Friday

Scotland - In My Mind, Anyway

The "old days" in the "old country" are hopelessly nostalgic for many immigrants, and I am no exception. I came to the USA from Scotland while in my twenties, and in spite (or because of?) a couple of visits in the last 15 years or so, I still hold an idealized version of my homeland in my mind. 

I never really spent any time in the Highlands, which is probably what most people think of when you mention Scotland (think of James Bond's visit to his family home in the movie Skyfall). I lived in an area of light industry and farming, and I only had one "road trip" to this really scenic part of Scotland. And yet, when I see scenes for the Highlands I think of "my home" - although of course Ohio has been my home now for more than half of my life.


I don't know why that is; it doesn't bother me, it's just a little curious. What is also curious is that some of the things that are taken as "Scottish" by the rest of the world (but which are hardly representative in any literal way) are willingly accepted by me as well. Things like, oh - Jimmy Shand music. The old joke goes "How do you torture a Scotsman? Put on a Jimmy Shand record and nail his shoes to the floor."

Another is the highly sentimental and stylized comic strips of "The Broons" ("The Browns", about an extended family and their daily lives) and "Oor Wullie" ("Our Willie", about a slightly wild little boy and his neighborhood pals). Both represent a Scotland recognizable, yet removed from reality - folk tales of a kind.



These are written in Scots, the colloquial language I spoke while in Scotland - perhaps that is the attraction for me. The stories feature the most gentle and corny type of humor, yet both these strips have run since before the second World War, and both scream "home" to me.

I suspect most immigrants have a similar tale to tell. It's not that we don't feel at home in the US - I absolutely do - but there is that collection of memories and impressions, sweetened by the passage of time, that still ties many of us to the old country.

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