A “cracker” of an Angus literary mystery has been immortalised in verse by a local Robert Burns enthusiast.
Peter Pan fans scratched their heads last year over a council gaffe surrounding the character’s statue in Kirriemuir.
Angus Council set a quote in granite around the character’s plinth as part of a six-figure sum to upgrade the town centre.
But rather than recall one of several Neverland tales by creator Sir JM Barrie, officers picked an apparent Disney quote: “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
Barrie experts never found out exactly where the quote came from, but the local authority dug up the stone and replaced it with the real thing from Peter and Wendy: “I’ll teach you how to jump on the wind’s back, and then away we go.”
Jim Smith from Kirriemuir, a popular speaker at dinners and groups, decided to commemorate the mistake in a light-hearted poem, entitled The Peter Pan Mix-Up.
Mr Smith said: “We’re interested in anything about Barrie in the town — this was a cracker.
“If you just Google it, it comes up as a Disney quotation, but it doesn’t say from where.
“The one they’ve chosen now is fine, it’s about flying and that’s a large part of what Peter Pan is about.”
Local historian David Orr had doubts over whether the phrase could be found within the pages of Peter Pan and it emerged that the quote, although popularly associated with the famous fairytale, perhaps owed more to a big screen adaptation of the story rather than the original.
Mr Smith, a Naval Commander who published his first book of verse three years ago aged 80, said Barrie was known for his sense of fun.
“I’d like to think that he would have found it humorous,” he said.
Mr Smith recently released a version of Burns’ epic Tam O’ Shanter, for dinner guests who would like to read the poem in English while it is recited at Burns Suppers.
This is available at the Gateway to the Glens Museum in town, or by writing to Mr Smith at Fairways, Golf Road, Northmuir DD84PY.
In the wee town square at Kirriemuir there’s a statue of Peter Pan,
To honour his author, J.M. Barrie, the town’s most famous man,
On his pedestal young Peter stands, charming all the passers-by,
He’s firmly rooted to the spot, though we know he’d prefer to fly.
Now the Kirrie square is a busy place, gets a lot of wear and tear,
From the countless townsfolk and visitors that daily pass through there.
So the Council thought they would spruce it up, and with money in their gift,
They drew up a plan they were proud of, to give it a good facelift.
They put in some fancy paving stones and new benches on which to sit,
And bonny plants and wrought iron work, but that wasn’t the end of it.
For they cleaned up Peter’s pedestal, and laid round its foundation,
Smart granite setts engraved on which was a Peter Pan quotation.
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away” it read,
“And going away means forgetting”, that’s what the engraving said,
But scarcely was it all unveiled, when some people began to doubt
That Peter had actually said those words, and wanted to find out.
The local Barrie faithful all said they would take another look,
Which just confirmed the view that it didn’t come from a Barrie Book,
They deduced it might be a set of words that some screenwriter wrote,
For one of the films about Peter Pan, and that’s where they got this quote.
But the Angus Council were singing dumb and wouldn’t make a move,
Until local historian, David Orr, challenged them to prove,
That this was a genuine Barrie quote, or have the setts re-made,
With a known quotation from Peter Pan, and then have them re-laid.
The red-faced Council chiefs were forced to go back to the drawing board,
For the uproar caused by the sad mistake just couldn’t be ignored,
The designer spoke to everyone who wanted to have a say,
And came up at last with a saying from the original Play.
“Come on! We’ll fly… I’ll teach you how to jump on the wind’s back and then
away we go”, that’s what Peter said to the Darlings’ young children.
And so those chosen words were chiselled, on a brand new ring of stones,
And laid around the pedestal’s base, to stop all the moans and groans.
Now all the fuss has quietened down in the square in the “Wee Red Town”,
And nobody knows what Peter thinks as he stands there looking down,
With that enigmatic smile of his, but I’m sure I heard him say;
“This must have cost a pretty penny, I’m glad I don’t have to pay”.