Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Pride of Scotland

Nationality was always going to be an issue.

I'm English. Bear's English.

Bug was born -- and raised -- in Scotland.

When Bear was pregnant, I was adamant we'd be hot footing it to the Scotland/ England border as soon as she went into labour. I joked about it all the time. 'No way am I having a Scottish daughter,' I joked.

Ha ha ha.

I wasn't joking.

I told her about a guy who'd done the reverse, from Southampton to Edinburgh, so his son would be Scottish. I said 'that bloke and his girlfriend travelled 450 miles. I just want to do the 60 to Berwick.'

I may also have added 'stop being selfish.'

She never swears. She swore.

I'm not sure why it concerned me so much. It just seemed important. I've never had anything against the Scots. During my time here the only racism I've endured has been of the casual variety, and we all know that causal racism is the best kind.

Normally it revolves around sport. Whenever there's a major football tournament the ABE t-shirts come out of the attic:

Ha ha ha.

Back to Bug. When we registered her the registrar asked Bear her occupation.
       "Student of History," she replied.
       Which is what it says on Bug's birth certificate.
       Then he asked me.
        I didn't want to say 'retail' because I didn't want Bug to think of me as a shop assistant her entire life. I wanted more for me her than that. Even though I hadn't written a word in over a year I mumbled "writer."
       'What, like an author?" he asked.
        I though about it.
        "Yes. That's exactly what it's like."
        So that's what it says next to father's occupation: author. It's the closest I've been to finishing my novel.
        I then asked him the burning question.
        "We're both English," I said pointing to Bear.
        "Well done," he replied.
         "And Bug was born in Scotland. So..."
         "Really?" I asked.
         So she's officially British.
Thing is, I have the suspicion I want her to be Scottish. It's a proud nation, much more so than England. The English seem to suffer from Empire-guilt: we had one, we gave it back, we're still apologetic.

The Scottish have had English landlords for 300 years. This would be enough to piss them off without adding the English media into the equation. The news up here is almost entirely English, as is the majority of the sport. Sometimes they're combined, with endless reports on how England will win the next world something-or-other because they're the best.

It's cultivated a dislike for the concept of England that fuels the Scots' own identity. The Saltire is flown everywhere. On equal opportunity forms in England the first tick box under nationality is always British. In Scotland it's always Scottish.

It is glorious.

I want Bug to be proud of her nation. We're not sure where we're going to be by the time she goes to nursery. If her friends are Scottish wouldn't she assume she is? And if Scotland votes for independence they'd no longer be British. They'd be Scottish and so would Bug.

I'd be hugely proud if she were.

So with Euro 2012 just starting, I'll be spending the next few days explaining to my daughter what a major football tournament is.

She is Scottish after all.

Bye for now.



A few nights back we asked Bug what she wanted to wear to bed. This was her reply. So be it.


  1. Being Scottish, yes, you will have to teach her about ancient history ie the last time we qualified for a tournament... And you can always throw in that Gascoigne goal, and 1966 just to reinforce English footballing superiority... Now where's my French / Swedish scarf lol :-P *good luck to England, and my fingers weren't crossed either !

    1. 1966 seems a long time ago. I was born in 1974 and I remember being a child and thinking 1966 seemed a long time ago.

      Actually, the Euro '12 have been a bit different. There's much less expectation this time round, less chest thumping on TV.

      Of course, England will go and win it now.


  2. Funny how things always look different from the other side of the fence... I'm Scottish, my wife is English (half Manx actually) and we're dead set on our 2 girls (born and raised, so far, in Scotland) thinking of themselves as British first.

    Glad you've never suffered any racism, wish my wife could say the same. Her first job up here was in a bank call centre, and there was a lot of abuse of the "ya English..." variety. And come football tournaments she tends to get wound up by the ABE sentiment and casual, unthinking comments that fly around (although interestingly not this time).

    So much so that she feels MORE English since she moved up here than she ever did before!