Today, December 28, is the anniversary of the Tay Bridge Disaster. The tragedy is now remembered in connection with the disaster of the poem it inspired. William McGonagall (whose family name, at least, is familar to readers of the Harry Potter books, because his grave is in the cemetery near the coffee shop where the first Harry Potter book was written) wrote the poem.
We made three videos involving the poem. In this video, Dr. Elena Bodnar and Terry Jones perform a Ukrainian translation of part of the poem.To the best of our knowledge this is the first time the poem was performed, even partially, in Ukrainian:
In another video, the passengers in a train on the Tay Bridge recite the poem. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time the poem was recited by a group on a train on the bridge:
In our third video, a group of actors perform the poem together, at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA, as part of the 2011 Cambridge Science Festival. The readers are Dafydd ap Rees, Debra Wise, Robin Abrahams, David Kessler, Ig Nobel Prize winner Patricia Priest, Daniel Rosenberg and Roberta Gilbert:
BONUS: Every March, during selected shows in the Ig Nobel Tour of the UK (for the UK’s National Science Week), we and/or the audience perform the poem. Consider yourself warned, should you be considering whether to attend these events.
BONUS: There exists a video of Billy Connelly performing the poem on a hill in Dundee, Scotland, overlooking the Tay Bridge, in a snowstorm. It is perhaps the greatest performance of the poem by anyone other than the author (McGonagall himself often was pelted with peas when he performed his poems, a fact that did not prevent him from repeatedly performing them in public).