Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Scotland!

I was prepared to put money on it (not real money, but dollars) that the gathering of kilted men in a bar in North Carolina on Saturday was not Scottish. (I wonder what the official term for a group of kilted men is. I would love to hear your suggestions!!!) I knew they weren't Scottish because 1) Not one of them had a beer in their hands and 2) They had underwear on! I did some additional investigation which they didn't seem to object to. I have to say as soon as I spoke to them I knew they were not Scottish so there was no good reason for me to stick my hand up their kilts.
Americans have this complete love affair with Scotland. My driving test, my first visit to my doctors and to a teacher at the school was hijacked by the adoration of Scotland. That is all they want to talk about if they have visited the place. Yesterday it went up a notch. Whilst purchasing myself a new frock (Ralph Lauren no less, cos designer stuff is cheap here) the cashier asked where I was from (as always) and then launched in to a planned trip of Scotland. She hasn't even been there yet and she is going on about it! She was going to Glasgow to see a friend. She only had a week. She said she might pop to Italy.... or Ireland. I pointed out that it would probably take longer to get to Ireland than Italy and really there was more than enough to fill a week just in Scotland! I don’t think her only impression should be Glasgow. Most American adoration comes from a visit to somewhere Bonny Prince Charlie has been ... (which could be anywhere in Scotland! He had some hair that boy judging by the locks he chopped off and left all over the place as a memento - why didn't he just sign the visitor book like normal travelers?!)
I love Scotland too. My sister lived in the North of Scotland for 10 years and I frequently visited. I was there around 25 years ago today and attended a Burns night in honour of Robbie Burns the Scottish poet. It is his birthday today. It was a very serious affair. They carried out a haggis on a red cushion to bag pipes and spoke a lot of gibberish while I tried to be inconspicuous. Difficult when you are laughing so hard your shoulders shake and you snort and snot everywhere in the effort to hide the laughter! It was one of those moments when you know it shouldn't be funny and that makes it unbearably funny - like at funerals. I nearly choked on the table cloth I stuffed into my mouth to stop the fits of giggling when a woman began 'Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie' - His famous 'To a Mouse' poem.  My sister behaved equally badly!
I wonder if Americans have the complete works of Robert Burns in their bathrooms. Certainly he influenced some great American writers such as John Steinbeck and J D Salinger who both named books after lines in his poetry. I'm curious though - Americans can barely understand what I'm saying - how did they understand Rabbie Burns?!

Someone asked me - given I have done bugger all for 6 months- what I was going to do this year. At some point I need to do something so that I am still marketable for employment in the UK. It worries me that I am going to pay dearly for this extended holiday when I am confronted with the real world again and I have to find a job. I have thought about doing some sort of educational research, some training or some lecturing to keep my hand in but truth be told I don’t want to. Before I even got to America I felt that if, after 3 years, I went back to England and replicated my life as it was three years previously I would have failed to have grown sufficiently as a person. Robert Burns’ advice to the wee Mousie who has just lost its home might be of benefit to me!:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley, (often go astray)
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Maybe - I need to stop worrying and trying to pre-empt two years from now. That will only lead to ‘grief an’ pain’.  Live like the Mousie - in the present. I need to enjoy the opportunities presented to me - not so much ‘putting my hands up gentlemen's kilts’ type opportunities but to enjoy the time I have now (which I never had before or may never have again) to write about, read about and explore a strange land!


  1. I can just imagine the pair of you giggling and snorting , how you managed to hide it beats me as i have wittnessed you both doing this. Enjoy yourself while you can .It is certainly doing you good. What would we do if you worked all the while and could'nt write these brillient blogs for us all to read.

  2. Thank you! I am thoroughly enjoying writing the blogs and your kind comments make it worthwhile!

  3. A Braveheart of kilts? (group of men in kilts)

  4. Very good!!! On a windy day it could be "a raising of kilts

  5. I think its a liberation of kilt wearers

  6. You could be right Sean - on the website kiltmen.com it says 'trousers confine, irritate, and impinge on the male genitals'. Kilts must be liberating indeed. However it also says that while Scots will tell you nothing is worn under the kilt 'a kilt-wearing man might not be so daring in the United States, where sexual paranoia is rampant'! Poor Americans - not liberated inspite of all that liberty!!!

  7. Maybe you should give wearing one a whirl. A kilt wearing woman should have all those yankees scratching their heads about that. Maybe in a stiff breeze too, sans undies. That should boost the sexual paranoia into overdrive!!!!!

  8. I might give it a go but they may just talk to me about Scotland!!!! I think I shocked everyone on Saturday by checking to see what was under their kilts. Not sure if they can cope with much more!!!

  9. I remember that "supper" so well and this had me laughing about it all over again. Fond memories aye ? Deb.S xxx