How I ended up in the trailer of a Scottish Independence film

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May 6, 2014 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

I live in Scotland, and I’ll be voting in the referendum, but I haven’t been terribly outgoing about my opinions, apart from having a YES badge on one of my jackets (which I haven’t worn for weeks). I’m therefore somewhat bemused by finding myself in trailer #1 for Scotland Yet.

It all started when Kirsty Logan, in her capacity as Books Editor of The List, put out a call for flash fiction pieces about an independent Scotland. I took up the challenge and wrote “Essay Topic: How the Wars of Scottish Independence led to a Better Scotland” – it was something of a parody of how some history essays are basically The Bits Everyone Knows, with a few trivial and even apocryphal details. (Does anyone who isn’t a medieval historian know anything about Alfred the Great apart from maybe he burned the cakes? That sort of thing.)

Kirsty didn’t take the piece. Sob! But as she published a poem of mine in the same issue, I rapidly dried my tears and looked around to see what else I could do with the story. (Also, you can read the excellent pieces she did select.)

I ended up adapting it as a performance piece: “How the Wars of Scottish Independence led to a Better Scotland, by Fiona, Age 10”. I debuted it at the National Library of Scotland’s Burns Night Slam, and it was something of a tribute to my improvement as a performance poet that I made it to the final round, placing third, whereas the previous year I’d been knocked out in the first. A fellow competitor, upon tendering his congratulations, suggested that I might have won if I’d performed the Independence piece last, as it got such a good reaction from the audience, but unfortunately you never know with such things, and anyway I’m not sure I had another piece strong enough to launch me into the final. However, I was quite pleased with myself, and later spent my prize of a £10 Blackwell’s gift voucher on my current Moleskine notebook.

Jenny Lindsay, who is one of the grandes dames of the Edinburgh spoken word scene [in the sense of experience and prominence rather than age, I hastily add], enjoyed the piece so much that she invited me to perform it at a National Collective event in February. National Collective is a group of artists and creative who are pro-independence. This particular event had poems and memoirs and I think there was a short film, or possibly some slides? Anyway, I did my piece and I think it went well.

Two nights later, when the cabaret Jenny organises with Rachel McCrum (Rally and Broad) needed a last-minute performer due to illness, they contacted me and I went on that night, and did the independence piece as part of my set. I vaguely remember being told that someone was filming, but I didn’t really think about it.

…until a friend tagged me in a Facebook comment last week, and today I finally went to look at what she was referring to.

(Rally and Broad starts at 2:03 and I’m on for a whole nine seconds not much later than that.) I should probably open my eyes wider when I perform. Or memorise my pieces so I’m not looking down at the paper so much. On the other hand, I’m glad I wore lipstick!

(Because lipstick is always a plus.)

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to see myself wedged in between snippets of intelligent creative people saying interesting things (Jenny is there, as is Alan Bissett, and many other people). And some chickens. Not sure how the chickens would vote, to be honest. But I’m happy that my performance was interesting enough to be spliced into the trailer, and I look forward to seeing the full-length version.

And to the referendum.


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Photo credit: Rahima Subhan

Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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