Thursday, June 22, 2006

Scotland the Brave

This has come to my attention.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has condemned attacks on a seven-year-old boy and 41-year-old man who were wearing England shirts in Scotland.

Primary schoolboy Hugo Clapshaw was punched in an Edinburgh park and disabled Ian Smith was attacked in his car in Aberdeen.

Oh, well done, Scots; how fucking brave can you get, eh? The boy was assaulted by a man supposed to be between 24 and 30; what a brave man he is. What an admirable person.

The disabled man was dragged from his car and duffed up by a man of about 40. Another fucking hero.

Well done, Scotland the oh-so-fucking Brave.

(UPDATE: More footie-related assaults. Can we ban this game yet?)

At least one blogger has argued that my The time has come... post sounded a little sour. Yes, it does, and Squander Two sums up, in a post inspired by the above stories, far better than I could, why that was the case.

Like me, he is an Englishman who spent many years in Scotland; like me, he loves the Scots (who are generally a nice bunch of people and who certainly know how to have fun); like me, occasionally, he gets tired of all of the flack and flys off the handle.
I'm English and I lived in Scotland for eleven years. I'm lucky enough never to have been physically assaulted because of my nationality, but I was very much aware of the possibility during my time in Scotland.

I, of course, have been. Luckily, other than some minor dental work needed, various cuts and bruises, I got off quite lightly. Another English friend of mine had his jaw broken in five places and had to suck food through a straw for six weeks or more.

And while we are parading our Celtic origins, my mother is half-Welsh and half-Scottish (which makes me Scottish enough to play for their rugby team, apparently); my father is quarter Irish. It makes fuck-all difference: I sound English and when you are down on the ground trying to protect your head, you aren't worrying about attempting to communicate your Scots credentials.
It's difficult not to be, if you're English in Scotland. Even without any violence, the constant background racism can get wearing. I'm pretty thick-skinned, and I love Scotland, not least because it's full of Scots, who are great people, but, sometimes, I snap. Slag someone off for long enough, and, sooner or later, they'll stop liking you. And, being English in Scotland, you don't half get slagged off.

And, yes, you get really rather tired of it. As I said in my previous post:
Don't get me wrong, I love Scotland and, generally, I like the Scots. What I dislike is that I, who had always called myself British, have had the indentity "English" forced upon me by pusillanimous, parochial bigots who hear only an accent.

It is this attitude that prevents me feeling at home in a country in which I have lived constantly for nearly a decade. Do I resent it? Yes. Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction: my reaction to the resentment that many Scots, usually erroneously and based on a pitiful knowledge of their own history, have for the English is... welll... resentment. This is why I took the English side in my previous post.

Back to Squander Two. [All emphasis mine—DK]
Various people have observed that there is an increase in anti-Scottish feeling amongst the English these days. That's "the English". I think that's probably true. One might come up with any number of reasons why this is so. My own opinion is that any reason that is based on recent events is probably not really it. Recent events might have given some people a little push, but the real problem is that if you slag someone off for long enough, sooner or later, they'll stop liking you. There has been a significant, notable, highly offensive level of hatred emanating from Scotland towards the English for at least as long as the French have hated America.

Spot on. Even if much of it is in jest, it becomes very wearisome. It's a big like the office joker, the one who tells you the same joke (or type of joke) day after day; first you feel pity, then you start to get irritated, and then, finally, you get really pissed off and actively dislike him.
When Braveheart was released, there were more violent attacks on students in St Andrews (where I was studying at the time) in the first six weeks of term than in the entire previous year. (And there were a lot in the previous year, because Scots travel over from Dundee to St Andrews especially to beat the shit out of anyone who looks like they might be English or who answers a question in the wrong accent.) Someone staggered into the Union with blood pouring down their face pretty much every night. We all had to be very careful about walking around in public, and it was a bad idea to go out after dark.

This is a shitty state of affairs in any civilised country. One could say that these beatings are done by ill-educated, violent thugs; but there seem to be so many of them in Scotland. A Scottish friend, with whom I was having a lively discussion last night, agreed that there was a considerable amount of violence in Scotland (and deplored it).
There is, of course, a wide spectrum of anti-English feeling in Scotland. There are the bastards who physically attack English people; there are the non-violent customers who go into the same shop every day, not to buy anything but to tell the English sales assistant that they've stolen a Scottish job; there are the nationalist politicians who have built their careers on blaming all of Scotland's woes on England; and there are perfectly civilised, nice, friendly, wonderful people who will happily marry English people but who still routinely use the phrase "fucking English cunts". They'll tell you it's harmless banter, and, often, they're right. But it's a symptom of a general social atmosphere.

Anti-English sentiment is so prevalent, so woven into the very fabric of Scottish society, that it is simply not noticed.

Absolutely; all part of a low-level buzz of bigotry. Although one does need to point out that Glasgow, where Jo was, is a different kettle of fish to Edinburgh, which is far more Anglified. And yet... And yet...
A significant number of Scots — and by this I don't just mean a majority; I mean something kind of similar to "the French": I mean that their attitudes are broadly dominant in Scottish society — a significant number of Scots take every opportunity handed to them to slag off the English; they complain regularly about the "imperialist bastards" who "stole" their country despite the fact that the Act of Union was actually England bailing out a bankrupt Scotland and the Scots managed to negotiate a deal where they were overrepresented in Parliament; now, Scots MPs get to vote on legislation that affects England while English MPs can't vote on similar legislation that's been devolved to the Scottish toy Parliament; the Labour Party only have a majority in Westminster because of votes in Scotland, and now it looks like the English are going to get a Scots Prime Minister foisted on them (can anyone even imagine any party getting a majority in the Scots Parliament with an English leader?); it's becoming more and more obvious that the Scottish Parliament is spending English money on shite; and there has yet to be a Scottish problem caused entirely by Scots that hasn't been widely blamed on the English — witness the widespread delusion nine years ago that having a parliament in Edinburgh instead of London would solve Scotland's problems: the problem with politicians, the thinking goes, is not that they're inept or corrupt, but that they're from the wrong country. The English have been largely ignoring the constant stream of bile from north of the border for decades. All that's started happening lately is that they've finally got fed up with it, especially since the bile started to become government policy.

Absolutely right. And it is because of the Scots attitude that I took the part of the English in my post about Scottish independence. Because I am made to feel English, day after day, by Scots. And it is stupid, because instead of cheering for Scotland, and taking Scotland's part, I am taking the part of their Auld Enemy.

It is their loss (I like to think) and mine.

Jo sums up precisely what I feel about the situation, so I'll just let him talk.
The recent rise in anti-Scottish feeling in England is a Bad Thing — not least because, in my opinion, contrary to the impression I've just been busy giving, the Scots are much nicer people than the English. There's a reason why I don't live in England: bits of it are quite nice, but I really don't like living there, don't much care for the culture, and can only take so much of the people.

In short, I'm not slagging off the Scots here because I'm English. I'm complaining about the Scots because they're bastards, just as I've been complaining about the English for the last twenty years because they're all bastards too and have recently started complaining about the fact that the Northern Irish are all bastards. No doubt, if I ever do move to the US, this blog will become the one-stop shop for all your Americans-are-bastards needs. But there are things to be learnt from comparing the nations' differing styles of bastardacity. And, of course, personalities are independent: Scots can become better people regardless of whether the English remain gits or improve themselves.

I'll finish by repeating my summation from a couple of years ago:
Scotland is both the best and the worst place on Earth. I fucking hate Scotland. I love Scotland. Especially Glasgow. I really, really detest Glasgow, quite possibly the greatest city in the world, and, as for Glaswegians, they're wonderful, friendly people, a real pleasure to be around, the violent, malingering scum.

I stand by every word of that.

And I would agree with it generally; although Edinburgh folk are generally far less violent (unless you are in Niddry) and more polite, although Glaswegians tend to be more friendly*. Generally, like Jo, I do love Scotland. But, like him, I need a wee bit of a break from feeling so damn English...

And this is absolutely my final fucking word on the matter: I wouldn't want to piss off my many good Scottish friends...

* A couple of years ago, I was in the Maryhill district of Glasgow (essentially, it's the modern-day Gorbals) seeing a client; not having been to Glasgow very often, I was unsure which bus to get back to the station, or even where to get off. I got back safely and was assisted, in extremely friendly manner, by three separate Glaswegians, all three of whom were completely pissed. But very, very friendly.


Squander Two said...

Glasgow may be more violent than Edinburgh (hell, Glasgow is more violent than Iraq), but my experience is that the West is less anti-English than the East. That's anecdotal, but hey. And yes, Glaswegians are insanely friendly -- it may be the only city in Britain whose citizens actually love tourists. Where else can you stop one person to ask for directions and have a crowd of passers-by see what's going on and stop to join in with the direction-giving?

Belfast's better, though. And Chicago.

Jackart said...

As an English sounding Briton of Scots descent, who Uni'd in Auld Reekie, I can safely say (having been regularly pissed to the nines in both great cities) that I have only ever felt scared in Edinburgh. Weegies are Much, Much friendlier than Edinburgh's Neds.

Mr Eugenides said...

Glasgow is less anti-English than Edinburgh because (a) there are fewer English people there - even I get riled by large bunches of public-school types snorting and guffawing next to me in the pub, and I'm an ex-public schoolboy myself) and (b), at least in a footballing context, we hate each other far more than anyone else.

I'm pretty sure the kid who got 'attacked'/ verbally abused was in my local with his father for an England game last week, resplendent in the same red England top. If I sight him again I'll buy him a whisky and Irn Bru, just to show we're not all xenophobic mentalists.

Anonymous said...

It's something in that other report you highlighted in the update that puzzles me:

"The attack came just a few days after a gang of thugs in England football tops left a man fighting for his life after a knife attack in Glasgow, police said today.

"The attackers, who had Scottish accents, stabbed their 40-year-old victim in the east end of the city at 4am on Monday, June 12".

Guys with Scottish accents wearing England tops? Sounds a bit odd.

Can anyone cast more light?


dearieme said...

RM: postmodernists high on Ironistbru?

Anonymous said...


As good an answer as any I guess. The whole scenario does still confuse the crap out of me, though.

Then again, I am easily confused, especially by people.


Anonymous said...

The Scottish accents is because they would be Rangers fans who regularly support England for two reasons.

1. They are generally Unionist and want to strengthen the union in anyway possible.

2. They want to get it right up Celtic fans who wear ROI shirts.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it's tribal then.

I did worry if I wasn't having a tinfoil hat moment for a while: Scottish agents provocateurs dressing up as the auld enemie to cause mayhem, but then I took some medication and figured that was too sophisticated even for the Celtic Cousins.


Anonymous said...

The english/scottish relations as they are will proberly never change.

With the english being to proud and the scots being to stuborn.

I am Dutch, but spend 6 months in Bristol and 2,5 years in Ayrshire.
I can honestly say that in Scotland I didnt just feel at home but was made to feel that aswell while in England I was tolerated at best.

Being back in the Netherlands for 3 years now its Scotland I miss and sorry to say not England

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog and decided I wanted to put in my experiences.

I am American and Canadian (mom's side is from Canada) of Scottish descent. Even though I don't live in Scotland my whole family tree is Scottish. Of course I did have a friend of mine who was born in Scotland once tell me I wasn't Scottish because I wasn't born there. Kind of amazing to be Scottish and discriminated against by a Scot. Anyway.

I love the Scots. They're wonderful people. I was lucky enough to spend three months in Edinburgh. Coming from the other side of the world (California) it's not something most people here get to do. Of course if you want to talk about discrimination and stereotypes try being an American in Edinburgh, especially when the rest of the group are loud and annoying even for American standards. I think I spent the whole trip trying to shut them up. I was lucky though. I was there about 6 months after 9/11 so everybody was in a pretty accepting mood toward Americans.

I know there is some lingering resentment toward the English in Scottish circles but that is no excuse to attack someone, physically or verbally. The events they are avenging did not happen to them nor were they perpetuated by the people they're attacking. It's just wrong, especially when a child is involved.

I just ask you please not to clump all Scots in the bigot category because of the actions of a handful. I know there are open-minded Scots out there (I like to think I'm one of them).

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Missing the point....?

Who's to say this has anything to do with English/Scottish enmity at all? Scottish people generally wear English football tops to show their affiliation in the Unionist/Nationalist sectarian divide. Although that matter does peripherally involve Englisch/Scottish racism, it's more about politics and religion.

Furthermore, Britain is a racist country! Making a debate specifically out of English/Scottish racism doesn't help anyone. It just stirs things up further. English/Scottish racism is less about England/Scotland than a generally xenophobic British national character.

With the increasing ingress of european and international considerations into national and regional political and economic decision making, the internet, MTV, european expansion etc etc, it's become increasingly difficult to say 'I'm British' and know what you mean. It makes more sense to cling to a regional/national identity.

Old hierarchies of identity are further reinforced (e.g 'I'm a yorkshireman first, and englishman second and a british man lastly). So then being british is about firstly being from england, then yorkshire. Space for people from other regions to be british, underneath and after your own region.

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