Ewan McVicar His Website 

Ill-Remembered Travels

The following was yet another unsuccessful synopsis for publishers.



Celebrating Mislaid Achievers and Adventurers

1] On a crowded tram in the Russian Urals city of Perm, Ewan McVicar strives to write a Scottish children’s Christmas song, while passing Diaghilev’s boyhood home, the missing house where Pasternak wrote Dr Zhivago, and the longest armaments factory in Europe. He reflects on what brought him to the Centre for Scottish Studies in Perm Pedagogical University, and is asked about forgotten famous Scot Roderick Murchison.

2] He walks up Siberia Street where exiled convicts had gone before, struggles with Cyrillic lettering and University toilets, and in the Centre’s small library tries to learn about Murchison. Bureaucratic battle is joined to rescue a parcel of books from the Post Office, to get permission to stay in the city, and then to be allowed to leave.

3] Safe home, Ewan learns about various links between him and Murchison, in childhood, then in 1960s Uganda. Ewan reflects on his own early songwriting and singing influences and friends in Glasgow, then his writing a forgotten Top Twenty hit. He goes to work as a banker in Uganda, Kenya and South Yemen, travels in Morocco, India and Japan, and sings and works illegally across the USA.

4] Ewan returns to Scotland, and becomes a psychiatric social worker. He is pals with Billy Connolly and Aly Bain, he eventually begins creating shows and exhibitions. Among the first is a reminiscence project in Paisley that spawns a song widely recorded, then an exhibition about Glasgow writers, then a show as part of Glasgow and Nurnberg twinning, and another in a Lanarkshire village.

5] After creating a touring show with an African drum choir about Niger Explorer Mungo Park, Ewan forms an artistic partnership with Ghanaian Amu Logotse, and turns ancient carved Pictish symbols into computer poetry. Then Ewan is forced to become a storyteller. He takes hundreds of bird images to Uganda, and begins to co-run social projects there. He writes another song that is widely recorded and performed, and risks his sanity making a community show.

6] Ewan deepens his knowledge of Murchison’s remarkable influence. On a second trip to Perm Ewan takes with him a Scottish traditional singer and an American storyteller. He becomes friends with the creator of the Diaghilev Museum. He writes songs based on Zhivago’s poems, and records them with a quartet of opera singers.

7] Ewan tells of how his study of Scottish children's songs involved a Japanese TV company. Ewan uncovers the identity of the maker of Coulter’s Candy, and writes twenty songs for the Singing Kettle show. He becomes a Songwriter In Schools, on the way learning about Scotland’s first patron saint, and an Aberdonian who lied about being tortured by Red Indians.

8] On a third trip to Russia, Ewan has interesting encounters in Moscow, and curates an absurd Burns Supper, complete with dancing girls, quiz and tinned haggis, in snow-bound Perm.

9] Murchison’s history as a soldier, and his family’s Jacobite history, link with Ewan’s jews harp playing performing trips to the village of Veere in the Netherlands, which proves to have surprising historical links with Scotland. His first visit is a series of misadventures. A later visit helps him uncover the story of a 15th C Bruges merchant who became governor of Linlithgow Palace, over the back wall from Ewan’s home.

11] Ewan’s third Perm visit is to sponsor and perform in a Scottish-Russian festival dedicated to his mother. He takes Scotland’s funniest storyteller with him, and two huge ‘sea monsters’ made in Scotland. He recruits Russian bagpipers and Scottish Country Dancers, and sings to 20,000 people a song with a lyric by Scots poet Edwin Morgan. A drunken weekend ‘conference on tourism’ involves a visit to an ice cave where Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace of Monaco both nearly slipped and fell.

12] Ewan makes a second trip to Uganda re a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, makes new working alliances there involving music and social action, and ends up being the sole financial support of a shelter for street kids,

13] Consideration of Murchison’s international travels and influence leads to tales of Ewan’s own working visits to Canada, Sweden and Prague. Ewan brings the Perm opera singers, Chorus Quartet, to tour in Scotland. A highly successful tour ends in near tragedy, and Ewan has to get the bass singer, brain-injured in a traffic accident, back home. Then Ewan helps facilitate a school bus trip by Perm Scientific School 9 to Scotland to learn about Murchison.

14] Ewan's last visit to Perm, with traditional singer Christine Kydd, is to see recovering bass singer Alexei, and to perform in Siberia with the Quartet. This involves a barbershop singing festival in St Petersburg, and surprising Russian journeys by train and car. Ewan tells of Murchison’s Scottish ancestor’s Jacobite troubles, illustrated in a Landseer painting that took twenty years to complete.

15] Ewan tells about Murchison’s support for and friendship with missionary explorer David Livingstone, whose 2013 bicentenary is celebrated by Ewan through the creation of a touring song show about him, his friends and his family. Ewan creates a visual arts exchange with the town of Livingstone in Zambia. Then he develops interest in two Scots missionaries inspired by Livingstone. Mary Slessor of Dundee and Calabar, and Alexander Mackay of Rhynie and Uganda, who knew Murchison as a friend and colleague of his minister father.

16] Mackay’s telling about religious atrocities he witnessed in 19th C Uganda links to Ewan’s 20 years of co-running arts projects and projects helping street kids in Uganda. On an event-filled 2014 Uganda visit he meets a Busoga princess who wrote a biography of Mackay.

17] Working in Scotland’s Highlands, Ewan creates a show of firsthand accounts of the 1745 Rising, learns about Murchison’s involvement in disputes about the geological history of the Highlands which involved various Scots scientifically-minded divines including Mackay’s surprising father, and the Rev Joass’ discovery of a Pictish monastery. At last Ewan creates a show about Murchison, takes it to Highland museums, and reviews Murchison’s work and influence.