Tag Archives: Scotland

T13: There’s No Pleasing Everyone


1. Scotland: I miss sausage rolls, cheese & onion pasties and bridies.
America: I’d miss banana cream pies from Marie Callendar’s.
sausage-rolls
2. Scotland: Sometimes, all I want is a decent curry and naan.
America: I’d miss some decent Mexican food.

3.  Scotland: I miss Tesco/Morrison’s, Boots and M&S.
America: I’d miss Target, Pottery Barn and Whole Foods.

4.  Scotland:  I don’t miss the 17.5% VAT (vat=value added tax.  VALUE?!)
America:  I’m tired of paying to see the doctor and pay for prescriptions.

5.  Scotland:  I miss not getting hit by a car because we don’t have right-turn-on-red.
America:  I’d miss being able to get off at an exit (junction) and looping back on, going the opposite way.

6.  Scotland:  I miss referring to paper in A1-A6 sizes.
America:  I like the wider paper here.

7.  Scotland:  I miss reading temps in Celsius.
America:  I’m glad I don’t have to measure in kg and g, since I left right after the conversion from lb/oz.

8.  Scotland:  I miss the salt air, even the rain.
America:  I’d miss the perpetual sunshine.

9.  Scotland:  I miss Tizer, Lilt, strong ginger beer and Red Cola  (it’s red, but not a cola).
America:   I thought I had given up soda?

10.  Scotland:  I’m missing out on DVRs recording onto blank discs.
America:  I’d miss standing on a plug and not breaking my neck or foot.  (That was all I could think of).

11.  Scotland:  I miss perpetual green grass.
America:  I’d miss the variations in typography and environment.

12.  Scotland:  I miss castles, historic sites and buildings over 400 years old.
America:  I don’t have a comeback for that.

13.   Scotland:  I miss public transport.
America:  I wish houses in Scotland/The UK were bigger.

Remember when I wrote the post on creating my own country?  I realised the answer is staring me in the face!  I’m moving to Canada . . . you know, cos the first stint with immigration was so good, I’d like to do it again.

A Man’s A Man For A’ That

Today is not technically a holiday in Scotland, but a night of celebration, and therefore a National Day where we commemorate the life of our beloved poet, song-writer (and flagrant womaniser), Robert Burns.  This year also happens to be the 250th anniversary of the birth of ‘The Bard’.

robert-burnsThe day is celebrated with Burns Suppers around the world, and is in fact, and still more widely observed than the official national day of Scotland, St. Andrew’s Day (or the proposed North American celebration Tartan Day).  Although the date of the original Burns Night was set on 18th July, the date of his death, and was later changed to 25th January, it’s amazing to think that the format of Burns Suppers has not changed since his untimely death in 1796 at the age of 37.

No doubts about it, tartan and kilts abound this night.  It’s a fiercely patriotic night, and very entertaining.  If there’s one thing you should know about the Scots: We know how to throw a good party.

The evening begins with a general welcome from the host and announcements followed with the Selkirk Grace.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The supper then starts with a Scottish soup, either as Scotch Broth or potato soup (shock, horror) or Cock-a-Leekie is served.

Everyone then stands for the main course where a bagpiper heralds in the entrance of the haggis which is presented on a large serving dish usually brought in by one of the cooks (it’s all taken very seriously at this point and almost feels like a regal affair), where it is then brought to the host’s table ushered by the piper.  An appointed reciter or the host then gives Robert’s famous Address to a Haggis and the haggis is cut open with one deep cut from end to end. The haggis is served with ‘neeps and tatties’ — Swede, or yellow turnip and (mashed) potatoes shortly after the haggis is presented.

A guest then gives a short speech called the Immortal Memory, remembering some aspects of Burns’ life or poetry.  This is usually either light-hearted, intensely serious or a bit of both. The speaker should always prepare a speech with his audience in mind, since above all, the Burns’ supper should be entertaining.

Everyone then drinks a toast to Robert Burns.

After dinner, another speaker stands and gives a Toast to the Lassies. This was originally a short speech given by a male guest in thanks to those women who had prepared the meal.  However these days it is much more wide ranging, and generally covers the male speaker’s view on women.  It is normally amusing but should never be offensive, particularly bearing in mind that it will be followed by a reply from the “lassies” concerned.  The men drink a toast to the women’s health.

When I was around 18 or 19, I gave the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.  Much the same as the mens’ toast, but can also include a satirical rebuttal to anything the other has said.  I don’t remember much of what I did say, but what I do recall is one joke:

“How do you tell the difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  Well, they’re pretty much the same, except with Father’s Day, you won’t spend so much.”

If any other toasts are called upon, this is when it generally happens.

After the speeches, there’s usually a lot of singing and recital of some of Burns’ literary work.  One of my all-time favourites that I first heard from my teacher in primary school was Tam O’Shanter.  I even recall that we made a huge freeze that we displayed on our classroom wall depicting the story.

After, there may be Scottish dancing, like a Ceilidh, if time and venue permits, although this isn’t a traditional part of the evening, but still very much accepted.  Finally the host winds the night up, calling upon one of the guests to give the vote of thanks, after which everyone is asked to stand, join hands, and sing another of his well-known songs, Auld Lang Syne which brings the evening to a close.

Address to a Haggis, with some translation, thanks to wikipedia:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,           sonsie = cheeky
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,          aboon = above
Painch, tripe, or thairm:                         painch = stomach, thairm = intestine
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,              hurdies = hips
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht, dicht=wipe, here w/the idea of sharpening
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht,          slicht = skill
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!                                   reeking = steaming

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,   deil = devil
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,  wall’d=swollen, kytes=bellies, belyve=soon
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,  rive = tear, i.e. burst
“Bethankit” hums.

Is there that o’re his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,                      olio = olive oil, staw = make sick
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect scunner,                                    scunner = repugnance
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;                                  nieve = fist, nit = louse’s egg, i.e. tiny
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade                 wallie = mighty, nieve = fist
He’ll mak it whistle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,     sned = cut off
Like taps o’ thristle.                                      thristle = thistle

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware     skinkin ware = watery soup
That jaups in luggies;     jaups = slops about, luggies = two-handled bowls
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Burns was one of the very few who wrote in the Scots tongue.

Golden Telephone

An American decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.

He bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would start by working his way across the USA from South to North.

On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘$10,000 per call’.

The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for.  The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God.

The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same sign under it.

He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was.   She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God.

‘OK, thank you,’ said the American.

He then travelled all across America, Africa, England, Japan, New Zealand.  In every church he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same ‘$US10,000 per call’ sign under it.

The American decided to travel to Scotland to see if Scots had the same phone.

He arrived in Scotland and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same looking golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read ’40 pence per call.’

The American was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign.

‘Father, I’ve travelled all over the world and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many churches.  I’m told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in all of them the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiled and answered, ‘You’re in Scotland now, son – it’s a local call’.

Word of the Week

Hogmanay (hog’ma-nay):

The last day of the year, when children traditionally went from house to house asking for presents. It also refers to a small cake given to children on New Year’s day.  More recently it has become a raucous New Year’s Eve party in many Scottish cities.

Usage:  The traditional Hogmanay includes “first footing,” welcoming a tall, dark stranger at the stroke of midnight. First-footers should bring a gift such as uisge beatha “water of life” (Scotch, it’s a drink, not a nationality *snort*), a lump of coal, or a bannock, a simple oat cake. This tradition reaches back to the Viking era, when the blond, blue-eyed Vikings brought only bad luck to whomever they visited. Today groups of friends gather and visit other friends. Whichever party you join this year, look out for the accent on the final syllable of today’s word.

Suggested Usage:
If you would like to add a bit of innovation in your end-of-the-year greetings, try “Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay!” for a change. If you go to the Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh or Glasgow, though, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to hear you.

Etymology:
The sense of “Hogmanay” corresponds to that of Old French aguillanneufau gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.” “the last day of the year, new year’s gift.” In modern French dialects it survives as “aiguilan,” “guilané,” and “guilanneau” but in Normandy it is “hoguignettes” or “hoguinané,” whence it probably invaded Scottish English. The French term survives today in the phrase au gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.”

Hear it.

St. Andrew’s Day

Unlike the other British and Irish patron saint days observed in Springtime, St. Andrew’s Day is November 30.

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Romania and Russia and was Christ’s first disciple.

After the Kingdom of Alba was created, Columba was surpassed as Scotland’s premier saint. St. Andrew was in a different league from Columba: not only did he appear in the Bible, but he was an apostle of Jesus.

His relics appeared in Scotland under mysterious circumstances, and were placed in a Pictish monastery at Kinrymont (the church of the King’s Muir) probably founded by the Pictish warrior-king, Unust, in the mid-eighth century.

In the 11th century, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded across Scotland, St. Andrew’s popularity with royal patrons increased. St. Andrew was a useful unifying symbol for a kingdom of diverse devotions to different saints and was free of any taint of unorthodoxy. Kings like Malcolm Canmore and his queen, Margaret, actively promoted the town of St. Andrews, as Kilrymont is now known, as a major centre for pilgrimage and the home of the Scottish Church.

Other facts in brief

  • He was born in Bethsaida in Galilee
  • He was born and brought up as a Jew
  • He spoke Aramaic
  • Andrew’s Greek name was Andreas which means ‘manly’
  • He was the elder brother of Saint Peter
  • Andrew was a fisherman by trade
  • He was the second person to be baptised by John the Baptist after Jesus
  • Andrew was martyred for his faith in Patras
  • Legend has it that some of St Andrew’s bones were taken to Scotland by St. Rule (also known as St Regulus) in Pictish times
  • His bones once lay in St. Andrew’s Cathedral
  • The first church in England to be dedicated to him was in Rochester
  • His emblem is a cross Saltire
  • The flag of Scotland, the Union Flag, the Arms and Flag of Scotia all feature a Saltire to commemorate St Andrew
  • He is also patron of the Order of the Thistle, one of the highest ranks of chivalry in the world


Although a beautiful but noxious wild flower, the thistle is Scotland’s National Flower. The Flower of Scotland tartan is the national tartan and the adopted unofficial national anthem is Flower of Scotland, a folk song by The Corries.

It is traditional to wear a bit of tartan today.  Do I have any?  Yes.  Does it fit me?  In my mind.

Word of the Week

Scheduled from last Saturday…

loaded:

Another word for well off, rich or has money, this is also a descriptive term meaning full of the cold, having a runny nose, sore head etc:  Aw ya poor soul, ye’re loaded.  Away hame tae yer bed wi’ a hot lemsip.”

Hear my audio.

T13: Scottish Jokes

Telling jokes is a daily pass time in Scotland.  The following are jokes only properly understood in Scotland…

Relax your brain with these and think like a Scot!
1.  A teenage girl phones her dad at midnight and says,  “Can you come and get me? I’ve missed the last bus and it’s pouring with rain.”  “Okay,” says her dad. “Where are you ringing from?”  And the girl says: “From the top of my head right down to my knickers.”

2.  A Glasgow woman goes to the dentist and settles down in the chair. “Comfy?” asks the dentist.  “Govan,” she replies.

3.  What did the Siamese twins from Glasgow call their autobiography?  Oor Wullie.

4.  Did you hear about the lonely prisoner?  He was in his cell.

5.  A guy walks into an antiques shop and says: “How much for the set of antlers?”   “Two hundred quid,” says the bloke behind the counter.  “That’s affa dear,” says the guy.

6.  Did you hear about the fella who liked eating bricks and cement?  He’s awa’ noo.

7.  After announcing he’s getting married, a boy tells his pal he’ll be wearing the kilt.  “And what’s the tartan?” asks his mate.  “Oh, she’ll be wearing a white dress,” he replies.

8.  Two negatives make a positive but only in Scotland do two positives make a negative – “Aye right.”

9.  Three wee jobbies sitting on the pavement. Which one’s a Musketeer?  The dark tan yin.
How many Spanish guys does it take to change a lightbulb?  Just Juan.
Ten cows in a field. Which one is closest to Iraq?  Coo eight.

10.  A Scotsman in London is having trouble phoning his sister from a telephone box so he calls the operator who asks in a plumy voice: “Is there money in the box?”  “Naw, it’s just me,” he replies.

11.  What do you call a pigeon that goes  to Aviemore for its holidays?   A sgian dhu.

12.  A Glasgow man – steaming and skint – is walking down Argyle Street when he spots a guy tinkering with the engine of his car.  “What’s up, Jimmy?” he asks.  “Piston broke,” he replies.  “Aye, same as masel…”

13.  What’s the difference between The Rolling Stones and an Aberdeen
sheep farmer?  The Rolling Stones say: “Hey you, get off of my cloud.”  And an Aberdeen sheep farmer says:  “Hey McLeod, get off of ma ewe.”

Word of the Week

miss:

To miss yourself is not to somehow become aware of the absence of your body, but to fail to experience something enjoyable through not being in the right place at the right time: “Ye missed yerself not comin’ on Saturday … it was a right good night.”  (i.e. you missed out.)

If you are angry with someone and you are telling a third party exactly what you will do when you catch the offender, you might say Ah’ll no miss him or, in its fuller form, I’ll no miss him an’ hit the wa‘.

Hear my audio.

* * * * * * *

In Memoriam: Dr. L. M.,  M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
5 Mar 1957 — 28 Oct 2008
He will be missed.

Mind The (Dress Code) Gap

UPDATE
Foreword:
I attended a public school my entire life.  Regardless of public, private, Catholic or Non-demoninational school — all have to wear a uniform.

One of my most favourite colours to wear is grey.  Slate grey.  This is 60% intriguing and 40% amusing to me.  You see, twenty-nine years ago, I stepped into a school uniform for the very first time:  Slate grey skirt, white shirt, grey cardigan (even though it was August) and a black blazer, complete with a carefully sewn on embroidered school badge.  My tie was red and black thick diagonal stripes.

It was a curse and a God-send.

You see, ask any non-assuming Secondary School kid these days and they’d say they’d love to get the chance to wear anything they wanted to school, like the majority of their American counterparts.  If truth be known, the stringent uniform standards had slackened within the first five years after I’d left 6th year in high school.  Girls were suddenly allowed to wear trousers in the colder weather (so, basically, every month but 2 weeks in July if you ask me) and I’d also see open neck button-up shirts with a knotted, loosely draped tie.  It looked fine, but I know if I had done it, I would have been verbally reprimanded.  There had been occasional instances where people in my class would be sent home from school to go change — home being two miles away from high school, just for me.  But I was never sent home, of course.  Non-one drove to school either, the legal age to drive is 17, and by then, most have just months to go before they leave.

Looking back on everything though, I am grateful I had to wear a uniform five days a week for 13 years of my life.  I knew what I was going to wear to school that day, except maybe varying which standard issue skirt style to go for in the morning.  There were no school clothes and play clothes, they were all mine.  My vanilla uniform (with the best intentions) was (supposed) to be taken off when I got home for me to change into my skivvies.  On the flip side, I am on the brink of experiencing this with Ian.

In September he started his second year at pre-school, and, like my own experience in Nursery, gets to wear what he wants.  I would love that he could wear a uniform.  We are up to three pairs of jeans, two pairs of ‘smart’ trousers and a pair of dungarees with the knees ripped out.  I can no longer mix n’ match play and school clothes.  Then again, it definitely trips me out that next August he would be in P1, and very likely wearing a full-blown uniform.  Of course, small kids have it a little easier these days, they can don polo shirts with the embroidered school badge on the left breastage along with the option of the starched white button-choking shirt.  They also have sweatshirts in the matching blazer colour with, right, you guessed it — the embroidered school badge on the left breastage.

Back in my day . . . spit, smack, slap, knee to the groin and the complementary headbutt...

But I’m not bitter, no really, I’m not; because I walked away (mumble, cough) 16 years ago with a memento, a wee shiny thing most others don’t have:  A little blue badge.  This blue badge brought me respect amongst the terror-ridden 1st years (in HS, 11-year-old’s).  I (amongst a dozen or so others, but really, it was all me.  Gillian, if you’re reading this, shut your dirty mouth) was the connection between the staff and the pupils.  We watched out for them, kept them in their queues at the stagnated lunchtimes and helped them to class if they were lost.

The Oxford English dictionary states:

prefect: noun chiefly Brit.
A senior pupil authorized to enforce discipline in school.

Now, if I could just project my prefect powers on my small children, I would be a happy woman.

And let me just say this, I am very glad my scanner died an untimely death, I am spared from posting a high school photo.

Word of the Week

mince:

For some reason the name of this traditional filling for pies or accompaniment (ground beef) for totties has been borrowed by the dialect for a variety of reasons.

It can mean nonsense or deliberate untruthfulness: “That’s pure mince you’re talking.”  “Do they expect us to believe this mince?”  Another meaning is anything nasty or dirty:  “What’s this mince on the sleeve of ma coat?”

It is taken as a measure of density, whether of the brain or another substance:  “The guy’s as thick as mince.”  Some people refer to a pint of Guinness as a pint of mince.  A person who seems very quiet or downcast, may be told they are sitting there like a pun (pound) of mince.”

To sicken someone’s mince is to spoil something for him or deflate him:  “It didnae half sicken his mince when he didnae get that bonus.”

Hear my audio.