Red-faced council chiefs have hooked a carved tribute to Kirriemuir playwright JM Barrie after misquoting the Peter Pan creator.
As part of a six-figure revamp of the square in the town where Barrie was born, the message ‘Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting’ was laid around the world-famous statue of the The Boy Who Never Grew Up.
The quote is popularly associated with the story of Peter, Tinkerbell and the Darling children but the cash-strapped council has now been forced into lifting the slabs after it emerged the words might have been a flight of fancy from the mind of a big screen scriptwriter rather than the wonderful imagination of the Angus town’s famous son.
Local historian David Orr was left scratching his head when he saw the quote laid in the new-look town centre, curving its way around the base of the Peter Pan statue.
“I read it and thought that I hadn’t heard it before, so I googled it and it turned out that the quote has already created a bit of debate among Barrie enthusiasts,” he said.
“It’s well known, but it didn’t ring true with me as Barrie’s. I do my own history tours in Kirrie so I wanted to make sure I knew its exact origins if I was asked about it.”
An approach to town Barrie authority Sandra Affleck also failed to answer the mystery of the magical sentiment and after David contacted the award-winning Gateway to the Glens museum his query has triggered a swift decision by Angus Council to dig up the inscribed granite script and replace it with words which definitely came from Barrie’s pen.
A council spokesman said: “We are grateful to one of our museum visitors for raising this with us.
“While this quotation has been widely attributed to the famous author there is a lack of absolute certainty over its origins.
“As such, we feel it is appropriate to replace it with one that can be incontrovertibly traced to the work of the great J M Barrie.”
Barrie’s fairytale favourite has flown before audiences through the generations through movies from big names including Disney, Universal and Tristar, and David fears that as well as paying proper tribute to the town’s literary genius the council’s quick call might also have been taken to avoid any potential action by the big screen giants.
“The town centre works were finished just in time for the unveiling of the Bon Scott statue a couple of weeks ago and it was then that I noticed the quote around the Peter Pan statue in the town square, which is already known the world over,” he added.
“It’s great that Kirrie has been getting such positive attention of late, but this is all a bit embarrassing – and probably quite expensive.
David added: “I just wonder how much thought was actually put in to getting a good quote in the first place.
“If anyone had searched for this one online they would probably have come up with the results which show there has been a lot of debate about whether or not they are actually Barrie’s words and that should have set them thinking.
“And I suspect the likelihood of the council being sued by somebody like Disney might be something to do with the decision to lift it so quickly.”
- The Square redesign also includes a previously unpublished quote by Kirriemuir writer Mary McIntosh in tribute to the town’s weaving heritage.“In the howe o the toon hear the ghaists o wabsters shuttles clackin backit and forrit, backit and forrit, warp tae weft, weft tae warp”Mary used to teach at the town’s Reform Street school and continues to live in Kirrie.