What It Doesn't Mean To Be Scottish
23 February 2009
The first day of school after the half-term break. Seems like more than ten days since last we visited the shrine of learning. Either the days have dragged or we've done a lot. During the break both kids picked up a hacking cough. Had I been Polish I would have had them along to a doctor and the doctor would have loaded them up with antibiotics and given them a sick note until February 2011. Naturally we went nowhere near anyone from the medical profession and this morning we trundled up to school at the earliest possible minute.
Took a trip to Scotland last week for a few days. Millport never changes. In the middle of February it's shut. The front still looks the same as it does in the old Victorian-era photographs. I keep hoping that one year I'll go back and there'll be a Barney Thomson tour, taking visitors to all the key sites at which Barney gets in adventures/someone gets their head chopped off etc. Nothing so far. Of course, a statue has been erected in honour of the dumb ass heroic cat that walked all the way from Bearsden.
We troop back to Scotland every few months in the hope that my children might retain some element of Scottishness. In one brief but brutal twenty minute segment last week they displayed that their Scottish roots lie wasted and broken at the altar of their national ecumenicalism. First One of Two - who is ten and a half and not one and a half - asked if the capital of Scotland was Glasgow or.....Uddingston.
Not any more it's not.
We were walking to the the sports shop to get Two of Two a new Scotland strip. A couple of locals walked by having a chat. Not even remotely waiting until they were out of earshot, Two of Two said, 'They're speaking Gaelic.' No they wurnae.
And then the final, damning disaster. We went into the shop, I held aloft the new Scotland strip in all its deep, dark blue magnificence. Suddenly outside there was a loud burst of music as a herald of angels burst forth in song and on trumpet. The sun burst through the clouds, and a shaft of sunlight shot through the window, and as if God's hand was involved in the whole procedure, fell directly on the badge illuminating the Scottish lion and sending shivers down the spine of every proud and well meaning Scotsman within fifty miles.
'I'll have the Chelsea second change strip,' said Two of Two.
The sun disappeared behind the clouds, the trumpets parped and failed like so many damp squibs, and I, like the meek and feeble Scottish defence lying down to the Dutch in Amsterdam in 2003, crumbled pathetically and bought him the Chelsea second change strip, and another few pounds found their way into John Terry's wage packet.
Thou minds me o' departed joys, Departed, never to return.