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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Rudolf stays at the North Pole until Christmas

December 10th, 2004 (10:38 pm)

It's a hard time of year for reindeer herders, at least the UK variety. The herd are constantly on the move, trekking from one shopping centre to the next for subsistence, stocking up on the green stuff to maintain them through the months ahead.

After work today I went to Anstruther to meet my sister, as she alighted briefly on the Fife coast as part of The Tour. Although I've visited the deer at Aviemore, it's the first time I've seen her with the sleigh and the team carrying Santa through the streets. It will probably be the last too, as after six or seven years of working as a reindeer herder she is packing it in in January to do something different.

I got off the bus at the harbour just in time to meet the procession, which consisted of a couple of pipers, a stilt-walker, Santa and his sleigh, a bunch of female drummers, the local lifeboat and the fire engine. Although Anstruther isn't a big place, I was still a little surprised the procession was a relatively small affair, as I know getting the reindeer to attend costs a bit. The crowds were a fair size for such a place though, and the number of children trailing behind Santa's sleigh was considerable. They were still queuing to visit Santa and the reindeer in his grotto a couple of hours later when I left.

The reindeer herders dress in Sami gear, which is a bit more dignified than being an elf, while still being picturesque. The reindeer themselves wear red harness with bells while drawing the sleigh, then stand about in a pen to be ogled while Santa does his stuff. They are used to the attention, but aren't particularly keen on being patted too much. They are smaller than folk usually imagine. I saw someone with a particularly massive dog which was comparable in size to the smaller reindeer.

Children inquiring after Rudolf are told he doesn't leave the North Pole until Christmas, as Santa needs him then. None of the herd are ever called Rudolf (or any of the other famous names), as a matter of policy.

We took advantage of being in Anstruther to eat at the fabled Anstruther Fish Bar, as frequented by celebs such as Prince William, Kevin Spacey and Tom Hanks. I didn't have any complaints, but if I'm honest I came away feeling it is perhaps over-rated.

I had my own fifteen minutes for the duration of the journey back home - the bus driver recognised me as a weel-kent face and wouldn't sell me a ticket although I wasn't in a zone covered by my MultiRider.


Posted by: Nik Whitehead (sharikkamur)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 01:35 am (UTC)

Mmm... reindeer... :) If I wasn't so stuffed after eating reindeer pate I'd drool at the thought of the Anstruther fish and chip shop. I'll just have to read this post again tomorrow when my taste buds can do it justice.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 09:09 am (UTC)

<grin> None of the Scottish reindeer get eaten, as members of the public are encouraged to adopt a reindeer. When the inevitable demise occurs, it might be awkward to explain it to the adopter: Dear X, It is with the deepest of regret that I must inform you... burp!

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 04:46 am (UTC)

the bus driver recognised me as a weel-kent face and wouldn't sell me a ticket although I wasn't in a zone covered by my MultiRider.

Hmm, yes... **doesn't have a clue about what you just wrote** I think this might make more sense if I knew what "weel-kent face" meant. (I think "weel-kent" is Scots but I probably have that wrong...)

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 09:17 am (UTC)

Weel-kent = Well known

I did look for a link that would explain it, but the first umpteen pages that I found just used it without any explanation. It is Scots, but I think it is probably fairly well understood in England too as there's a well known :-) English traditional song called D'ye ken John Peel?. Apparently it's from the north of England, where they're likely to have more vocabulary in common with we Scots (and big Scots too :-).

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)

Maybe familiar would be a better word in this case, though it could also be well known - the bit about fifteen minutes was a play on reading it as well known or even famous instead of familiar and comparing it with Andy Warhol's famous quote about fifteen minutes of fame. The bus journey also takes about fifteen minutes.

Posted by: Nik Whitehead (sharikkamur)
Posted at: December 11th, 2004 10:39 am (UTC)

I'd never come across the phrase either but managed to infer it from context and so forth. I like the way you slip these strange Scots words into your posts - you're not only interesting but also educational! :)

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: December 12th, 2004 03:29 am (UTC)
Ms Out of SP

Thanks for the explanation. I did get the Warhol reference but the phrase (or is it a word?) weel kent threw me off. FYI I don't think any singular use of Scots makes the Scots word itself "strange", it is what it is. :-P (To clarify that wasn't an attack at all, it was simply a comment on how some people find things that are common in one culture strange or unusual because they are not culturally acclimatized to said thing - which I am almost certain I do myself from time to time. Anyhoo sharikkamur may actually be in the know about weel kent being an obscure Scots phrase/word, in that case my bad for saying anything...)

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: December 12th, 2004 03:49 am (UTC)

**eek** I think my mollifying statement was in fact more irritating than the statement I was trying to mollify. SORRY! FYI I think sharikkamur is a cool person and in no way was I trying to be offensive to her. **extremely red-faced**

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: December 12th, 2004 11:05 am (UTC)

<grin> Don't worry about it.

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