steph (mopani) wrote,


GRRRR people who love to tell you what is what, 'giving lectures'. They want to show you how much they know. This affects both men and women but I have come across more men who do this. There are a fair few people in the UK who do this but it seems there are much more in Russia.

While I am happy (up to a point) to listen to didactic waffle about the stock market, about how it is hard for artists, about (this is the important bit): WHAT I KNOW LESS ABOUT THAN THEM, I am not into listening to misguided and juvenile lectures about my own country that don't show much intelligence or insight.

Last night in a sauna this guy heard I was from scotland and launched straight into, 'Don't you HATE the english, how dare they, they have robbed you of all your culture, we are with you! lets kill them all, the evil oppressors..' I said that what he thinks of as scottish culture (gaelic, kilts) affects only a small area and that most of us speak english as native language. That 'scottish identity' is such an artificial thing, and has been for centuries and centuries, appropriated, modified, romanticised and mythologised. He would not listen and began shouting and gesticulating and calling me stupid.

I see no point in arguing with someone who so blatantly and vehemently knows what they know, these bullish blokes who mean nothing to me anyway. But it makes me so angry I have to let it out here.

He asked, 'how long have they spoken english in scotland? tell me that then!' with a superior smirk. He thought 250 years, and in his opinion this is short enough to undo 'the damage'. Does he really think its feasible to re-educate an entire country, for us all to learn gaelic and use it for our daily business?
He was not interested in hearing that in my 'homeland' of east lothian, that english has been used since the 7th century and widespread since 12th century.

This brings me to another point: people often ask me 'so you speak scottish? you dont? youre not a real scot' and all this before i say 'what do you MEAN by scottish?' do you mean gaelic? that is not scottish! do you mean scots, or doric? it is an old form of english! it is a germanic language. at the other end of this continuum is scots english, which i most definitely DO speak.

Now, I feel strongly about my national identity, as does everyone, and the rule about small nations is all about self determination. So, if I am scottish, then no one can deny it. But the thing is that identity goes out in concentric circles. hence, I am scottish, but I am also British, and I am also European. But a 'country' is to an extent an artificial construction. I am scotland, but I am south east scotland. I am not highland or glasgow, or even borders. so to insist that i share all characteristics of all areas and even TIME ERAS of scotland is ridiculous. This man was suggesting that we are a small poor put-upon nation that has to break free of its evil yoke. i will not talk about the rightness or wrongness of it - england is there, history happened, pointless to think about the 'what ifs'. But was he really suggesting that we hand back all the tax/legal legislation, all the culture and tv channels, all the everything that makes the uk the uk, and head out on a proud crusade with our wooden shields in our tartan? whatever he thinks was a 'unified scottish culture' was based on feudalism and inequality anyway.

I do not know whether scotland could survive as an independent nation. I suspect not. But I would miss being able to say I was british if i had to cut myself off from it completely. I think we have the best of both worlds. When we want to, we can identify with what we like about britain. (I stampeded all over london and milton keynes as if i owned the place last year. When i would come back from russia on busines trips i got a strange feeling of uncanniness - it was like home but not home.)
But when we want to, we can call england the 'Other' and distance ourselves. i can understand that maybe under Thatcher scotland got less funding and so felt peeved. But now we have so much tourist revenue and social capital to draw on, that I can imagine deprived areas of england having much more right to make a fuss about being hard done by.

But on a purely practical level, could we really divide up the island? we are on the same island, it makes sense to use the same currency and legislation. and if scotland was a separate zone, would Wales have to do the same, or would the bit that is left still be called 'Britain' or just 'England (and a tiny wee bit extra)'? or 'England and wales'? it is not practical.

i feel soooo much better now :) and superior, if you want to know.
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