I am Scottish. You make have noticed this. Nessie is real and while I don’t take part in the annual Haggi, the plural of Haggis, hunt I do enjoy the deep-fried banquet where we feast on the feral little beastie. Painting our faces blue, wearing our finest tartan while keeping all our valuables safe in a wee sporran made of their skins we Highland fling the night away while destroying our livers with the water of life.
Almost all of that was bollocks. But it’s believable bollocks. Except for the Nessie thing. That’s completely true. Until the interweb came along I was not aware of how windswept and interesting it was being Scottish. People thought the accent was the sexiest thing in ever but fortunately, they hadn’t heard me speak at that point. With a drone that has put small people to sleep.
I blame the telly. Not just the telly but films too. They have amplified the stereotype that we may or may not have played up to because you just don’t want to disappoint visitors. Apart from the rampant alcoholism, that’s kinda true but we’re working on it.
I was trying to think of Scottish films but then I started to think; are they Scottish? They ur but they urny. I mean they are but they aren’t. So many are set here but you can’t really call them Scottish films. More importantly, are they a realistic portrayal or are they the aforementioned bollocks?
The first one that comes to mind is “Braveheart”. I remember feeling that wave of excitement that there was a blockbuster of a film being made about Scottish history. Watching it with that intoxication of national pride after having to put my name on the list at the local video shop to rent a copy. It was great stuff. Till you make the mistake of really thinking about it. Dissecting it. Comparing it to history. What pile of fantastical shite it is. It’s still an enjoyable pile of fantastical shite but there was no blue paint. There were no kilts. There was not a fun-sized Wallace that was mostly hair and a big pointy sword. We had the full-sized 18ft one with a nice sensible hair cut but the big pointy sword bit was right. I’ve seen it. It’s big. Pointy too. The most glaringly obvious mistake was The Battle of Stirling Bridge which seemed to lack Stirling Bridge.
It’s easy to poke holes in things. Sometimes it’s fun too. There are some things that you can let slide but then there are the big ones. The ones that other people might have missed but with you brain chock full of local knowledge that you’re looking around to find someone to share the fact that they got that wrong. So wrong. If they were a dinosaur they’d be a Wrongasaurus Rex. If they were giant ape climbing tall buildings they would be King Wrong. If they were going to fight King Wrong in a battle of the titans it would be King Wrong vs Wrongzilla. I can already see you sliding away like I’m the strange one on the bus and you’re worried I’m going to sit next to you. Fortunately, we’re not allowed to sit next to people on the bus so you’re safe.
It was “Dog Soldiers” that popped into my head there. Filmed in the Scottish part of Luxembourg by someone who doesn’t realise just how wee the place is. A character says somewhere is four hours drive away and I’m sure there are people out there who think this is an acceptable assertion. Although if you drove for four hours in most directions you would be well into the sea before you hit that time limit. The most ridiculous idea is that we have a werewolf problem. They’re not a problem. We have werewolf sanctuaries now so we can release them back into society once they’ve learning not to chew on the populace, stay off the couch, and only mark their territory in the porcelain receptacle that was designed for that very purpose.
If you’re visiting and you fancied walking for four hours in any direction there’s a chance you’ll come across rampant Wicker Manning. They’re everywhere. There is not a Sunday evening all through summer where you won’t a random Wicker Man being hauled up a hill for a bit of burning. And I’m not happy about it. The ash and smoke from that thing blowing over the village, you should see the state of my washing when I bring it in. It’s all covered in bits of burnt wicker and virgin dust. I’m putting a letter into the council about this. They should only do it when the wind is blowing in the right direction or have they tried smokeless virgins? No, of course, they haven’t because that would interfere with their traditions. This is why I don’t go out any more.
It’s not just the Wicker worshippers that put me off the outdoors. It’s “Trainspotting”. You can’t go jogging down Princes Street in Edinburgh without having the mantra of “Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family…..” popping into your head. I mean that’s if I jogged. I don’t jog. I can’t hang around a train station too long due in case someone thinks I’m a trainspotter and I might attract the wrong sort of attention. Yes, that’s true, because of the title “Trainspotting” people of the artificial high persuasion started approaching Trainspotters thinking they were dealers. That may be an urban myth but it sounds plausible.
Probably as plausible as the beautiful lady in the white Transit Van picking up men and getting….well…this one is definitely a maneater. Yeah, I’ve seen “Under the Skin”. That’s right pretty ladies of the world, there was a time I’d have climbed into your windowless van but now I’m thinking are you actually from this world? And do I really taste like chicken? I’ve eaten lots of sweeties in my time so will I be more of a dessert or am I junk food? There are white vans everywhere. We shall need to be ever vigilant.
Though you should always be mindful of your surroundings. You may find some “Restless Natives” prowling the roads looking to take advantage of you and have you stand and deliver. I can only assume this resurgence of dandy highwaymen was an 80s thing. Though a Wolfman and a Clown with a Big Country soundtrack may not be all that dandy. I’ve not ventured out very far so I can’t be sure we still have an infestation of Highway Men. It may have been a one-off outbreak that we managed to get under control but the Wolfman and the Clown may ride again.
I think if you want a realistic look at Scotland….that is a realist very early 80s Scotland. I’ll not have people watching “Gregory’s Girl” and thinking we still dress like that. Unless we do. Do we? I’m not really familiar with fashion so I don’t know if that look is retro and come back again. That might have been an early noughties thing as I’m sure we have a 90s thing happening at the mo. This would be the antithesis of the 80s high school set films that most people are used to. There are no antagonists. There are no adults pretending to be high schoolers. There is no slow clap ending. There is a gangly, glaiket, Gregory who seems to know nothing about anything and yet I still somehow identify with him….not because I know nothing. I know many many things. I know four things. I forget what the other three are. Wait…what was the first thing?
So now you know that there are at least six films that accurately portray Scotland, and there’s also Braveheart. There are so many more films I could have mentioned. Probably a better one than Trainspotting at least. That’s a one and done film for me. Maybe I’ll do a sequel to this.