Thursday, 4 August 2011

'Very Good For The Local Economy'

Occasionally I wish myth-busters didn't exists since it can be more comforting to believe the fable.

It must have been nearly 50 years ago since I first saw the statue of the Skye terrier Greyfriars Bobby atop his pedestal near the main entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. I've always been slightly disappointed when I see it because it lacks some of the character and features of a terrier, but the memorial, with its accompanying fountain, is a lasting tribute to the loyalty of man's best friend.

In my childhood every wee one knew the story of how the policeman's wee dug sat on his master's grave for many years, before submitting to old age himself.

Now, after five years of research, a British historian Jan Bondeson has published a book in which he dispels the story as traditionally told. Bobby was a stray and there were two of them according to Mr Bondeson.  He says his research shows the first dog died in 1867 and was replaced with another by Mr Brown, the cemetery curator and Mr Traill, a local restauranteur. These two men were responsible for spreading the story and visitors to the churchyard increased 100-fold, with many donating money to Mr Brown and refreshing themselves at Mr Traill's establishment.

Locals supported the fable as they had no desire to cause upset and they too were aware that Bobby ! and 2 were very good for the local economy.

Although Mr Brown and Mr Traill were entrepreneurs they were not in the same league as Disney who produced, in 1961, a sickly sentimental film starring a dog named Bobby and a fictional farmer as his owner. It was a box office success. Even today, having seen it several times, I still think it's one of the many films which had a little too much of the Hollywood treatment, although, for me, that enhances its entertainment value.

Mr Bondeson admits it won't be possible to debunk the story of Greyfriars Bobby but his research sounds as intriguing as the original story. Maybe it's time I removed my rose-tinted glasses and had a read of his book.

source (Wiki)


The Last Of The Few said...

Or Rosie as the opening line of your post says best to believe in fable.

Because a fable or 2 is a welcome distraction to
1. Jim Devines 4 month strech of a 16 month sentance
2. Coalition systematic destruction of the british military
3. The farce that is the US financial scene and the austerity measures.
4. Willie Rennie ........... arse if a man.
5. Libya
6. EU
7. Euro and failing currency
8. Lloyds bank Northern Rock and will we ever see our bailout cash again.
9. Phone hacking

Thank goodness for a chilled glass of chardonnay and Rugby world cup later in the year.

wv: difying ......... how apt

Demetrius said...

"The Dog It Was That Died" was a play by Tom Stoppard, see Wikipedia. Two of the main characters are a couple called Blair who are people you might not trust.

JRB said...

So Dr Bondeson has achieved a little publicity for his publication 'Greyfriars Bobby, the Most Faithful Dog in the World' (only £14 from Amazon).
I trust he is happy, but I would ask him if he has added to the happiness of any other man, woman or child.

He may feel the better for having unearthed the truth, but to often, and for many, the truth can be a little cold and serves merely to crush the thoughts, memories and imagination .

I find such works as Dr Bondeson’s writings as not much more than self-satisfying, self-gratifying intellectual arrogance.

I for one will be sticking with the Disneyesque schmaltz – and would urge others to do the same - a little romantic escapism hurts no-one.

subrosa said...

LotF, I'm not forgetting the state of the UK right now, but as you say, sometimes it's just overload. Hence a little light reading. :)

subrosa said...

Mmm Demetrius, off to read Wikipedia.

subrosa said...

John, there will always be those who decide to take the gilding off the lily. I enjoy reading well researched papers but in some cases it's best to leave well alone.

Mind you, he's certainly not the first to try and make money from wir Boab.

As I said there's something about the Disney film which makes it slightly addictive viewing. I'm not one to watch films over and over again.

English Pensioner said...

There are hundreds of local legends from all around the country, if one is realistic one appreciates that even if they were actual events, most have been greatly exaggerated over the years.
But they are nice to hear or read about because most show people or animals behaving in the way we would like them to behave. These stories usually make us feel that there is some good in the world after all, even though, if we are honest with ourselves, we take them with "a pinch of salt".

Pavlov's Cat said...

When legend becomes fact, print the legend

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Sophia Pangloss said...

Ah jist love the fact that we live in a world where twa men can tell a wee story that can turn intae a legend, that can get cast in bronze, filmed in technicolor, an etched intae the minds o millions o weans the world ower, that graw up an want tae come tae Embra tae 'see the wee dug'...

Whaur's the herm in that?

Clarinda said...

This chap seems very canine debunk orientated - good to know that he is doggedly researching a worthwhile thesis. He has also exposed the dastardly Nazis efforts to enable dogs to speak. Just wait until he investigates Nessie - surely she's real?

Brian said...

Jan Bondeson is actually Swedish.

Next they'll be saying that Nessie was invented to sell shortbread and ornaments to tourists :)

Brian said...

I wish I'd read all of Clarinda's excellent comment first!

Dramfineday said...

Leave the glasses on Rosie,

"the memorial, with its accompanying fountain, is a lasting tribute to the loyalty of man's best friend".

That'll do fine!!

Anoneumouse said...

Now that the myth is blown, perhaps they can replace bobby with a bronze of Alex Salmond.

A memorial to Rupert Murdoch's loyal Scottish best friend.

Billy said...

Clarinda and Brian...Sorry......

Dramfineday said...

Anoneumouse - tsk, you obviously meant Broon or Blair - spoilt a decent post by that error.

subrosa said...

Now PC I did like that story. :)

subrosa said...

Aye Sophia, there's little doubt the fable will be vanquished by one academic.

subrosa said...

Clarinda, don't tell me you don't believe in Nessie after that trip I took you up the loch to Inverness in May?

subrosa said...

Sorry Brian, I sit corrected. My source said he was British and although I realised he had a Scandanavian name I didn't research it.

subrosa said...

Aye Dram, I think that's the best idea.

subrosa said...

Oh dearie me Anoneumouse, what a thought.

What makes you think Alex Salmond was Murdoch's best friend any more than any other politician's? They all sooked up no doubt.

subrosa said...

Oh Billy, that's no' guid fur ma indigestion!

subrosa said...

Indeed EP, there's so little in the world to make anyone feel 'good' that a bit of fanciful thought does no harm whatsoever.

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