It was raining when we arrived at Castle Rock, the ancient mound of gravel and dirt upon which Stirling Castle sits. I was over-napped, exhausted from staring out a rain-streaked window all day, and ready for some medieval action. I wanted high vaulted ceilings, locals in period costumes, and a rousing story of the stabbings, beheadings, battles, and film crews that have haunted this magnificent storybook palace for centuries.
Stirling: Scotland's 'Castle of the Velvet Penis'
My entire family stepped off the bus, umbrellas held high; I took my mother’s hand to help her down, beaming with pride at having brought her all the way from Alabama to Scotland, and she beamed right back, proud of her globetrotting son. Neither of us realized I was leading her into a medieval storybook castle full of porn.
Go to Wikipedia. Look up Stirling Castle. Dig that deep well of history, that long line of occupation all the way before the arrival of Rome. Groove on the knowledge that this is where William Wallace yelled “FREEEEEEDOM” and mooned a guy named Bruce. Really though, I don’t know anything about Stirling Castle, because I spent the entire trip trying to maneuver my mother out of range of our tour guide’s raging boner.
There should be a sign: WARNING: Your Tour Guide is VERY Happy to See You! As I led my wife, my mother, and my teen daughter into one of the main halls, a local actor dressed in full 14th-century getup greeted us: big muffin britches, a sword, pointy shoes — and a black velvet codpiece that could smuggle a haggis. It wasn’t even a codpiece. Codpieces are functional armor that protected medieval men from getting poked in the coin purse. They were the progenitors of little league cups and preteen embarrassment. Our guide was wearing porn. A black velvet penis valise with spangles?
I asked him what the hell was going on — and do they sell them in the gift shop — and he told us a story about King Something-or-other who developed a medical condition in his nethers requiring him to store said nethers in a pouch right out in the open. To make him comfortable, his guards adopted their own peen pouches and a fashion was born. The present guards wear their pointy pubes publicly to appear properly authentic.
My mom has a degree in theology, and has been actively demure since the day she was born. She didn’t say the “S” word until she was in her late 50s. She’s a bit conservative, and as I thrust her into a small forest of leather dong purses, I was horrified. Instead of flying my Southern Christian Reverend Mom halfway across the world to see history, I’d brought her to Scotland to browse marital aids.
Fortunately, the Stirling Castle reconstruction committee had recently restored the ceilings to their hideous gaudy horror, which my mother found fascinating as we passed through the hall of John Thomases with her gazing upwards.
Look, I know it’s a matter of authenticity, and I appreciate Stirling Castle for adhering so flamboyantly to common penis adornment, circa 1496; but come on, man, I’m an American. I’m permanently 14. You can’t just throw me into a castle full of velour-covered boner bags and expect me to keep a straight face.
Five minutes into the tour, my daughter and I were barely capable of walking upright, aching from withheld laughter and sneeze giggling.
I had to ask questions. I availed myself of a man with a bright blue sparkly shaft sack, currently pointed northward. I nodded at the south wall.
“What about that?” I asked. He twirled on his heel, his penis cutting audibly through the air like a switch.
“Wait, I’d like to hear more about that,” my daughter said, pointing to a tapestry on the north wall. Our guide and his tool re-twirled, his penis arcing through the room.
“He’s finished there. Back to the south wall, please, I’m very interested.”
We had him going like a pornographic metronome until my wife, ever polite, ever classy, whispered in my ear that if I didn’t want to wear a metaphorical penis pouch until the day I die, I’d better stop causing our guide to wave his around like he was conducting Bizet.
I think Stirling Castle is missing a grand opportunity to capitalize on what must surely be their most protuberant feature. They should rename the whole tour: Game of Bones. They should have pictographic signs. And why no souvenirs in the gift shop? For those who can’t afford a life-sized penis pouch — or find them threatening — they could offer smaller velvet penis pouches as key fobs and tie clips.