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Christopher Brookmyre by broad daylight - Click for larger image  

Tam O’Shanter' makes a riotous cautionary tale out of an uncomfortable national truth, pitting its vainglorious ‘everybam’ figure against demons both of the imagination and of the inner self.

Scotland has a brutal, bloody and embarrassing history of supernatural credulity. The nation of David Hume and James Clerk Maxwell is also the country of James VI and his Demonology, of witch-burning and religious hysteria. More pertinently, it also has a brutal, bloody and embarrassingly on-going history of alcohol abuse. ‘Wi usquabae, we’ll face the devil!’ The ‘water of life’ renders us fearless enough to fight the most monstrous of foes, but more often renders us insensible enough to imagine monstrous foes where none exist, then disastrously to fight any proxy who happens along at the wrong time. Thus we can sympathise with Tam but never admire him, for any heroics he performs are purely to extricate himself from the kind of situation you might get yourself into ‘whene'er to drink you are inclin'd’.

Christopher Brookmyre - Novelist

Text © Christopher Brookmyre


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Other images of Christopher Brookmyre by broad daylight 'as others see us'

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Tam O' Shanter

Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet ;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow'rin round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares:
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

..........Inspiring bold John Barleycorn !
What dangers thou canst make us scorn !
Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil ;
Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil !

Robert Burns