Those were the words (above) of a New York Times book reviewer in 2008, describing a new novel by a Scottish author about modern day Scotland. I read the book — it was melodramatic and predictable — but I cherished this four-word description of the Scottish National Character. Call me melodramatic but when I’m an old, old bag yelling at all the neighborhood kids to Get The Hell Off My Lawn, I hope they go around telling each other that Old Lady Swift is foul-mouthed, pessimistic, alcoholic, and out of shape. It would be my reward for a life lived to the hilt.
I dragged Top Cat into Manhattan on Saturday (April 10) for The Tartan Day parade on 6th Avenue, from 48th to 59th Street. I wanted to share with him one of the quaint rituals of My People in a glorious gathering of the foul-mouthed, pessimistic, alcoholic, and out-of-shape of all ages.
Here come the Stewarts, a total booze hound gas bag glass-is-half-empty kind of clan. In other words, the life of any Scots party!
Yo, kid! Don’t tread on that Saltire! It’s the oldest continuously flown flag in the world, in use since 832!
For some reason, I’m craving some Walker’s Shortbread right now.
What a Scottish soccer hooligan looks like before puberty.
Oh Jeeze. Here come those little bastards, the Scottish Terriers.
The history of the Scottish Terriergoes back many centuries and its ancestors include all other Highland Terriers (Dandie Dinmont, Skye, and Cairn). The Scottish terrier comes from the rocky area of Aberdeen and was bred to hunt foxes and weasels hiding in their burrows. The Scottie is proud and extremely stubborn and needs obedience training. It is an independent, one-person dog, devoted to its master alone, and is convinced that it has the swagger of a much larger dog. Because of this, the Scottie can only live with someone who truly loves it and is tolerant of its faults.
(Le Scottie, c’est moi.)
And here come those Tinkerbelles of the Terrier Group, the West Highland White Terriers.
“The merriest, most optimistic, and most social of all the indigenous terriers of Scotland, the charming Westie is at ease in any environment and makes a wonderful family pet.” (Dog Encyclopedia)
Somebody better check that animal’s DNA. None of those words (merry, optimistic, socially at ease and charming) describe any Scot I’ve ever heard of.
Oh, wait: the Dog Encyclopedia also says that “This agile dog is full of fighting spirit and must be restrained when around other dogs. It does not get along well with other family pets and must be excercized in an area that is escape proof.”
That’s more like it.
I know what you’re thinking: Is that the McLeod clan?
Yeah, that’s them all right. Another total booze hound gas bag glass-is-half-empty kind of clan. Except the McLeods are also terrible cooks. Who do you think invented haggis?
This is where they send you when you lose an election to the devolved national unicameral legislature in Edinburgh.
OK, nothing snide here. This is just cute.
‘That’s enough, now. Stop it.
I said STOP IT.
You know there’s going to be trouble when the Scottish High School girls from The Borders show up. Scottish lassies, they’re good with their fists.
See? I’ve been telling Top Cat for years that kilts are H-O-T.
And then came the Loch Ness Monster, bringing up the rear, and Top Cat and I went in search of some fine Scottish beverages in the convivial company of some of our favorite foul-mouthed, pessimistic, alcoholic, and out-of-shape kindred spirits.
And I leave you with a Scottish joke:
Q: What’s the difference between a Scotsman and a Rolling Stone?
A: A Rolling Stone says “hey you, get off of my cloud!”, while a Scotsman says “Hey McLeod, get off of my ewe!”