• The Midgie
  • 1 December 2008
John Calvin

John Calvin

The answers to questions you've never asked but will be a better person for knowing. Probably.

What on Earth is Irn Bru?
This sweet orange fizz is Scotland's second drink, after whisky, and is so popular that this is one of the only countries in the world where Coca Cola is not the biggest selling soft beverage.
No one knows quite what it's actually made from. Rumours suggest that iron, barley or even seaweed give it that unmistakable taste. Just keep it away from your favourite white sheets. An Irn Bru stain is one of the most persistent we've ever encountered.

What would the world be like if we hadn't discovered farming?
According to famed geneticist Steve Jones, the human population would be about the same as Glasgow's if we hadn't invented agriculture. With a plate of chips mockingly referred to as a Glasgow salad, some would say the city never really took to farming anyway.

How do I get to meet the devil while I'm in Scotland?
Easy. Just stir your porridge the wrong way. Stirring oats widdershin, or anti-clockwise, is said to summon the devil or invoke bad luck. To be on the safe side, use your right hand and stir deiseal, or clockwise.

Does it ever stop raining in Scotland?
Yes. Just not very often. In the Highlands, it rains at least 2mm for 250 days out of the year. In the central belt and other areas, it drops to around 175 days a year.

Should I smile at every Scot I meet?
No. If you bump into a member of the Free Church of Scotland (known as the Wee Frees), a Christian denomination that makes Calvinism look like a party, popular myth has it that they're not allowed to smile on a Sunday. So show some sympathy and try not to cheer them up. Or else don’t believe the myth.

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