Friday, 30 November 2012

An F.E.B. on St. Andrew’s Day

Twelve years ago, I fulfilled a life-long dream to live in the country to which I feel most akin. Edinburgh, where the Posh English Accent is common, was a canny move – there were professional reasons too. But is my Scottishness, like my life, just a big act?

My surname is perhaps most associated with the Highland Clearances; something which I find slightly problematic. I can’t imagine, if I traced my family tree, I’d have a claim to even a pebble of Golspie Castle, so I won’t let this ruffle my socialist leanings.

More of a problem is my true heritage, whatever that means. Born in England to a Glaswegian father (which makes him Scottish) and a mother of Welsh descent (which makes her verbose, unlike my dad); yet, despite my mixed blood and birth I have chosen Scotland as my home.

This week I attended a discussion/debate on Scottish Cultural Identity. I think I ruffled some feathers by saying that the Tattoo – a celebration of military might – was not what I call ‘culture.’ For me, the multitude of Festivals, including history, the arts, science; celebrations of our social, ethnic and sexual identity: that is culture. Bagpipes-and-guns, fireworks-and-fly-pasts are not.

But throughout the Museum of Scotland, it is clear that there are as many shades of opinion of what makes up our cultural identity as there are types of whisky or varieties of tartan. And yet, the tartan-for-tourism was given a hard time in this discussion. Horses for courses, I say. Let the tourists buy their tartan tat, attend the tattoo, and take pictures of some wee dug on a plinth.

The rest of us can share, enjoy, and contribute to all the richness that Scottish Culture has to celebrate. (Unless, of course, one is a Fucking English Bastard.)

Philosophical Beads

Am I Scottish?
How do I measure up?
By birth, blood, or inclination
If I speak in Received Pronunciation
(Edinburgh-English or Pure Glaswegian)
Do I contribute to the Wealth of the Nation
Will I uphold the right (ie, left-wing) persuasion
Is a quart of me thicker than water after distillation
Inventor, philosopher, pioneer, champion of innovation

Well, am I a Scot?


Boxed set of Philosophical Beads; a set of hollow glass beads of slightly differing specific gravity. The heaviest bead to float gives a measure of the strength of spirits.

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