Wednesday, 24 June 2009


I’m a member of an online forum of Scottish writers and we “blether” on an ongoing basis about a mixture of writerly stuff and other, well...stuff. Sometimes we amuse ourselves by writing up little skits where we take the piss out of writing guidelines or the world or even each other. During one such session a while ago the target was a certain section of our society that seems genetically hampered. Like how they dress, talk, drink, give their kids the worst names possible.

In my defence I didn’t do this to appear superior or anything, it was simply that they were easy targets. And if you don’t think that is any kind of a justification, you can bite me.

Anyhow, this particular session started off when someone mentioned a crazy name they had come across. It reminded me of the midwife’s relief at my son’s birth all those years ago when she heard we were giving him a “normal” name.

The reason for her concern was a movie. A Disney movie where a young Native American squaw had helped to avert a war with foreign soldiers. It seemed to her that following the success of this movie that there was a rash of wee girls in Ayrshire being given the name of Pocahontas. Which might be fine when you live on the other side of the Atlantic, but not when you have a surname beginning with Mac, red hair and the complexion of a ball of putty.

This started me off...

In a shopping mall, on a planet parallel to earth on the time continuum thingy, Pocahontas McGlumpher was glad she’d left the bairn in the pram outside the shop. It wouldn’t do for Burberry to see her in such a state, ‘cos she was pure beeling. The world was pure going tae hell in a pushchair, so it was.

Pocohontas considered herself a prime example of her tribe – and don’t dare try and shorten her name – Pocohontas also considered herself a nice young lady, but shorten her name and she’d chib you. Which her neighbour recently learned to her cost. No sooner was the word “Pokey” out of her piehole and Pocahontas stuck her fist in it.

Pokey, sorry, Pocahontas adhered to the tribe’s traditions: earrings at six months, first child at thirteen and celebrating every weekend with the tribe’s favourite wine – the fortified variety made especially for them by the monks at Buckfast Abbey. The reason for this last tradition kinda passed her by, for there was nothing to mark the weekend as different from the rest of the week.

She’d followed the tribe’s ways for all of her fourteen years and six months on the planet Chavcoats and now to be spoken to by the shop assistant (who was pure old enough to be her mother – must be at least twenty eight!) in such a way, made her blood fizzy.

The shop assistant looked at the young girl before her and ignored the indignant toe-tapping, the crossed-arms and the stream of curses. She’d seen it all before had Hilton Midnight O’Connor. Having everyone able to guess where and when she’d been conceived, at the merest mention of her name, made her able to face anything.

Hilton put on her favourite expression and waited for a pause in the young girl’s impressive list of curses. Hilton so wanted plastic surgery, but it had become so popular the waiting list was forty years and counting. But the shop assistant could wait. She had her ambitions. Or was it pretensions. She was always getting them two mixed up. In the meantime she’d perfected the look of permanent surprise so favoured by the top surgeons, and it was with this face that she stood before Pocohontas.

‘Sweetheart,’ she said as she wiped a fleck of spittle from her cheek, ‘I didn’t think that this was going to be, like, such bad news for you. But it’s the truth. Shellsuits are like, so last century.’ She pulled at Pocohontas’ arm and directed her to the clothes at the front of the shop.

‘Sweetheart, this is what you should be wearing.’ She lifted a pink crop-top from the rail and held it in front of Pocahontas’ chest. ‘You need to, like, make sure you show off some belly. The whiter and fatter, the better.’ She smiled. And thought she should have been given some sort of service award for making the effort. People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to smile when you’re also aiming for a look of surprise. She’d practised the other night in front of the mirror and for the first half hour only managed to look like she was suppressing a fart.

Then Hilton lifted a tracksuit from the rack. It was in a cream sort of check, sort of tartan. ‘And this is like, the piece of resistance, babes. Any self-respecting member of the N-ed Tribe wouldn’t be seen without it.’

‘Does it, like, have a name?’ asked Pocohontas, as she craned her head to check if the bairn was ok. The wee lamb, bless ‘im chose that moment to gob at a passer-by. Some daft old biddy had bent forward into Burberry’s space and got some phlegm on her face for her trouble.

‘Awww,’ Pocahontas said to the shop assistant. ‘Right oan the coupon.’ She said this in the manner a darts announcer might shout, “One hundred and eighty.’

‘The wee soul.’ Hilton agreed, hoping the old biddy would spit back. ‘Anyway, sweetheart,’ by this time she was getting face-ache as well as a headache. Looking surprised and happy all at the same time fair took it out of you.

‘It’s a designer called Burberry. Everybody’s wearing it.’

Pocohontas was incredulous. As incredulous as Mandela McConnachie when she told him he was the father. She looked over at the wean. Looked back at the shop assistant. Eventually she managed to speak.

‘You havin’ a giraffe? Burberry? That would be pure tacky!’

Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental (aye, right) however, if your sensibilities have been offended please register your disgruntlement with our customer services division at


  1. I hope you realise what you've started here, Michael. Your fans will be clamouring for more news of these paragons of ... er ... something - and I'll be first in the queue.

  2. BTW, I meant to comment on the interesting (and perhaps blog-owner defining) ads that appear on your site - incontinence pads, girls' canvas and leather skirts. Is there something you're hiding from us?

  3. Thea, do you guys have similar in the US?
    BIll, if I tell you I have to keel you.

  4. That was hilarious! Your mind, Michael. And you know we do.

  5. Hey Marley, glad you enjoyed. I have a couple more along the same lines. And what name do you give your folks of that ilk?

  6. Michael, in the US, 'michael' used to be the number one name, but that moved to no. 3. it seems people like names like Jordan (for michael jordan, basketball star) or using irish surnames for first names (like Donovan or Finn) or romantic names like Ashley (Gone with the Wind) or Emma (think Jane Austen). People trend toward whatever Hollywood babies are named as well. I chose Devon for my son, which sounds like the hero from some romance novel (but i chose it for the Devon coast, really) but my family adamently objected. but after he was born, my husband crept into my room and said that our son really looked like Devon after all, so that's his name. but no one here pronounces it correctly despite it being 5 letters. they called him DAA-VON, or Dee-VON. sheesh. anyway, i gave him Michael as his middle name just in case Devon didn't work for him, but he's been fine with it. He uses Dev mostly, or Mic. All the girls love his name. They usually say it with a sigh. But Pocahontas isn't big here right now. wonder why...and Burberry or Hilton - no. please, no