The Barman and the Tourist

Listen to the story

The Barman and the Tourist:

It is believed that The Tam o’ Shanter Inn and its characters were the inspiration for Burns’ famous Tam o’ Shanter poem.

Shadows of the Past Illustrated Stories

Download a pdf booklet to view the illustrated stories and map locations of the Shadows of the Past trail.

A curious tourist enters the Tam o’ Shanter Inn. Established in 1749, it is said to be one of Ayr’s oldest public houses and a favourite of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns.

The low beamed ceilings and dim lighting make for a warm inviting atmosphere. Locals sit at small round tables drinking, talking, and laughing. The tourist approaches the curved wooden bar where a barman stands; the tourist points to the silhouetted character standing outside and asks for more information.

TOURIST:

“Who’s that?”

BARMAN:

“Who?”

Silhouette of Tam o' Shanter

BARMAN:

“Ach, aye, that’s Tam.”

TOURIST:

“Did you say Tom?”

BARMAN:

“Naw, Tam.”

TOURIST:

“Tam, ah, I think I’ve heard of that man.”

BARMAN:

“Aye, Tam fae the Rabbie poem, he liked a dram.”

TOURIST:

“A dram? What’s that?”

BARMAN:

“A snifter, a swally, a wee drink.”

TOURIST:

“I fancy a lemonade, come to think.

So, remind me, how does this poem go?”

BARMAN:

“Well, he got drunk and headed home.

He was late and worried his wife would moan.”

TOURIST:

“Couldn’t he have called her on his phone?”

BARMAN:

“It was 1791, and that wasn’t known.”

TOURIST:

“Wasn’t her name Meg, the horse he rode?”

BARMAN:

“That’s right it was, she galloped through the mirk.”

TOURIST:

“Ah, yes, then he saw witches dancing at the church.”

BARMAN:

“Kirk.”

TOURIST:

“Kirk? As in Captain?”

BARMAN:

“No kirk as in church, it’s a Scots word.”

TOURIST:

“That’s not a word I’ve heard… How much is the lemonade?”

BARMAN:

“£1.20…thank you.”

TOURIST:

“Have you ever thought about what Tam might do?”

BARMAN:

“What if he was here now?”

TOURIST:

“Yeah, in 2022.”

BARMAN:

“Maybe he’d buy two suppers fae The Blue Lagoon. Text his wife and say,

“I’m on my way home.”

Because of course in 2022, Tam has a phone.

“Heat the plates, I’ve been to the chippy.”

“Hope the bus comes soon it’s a wee bit nippy.”

And Tam as he waits only ten minutes at the station

Wouldn’t know how lucky he was to avoid that sorry situation

– and a lifetime of nightmares.”

TOURIST:

“That version seems a bit boring though.”

BARMAN:

“Aye, it is a wee bit, I know.”

TOURIST:

“Tam grabs a chippy and rides the MEG-a-bus home”

BARMAN:

“Well, if you want more excitement, read the poem!”

Map location of silhouette

Inspiration

Inspired by the Robert Burns poem Tam o’ Shanter, this story is set in the thatch-roofed Tam o’ Shanter Inn – Ayr’s oldest pub and likely inspiration for the opening of the spooky poem.

Credits

Written by: Annaliese Rose Broughton
Illustrations by: Jazz Buchanan
Audio by: Annaliese Rose Broughton, Gregor Campbell & Liam Stewart
Audio recording and mixing by: Scott Andrew