Friday, July 31, 2009


The Year of Homecoming finished I think at the gathering in Edinburgh on Saturday; the vast majority of people didn’t know it had started which tells you all you need to know about this manufactured disaster of a celebration. It was based on a model of Scotland and her people which portrays us all as descendents of Harry Lauder who was of course a forelock tugging music hall caricature; an image which most Scots. do not recognise and find embarrassing, not a lot to build a culture on is it. Still you can buy a full highland rig out from about £800 so some people are happy with it; anyone who wanted to estimate it’s success should have taken a step back and considered the annual fiasco known as Tartan Day in America.

Scotland has long envied the success of the Irish in America and Tartan day was an attempt to emulate that success; it has been an unmitigated disaster; a complete flop; Americans don’t want to know because they simply don’t buy the story. The whole thing is without substance and will not grab America; as ‘Rick’ said in Casablanca “it don’t amount to a hill of beans” and no amount of political spivs like Salmond or washed up ham actors like Connery will change it.

The whole circus and one event in particular made me think back over the years to an event which I attended with my great friend Davie Speirs during the ‘Folk Revival’ years; as was normal there were a group who always stitched themselves on to these events with the intention of hanging a kilt on everything that went on. These people were tolerated and treated as a source of fun and most of them were harmless; in the bar Davie who was a singer and guitarist as well as a great raconteur was among the bravehearts and he had them hooked on a story. Bonnie Prince Charlie was on the run from the evil English and they were close to catching him; the brave highlanders stole him away in the dead of night and hid him in a field where they carefully covered him with stones and rocks etc. the evil English failed to find him and he survived; Davie embellished this hokum as only he can and they loved it; until he said that this incident had been immortalised in a famous highland song called “ Bonnie Chairlie’s noo awa” ( Bonnie Charlie’s now a wall ) well if looks could kill he would have been deid.

What made me think of this old chestnut was the attitude shown by some people at the gathering on Saturday; all kinds of bogus Scottish activities were afoot and the crowd resembled a special Ladies Only Day at Ascot with the proviso that only tartan be worn and the more outrageous the outfit the better; the chaps easily outdid the girls here. Guffaws and braying gubs were everywhere and the biggest collection ever of upper class clan chiefs were assembling their troops for a “Clan Parade” or was it a “Clan Charade” anyway if they can do this kind of parade in Disney Land why not here in Scotland. Off they went looking splendidly silly but; it was fun until the Campbells led by a Duke and Duchess hove in to view this caused a chorus of boos and abuse which were genuine and malicious it destroyed the Campbell marchers day, seriously it did.

People wondered about what could cause such terrible behaviour; some rather cruelly speculated that it was the legacy of Alistair Campbell the “spinning piper” others blamed a build up of resentment over the years because of the ‘minging’ soup which they sell but no; incredibly enough it was because they proved to be dirty fighters some couple of hundred years ago when all these clans were painting themselves blue and nicking each other’s cattle. They ambushed the McDonalds or was it the MacDonalds these things are important; anyway it was by all accounts a “right steam in; with blood and snotters everywhere” and the Mc/ Mac Donalds took a right second prize but; a couple of hundred years later wow! This is how Scots. treat their country men and women based on a load of old bulldung. Does it not make you wonder what their attitudes are to the Germans who were bombing us 60 odd years ago must be or; even worse the Engurlish but lets not go there just now.

Modern Scotland right; what a farce maybe it’s time to look again at all this c**p when was the last time you saw a guy in a housing estate wearing a kilt or creating a bloody racket with bag pipes? It’s a false and embarrassing picture, we need to think again about what we present to the world, a giant enema for the whole country would be a good start and then a dose of the truth.


Jim said...

Bonnie Charlie's awa!!! Brilliant!

A real shame for the Campbell's who'd traveled across the globe to have their sporrans fleeced if that really happened, I'd hope it was more pantomime villian than actual discord, but they've got a lot to be proud of through their part in Scotland's history.

I do have to say that I know plenty of people who celebrate both the wearing of the kilt (they're fully aware that the modern version is nothing like the original) and traditional folk music including the pipes and fiddle. I don't think I enjoy anything as much as I enjoy a decent ceilidh. The march to Hampden or Murrayfield is a real joy too... sadly the march back to the pub rarely fails to match the
earlier one (Scotland 1 France 0 making up for all the other disappointments and then some!)

I don't think everyone takes it as seriously as you seem to think.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jim) 10:15
Unfortunately it was serious.

I enjoy the music because it is more genuine than the tartan industry which is a massive con.

Just try to enjoy the game; when sports journalists start talking up Scottish teams for their own ends it leads to bitter disappointment.

The whole silly business is taken too seriously by too many; the elephant in the room is the attitude to the English. Just observe the SNP MSP’s at Holyrood don’t take my word for it. When major cities were competing to host the Olympics the SNP MSP’s had messages prominently displayed on their desks which read “anywhere but London” that is not healthy.

Jim said...

Yes, there's certainly some unhealthy attitudes out there. The recent embarrassment over cricket being an 'English' sport must have set the cat amongst the pigeons in Paisley, what with that damned historic Ferguslie cricket club and those dastardly devils down Kelburne way plying their trade in the Scottish first division too.

Paisley highjacked by the home counties!

As for the football, well, Hampden is a whole lot more than a game of football for me. It's memories of my dad taking me there as a boy, the joy of the tartan army, the parties before and after, and sometimes, just sometimes it's about Gary Caldwell bundling the ball into the net from 5 yards ;-) and 89.9 minutes of nerve wracking defence against a team of artisans.

I know we sing that we'd walk a thousand miles for one of their goals, but they don't have to take it so bloody literally!

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jim) 13:58
A couple of years ago the British League below county level was won by a team called Fruchie from Fife. And Scotland actually has more cricketers than England per head of population.

The Gary Caldwell international as it’s now referred to will go down in history, some people still think they imagined it, me included.

Jim said...

Terry, you don't need to tell me anything about Freuchie's adventure to Lords in the British village cup.

Garry Caldell's goal - I was directly behind the goal at the side that it went in, in Row J. My grin as I recall that moment of astonishment followed by sheer joy is as wide as it ever was. Nothing will ever match the way we celebrated the final whistle. I almost felt sorry for the French fans who's been told to wait in their seats until the Satdium was cleared then the DJ played for another 20 minutes, noone left the stadium and Hamdpen bounced... On the other hand it must have been some spectacle to watch...

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jim) 05/08/09

Two fantastic achievements and I believe; some might say I’m joking but Freuchie’s achievement is right up there with the Scotland victory over France.

This was like Scotland beating England in a proper cricket international at Lords and they never got the recognition they deserved.

It couldn’t possibly have the glamour and coverage of the football game but it was still astonishing; I recall Ian Botham saying as much on TV; that’s when I took the bother to check it out. It was asked on question of sport as a trick question on the assumption that no one would ever think that a Scottish cricket team could win the British village championship, but Botham got it and he had actually got to know the team and coached them a bit.

It would make a great light hearted film.

Jim said...

Didn't know Beefy coached them, but I have read that he enjoyed some fairly serious drinking with them in celebration. He's a right decent sort though and his performance in the Ashes in 1981 was boys own stuff, straight from the comic books.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

You are right he did not coach them, failing memory. I recall the Ashes as well where he was at one point taking 2/3 strides toward the bowler with his glazed eyes staring like a lunatic and swatting them all round the field.
He is one of the very few Tories/Monarchists that I have much respect for.