My next post is from Scots born writer Sara, who like Kitz and Terry, now lives in England. Although her accent sounds English to her mother, it doesn’t take much for her Scottish brogue to come back. Here’s her thoughts on her Scottish nationality. She also writes a frankenblog – Tea With Me.
My pen always falters over the nationality question on forms, like it’s fighting the reflex reaction to write Scottish in the box. I inevitably write British. Because I am, Great Britain or the United Kingdom however you prefer to say it, is my country of residence. But I’m also Scottish, sometimes to a fault as others will gladly testify.
There are times when the two clash, especially living in England. I feel an inherent sense of patriotism to Scotland that can often lead me down the path towards an attitude reminiscent of the Battle of Bannockburn and an accent that becomes unintelligible. Some would argue that it’s always unintelligible, my mother will tell you I’m practically English.
Eight years of moving around England has definitely muddied those waters. I’ve adopted a lexicon of quirky Yorkshire phrases, dabbled with a North East lilt, sworn like I’m on a night out in Leeds and delivered words with such poise that Henry Higgins himself would have fallen over his drinks Globe in shock.
And yet one phone call, one trip home, one brief conversation with a random Scot on a train (it happens more regularly than you may think) and I arrive back in my own tongue. My own common-sounding Ayrshire brogue. The truth is it’s a relief. All others are, at some level, a pretence. They exist to suit others and to help me fit in to the shape I’ve carved of my daily life.
But the accent is just the obvious part of being Scottish. I’d love to write a blog saying I believed the ancient rivalry between Scotland and England is no more but I’d be lying. I think it exists on both sides of the wall (the lower and more famous wall, if you don’t know about the other one Google it). It lives in jokey jibes delivered with a smile in the pub or heated discussions about the division of political power. And the 80 pressure-filled minutes of the Calcutta Cup.
Before I go on I must stress that I like living in England, I have made it my home and there are some parts where I would gladly live out my days. But there’s home and there’s home. There is the place I’m currently living and then there’s Scotland, only the latter is my real home. And I was exposed, as I grew up, to vague anti-English sentiments where the reporting of news and politics was concerned. However, I think they bounced off me like the sun off my Twilight-esque pale Scottish skin as my first boyfriend was from Ashington in Northumberland and the last was an Essex boy.
So deeply buried are the auld grievances that comments spill out automatically, without thought, like the contents of a haggis when poked with a large pointy object. I will always rise to defend the homeland, but I am not alone in that, the English, Welsh or Irish will no doubt do the same. The Celtic countries may have a more obvious sense of identity than their English counterpart but that doesn’t mean the passion is any weaker.
Pride in ones country of birth should be automatic, but the admission of this pride often makes us feel uncomfortable and it evolves into piss-taking of our national faults. Us Scots are well known for this – our sporting ability is one such which springs to mind. In fact I think we’ve done it so much that it has in fact been adopted into our national culture. As potential qualities go, I can live with self-effacing humour.
The premise of this guest post was what it meant to be Scottish, but the truth is it’s not really possible for me to define. I could have written down an endless list of assets and faults but I feel like all of those have melded to my DNA to become something intrinsic and something that just is. For me, it’s not about being Scottish, I am Scottish. It has, and will, continue to seep into everything I do.