The Growth of Patriotism
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too enamoured with Scotland growing up. There were a lot of neds in Dumbarton, it rained a lot, beggars follow you down the street, international bands rarely came up and once I found out we could have emigrated to Australia or America I was a tad annoyed. Patriotism at football and rugby games confused me (as do most sports) and the only time I genuinely felt patriotic was at the Last Night of the Scottish Proms, listening to “Highland Cathedral” on the bagpipes with all the Saltire flying around me. So off I went to Japan.
Stage 1: Japanophile
Here is when I ran around enamoured with Japan. They have cool robots, over the top hair, Harajuku stylin’, raw fish and more! Scotland just can’t compare!
Stage 2: Ignorance
Of course Japanese people are really interested in “gaijin” (foreigners) leading to a lot of questions and the gradual realisation I was quite ignorant about the country I was born and grew up in:
How big is Scotland?
How can Scotland be a country, but the UK is a country as well?
How many people live in Glasgow?
What is a local food made in Glasgow? (Tunnocks teacakes?)
How many islands are there and which ones have you been to? (None)
Stage 3: Disgust
I have of course, been home on a couple of holidays through the years, but I always go through a stage of shock and disgust. Everyone looks so unhealthy at first glance. Perhaps it’s the pale skin and ginger hair, the lack of exposure to sunlight or proper, non-microwaved foods, but I felt like people on the street needed a good wash and a feed. Also the accents jarred a lot on me. Of course I have a bit of an accent but it was never strong in the first place and years of talking with Japanese, Americans, Australians etc has made me subconsiously tone it down and adopt a North American lexicon out of convenience if nothing else.
Stage 4: Realisation
There are lots of cool things in Scotland! Some of which are the same as, or better than Japanese things! And probably better than American things too!
1. Traditional dress- kimono v the kilt
2. Traditional celebrations- matsuris (local festivals) v. the highland games
3. Weird local food and drink- sushi, sake, soup curry and natto v. haggis, scotch pies, irn bru and whisky.
4. Popular folk dances- bon odori v. ceilidhs
5. People all over the world like you as soon as you say what country you are from- check.
Stage 5: Homesick
So it’s taken me over three years to get here. But now I miss Scotland. I miss that it does have a slower pace, but it’s gentle rather than sleepy. Scotland is a fiercely important centre of musical talent (Franz Ferdidnand, Snow Patrol, Travis, KT Tunstall not to mention the wealth of folk music in the likes of Karine Polwart, Roddy Woomble, Eddi Reader, Phil & Aly etc); we have famous writers coming out of the ears (Iain Rankin, Ian McEwan, Burns, Stevenson, Muriel Spark); and most importantly of all, we are trying to do our own thing, a little apart from the influence of the states or even England. Yeah it doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try.
Anyway this is my penny’s worth adage to Scotland. I can’t wait to go to the theatre, to sit in independent coffee shops in the West End of Glasgow, to eat potato scones, strawberry tarts and a cup of tea, to be verbally pulverised and made anew by the GSFWC and to watch mountains of glorious films, blockbusters and independent, all in their original languages might I add, at the cinema.