Thursday, 1 July 2010

A McMissive to Scots

Dear Writers of Scottish Literature,

It has come to my attention you are still portraying Scotland in the role of battered housewife in a leopard-print dressing gown. Although Scotland is a semi-interesting nation with a few good things going for it – clean(ish) public WCs, four or five crisp factories, Dougie Vipond – I would ask you to consider making a few amendments in your works.

a) Please do not refer to ‘Calvinists’ in a knowing and clever way, as though you are plugged into Scotland’s ye olde broadband and possess a turban-sized knowledge of history.

b) Please do not write about working class characters in dialect in an attempt to define a nation at any one particular time in history, as though this represents some significant shift in a cultural landscape.

c) Please stop treating Scotland as though it were an archipelago somewhere off the coast of Finland, and acknowledge that English & Irish & Aussie & Indian & Polish & Iranians live here too.

d) Please write something that doesn’t constantly draw attention to its own Scottishness, and drop your STEP ASIDE, SCUMBAG, I AM A SCOTTISH WRITER complex.

e) Please do not encourage Scottish arts funding bodies to tar original works with the brush of Scottishness by setting your homoerotic philately epic in Dundee, Paisley, or Ayr.

f) Stop writing poems in extinct Scottish dialects, and obsessively transcribing each tic and hiccup of existing dialects, as though that makes you more Scottish than the other guy.

g) Please do not chortle innocently at the destructive clichés that comprise our national identity. You should be grown up enough not to participate in this foolishness.

h) Stop writing reviews in the Sunday Herald for heartwarming Glaswegian dramas performed by the rich children of Morningside millionaires and Yanks.

i) Do not indulge the peasants in the Scottish parliament by supporting their schemes to turn Scotland into a global superpower powered by dead Picts & shit Spanish architects.

j) Do not pretend to like Celtic folk music, pipers, haggis, fish suppers, neeps and tatties, bunnets, when you eat couscous from M&S with peshwari naans and houmous butties.

I am guilty of some of these crimes, and have taken steps to amend my ways. I hope you will do the same. Together, we can free ourselves from the stigma of Scottishness and become writers, for real, as opposed to Scottish writers, which is no kind of life.

Yours lovingly,

A Concerned Jock


  1. Ah, but if they followed your advice would those writers win a Scottish Book Trust New Writer's Award?

    Ralph Nesbit and Billy Connoly did well by ignoring your advice, and Robbie Burns is still your national hero.

    Don't you know people WANT sterotypes, as inaccurate as they are.

    We Brits have been suffering at the hands of US film scriptwriters and actors for fifty odd years, so I do feel for you.

  2. Ah, MAN... but there are Scotophiles all over the world who count on these things! You know what I LOVED MOST about my one trip to Scotland?

    Well honestly, I loved ALL of it...

    ~People were FRIENDLY (though that was Glasgow *shifty*)
    ~I LOVE that people really say wee instead of little.
    ~There was the largest variability on buskers I've ever seen--the punk accordian chick on the Royal Mile ROCKS!
    ~That was some of the best curry I've ever found!

    (seriously--I love the country... then again I don't know it well enough to be annoyed by all the things you mention)

  3. Ralph Nesbitt? Is he Rab C.'s cousin or summit? Maybe his more successful yuppie cousin who works in the communications industry.

    I think we should export these things to non-Scots. If they really love Scotland, they won't mind receiving a shipload of battered haggis bunnets on their doorstep at 3AM.

  4. Ralph is the American version, an overweight yank saying toned down things in a fake Glaswegian accent. :)
    You have to be able to remember when the yanks did a watered down version of Alf Garnet and "Till death do us part" to get that joke.

  5. I find it disturbing that, after years of convincing not just myself, but other people too, that I am a writer, not a Scottish writer, that many of my best novel ideas appear to be based in Scotland and involve Scottish history (although one of them is narrated by a psychopathic German con man if that makes it any better). :(

  6. Some people gravitate towards Scottishness more than others. I suppose I appreciate an outsider's perspective more than I do people raised and propogandized here.

  7. I just have to say who ever burned my flag, i hope you die a bad death, you never do that unless you want to get whats coming to you, i would love to meet you, so i can beat the shit out you, and if your scottish get out my country.

    The scotsman

  8. You ought to just leave Scottish writers the way they are, some of your points have a ring of truth ( actually very small amount ) We have any and every right to a) not like the English, b) have suspicions about the English after all hoew many times did they try to wipe us off the face of the Earth. Scottish poems and the like should be written in the an "extinct" Scottish dialect because that is what they have always been written in, why should we change it because one person says so.
    ps leave your nose out of Scottish literature if you do not know anything about it. and don't burn Scottish Flags! If you are not Scottish then have a tip from me: next time you are in Scotland, if you make comments like those or burn Scottish Flags then you will not live to tell the story