Saturday, February 27, 2016

5 Things You Realise About Scotland When You Move Away

5 Things You Realise About Scotland  When You Move Away


When I moved to North Wales in May 2015, I was excited about the future.   In equal measure, I was terrified I wouldn't find a job or settle down, and then have to return to Scotland, with my tail between my legs, and move in with my parents.    I suffer from anxiety, so this is a fairly normal thought process for me.    

I found a job within a couple of weeks, settled down really quickly and was in constant awe of the scenery and the little towns and villages that were now local to me.    I did, however, worry about being Scottish.    I realise how utterly stupid that sounds but, being from Scotland and living there my entire life, I hadn't so much as given a thought to suddenly becoming The Only Jock in the Village.     I'd always been in the majority and now I was very much, well...not.   

These are the things I've realised since leaving Scotland:  

Just Because You Speak The Same Language Doesn't Mean You'll Be Understood:
I speak English and Spanish.   Welsh people mostly speak English and a lovely percentage of them also speak Welsh (I also imagine they speak a host of other languages, too).  I can go various towns and never hear anything but my own first language and drive just a few short miles away and hear nothing but traditional Welsh.     And it's so refreshing.     

I work in a Welsh speaking town and have a strong Scottish accent.   I also speak very quickly, which is something that a lot of us Scots do.  And, when we're surrounded by nothing but other Scottish people, this is not a problem.   When you have no other Scots around you, you quickly become very conscious of sounding like Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons.

The odd looks I get at work, which are usually accompanied by a slight tilt of the head (much like I get from my dog when he realises I want him to go for a walk in the rain), that informs me that I am speaking too quickly and that no one has any idea if I'm speaking English, Gaelic or Klingon.   

5 Things You Realise About Scotland  When You Move Away - Stereotypes
No, we don't all wear kilts.   Not all the time, anyway. 

The Stereotypes The Annoyed The Hell Out of Me No Longer Do:
When I travelled around Scotland for work, it used to drive me crazy when I'd hear foreign tourists chatting over the breakfast table in a hotel and knowing I'd hear the words 'whisky' 'shortbread' and 'kilts' at some point.  

Yes, we make all those things but, no, it's not all just people drinking wee drams, dressed in tartan skirts and eating buttery biscuits.   We also play bagpipes.   I jest, of course; most of us don't.   Because the NOISE...  

Since relocating to Wales, I have become an ambassador for all the Scottish things I used to cringe at.   I now look at tartan in a different way, I make my Mum bake her fantastic shortbread for my work colleagues when I go home to visit, and I have actually forced house guests to drink whisky.    Well, I say forced, but it's difficult to force a Welsh person to have a drink.   They're generally more than willing and, for that, I love them all.   

I've even been listening to more Scottish music, like Deacon Blue and Hue and Cry, but I do  draw the line at Sheena Easton.  I'm Scottish, not tone deaf.  If anything, being removed from Scotland has made me appreciate it in a way I don't think I have for a long time.     For the first time, I'm more than happy to be linked with all the stereotypical things we're associated with.  Apart from Rab C. Nesbit.    I could be out of Scotland for 50 years and I'd still hate that with a passion.   


5 Things You Realise About Scotland  When You Move Away - Scottish stuff
Mooooooooooooo! 

I Can Spot A Scottish Accent At 100 Yards:
Seriously: this is my greatest skill.   When I went aboard for years on holiday, hearing Scottish accents was not a good thing.   Not that I don't like my fellow Scots, I just go on holiday to get away from that.   If I wanted to hear my own accent, I'd holiday in Scotland.   If I go to Cambodia, I want to understand nothing for the duration of my trip.   

Nowadays, it fills me with joy to realise there's another Scot in the vicinity and I have been known to approach random strangers to revel in the happiness of finding someone from my own little nation.   I might only be in Wales, but there aren't as many as you'd think.     Mainly, the accents are Welsh, Scouse or Brum in my area.

I nearly spontaneously combusted with sheer delight the day a woman in the queue in front of my at the Co-op in Dolgellau bought two litre bottles of Irn Bru.    I couldn't believe it was even on sale, never mind being picked up.    Then the cashier asked the lady for money and I realised why the bottles were being purchased: the customer was from Glasgow.   I promptly teased her about this, because I know people from Glasgow (even random strangers) have a great sense of humour.   And she did.    

Oh, how we laughed about being Scottish in Wales and adhering to cultural stereotypes by drinking Irn Bru.  My own Co-op purchase was obviously wine, so further compounding the idea that Scottish people like a drink.   On a Tuesday night.   I'm such a cliche.  


5 Things You Realise About Scotland  When You Move Away - Scenery


I Can't Believe How Much I Miss Scottish News:
I watched the Scottish news most nights, but wasn't immune to turning the channel when I was bored out of my mind with stories about wind farms or people fighting at First Minister's Question Time.  However, now that Scottish news is no longer an option, I visit the BBC's News app every night before bed, trawling through stories from Tayside and Central, then Glasgow and the West, before ending with Edinburgh and Lothian.   

There are still wind farm stories, but now they seem more remote and interesting.   There's also still fighting a FM's Questions, but as I left Scotland the day after the last general election, I mostly have no clue who ANY of the people in the chamber are.   I now recognise people like Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones instead of Mhairi Black and, well... those other people.    


Scottish Football Isn't Nearly As Bad As I Thought:
We've all been there.  We watch Arsenal on a Saturday and catch up with Inverness Caley Thistle on a Sunday and wonder if you're tuning in to the same sport.  

We know that the EPL is superior - no one disputes that,  but it's amazing how much you miss watching your own team battling out in the pouring rain (obviously) against Motherwell and realising that they won 6-0 and Wales won't show it to you on the highlights programme because it's not Welsh.  Or English.   

Scottish Match of the Day doesn't show Welsh games, either.   For someone who loves football and is used to spending most of the weekend tuning into games in some format, it's been weird to be in a position where I can't just turn on BBC Scotland and listen to the Hearts game.    

When you have it on tap, you take it for granted.  When you can't access it easily, when you DO find clips or a game, it makes you realise that it's actually so much better to watch, just because it's Scottish and you've got a vested interest in it.  

Also, it's not until you're living 6 hours away that you start to really appreciate JUST how fantastic a little nation Scotland and all the stuff in it really is*

Suzanne x


*Author might be slightly biased...