Saturday, 3 September 2016

Four Scottish Journeys by Andrew Eames

In search of a Scottish identity
On a day when Nicola Sturgeon announced a national conversation about the possibility of a second referendum, it seems appropriate to consider Andrew Eames's book 'Four Scottish Journeys', subtitled 'An Identity rediscovered', first published in 1991.

The author explains that he has - or had -  a Scottish grandfather. I am in the same boat.  My Scottish grandfather,  my mother's father Willie Gordon, spoke with a strong Scottish accent until the end of his longish life.  He lived for most of his adult life in Kent, farming.  My father was at school at Alloa Academy while his father oversaw the engineering works to enlarge the naval dockyards at Rosyth before and during WWI.  My sister, brother and I had a Scots nanny from Kincardine.  Every week, a tin of supplies essential to survival would arrive from Toll Cottage, Kincardine, containing the previous week's episode of the 'Oor Wullie' cartoon, home-made tablet and a packet of Imperial mints.  My sister and I wore Fair Isle jumpers, mittens and tams.  We celebrated Hogmanay at home in north Kent. Our darkest-haired friend and neighbour, a Welshman as it happens,  first footed with a lump of coal. We identified strongly with the Gordon Highlanders.

Like many confused Brits,  including the author of 'Four Scottish Journeys' I feel very at home in Scotland, although I only came here to live in 1994 when I was 50 years of age. I said at the time that I felt like a salmon swimming up river to somewhere familiar.  I had already spawned so I suppose what I really meant was that I had chosen to come to Scotland to die.

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