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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Oh no! Say it can’t be so! The Dowager has announced her departure from Downton Abby.

Maggie Smith, the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and Lady Grantham all in one, has announced she will leave the Abby at the end of Season Six. By death I would imagine as there’s no other way to get her out. Ask Cora. God knows she’s tried.

The unfortunate part of that announcement is she is the one character I truly love. I look forward to spending my Sunday nights having tea with the Dowager and rewinding her best zingers until I have committed them to memory. Then I spend my week looking for opportunities to zing them at other unsuspecting people, or commoners as she would say.

Why do we love Violet so much? I know… because she reminds us of our Mothers, grandmothers, Mother-in-law, favourite aunt or older sister. You know the one?

She’s the one that can think out loud without fear of reprisal because everyone’s either afraid of her or is not sure how to take her. She delivers her lines with such careful precision that one is not sure if it is a compliment or an insult.

Lady Grantham reminds me of so many women in my life. You just have to translate her best zingers into your own family’s dialect to hear the voice of someone you know.

Lady Grantham: “I will applaud your discretion when you leave.” Or as my Mother would say, “Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.”

“Everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.” Or as Mother would say, “That long white dress is hiding more than her virtue.”

“Mary won’t take Matthew Crawley, so we better get her settled before the bloom is quite gone off the rose” Or translated by a favourite Aunt, “You’re not going to be young forever girl. Pick one!”

Cora Crawley: “Are we to be friends then?” Countess Violet: “We are allies my dear which can be a good deal more effective.” You’ll have to hit the ten year mark before you hear your Mother-in-law say that.

“Why do you always have to pretend to be nicer than the rest of us?” My Mother pinching me at any given wedding or funeral when I give her the “stop doing that” eye.

“I do hope I’m interrupting something.” My Mother on any given night.

Cora: “I hate to go behind Robert’s back.” Countess Violet: “That is a scruple no successful wife can afford.” We pretty much heard this one from all our Mother.

Mrs. Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.” Countess Violet: “I must’ve said it wrong.” …Ok that’s pretty much me on any given day.

“It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere.” My Mother used this one all the time.

“Wars have been waged with less fervour.” My Mother describing the relationship between me and my siblings.

“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends, that’s the real test.” We have all heard that from some lady in our life.

“Principles are like prayers. Noble of course. But awkward at a party.” I’ll be using this one whenever I get the chance to talk about principles, which is not that often.

Oh how I will miss my tea with the Dowager and her “I am old I can say anything I want” ways. Her death will bring me to tears I am sure. The worst part is she won’t be able to make fun of her own funeral which I know would be hilarious.

What will her parting zingers be while she lays upon her English lace deathbed? Will she finally tell Lady Edith to stop being so desperate then she might get a man? Will she finally call Lady Mary a big fat whore? Will she thank Cora for saving Downton Abby from bankruptcy with her dirty American money? Will she admit she has a crush on Tom, even when he was the chauffer? Will she finally tell Lord Grantham to grow a set?

Oh what will she say? We will wait with baited breath until January 2016 to finally see season six of Downton Abby. That is unless Maggie Smith decides she is tired of playing Maggie Smith. After all she is 80 years old.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rollermania forever! The Tartan Army lives on

I loved Les! Which Bay City Roller did you love? Remember Rollermania?

Bang! Bang! Bang! My bedroom door bends in the middle from my Mother’s fist pounding it from the other side. “Turn the music down for Jesus sakes, I can’t hear myself think!”

Inside the room Rollermania had hit hard. My friends and I were listening to the latest Bay City Roller record on my hi-fi (which is nothing like Wi-fi).  Jumping up and down till the floorboards were reaching their maximum capacity. Screaming to the top of our lungs “S.A.T.U.R.D.AY. Night”, “Keep On Dancing” and “Bye Bye Baby.” I loved Les with his dark brown curly hair and his Scottish accent! Karen loved Woody with his long straight blond hair. They were so handsome! And Scottish too. That accent drove us into a frenzy. Nancy loved Eric with the spikey hairdo.

They were the "Tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" and the biggest thing since The Beatles. Long before Justin Bieber and One Direction, there were the Bay City Rollers, worldwide teen idols and one of the most screamed-at teeny-bopper acts of the 1970s.

My room was wallpapered with their pictures torn from Teen Beat magazine and anything else we could get our hands on. There was no internet or “Fan Pages” back then. Just an address in Scotland to write to if you wanted to join their “Official Fan Club” and I did. We all did.  

We longed to hear the announcers at CJON tell us the Bay City Rollers were going to play at Memorial Stadium. We would have lined up for days, weeks or months to get a ticket.

We were devoted Roller fans. My Mother lost her mind when she found out I cut up my new jeans, made them 4 inches shorter and sewed tartan to the cuffs and down the sides of the legs.

She nearly had a stroke when I came out of the bathroom after cutting my hair like Eric’s. A handful of Dippity-do making it spikey on top and a half a can of Final-Net keeping the sides straight and feathered.

Then one day, she came home from Woolworth’s with a blue Bay City Roller T-shirt. It had their five faces on the front and tartan on the sleeves. I cried. I couldn’t believe you could buy a Roller T-shirt in St. John’s. I wore it every day. I wore it under the white shirt I had to wear with my blue school tunic. I rolled the tartan sleeves up so Sister wouldn’t see it. But she did and told me never to wear it again with my uniform or it would become the property of the Sisters of Mercy!

The Bay City Rollers had sold an estimated 70 million records. Then in 1976 Alan Longmuir left the group. It is was the beginning of the end for Rollermania. We were heartbroken. I was 12 years old and refused to believe that Les didn’t love me as much as I loved him. It felt like he had personally broken up with me.

By that time Paul McCartney was charting with Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” Wild Cherry was telling us to “Play That Funky Music” and Disco was on the horizon. My Bay City Roller posters were replaced with Saturday Night Fever posters, pictures of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.

There was no internet so I couldn’t find out what became of Les or the rest of the Rollers. Then a few weeks ago, my daughter asked for a record player! I know right!  A record player for her bedroom. I didn’t think they existed anymore but apparently they are making a comeback.

“Where can you buy records?” I asked her. “Everywhere” She tells me. Records are making a comeback too.

I used to have thousands in my basement. A few years ago, stretched for storage space, hubby talked me into giving them away. Some guy with a pickup truck and a few friends came and emptied my basement of all my teenaged memories. I did keep a few though: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a few Elvis (of course), Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, Bruce Springsteens’s Born in the USA, and of course, the Bay City Rollers.

I put the Rollers’ album on her new record player and they sounded just as good. The first note of “Saturday Night” send me back to when I was a 10 year old girl bouncing in my bedroom with my girlfriends screaming to the top of our lungs. Planning our weddings to the Bay City Rollers.

I had to Google them. The Tartan Army still exists! Les McKeown, the lead singer is touring under the name “Bay City Rollers.” He looks a little different now… but so do I. He has dates set for 2015 all around the UK.

I got a little flushed… this complete stranger from Edinburgh, who at 10, I swore to love till I died, was still touring. I am a little giddy.

Anyone want to go? Can you imagine being in the audience? I know you wouldn’t jump to your feet and turn into a 10 year old girl when he sang “Saturday Night.”


Love you Les!!!!