I think I have said before that I wasn’t always Scottish.
Well I didn’t feel Scottish. I was born in mainland Europe. My birth was registered as British with a bonus registration in Edinburgh. We then lived in England for a number of years before circumstances eventually led my family to settling in Scotland. So I always felt I began as European and worked my way along to becoming Scots. Of course when I arrived in Scotland I was utterly bewildered. Scotland has a language, a culture, a huge developed identity. I had no idea before I arrived. My mostly Scottish parents had never said, never explained anything about their/our homeland. Their accents were light and they rarely even used Scottish words that I can recall. But I realise now that when you are surrounded by non-scots there are two paths to choose. One is the full Scot, no quarter given with language, singing Flower of Scotland when pished. And the other is choosing the quieter road, using the English words instead of your childhood scots ones to save on endless explanations. The second path I think has often been used in the past as Scottish manners. As I got older I realised the Scots automatically used two languages. “proper” English at school etc. (or a vague attempt with Miss Jean Brodie style teachers correcting poor English) and the Scots you spoke to friends and family. You answered in the language you are spoken to. Or at least you did then. (I suspect my father may have gone the first path when he had a drink in him but I was never present for these times)
It feels different now. You don’t have to be educated to travel (there was nothing like that to aid in the development and usage of “proper” english,) the tv quite often speaks with a Scottish accent thanks to the efforts of broadcasters to promote more regional news and entertainment efforts. I also I wonder if this is, in part, because of the internet too. In the days before it you made your choice about whether or not you carried your scots with you to another land, the loud or the quiet path. But since you can travel the world now without even having to leave your chair then the language doesn’t automatically get adjusted. And we aren’t just a wee bit popped on the top of England any more. The loud road is less a conscious donning of national identity and Scottish people being just themselves. The internet means we get the opportunity to show who we are without tweaking for tourists or being the party Scots in the bar far from home. (though we still do that very well I have to admit)
And the best example I have seen of Scots being splendidly and hilariously ourselves with a global audience was this week with “Hurricane Bawbag” Not strictly a hurricane but it will certainly do. The windspeeds were definitely comparable so the name felt entirely appropriate. Along with the other names tried out such as Marydoll, Boaby, and Senga before Bawbag and the great Scottish sense of humour won out. And trended on twitter worldwide.
And I have never been so glad of it. I was home alone, am currently suffering a bout of Labyrinthitis (not ideal for battling wheelie bins in gale force winds) and the potential to be terrified out of my wits by groaning trees swaying, debris whizzing past the windows and the wind battering off the house was seriously high.
But I wasn’t. Thanks to the internet and specifically twitter. It provided me with up to date information from the council, the police and the main news bodies. Up to date travel information for my family and minute by minute weather reports. And a lot of laughs. The thing that really binds Scots together more than the language is that sense of humour. The jokes made in the face of the winds, things being blown over, the wind turbine that somehow managed to catch fire. The brilliant OMG TRAMPOLINE youtube video that did the rounds. And the media embracing the Bawbag name. (STV’S slightly prim explanation of exactly what a bawbag is utterly hilarious. I give them kudos for mentioning Jeremy Clarkson in the same paragraph. Nicely done)
Wonderful stuff. A scary situation made normal. And weirdly, fun. I had one of the best days even while lying down and swearing while the house shoogled under the onslaught of the extreme weather. Like somebody said: “You may take our garden furniture but you will never take our patter”
I belong to you Scotland. And I swear (as much as I can before my maw tells me off,) I have never been happier about it.