The Miss Falkirk beauty pageant was held at the Inchyra Grange hotel last night. Usually when we hear the words Miss Falkirk they’re included in the sentence: ‘Geez, there’s an asteroid heading for Scotland. I hope it doesn’t miss Falkirk.’
Beauty pageants like Miss Falkirk can trace their ancestry back to America, beginning with a modelling event hosted by huckster and showman P.T Barnum in 1854 (the man who coined the phrase, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’) and culminating in the all-singing-all-dancing Miss America contests.
But we Scots embrace American culture somewhat awkwardly; whenever we attempt to emulate the glitz and glamour of their big show-stopping events it inevitably feels like the act of trying to squeeze an angry, shit-covered rhino into a tiny Gucci prom dress.
Anyway, I was at the inaugural Miss Falkirk last year, during which there was a wonderful culture-collision moment. When America met Falkirk.
It happened at the end of the night. The evening’s host, Steve Courtney, from local radio station Central FM, was about to announce the winners. There were many people to thank, and much excitement and anticipation to be wrung from the moment, which Steve was clearly relishing. Or maybe he was stalling for time until everything was ready. Whatever: he got his talk on.
‘Ladies and gents, it’s been a wonderful evening, I’m sure you’ll agree. But there can be only one winner, and I can tell you’re all eagerly awaiting the announcement. And so, without any further ado, it falls to me to tell you that the winner… the Queen who will be crowned…. of this…. the first Miss Falkirk… and what a contest it’s been, folks, they’ve all been great. Haven’t they all been great?’
The audience – which comprised the contestants’ immaculately dressed and coiffured mums, grannies and little sisters, and a large helping of cognitively-challenged, heavily drunk, knuckle-scraping car-park brawlers – was growing restless. Seats could be heard shuffling over the hard-wood floors; the odd nervous cough. Children were fiddling and fidgeting with their hands. The girls on stage were frozen like the last ten seconds of a Police Squad episode.
‘It truly has been a great one, ladies and gents, a competition and a night right up there with the best this town, and country, has to offer. So without any ado, no further ado at all… I’m just about to announce…. the winner…. the winner of Miss Falkirk 2011…. held here… in this lovely venue… and so the winner is… wait for it folks… here it comes… of this year’s competition…’
And then, in the silence of one of Steve Courtney’s lingering pauses, amidst a quiet crowd of hundreds, it came: the Falkirk-ification of this most American of nights.
‘…yes, it’s time. The winner… of Miss Falkirk… in the year of our Lord two thousand and ele…’
‘GET ON WITH IT, YOU CUNT!’
Followed by shocked silence. Which in turn was followed by one solitary burst of laughter: from my mouth. Not one single other person was laughing, or even smiling. Welcome to Falkirk, folks. It’s beautiful and terrible.
Good old Steve just stammered a little and moved on, completely ignoring the ‘cunt’, which was very professional of him. Especially considering that he probably wanted to pluck the little bastard out of the crowd and claim him. Falkirk: sometimes I love you.