Foul-mouthed, pessimistic, alcoholic, and out of shape.

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!”

10 comments to Foul-mouthed, pessimistic, alcoholic, and out of shape.

  • Amy S

    My favorite post so far! I was sitting at Jollyboys Backpacker’s in Livingston and I snorted out my coffee laughing. And how did I not know my half-sister has Scottish blood?

  • Rachel

    This is, as I like to say around the breakfast/computer table, *milk-spittingly funny.* Thanks for taking us there.

  • Sandy

    Hysterical from start to finish. I have attended that parade, Quite a spectical, Love the music and I am married to a Scot (damn stubborn!) And Haggis?? I know I would be very thin in Scotland!

    Yeah Kilts are Hot!

  • This has our annual Scottish Walk (in Alexandria, VA) beat to hell and back. As someone who loves Scotland better than any place in the world and who is a member of the Clan Farquharson, I thank you!

  • Shelley

    Kilts ~ most definitely HOT! I keep trying to interest my husband in a kilt for his work uniform (he’s a window cleaner). If you needed your windows washed, wouldn’t that be the man you’d want to hire?! Here’s a fun site for utility/work “kilts”:
    http://www.utilikilts.com/site-map/

    I love all things Scottish…thanks for sharing the parade pics and commentary! You’ve got me jonesing for the Highland Games now (minus the haggis), and they don’t come around until July!

  • Rachel

    Me again. If you have not heard *The Scotsman* by Brian Bowers, you really should.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoUV5d09JZw I hope that is a good version, I cant watch YouTube at home on my slow computer.

    AND, last Friday I went to Home Depot to buy a product to assassinate the bugs in my kitchen. While there I gathered up a selection of Paint Brochures to bring home for inspiration.

  • Deborah

    I am a Scot! But not by birth. I graduated from Highland High School — the band wore kilts and included bagpipe players, and it routinely won the state band competition at the state fair when I was in high school (haven’t really followed it since). HHS ’72

  • Elise

    Very clever; love a man in a kilt! However, the Loch Ness monster in the scarf and tam o’ shanter was just wrong! (from Gary’s friend, Elise)

  • Shelley

    So where’s the t-shirt that says “Beware ~ Objects under the kilt are larger than they appear”?! My personal favorite from last year’s Highland Games.

  • This was hilarious…and so were the comments!

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