Long Forgotten TV Adverts (Part 1 of many, probably)

23 05 2020

For this entry in the MUHOS, we take a wee trip down memory lane with a look at some well loved Grampian TV adverts from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although the ad breaks were a pain in the tòin when you were watching your favourite shows, some of the adverts grew on you and have passed into the ‘fondly remembered’ category of memory.

Here’s some we remember…

  • Sheep n Vac:  Inspired by the famous carpet cleaner and those iconic adverts, Lewis Crofters spotted an opportunity to sell their sheep dip products by ‘borrowing’ the format of the original advert. Their version featured a trendy crofter blone (red Arnish Chacket, beannag, and Smith’s Shoe Shop’s finest wellies) hard at work at the fank, trying to get her flock dipped, drenched and vaccinated. This advert was famed for its annoyingly catchy tune  “Do the sheep and vac to keep the fungus back”
  • ‘For Mass, Get Smashed’. In a controversial move to get more bums on pews, in the 1970’s the Vatican tested out a marketing campaign in South Uist to encourage church goers to partake in a wee tipple to help them through a particularly long and boring mass. Featured laughing robot priests who can’t understand why Free Church church-goers aren’t tanked up. “…and the Protestants sit through a sermon sober!!”
  • Cadbury’s Fleek- Cadbury’s thought it would be a smart move to try and diversify in the Outer Hebrides and come up with a chocolate purely for the choc hungry residents of the islands.   The advert featured a sexy cailleach (only wearing two Damart thermal vests) from Crowlista seductively trying to get the wrapper off a bar of chocolate, to a soundtrack of  “Only the crumbliest tastiest chocolate”.  Also tried marketing a special chocolate for funerals called ‘Cadbury’s Wake’. And the limited edition fish flavoured ‘Cadbury’s Hake’.
  • Cinzandwick Bianco- Sandwick’s Smiths Soft Drinks diversified into posh booze in the early 1970’s.  They hired a couple of well known Gaelic actors from Machair, Joan Coll(ins) and Leonard RossTerraceiter, and showed them leading the high life in the exotic Clachan lounge bar, on the plane to Glasgow, and in the Suilven bar spilling Cinzandwick Bianco on each other.
  • Old Pies- This advertising campaign was devised as a way to get rid of old stale pies. It featured a typical bodach finding and scoffing a 3 week old pie, which immediately conferred near superhero powers to him, and the next thing you know is he’s surfing on an old ironing board down at the Braighe. The advert featured the stirring classical piece “Carmina Buntata”.
  • Cadbury’s Milk Pray- Milk Pray chocolates were popular with church goers in the early 1970’s as they didn’t have noisey wrappers and could be scoffed surreptitiously during lengthy sermons.The advert featured a hunky, yet mysterious Minister, dressed all in black, jumping over a ditch, skillfully opening a gate without letting the cows out, climbing in a window and leaving a box of Milk Pray (and a tract) on a blone’s pillow.
  • The PG Tips Sheep The Plasterfield Grazings tried to diversify into growning tea in the early 1970’s.  However, they didn’t have the budget for chimps, so trained up a flock of sheep instead. But sheep were terrible for stewing the tea, so this ad didn’t last long. Nor did the tea plantation. 
  • Cap’n Boardstore – in the days of big croft housing grants, Cap’n Boardstore went around followed by his “crew” of enthusiastic maws keen for a taste of his subsidized plasterboard, breeze blocks and 4×2’s.  His rival Captain A*ngh*s a’ Bhàrdseye used to sell construction materials too.
  • Knorrman Soup- This advert showed two gamekeepers (or more likely poachers) returning from a hard day on the hills, talking about what their wives have on for their tea. Calum Archie expected leftover guga soup, but how wrong was he? Shonnagh his wife had discovered Knorrman Soup!   “Pea and ham?” says his buddy. “From a fleekin’ guga?”
  • Corncrake-o, a shady Tolmie Terrace company that bred the birds in the swamps between Springfield and Mossend, and rented them out to unscrupulous crofters looking to score a big grant. Their ad featured a gondolier sailing along the canal past Newhall’s nurseries singing “Just one corncrake-o, geev eet to mee / So I can claim a /  beeg sub-see-deee”). 
  • Hovansnahovano Bread- featured a wee cove pushing his delivery bike up Lagley’s Brae with Johnnie Òg’s pan loaves in the basket, to the strains of ‘The Newton World Symphony’.

Lighthill Richard RIP

16 05 2020

Hot on the leopardskin cuban heels of Little Richard’s sad demise in America, we regret to report the passing of his not-quite-as-successful cousin from Back.

Flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll wildman Lighthill Richard had a career almost as long as that of his American relative, with an uncannily similar set of twists and turns.

And while his more famous cousin was often called the Architect of Rock and Roll, Lighthill Richard was surely the YTS labourer of it.

Born Richard Wayne Fivepenniman (his old man was from Borve) in 1932, Richard took up the piano accordion at an early age and soon found himself playing in dives, fluke joints and honky-fanks up and down Interstate B895. 

Fivepenniman’s parents were very holy and belonged to one of the island’s smaller Presbtyerian splinter groups, the Free Associated Continuity Pentecostacoffeefromengiesbutnotonasunday Church of Scotland, which differed from other denominations in 2 key respects. 1. The brims of elder’s hats were ¼ inch wider, and 2. Cailleachs did the precenting instead of bodachs.

His main musical influences growing up were therefore precenting legends such as  Machreachsathanaiga Jackson and Sister Rosetta Scarp. 

Indeed, his big break came on a visit to Harris in 1947 when Sister Rosetta Scarp had a few too many in the public bar at the Rodel Hotel, and asked him to fill in for her on the Friday of the Leverburgh òrduighean. Due to the church’s strict rules against coves precenting, Richard had to dress up as a blone in order to get the gig, and having done so he discovered a lifelong predilection for colourful overalls, flowery beannags and massively ostentatious church hats.

In 1955 Richard befriended Isles AM  deechay and rock impresario Alan Freepresbyterian, and appeared in several of his locally-produced rock ‘n’ roll movies such as “The Girl Can’t Shelve It” (about a poor blone in the Co-op mobile shop trying to keep all the produce on the shelves as the driver scoffed a quarter bottle whilst negotiating the single track roads) and “Don’t Rock the Knock”. 

These classic films also featured many of the other early rock ‘n’ roll greats, including Chuck Ferry, Fats Dòmhnallach, Eddie Caoran, Bill TweedBaley & the Comhairles (“Gonna Rock Around The Croft Tonight”), Fankie Lymon, Gene Vimscent & the Bruecaps and many more.

Between 1955 and 1957 Richard had a phenomenal run of hit singles, some of them selling over 10 copies in Woolie’s and a couple more in MacIver & Dart’s. These included:

Tutti Freechurch (“Tutti Freechurch/ o hee church… a wop bop a leòbag, a wop baa moo” “Gotta girl called Sùgh, she’s making marag dubh” etc).

Tong Toll Salach – being a Bacach, Richard was never very complimentary about the nearby township of Tong, and wrote this scathing attack on his neighbouring village after a particularly badly received gig in the Recreation Centre.

Leodhas-ille – a much covered accordion standard

Good Collie Miss Maw-ly- a song he wrote for a shepherdess from beyond the town cattle grids, because he was so impressed at how quickly her dog rounded up his sheep. 

Ready Sked-dy

Rip it Tup

Slippin’ an’ a (Back)slidin’

A Sheep in Knock(in)

… and some others.

Richard’s golden era of chart success came to an abrupt end when he got the Cùiream on tour in Melbost in 1957. His conversion occurred when he saw a bright red light flashing across the sky above Broad Bay. Although it turned out to be the communist Rubhach satellite Spùt-nik 1 being launched from Bayblegrad, Richard was convinced it was a sign from above, and went in for the ministry.

In the late 50s Richard enjoyed a lower-key but successful career in the church, recording a number of well-received albums of Gaelic psalms. But he was lured back to secular music in 1962 by the prospect of a big money tour of Eòropie, (accompanied by the Peatles and their manager Brian Epsteinish). Richard and the Peatles also regularly shared a bill in the legendary Star(Inn) Club, just off Stornoway’s notorious Johnnygeeperbahn.

Richard’s early/mid 60s touring band the Upsettlers – Tarquin Ponsonby-Smythe on bodhran, Jeremy fFleekeen-fFiasag on digeridoo and Tamsin  Grant-Crahhftshoppe on Mongolian nose-flute and interpretive dance – was considered legendary (by 2 beardie coves from Away at the Stornoway Folk Club, but fleekeen terrible by everybody else). 

At one stage the line-up briefly included future guitar legend Jimi Henshed, but he was fired by Richard in 1964 for being good.

In later years, Lighthill continued to perform sporadically at òrduigheans, did a bit of relief preaching in Uist, and provided songs and soundtracks to various BBC Alba programmes and Holywood movies. He also acted, perhaps most famously as “Borve-is Guganight” in Paul Mangurstasky’s 1986 classic “Down and Out In Bennadrove Hills”.

Outer Hebridean Saints (Northern Part)

9 05 2020

A common misconception held by people from the wrong side of the Minch is that saints play no part in the religion of the islands North of Benbecula.

Yus, we’ve got all the well known saints of the old Celtic church – St Columba’s this and St Ronan’s that – but fleek all from the 8th century onwards. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Northern half of the Outer Hebrides has been out of the saint business since the Vikings arrived.

So, we’ve put together a handy (and free) cut out guide to all your favourite (Northernmost)  Outer Hebridean saints

In no particular order, here they are in all their ecclesiastical and/or hermetic glory.  

St Ornoway-The patron saint of townies. Originally from MacKenzie St, he took holy orders in 543AD with a Free Church (Considerablyearlierthanthought) Religious Order of Monks called The Fleekin Skint Brothers of Penury, who specialised in begging on Cromwell St. In an effort to make the town more upmarket and attract a better class of Viking, he was said to have driven the maws from the town and established the first cattle-grids.

St Ornoway was trampled to death in 657 AD while cursing a flock of Laxdale sheep that had jumped the grid and were eating his hydrangeas. 

He makes a miraculous re-appearance once a year, on St Ornoway’s Day, when he flies around the town with a big crozier and smites anybody heard to speak Gaelic within the city limits.

St Einish -This native of Tong was the Patron Saint of Quicksand, following his discovery of the notorious Steinish quicksands. And he was also the first person to disappear in the Steinish quicksands, following a disastrous ‘shortcut’ after a Ceilidh in Sandwick Hall.

St Rùpag – Patron Saint of tea and scones (and dodgy Mòd folk bands circa 1984). It was rumoured that a great Holy Relic, his actual teaspoon, ended up in the Coffee Pot cutlery drawer.

St EpwegaiIyonwego -The patron saint of Lewis wedding dances. It is said that Epwegailyonwego was a Viking dance tutor from Trondheim, who introduced the social convention of all the coves standing round the walls of the dance hall, until they had partaken in a sufficient quantity of mead to give them the courage to ask a blone for a dance. He was trampled to death after trying to teach 200 Icelandic berserkers the Vinland Barndance.

St Oneyfieldfarm – Patron saint of farmers on the outskirts of Stornoway. Like nearly all the Saints listed here, Oneyfieldfarm claimed to have a piece of the ‘One True Cross (Inn)’, after it was involuntarily demolished in 792AD  following a heated debate by its clientele over the best way to cross the Barvas Moor.  If every claimed piece was put together you could rebuild the Inn 100 times over.   

St Ockinish – Patron Saint of Lobster Creels. He lived in a hermitage made from discarded lobster creels. 

St Rond – Patron Saint of Nice Views Over The Sound Of Harris.

St Onecircle – Patron Saint of new age solstice hippies.

St Arinn – Patron Saint of excessive drinking.

St Armore – Patron Saint of posh knitting.

St Amper -The Patron Saint of Harris Tweed Inspectors. Said to have driven out the electric motor, thus condemning the islands to a peat and paraffin lamp existence until the electric came back in the 1950’s. 

And although not a northern Saint, we shouldn’t forget St Affa,  the Patron Saint of funny shaped rocks. Legend has it he drove the normal rocks away.

Bizarrely, all of the above Holy men were on the go around about the same time. They were all keen crofters and did much to sow the seed that grew to be the passion for small scale agricultural holdings that prevails throughout the islands to this day. Either that or they imparted the great love for subsidies which makes the crofting world go round today. 

The Saints even considered setting up a crofting collective (for Saints only, obviously) and even went as far as applying together for grants to build new agricultural buildings. However, the schism gene kicked in and they all fell out, but not before they managed to get hold of a template for a decent sized building to keep their cows. A popular song is rumoured to have been written about this – ‘When The Saints Got Matching Byres’