BEING SCOTTISH

Margaret Bennett

Being Scottish I'm rooted in this Land of the Mountain and the Flood, Old Red Sandstone, Grey Granite and Trainspotting. The land of my birth evokes a disparity of responses reflecting the place I happen to be, at home or abroad. There's awe at Edinburgh's skyline, a smile at Glasgow's Loby Dosser (in dreichest rain or traffic), rankle at Sutherland's Duke, tranquillity at the Quirang, a sense of wonder at Soutra, and curiosity at the smells of linoleum factories or breweries. Callanish and Jarlsoff amaze me, but so do my compatriots who'd swap them for a football match. Being Scottish, however, we raise a glass together:

Scotland thy mountains,

Thy valleys and fountains

The home of the poet,

The birthplace of song.

And here?s to porridge, penicillin, bicycles, bagpipes, steam engines, tartan, tar macadam, thistles, whisky and Dolly the sheep. Oh flower of Scotland?

Sometimes I wonder if I belong to a country of the imagination. Outside it, I'm expected to explain, dismantle stereotypes, or justify my claim to being Scottish.

"You have an accent," and they don't.

"You don't sound Scottish! Where's your rrrrrrrrroamin in the gloamin? What part of Ireland are you from?"

These folk make me explain my species of Scottishness. A Hebridean, Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland, Scots-speaking father, who both spoke English. One sang Gaelic songs, the other hee-durram-haw-durrams and played the bagpipes. One leaned far to the left, the other did not. They raised four children between two cultures, three languages, surrounded by a wealth of domestic, social, religious, cultural and political paradoxes. ...

As McDiarmid put it,

The rose of all the world is not for me.

I want for my part

Only the little white rose of Scotland

That smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart.

 

 

For the complete article see: BEING SCOTTISH, (ed. Tom Devine)

Edinburgh University Press, 2003.

ISBN: 978-1902930-36-7

 

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