Friday, April 21, 2006

Wee Jockey

Off next week to Scotland. Some friends are coming over from America so I am doing my famous three day tour of the Scottish highlights. Day One: travel to Edinburgh by train – see as much as possible in just 4-5 hours. To include the Royal Mile, Holyrood House and all sights in between. Day Two: St. Andrew's to see the Old Course then drive to Inverness – stopping along the way to view suitable sights. Stay in Inverness Day Three: The Highlands via the Great Glen and Loch Ness – stay in Ft. William. Day Four: drive to Glasgow via Loch Lomond. There you go. Done it. Seen it. Got the T shirt.

Of course, you cannot really do a whole country justice in just three days - but this is as close as you are likely to get.

I like Scotland. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I like it. Mind you, I have only ever been there in the summer and it's only April. I have forewarned the thin-blooded folks from Missouri to bring plenty of warm clothes. There will be plenty of snow on the hills and it will probably rain for the whole of our trip. Nevertheless, I like Scotland. I've no time for the weather, but I like it just the same. Both my grandparents on my mother's side of the family were from Glasgow. I'm really one quarter Scots – by birth.

Scots are fine people even though they talk funny. More oddly rather than actually humorously. It will be interesting to see if the home folks are able to communicate with them. It will depend on the calibre of Scot we encounter. Educated Scottish yuppies from Edinburgh should be fine. Working class scum from the Gorbals may be problematical in the extreme.

One of my favourite TV programs about Scots is Rab C. Nesbitt. I used it in English lessons as an example of dialect. Put on the video of Rab swapping places and life-styles with a Tory MP and the contrast could not be more pronounced. Also, it's one of the funniest programmes you are ever likely to see. Kids, of course, seldom get it without a translation. Then, they find it very funny. Get the video if possible. It's hard to understand, but you get a real appreciation of how difficult it is to communicate with an un-educated Scotsman.

I taught one of those as well. Name: Kevin MacFarlane. AKA: Jockey McFarlane. For some unknown reason his parents sent him to our school – hoping, perhaps, that he might learn English. He said to me one day in an English lesson, “How am I supposed to do this work? I'm no even English.” Jockey was an unintentional Scots nationalist.

He had only been at the school for a few days when I happened to discuss him with some of my colleagues at lunch. We all agreed that he was not coping too well with the idea of doing school work. It must have been an alien concept where he came from. As luck would have it, two fellow-teachers and I happened to stumble across Jockey on the way out of the lunch room. So, the three of us surrounded him and (very gently) began to question him about his apparent lack of interest/effort and progress. He stood very still – listening – for all of a minute. Then, he turned red in the face and before storming off berated all three of us in no uncertain terms by shouting, “I'm no even f***** having this!” He was a character. Hope he turned out Ok, but I wouldn't like to bet on it. He wasn't with us very long.

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