Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Translating Trump: troosers and the emperor’s new clothes

Roger Paxton performed his variation of Donald where's yer troosers on 21 January 2017 at the North Berwick Drama Circle Burns Supper 2017 on Saturday 21 January 2017 –  the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

The event was held at the Glen Golf Club, North Berwick, east of Edinburgh, Scotland.  The video of the song has allegedly become ‘the largest audience to ever witness a post-inauguration Burns Night appearance’.

The video shows that those who heard the song enjoyed it very much, but the accent is hard for non-Scots to comprehend. So, what’s needed is a transcript of the whole poem I thought.  Turns out there is one already online. A problem with that is that some of the references are obscure as well. So I have added a few linsk and comments.

So before sharing the song, three things need to be unpacked. 

What’s a ‘Burns supper’?  It’s nothing to do with a hot toddy – necessarily. It is an annual commemoration of Robert Burns (1759-1756) Scotland’s most famous poet. After Burns death, the tradition of the Burns supper quickly developed in Scotland and spread internationally.

Burns most famous poem is Address To the Haggis - first recited to me by La Trobe registrar D D Neilson in a demonstration of the value of his education at Scots College. The centre piece of the Burns supper evening is the traditional Scottish delicacy - haggis.

What is haggis? The haggis is ‘piped in’: accompanied by a bagpipe player. During the procession, guests clap in time to the music until the haggis reaches the table where it will be carved. The speaker then recites the Address To the Haggis. The first verse starts off with the following lines – into which I have [inserted] a couple of ‘translations’ …

Fair fa’ [good luck to] your honest, sonsie [chubby] face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’ [sausage] race!

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish, best not described in too much detail. Although its ingredients may seem to be mysterious, it is the king of sausages; the great chieftain of the puddin’ [sausage] race! Its taste is apparently improved by the accompaniment of whisky. I tried a slice of haggis in a hamburger in Edinburgh in 2014 so I know it was authentic – and I might give it a miss next time.

You also need to know that the last verse of Mr Paxton’s Troosers song starts with an adaptation of Burns’ Address to a Haggis. His audience would have heard the ‘real thing’ earlier in the evening.

Donald Where’s Your Troosers [trousers]? This is a comic song. The original 1960 hit song by Andy Stewart (1933-1993), is about the adventures of a rustic Scotsman who wears the kilt in defiance of the shock this causes to polite society to the south - such as well-spoken ladies on the London Underground.  It begins with the line ‘I've just come down from the Isle of Skye’...

The Island of Skye is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides on Scotland’s western coast.

So here is Paxton’s song in the video.  You can follow along with the words below with a few [comments] by me.

Donald where's yer troosers by Roger Paxton

I've just come down from the Isle of Skye,
I'd a Mom from some place real close by 
[Trump’s mother’s family were from the north-western islands of Scotland],
Now I've blown democracy sky-high
And trumped those lib'ral losers.
Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low,
Down the pan see Clinton go,
The working classes shout "Hello!
Donald wears the troosers."

I've a king-sized ego to massage,
So I've packed my team with rednecks large.
(Still looking for a job for my friend Farage -
Well, beggars can't be choosers.)
Let the CIA guys bow down low,
To the Oval Office watch me go,
Where my young Ivanka shouts "Hello!
Let's see who wears the troosers."

The immigrants are all to blame,
But making deals is what made my name.
Free trade with Scotland I'll proclaim,
And there will be no losers.
I'll keep those tariffs way down low
To buy Hadrian's Wall for Mexico:
Hispanic folk will shout "Oh no!
Donald wears the trousers!"

I'm king of the Scottish golfing scene,
I'm its leading light from tee to green,
Trump Turnberry to Aberdeen,
I've paid top dollar for my latest gain -
That fine old course in East Gul-lane 
[home to Muirfield Golf Club];
For a song the Glen I'll now obtain...
My chequebook's in my troosers.

Robbie Burns and I both think the same:
The fairer sex are our favourite game.
"Respect all women" - that's our aim,
And protect them from abusers.
But let romance out the window go,
I'm not John Anderson Your Jo 
[John Anderson My Jo – sweetheart - is a romantic poem by Burns],
I grab the lassies Down Below!
Donald wears the troosers!

Fair fall my orange sonsie face!
I'm chieftain of the human race!
Aboon you all I'll tack my place -
So kiss my ass, you losers!
But since yesterday my world's gone flat:
I've been grabbed where it hurts by the White House cat.
They've called it Pussy's tit-for-tat!
Thank God I'm wearing troosers...

Some others have tried similar things though with less humour and wit than the above song.
A quite different sort of ‘translation’ of Trump was made recently by Australian political reporter Chris Uhlmann. He provided an analysis following President Donald Trump's performance at the G20 talks in Hamburg, Germany.

Uhlmann apparently had a few minutes to prepare – about the same time as it took Andy Stewart to write ‘Donald Where’s yer troosers’, but it also had wit and credibility, and became an immediate hit.

These items are very different 'translations' of how Donald is seen. One is a comic song about a witless lad who doesn’t care about how he is seen, the other is a re-telling of the old story about the emperor with no clothes.

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