By Lewis Pollard, Collections Assistant, National Media Museum
As someone without a background in photography, film, television, or media, I often find myself mystified by the objects I deal with on a daily basis. However, I regularly come across material that no amount of expertise can prepare you for. In this series I’m going to highlight some of the weird and wonderful objects I come into contact with down here in the museum’s collections.
Man Walking a Haggis (Tame)
Free range takes on a whole new meaning! This image of a man walking a haggis like a dog on a lead is one of the most entertaining and surreal photographs I’ve ever come across. It’s perhaps no surprise that this image comes from The Daily Herald Archive, which boasts more than a few images that make you look twice, like the following:
In this newspaper archive, there’s no end to strange and novel images. That’s why the first thing I do when I find a picture in the Daily Herald Archive is turn it over to see if any context is given on the back. Often there are date stamps and snippets of article to give an idea of what is going on. Luckily the full article is glued to the back of this picture. However a quick read reveals that the paper is only speculating the reasoning behind this man’s unusual choice of walking companion.
“…In Glasgow a man was seen leading a haggis home at the end of a string, as though it were a pet. A smile played around his lips, a smile of anticipation as he thought ahead to Burns Night supper, and the sight of his friends on the floor exhausted from laughter after hearing the waggish Scottish haggis thing he had done.”
It seems instead of actually asking the man about his seeing-eye haggis they opted to make up their own story of dry Scottish humour. Perhaps the real story will never be known. Perhaps the novelty of the image is more important than any background. It’s certainly not a new idea to use a strange image to sell a story. I suppose it could be considered in the same vein as modern click-bait journalism. I can practically see the headline:
“This man has a haggis for a pet. The reason will shock and inspire you!”
Nevertheless it will remain as one of my favourite photographs in our collections. And if you ever want to see this image in person you can find it in the Daily Herald Archive under the amusing category: ‘Scotland…Misc. Ceremonies and Customs (Include Haggis)’.