Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Yet Another Year of the Cheviot.

The idealistic Buddhists say that "as the wheel turns, that which was below will be on top". Contrastingly, the cynical French say "Plus ça change - plus c'est la même chose." [The more things change, the more they stay the same].

Here at Other Aberdeen, we reckon we must be French...

In an earlier post, we used the word 'granitette' to describe the non-material so often used as a simulacrum substitute for Aberdeen's granite.

When we used the word, we knew we weren't coining a neologism, but we couldn't remember exactly where the reference had come from. We've been scanning the bookshelves at Other Aberdeen's prestigious, upscale, exclusive studios with a fine-toothed-comb ever since.

And now we've got it!

It's from arch-socialist John McGrath's innovative in-the-round 1973 agit-prop play "The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil" as staged by his theatrically radical, politically revolutionary and sadly now defunct 7:84 theatre company.

Astonishingly, the play was even filmed for BBC's Play for Today strand. The words are in the mouth of 'entrepreneur' Andy McChuckemup (as played by a young Bill Paterson) -

[It's] the thing of the future. That's how we see it, myself and the Board of Directors, and one or two of your local councillors - come on now, these are the best men money can buy. So, picture it if yous will, right there at the top of the glen, beautiful vista, - The Crammem Inn, High Rise Motorcroft - all finished in natural washable plastic granitette. Right next: door, the "Frying Scotsman" all night chipperama - with a wee ethnic bit, Fingal's Caff - serving seaweed suppers in the basket and draught Drambuie. And to cater for your younger set you've got your Grouse-a-Go-Go. I mean, people very soon won't want your bed and breakfasts, they want everything laid on, they'll be wanting their entertainment an that and wes've got the know-how to do it and wes've got the money to do it. So - picture it if yous will - a drive-in clachan on every hill-top where formerly there was hee-haw but scenery.

A recent retrospective review of the BBC screening concludes...

One wonders whether a drama as uncompromisingly left-wing as this could possibly be produced or broadcast on mainstream television today: the Labour Government of the time is presented in the play as little different from the Tory Party. The play attacks the political classes: their unwillingness to offend big business and capitalism and their desire to appease American big business.


Plus ça change - plus c'est la même chose.

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