Blabbermouth - a fantastic Referendum Eve house party

National Theatre of Scotland - Blabbermouth'Picture showing L to R: Nathan Epemolu, Tam Dean Burn, Lorraine McIntosh, Morven Christie, Gary Lewis, Jonathan Watson, Amal Azzudin, Rory Doherty and James Kane
National Theatre of Scotland - Blabbermouth'Picture showing L to R: Nathan Epemolu, Tam Dean Burn, Lorraine McIntosh, Morven Christie, Gary Lewis, Jonathan Watson, Amal Azzudin, Rory Doherty and James Kane

At midnight on Referendum Eve we stood and sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ - and it felt right.

At midnight on Referendum Eve we stood and sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ - and it felt right.

It brought to an end ‘Blabbermouth’ - the most incredible house party Scotland has ever hosted.

Over four sessions across 12 hours, the National Theatre of Scotland set up camp in the Assembly on The Mound, and staged the biggest, most remarkable and richly entertaining open mic session.

It had the atmosphere of a Hogmanay party as guests dropped in to do their piece; a song, a monologue or speech.

The only stipulation was it had to be written by a Scot.

The choices were eclectic, exciting and utterly spellbinding.
We had everything from Matt McGinn to The Steamie ... we had Karine Polwart leading an outstanding house band with a re-working of The Waterboys’ ’Whole Of The Moon’ as a beautiful ballad ... we had actor Colin McCreadie reading the opening chapter to ‘The Crow Road’ by the much loved and much missed Iain Banks ... we had Tam Dean Burns bringing Renton and Begbie to life in a rollicking chapter of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Skagboys’ ... we had Alex Norton recreating the ‘Great Welly Boat Show’ and Dave Anderson bringing the house down with James Robertson’s ‘The News Where You Are.’

As with any great house party there were unexpected guests too with a wonderful reunion of Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward singing together for the first time since The Delgados split in 2005 - Pollock returning to the stage for a thundering rendition of ‘Parcel O’ Rogues’

We went from Miss Jean Brodie to rap poetry and back again - and it was a joy to watch and be part of.

Curated by Graham McLaren - the man behind ‘In Time O’ Strife - ‘Blabbermouth’ aimed to avoid the politics and celebrate Scotland’s rich cultural heritage.

It was a neutral as it could be given that the majority of the audience were, it’s safe to say, in favour of independence. Many sported yes badges. An old lady had a giant ‘Aye’ sticker on her jacket and another on her sensible, sturdy handbag. The couple behind us had fashioned neckerchiefs out of saltires and a Lion Rampant, and a group of young folk danced with the country’s flag.

But it never felt like a political rally. It was a party - a traditional Scottish come-away-in gathering where everyone has their turn, and the night goes in many different directions but always with a soundtrack of cheers, laughter and song.

‘Blabbermouth’ tapped into the sense that we were on the eve of something very, very special; McLaren compared the excitement to Christmas Eve - you know something good is coming, you just don’t know what it is.

And he was right.

Walking from Chamber Street down to the Assembly on The Mound - the same place where Thatcher delivered her ‘Sermon On The Mound’ - my home city felt different.

On a mild September night the streets were thronged. Two young guys carried a saltire, the old folk gathered at a bus stop were deep in conversation about the referendum, a chalked message on a wall just down from Deacon Brodie’s was a plea to vote Yes. The silent majority - the 50% who comprise the Better Together vote poll after poll after poll - were simply invisible in the thick fog which wrapped around Auld Reekie to such an extent the castle vanished from the skyline.

As midnight struck the band let rip with deacon Blue’s ‘Dignity’ and then ’Auld Lang Syne’ - and we linked hands as a song that defines our Ne’er fitted perfectly on this most remarkable of autumnal evenings.