At Memphis’ Scottish Festival, I get talking to a blonde woman in an olde stylee milkmaid type get up. She has the most Dukes of Hazzard accent I have yet heard in my time in Tennessee. I am delighted. I didn’t think accents like this were real. She asks me where I’m from.
“Glasgow,” I tell her.
“Golly, really? I am so pleased to meet you.” She quite clearly is and grabs both my hands to hold onto them as she beams at me and invites me to “mosey on down to Kittrell, Tennessee” for their upcoming Celtic Fest.
“Your accent!” she says with delight. “It’s real! Ah’ve only heard Scottish accents on TV!”
We beam at each other for some time.
Kittrell’s Celtic Fest is an all-inclusive celebration of the seven Celtic Nations. The leaflet informs me, “The Seven Celtic Nations from which our lineage hearkens are Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany, Wales, and Galicia.”As soon as I’ve chosen whether to buy a carved stone that declares, “I heart Irish Dancers” or “Kiss My Ass” in Irish, I’m going to work on coming up with opportunities in which to use the phrase “my lineage hearkens.”
Her festival looks great. I really like the fact that festival-goers can have their picture taken with Mary, Queen of Scots, though the lure of “axe throwing” and a “haggis hurl” is pretty compelling, too. “Fun for the entire family,” the leaflet proclaims. Axe throwing, whisky drinking and photo opportunities with Mary Queen of Scots, what more could any family desire? I’m sure my family would love it.
She tells me that she’s very pleased that they’ve changed the location of the festival this year. The new spot is behind the firehouse.
“It’s nice and flat. Last year it was on a hill.”
I make some polite noises about hills being good and suitably Scottish.
“Ow, no. It warn’t so good.”
She sees me look confused and adds,
“Well, you see, it’s their knees.”
I still look politely puzzled.
“A lot of these folks have bad knees and cain’t git up the hill.”
“A lot of these folks?” I gesture at the clans behind me, wondering if we Scots are not only likely to succumb to liver decline and girthy flippers, as was revealed at Portland Highland Games, but should expect joint failure in later life.
“Surely they should be used to hills, being Highlanders?” I ask.
She leans over. “Oh, it’s bin bred out of them,” she tells me in confidential tones. She looks around to make sure she can’t be overheard. “These ones cain’t do hills.”