Sadly, news has reached us that Mr Ian Walker, owner of the Waverley Bar, passed away just before Christmas. His passing signals the end of an era as the Waverley Bar – the Guid Crack’s home for past a quarter of a century – has now closed. Regardless of its future, we tip our hat to Mr Walker, whose generosity in allowing our monthly meet to be held there for so long will always be appreciated.
The upstairs lounge was as evocative and other-worldly as many of the stories it witnessed. The club was started by people who we now recognise as master storytellers, poets, writers, musicians and activists, and was visited by master and novice tellers, festival guests, lost and lucky tourists, and friends past and present. Itplayed an important role in the resurgence of oral storytelling within the local community, and ultimately helped bring the Scottish Storytelling Centre into existence.
Ultimately, most memories of Guid Crack at the Waverley quickly turn from the venue to the storytellers themselves. The last Guid Crack guest Teller at The Waverley was Jack Martin in December 2015, where a toast was raised to Andy Hunter. It was decided that the last Guid Crack of each year should be dedicated to Andy’s memory and indeed, to any tellers we have had the good fortune to know and say goodbye to.
The Waverley will always hold a special place in our memories, with its plastering of posters, shady lamps and haphazard style, and Mr Walker was very generous in allowing various groups and folk to use the upstairs without a fuss. It is in this spirit that the Guid Crack Club can continue, celebrating the past, present and looking towards the future. That part will not change, and wherever the Guid Crack takes place, the magic of that spirit holds dear.
In recent years, the increase in visitor numbers meant more friendships, laughs and stories as people from home and abroad jammed into the lounge to enjoy the unique atmosphere. The challenge of where we go has been under consideration by the Guid Crack Committee for a while.
Experiences from other clubs suggest that the cost of hiring a venue would require turning Guid Crack into a ticketed event, which seemed out of step with its spirit. There was reluctance to move to the Scottish Storytelling Centre due to its existing Friday night commitments, and causing confusion with the Centre’s Café Voices night.
A number of local options were investigated, and the Circus Café Bistro Bar (which is directly across St Mary’s Street from the Waverley) has now been chosen as the new venue for The Guid Crack. It has a friendly ambience, good food and drink, and the bistro’s owner is happy to encourage its use as a performing arts venue in return for food and drink sales on the night.
January’s Guid Crack will be held on Friday 29th at the Circus Café at 7.30pm, with guest Lea Taylor.