Sunday, 31 December 2017

Kirremuir Talk for the Saltire Society

I was invited to give a talk "The Renovation of Balintore Castle" in Kirriemuir at a Saltire Society meeting on the 26th of October this year. My first instinct, not being a natural public speaker, was to flee! However, as I enjoy going to talks myself and love watching TV programs on other historic building restorations, the hypocrisy of refusal was unsustainable.

publicity poster for my talk in Kirriemuir

To cope with the upcoming alarming prospect, I was able to pretend to myself that I wasn't actually giving a talk. However, this broke-down big-time when I was standing at the front of the audience on the night, and more and more and more people filed in. The turnout was astonishing, and more seats has to be brought in and set-up at the back of the hall. I didn't count the number, but I would estimate there were well over 200 people in the audience. Eeeek! There was even a couple from Crieff, who has supplied me several years before, with reclaimed hardwood flooring.

notice in local paper for my talk
I chatted to a lovely lady in the front row to quell my nerves. I commented on the turn-out. She replied that I might actually be the main attraction, not the talk i.e. "Who is this idiot restoring a castle outside our village?". While not the most confidence-inspiring remark, it was certainly funny enough to break the tension. :-)

I have no idea how the talk went as it is impossible to be objective, but I managed to wrap-up the talk in exactly the planned 40 minutes. I had skipped over some "contingency" slides, as I always produce extra material as I am paranoid about running out of things to say and know that for myself, at least, good preparation is essential. Anyhow, the audience demanded the extra slides and also asked some good questions. The slides are here in a variety of formats.

I was most heartened by the people that came up to me after the talk and gave me their personal memories of the castle when it was still a functioning building. If only I could have jotted down the personal reminiscences then and there - they were like a goldmine to me!

The experience confirmed in spades what I already knew, that you cannot separate a big historic building from its community. These buildings hold community memories, and bind generations together.

I am greatly amused by the fact that the Satire Society, founded in 1936 to promote Scottish culture, has chapters in Aberdeen, Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow, Helensburgh, the Highlands, Edinburgh, New York City and Kirriemuir. If ever there was a demonstration that the "wee red toon" punches above its weight!


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