Thursday, March 01, 2007

Away an bile yer heid

Oh, thank heavens... no way was I going to be able to edit down my week's mixed back of rants into anything digestible or even coherent. Luckily, the Wandering Scotsman sent me this, and it's made me feel all teary-eyed and nostalgic. Sniff.

Anyhow, this is dedicated to Mrs.B and D'Eath who between them and their ancestral roots taught me how to strip the willow, eat "proper" chips, read Irvine Welsh and most importantly, the correct way to incapacitate innocent bystanders with a cannily-flung shoe while reeling. And here's to Maili (hope all's well with you).

In a typically pathetic effort to shoehorn this into the blog while maintaining a purely fraudulent sense of an overall thematic arc here's a bit of blurb. (You may want to skip this and just go to the bit at the bottom.)

Some might note that the list below doesn't exactly evoke the same image of Scotland as say, Christophe(r) Lambert (a Frenchman - snerk) in a skirt, Mel Gibson (an Australian) in blue paint, Liam Neeson (an Irishman) in a swarm of midges, or Sean Connery in anything, but especially a pair of "Mr. Universe" bathing trunks. To say nothing of those millions o' Hieland lairds frolickin' bare-chested amang t'rannoch an t'yowes.

Brief rant: I wish popular Scottish history of this type delved a bit more into the very strong historical Scottish-French connections and political machinations within the Scottish royalty in general. Not only is it damned interesting, but I think it gives a greater sense of genuine history than the trope of a rabid pack of weedy and effeminate Sassenaches laying waste to mystic and ancient tribes of barely-dressed tamed calendar models.

Actually, I think this sort of silliness denigrates vast tracts of Scottish history and gives the English way too much credit. I mean, take the Scottish Enlightenment - it played a critical part in the development of modern western thought: all that lovely stuff on political economy, history, humanism, philosophy, scientific method and dancing frogs. Ideas that changed the world, she shouts, waving an invisible hand or two. And then a few hundred years later there's the whole take on Burns as a Soviet literary icon. Aarrrghhh. Must. Stop. Ranting. No. Time.

Anyhow, one of these days, I swear I'm going to write an essay on approaches to Scotland in popular culture. With a splash of amnesiac Orientalism and a post-modern secret baby.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that just like the above examples, the list below represents facets of "a" Scotland(s) rather than "the" Scotland. Neither is more "right" than the other (regardless of accuracy), but trying to believe in the absolute truth of one vision feels to me like being in a mental straitjacket. Besides, since everyone has their own vision of a place, one way to wander through that person's head (dammit, I just knew that Zadie Smith thing was going to make its presence felt) is to try to see a place as they do.

In the case of Scotland, after versions like the ones given above, or even below, it's lovely to have a dose of Alexander MacCall Smith. Or go down the gritty 'tec route via Ian Rankin to end up in darker places of the Iain Banks type. Or maybe others (open to carefully-worded suggestions at this point).

But I think this nonsense about spending evenings spent studying is showing neon-yellow at the seams. I'll try and do some rhythmic breathing at the weekend to see if I calm down a bit. Or maybe I'll dig oot the poem I posted on SB's once, for the sake of posterity. Onwards.

You know you are a true Scot if...........
1. Ye can properly pronounce McConnochie, Ecclefechan, Milngavie,Sauchiehall St, St Enoch, Auchtermuchty and Aufurfuksake.
2. Ye actually like deep fried battered pizza fae the chippie.
3. Yer used tae four seasons in wan day.
4. Ye canna pass a chip/kebab shop withoot sleverin when yer blootert.
5. Ye kin fall about pished withoot spilling yer drink.
6. Ye see people wearin shell suits with burberry accessories pure class!
7. Ye measure distance in minutes.
8. Ye kin understaun Rab C Nesbitt and know characters just like him, inyer ain family.
9. Ye go tae North Berwick cos ye think it is like gaun tae the ocean.
10. Ye kin make hael sentences jist wae sweer wurds.
11. Ye know whit haggis is made ae and stull like eating it.
12. Somedy ye know his used a fitba schedule tae plan thur wedding daydate.
13. You've been at a wedding and fitba scores are announced in theChurch/Chapel.
14. Ye urny surprised tae find curries, pizzas, kebabs, fish n chips,irn-bru, fags and nappies all in the wan shop.
15. Yer holiday home at the seaside has calor gas under it.
16. Ye know irn-bru is a hangover cure.
17. Ye learnt tae sweer afore ye learnt tae dae sums.
18. Ye actually understand this and yurr gonnae send it tae yer pals .
19. Finally, ye are 100% Scot if ye ha' e'er said/heard these words;
How's it hingin
Get it up ye
Wee beasties
Erse bandit
Away an bile yer heid
Humphey backit
Baw bag
Dubble nugget

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