leader, a purple Haggis from the shores of Loch Ness had ordered a “loch down”.  This meant that everything was closed and that Elvis who had a sore tooth and just wanted a haircut was out of luck; there wasn’t a dentist to cut your hair or a barber to pull your teeth to be found anywhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Learning what the Emperor had done to the people of Scotland, The Half Pig Man who lived on Granny’s Farm went to see the Purple Haggis on the shores of Loch Ness.  “I will challenge the Emperor Zurg’s Fire Monster” said the Half Pig Man “and if I win he will be forced to return to the fifth Quadrant”.  The Haggis was sure that the Half Pig Man would be killed by the Emperor Zurg’s Fire Monster but he could see he was determined and eventually agreed to let him go. The half Pig Man from Granny’s farm rode on the back of a wild elephant all the way to Glasgow where he met Elvis.  Elvis agreed to help the Half Pig Man if in return he would help him find a haircut.  The half Pig Man knew this would be impossible; he knew that all the barbers were closed and even if the loch down ended the queues would be ridiculous but he agreed to Elvis’s deal and together they went to face the Fire Monster.

Together they went to Erin’s house and discovered the Emperor Zurg under her bed.  “I have come to fight with your Fire Monster” said the Half Pig Man “and if I win you must return to the fifth quadrant.”  Hearing this Zurg laughed his most menacing laugh.

The Fire Monster turned out to be quite a nice Fire Monster and the Emperor Zurg was forced to return to the fifth Quadrant.  The Half Pig Man and Elvis then went in search of a haircut.  Together they rode on the back of the Wild Elephant to the city of Edinburgh where they met the Princess Street Garden Monster who was angry because people kept trampling his flowers.  Whilst Elvis and The Princess Street Garden Monster talked haircuts and dentistry the Half Pig Man slipped away back to the shores of Loch Ness where learning of the Emperor Zurg’s defeat the Purple Haggis lifted the Loch down and set the people of Scotland free to live happily ever after.

Despite a few technical issues it was an undeniable privilege and pleasure to work with the group and I’d like to thank Whizz Kids Clubs in Scotland for allowing me this opportunity and all the families and participants for their time and enthusiasm.

I’d like to finish this blog by sharing a thought. Today I used the story of Pandora’s Box to frame the group inspired story. When Pandora opened the box the horrors of the world escaped forevermore but the last thing to leave was hope. When all else was gone, hope lingered. As the “loch down” eases across the country we all hope for happier days, days when we can go about freely and laugh about the summer the word zoom became a verb. As we rush to kick start the new normal we must remember the lessons of the lock down and hope for a better future for everybody.

John Kirk is a professional storyteller telling stories in schools and libraries and at events and festivals.  For more information or to make an enquiry, complete a contact form.

Today I worked and it felt great!

Since the lockdown began opportunities to work have been scarce but today I ran a workshop with some families in Glasgow and Edinburgh and it felt absolutely brilliant. We played games, we told Greek Myths and we invented monsters. Yes, it was odd not to be face to face with the participants to encourage and cajole them through the session but I was able to adapt games and my style of storytelling for a young online audience (have you ever squirted someone with a water pistol remotely? it’s very satisfying).

Theseus and the Minotaur Greek Yoghurt Pots!

A massive thank you to Whizz Kidz Clubs in Scotland for inviting me to lead the session. I’m already looking forward to doing it all again next week!

John Kirk is a professional storyteller telling stories in schools and libraries and at events and festivals.  For more information or to make an enquiry, complete a contact form.

Postcard from the Wee Write! Festival 2018

I love Scotland.  I don’t really know why.  Perhaps it’s because we went there a lot on our family holidays or because of the happy times spent at Edinburgh Festivals in the early noughties.  Maybe it’s the accent or simply because I don’t have to spell out my surname to Scottish people but I have always had a soft spot for the place.  Anyway, the last time I worked in Scotland was on a schools tour almost fifteen years ago.  I have been trying to find a way of working there again ever since.  Earlier in 2018 I thought I’d cracked it; I booked dates for the summer in Moray, Angus, Fife and Dumfries and Galloway but the plan was scuppered because of my family commitments.  Then came The Beast from the East hit Britain.  It caused chaos and lead to the postponement of the Wee Write! Festival.  Determined to do something for young Glaswegians the organisers managed to pull together a wonderful programme of activity in just a few weeks.  I hadn’t been originally invited to participate but when I was contacted I didn’t think twice – I was Ton my way to Scotland!

“You take the high road and I’ll take every form of transport known to man, and I’ll be in Scotland before yee (maybe)!”

The thing about living in London and working in Glasgow is it’s a very long way and travelling on a Sunday is not easy.  So my day begins at 3.45am (you haven’t misread that) as my alarm goes and I hop in the shower having spent the night sleeping on Verity’s play mat in the living room.  I creep out of the house, terrified of waking her particularly as we’ve been camping this week and her sleep is all over the place from spending the night in our van.  By 4.10am I’m at the tube station.  I have used the night tube once before but never in the very depths of the night.  As a train geek this is brilliant fun and I’m excited to see that a service runs every 10 minutes through the night.  When the tube arrives it’s pretty empty but it soon fills up with people heading home from their nights out or, like me, to the airport.  When I reach Victoria I stroll along Buckingham Palace Road arriving just before 5am.  I try to talk my way onto an earlier bus but I’ve got no chance – all the buses from Victoria Coach Station have been fully booked from 3am because there’s no other way of reaching Luton at this time in the morning.  No worries, I wander back to Greggs for a sausage roll (yes, Greggs is open before 5am in Victoria Coach Station!).

At this stage I am not worried at all.  I have selected a bus which will get me to Luton in good time for my flight.  I had foolishly bought a rail ticket only to discover that I’d miss check in by a minute if I used it so as the bus gets underway I’m feeling pretty smug.  I read my book in the dawn light as we loll through the empty London streets.  Looking out the window the dew in Hyde Park gives the grass a very eerie appearance.  Everything is going fine until the bus suddenly stops.  The driver informs us that a joy rider has crashed a car and abandoned it in the middle of the road.  There is nothing on the road and the bus is still stuck.  The minutes are now ebbing away as the Police arrive and inspect the vehicle.  I know that they are working as fast as they can but as they check the vehicle over I am wishing they’d just find the hand brake and clear the road.  The bus finally gets through and we arrive at Luton Airport ten minutes late.  I have just enough time to check my bag before jogging through security and onto the the plane.  An hour later I am reunited with my bag and am queuing for a transfer into the city of Glasgow.

I have only been to Glasgow a couple of times but the central area has never struck me as being that big (it is however very hilly particularly if you misread the google map and go up the same hill twice!).  I finally find the Mitchell Library.  The Mitchell Library is one of the largest libraries I have ever been in and it has a beautiful early 20th century exterior.  Today its grandness is somewhat overshadowed by the fairly busy dual carriageway it sits next to but as I go inside and see the gathering crowds it is clear that the Mitchell Library is a much loved community asset.  Having said my hellos I make myself scarce for a while.  I take a turn along Bath Street and Sauciehall Street toward Buchanan Street stopping off to see the Duke of Wellington’s traffic cone hat before heading out onto the river Clyde and meandering via BBC Scotland back to the library.  It still pretty early and the city has a very relaxed feel about it; the city is awash with colour with everybody wearing either Celtic green or Race for Life Pink.  When I get back to the library the place is buzzing and there’s a very friendly atmosphere; there’s cartoonists leading master classes, toddler story times, a science workshop and people hanging out in the cafe space.  The children seem to be having a high old time.  In the foyer as I listen to the Seussical Musical it’s easy to forget that I am here to work.

Finally my moment arrives and I’m ushered into in the 400 seat Mitchell Theatre.  This venue has seen some seriously big names play on it.  I am doing a demanding double bill of “The Twits” and “The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog”.  The presentations go down well.  The audience seem to enjoy “The Twits” but it’s trickier to tell with Streaker.  It’s quite quiet in the auditorium for both stories as the crowd give very little away.  I worry that my brand of chaos seems to be getting lost in the vast auditorium and that I’m not getting up my usual momentum but there are still queues at the end of each session for photographs and lots of positive feedback.

Then as quickly as it all began my participation in the festival is over.  By 4.30pm I’m back on the street and after another couple of hours in Glasgow city centre its back to the bus stop and off to the airport only to find my flight has been delayed (it’s now nearly midnight and I’m still not quite home).  There are signs all over the city reminding its inhabitants that “People make Glasgow” well I will certainly remember the people who made my Wee Write! Festival so memorable and I am very grateful to the organisers for their hospitality and the audiences for supporting my work.  Its been a crazy day but it was a pleasure to have been part of a very special event in a very special city.