I’m no’ sure whether Neil Findlay MSP(Scottish Branch of pretendy-socialist British Nationalism) was demonstrating a touch of in vino veritas at the time when he decided to reveal on Twitter what his true thoughts are about his country folk, a common enough mistake (both Twitter and Facebook should come with a user-pished-disable-button) but it seems, and heaven help us, in a former life he was a teacher of our children, that we’ll never ever escape the ingrained cringe, a self-imposed inferiority complex about who we are, what we are, and the language we use to communicate with each other.
Social media lends itself to this kind of self-immolation. You’ve had a wee swally, you are browsing through your newsfeed or timeline, an article or comment comes up that draws your attention, you think of an instant smart retort to make in response, that whilst you are pished appears hilarious, how witty am I you think, but then, in the early light of morning, as the dry tongue and throat cry out for water, as the dull ache above your temple kicks in, re-reading your words of the previous night brings you out in a hit panicky sweat as you reach for the delete button, hoping the entire planet has been stricken by a twelve hour temporary coma which would mean they haven’t seen you attempt to denigrate and insult your fellow Scots for committing no crime, for doing nothing malicious, for doing nothing other than speaking, writing and living their everyday lives in the Scots language.
There’s nae point in getting offended at Findlay. He was simply dumb enough to get himself caught. What came out of his keyboard strokes that night is the same bile and venom that we see every day in David Mundell’s eyes, in Ruth Davidson’s scowl, in George Foulkes ramblings. Findlay’s error in letting us see his inner thoughts, dropping the mask, if anything, only highlights the real bigotry, the real exceptionalism, the real racism, the real nationalism that exists in the relationship that currently exists as a sham ‘partnership’, a ruling large country dominating and exploiting a smaller neighbour. A union where one culture incessantly heavily promotes itself to the detriment of the other. A union where British flags are wholesome and patriotic and saltires are sinister and divisive. This too applies to our language, which is subjected to ridicule, accusations of being slang, and the long-term aim of wiping it out altogether.
I’m in my fifties now. When I was a wean the living room would have been ben the hoose, a Saturday morning grocery chore would have resulted in the receipt of a welcome cash injection, a brench from my gran, my faither would have got loused early from his work on Hogmanay, the tea in the kettle would have been masked, and the coal fire would have been kennelt.
Chips came in a poke, toothache was something you tholled until the dentist was open, stoor was what you wiped off the furniture, a skelf in yer finger could be sare, and might make ye crabbit. When you were being too loud an adult would tell you to wheesht. In my gran’s living room the ageing timepiece on the mantelpiece was the Knoack. Folk would ask you where aboots dae ye bide? If it was pouring rain outside it was a bit dreich. If you spilled your dinner you were a slitter.
Now? My grandchildren know none of these words. We do have the word ‘awesome’ which pretty much is the response to every situation, from the monumental achievement of handing over the right change for a coffee, to conquering Kilimanjaro on a square wheeled push bike.
We should laugh it off they say. In the old days you Jocks could take a joke and give it back. Watching your culture slowly and surely draining away is no’ funny, even less so when this process is being assisted by fellow Scots seemingly ashamed of their own language and background, filled with self-loathing, anxious to roll over and beg a treat thrown from their masters.