Category Archives: culture

Aye, Rabbie, ye’ll dae fer me yet!

I was going to offer some thoughts on how I became such a cynical old grump so early in my life, but I actually know perfectly well why. I am faced with the daily spectacle of the sculptured lines of the thoroughbred racecar that is “the Utopian ideal” being dashed to a crumpled, fiery mess on the Armco of reality.

Most people seem to deal quiet happily with this, but, as a Champion of Freedom of Justice and wielding, as I do, the Twin Swords of Truth and Beauty (yes, I do have a permit), I cannot let this stuff slide.

The disturbing thing about today’s car crash is that it concerns my homeland. While it is, largely, a place of spectacular beauty, bursting at the tartan seams with tim’rous beasties and sonsie-faced chieftains, I, as something of a returning ex-pat, see bits of it with an outsiders eye. These are the bits that trouble me.

The thing that triggered this post nearly made me crash the Righteous Chariot. Not really, but it sounds better, plus it continues the car-crash plot device used so deftly above. As I piloted said Chariot along the jeweled highways of this bonnie land, I met a bus coming the other way. So far, so good. The bus, however, was not in service. OK, so? Aye, reader, here comes the rub.

Instead of simply reading “Not in Service”, the high heid-yins of First Bus (Scotland) have decided that the natives would feel less aggrieved at the lack of service if the message read “Ah’m no’ in service”.

I’m no doubt in somewhat of a minority among my fellow countrypersons (save The ‘Boy, who has already voiced his displeasure) but this use of “Scottish”, instead of the more widely relevant English, jars with me. I come from what I consider to be a well-spoken home and have been well educated at my parent’s expense. I therefore opt to converse in correct English, that having been what I was taught.

It is then, perhaps, no surprise that on hearing a broad Scots accent, I immediately assume that person to be educationally inferior, an assumption that has no basis in fact whatsoever. As with all accents, those that sport them range from the wealthiest tycoons and university fellows to the Burberry tracksuit-clad dropouts in the dole queue.2.

I have not been able to reconcile this at least partially correct position, that’s what bothers me. Being a man of words, it grates when those words are butchered. But the purpose of words is to communicate, so there is little point being all precious about the ways when the means are achieved.

And so to the opiate of the Central Belt masses: football3. The problem here really has very little to do with football, the game, and rather more to do with religion, the universal excuse. If your family indoctrinated you in the ways of the Vatican, you have to support the Green Team. If you don’t, you have to support the Blue Team (or the Dark Red Team).

Either way, you now have a socially-accepted reason for singing bigoted songs at each other, marching down the street and glassing people in pubs because they’re wearing the wrong colour jacket. Having been given the choice of imaginary friend, I chose a small dog called Gerald who never, in any circumstances, caused me to glass anyone in a pub and never complained when I left him on the train.

This nation has been ruled from afar for a great deal of its history, which has been a cause for complaint over the years. The fact that, when left to govern ourselves, we have traditionally fallen back to the tried and trusted political technique of glassing each other in pubs for wearing the wrong tartan is conveniently ignored.

Having been allowed a modicum of self reliance, I can understand that the nation feels the need to flex its historical muscles and shed its imperial skin in order to move forward. I would like to think that the country that invented pretty much everything4 could learn from its own divided history and move forward into the shortbread-tin sunset, without having to glass someone on the way.

I’m sure that all countries are the same, its just that this country is mine5.

! Oh, Robert [Burns], you’ll do for me yet! I’m referring to the poet’s use of Scots in his work, and how its use by Modern Scots people, for me at least, somewhat soils his work.
2 Wow, all the stereotypes are coming out today.
3 Other than actual opiates and drink. Oh, and claiming benefits.
4 Well, every good thing!
5 Which hopefully goes some way to explaining the tortured meanderings of this post.

Veiled Threat?

I don’t pretend to understand why some Muslin women wear veils and to be perfectly honest I don’t want to. I find that if things have to be explained to me then I’m not going to understand the reasoning. Any reason I am given, though no doubt logical and obvious to the person giving it, will not necessarily make me go “Ahhhh, I see. Well, that’s OK then.”

All I need to do to is accept that, for whatever reason, some people in this country choose to wear a different style of dress to me1. Why should Muslim women wearing a veil be any different to a youth wearing a hooded top? Why should either of these groups be any more dangerous than someone whose face is unobscured?

The only reason the discussion about veils and hooded tops is even an issue is because of the scare tactics we’ve borrowed from the Americans. If you can’t identify someone, you can’t track their movements. The quote I keep coming back to is “You can make people do anything if they’re scared enough”. To be honest, when it comes to obscuring identity, I’m considerably more worried about the ne’er-do-wells who don’t care if you see their face.

What’s the next step? Banning all loose fitting garments; overcoats, skirts, jackets, because you could be hiding a bomb? Banning clothing altogether because it is possible to incorporate explosives into the garment? Will there come a time where we are all forced to wear government-mandated unitards, colour-coded to identify our race? There’s a fucking scary thought… What about facial hair? Will you be forced to shave every day because you can hide your true appearance under a beard?

Surely veils and such like can be classed as National dress? Are they going to ban all forms of national dress just because of the connotations? They banned kilts back in the day, so I wouldn’t put it past them. It comes down to what we associate clothes with. Tie = office worker, Jeans / No belt = construction worker, wetsuit = Tory MP, etc. All this bollocks does is forever link the veil / burka / etc with the idea of female suicide bombers.

The veils thing is all window-dressing anyway; it’s just fog obscuring The Real Issue; that which is really at stake here. Society. The notion of different peoples living togther in peace, sharing their culture and ideas. Britain The Island is historically anti this sort of thing, because in the past, cultural exchange meant dropping bombs on each other. The fear of foreign influence is so ingrained it will not go away overnight.

The solution? Accept it. Accept that we don’t understand, accept that different is not necessarily bad, accept that it will take time, accept that not everyone means you harm, accept the new blood into our Society and realise that we are stronger because of it. Take action. Do nothing.

1 Being a Scot, I am accustomed to wearing “a different style of dress”, not that the kilt is a dress, you understand…