Scotland The Great - We are good

  • The List
  • 22 January 2009

79 Great things about Scotland

Bin the shortbread tin! Trash those Runrig albums! Here are, in The List’s humble opinion, some real reasons why Scotland is worth shouting about

  1. Robert Burns.
  2. Tunnock’s Teacakes.
  3. The first two hours of Optimo. Social club meets dancefloor warm up, with a radical musical education thrown in.
  4. The fact that after surveying people from all over the UK, the Scottish accent was regarded as by far the most trusted.
  5. The wee wifies that work at the hamburger stall inside the Barras.
  6. The song ‘Mogwai fear Satan’. Three notes, five guys, 16 minutes. Pure genius.
  7. T in the Park 2001, The Second Stage, Saturday afternoon. The soundman sticks on ‘Shang-a-lang’ by the Bay City Rollers over the PA. The 5000-strong crowd break into a mass singalong. The Proclaimers who are due up next look on from the wings, astounded.
  8. The sweat running down the walls at Cabaret Voltaire and the Arches.
  9. Grand Theft Auto. We made that, we did. Ditto: Lemmings.
  10. Having the Gay Gordons hardwired into your physical subconscious as part of your education.
  11. The ridiculousness of the Edinburgh/Glasgow rivalry; conversely, that two cities less than an hour apart can have such completely different accents, cultures and outlooks on life.
  12. Kelvingrove Museum.
  13. That David Hume occasionally wears a traffic cone to go with his Grecian robes.
  14. The ‘will I make the last train to Edinburgh or not?’ Russian Roulette sensation of queuing for Burger King or Pizza Crolla at 11.28pm.
  15. Bhangra beats sneaking up on you in streets around the Southside of Glasgow.
  16. The Barrowland sign.
  17. Slam’s ‘Positive Education’. Glasgow’s dancefloor national anthem.
  18. That we come from a country that produced James Kelman, AL Kennedy, Irvine Welsh and Ali Smith, all world renowned, all completely different writers, in a relatively small period of time.
  19. Wildcat Theatre’s Border Warfare at Tramway in 1989: a dancing riot of people singing ‘we’re no gonny pay your Poll Tax!’ to topple Margaret Thatcher, who had descended from the ceiling on a carved wooden eagle. Of course.
  20. The view from North Bridge with Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat on one side and Edinburgh Castle on the other. Right in the centre of the city.
  21. Eating deep fried whitebait or lobster and chips on the harbour wall at Anstruther.
  22. Partick Thistle.
  23. The huge arch that carries Waterloo Place over Calton Road in Edinburgh.
  24. The pronunciation, versatility and myriad usage of ‘gallus’, ‘mince’, ‘magic’ and of course, ‘shite’.
  25. Heading to the Meadows with a carry out the first time the temperature rises above ten degrees.
  26. Road signs in both English and Gaelic, just for the fun of it, probably.
  27. Des McLean’s Billy Connolly Bullshit World Tour on YouTube. When we take the piss, we do it affectionately.
  28. The series of step locks at Fort Augustus: a feat of engineering with a view stretching across Loch Ness.
  29. Reading a sentence written by Janice Galloway. Rereading. Marvelling.
  30. Really, really bad haircuts. From the Bay City Rollers to the T in the Park logo shaven into your head.
  31. Arthur’s Seat. An extinct volcano in the middle of a city. Nice.
  32. Luca’s ice cream sundaes.
  33. ‘All that way just to pick up a chicken?’ ‘Aye. She doesn’t make the best soup in the Highlands for nothing.’
  34. Chips and cheese from the King’s Café after a loooong night in Sleazy’s. Aaah.
  35. The way old sandstone buildings look cut out against the sky on clear, sunny winter days.
  36. The word ‘nyaff’, especially when used to describe persons employed in the customer services departments of the public transport industry.
  37. Clare Grogan singing ‘Happy Birthday’.
  38. The classic Scottish/Indian curry. Especially from Mother India in Glasgow or the Dil Se in Kirkwall, Orkney.
  39. The long, slow coach journey down from Skye, through Glencoe, as the mist and the grandeur and the scale hits you.
  40. The beauty and engineering skill of the Forth Bridge. And that the paint job will never be finished.
  41. The fact that optimistic and cold-resistant children still swim in the sea at Portobello beach in February.
  42. Café 52 in Aberdeen. A former garage, about two metres in width, slap bang in the middle of the red light zone and serving some of the best, most innovative contemporary Scottish cooking in the country. With attitude.
  43. That touring bands still love a Scottish audience better than any other. And we know they don’t just say that to all the girls.
  44. The sea. Always different, always the same.
  45. Alasdair Gray.
  46. The first few days of the Edinburgh Festival. Before you remember that you hate flyerers and too-wacky street performers, it all seems kinda magical.
  47. Those brilliant pink stucco elephants in the foyer of the Citizens’ Theatre.
  48. The number 27 bus turns round Gilmore Place. Someone shouts ‘There’s a Proclaimer!’ Everyone gawps and waves. Proclaimer glowers.
  49. That Scots having great sporting success in any field is still greeted with shock, then delight. And then everyone claims to have known the sports person’s father. And they probably did.
  50. Chilling out with the hippies at the Forest Café.
  51. That very, very lanky statue of Donald Dewar at the top of Buchanan Street. Was he that much of a giant amongst men?
  52. Salt’n’sauce/ salt’n’vinegar. Choose wisely my son.
  53. That we were the first place in Britain to introduce the smoking ban.
  54. The Forge, the most remote pub in Britain that requires you to walk three hours or travel half an hour by boat.
  55. The Electric Brae. It looks like you’re going up, but you’re going down. Freaky.
  56. Hot toddies.
  57. Monorail, Rub-a-Dub and Avalanche Records. The last bastions of vinyl seduction.
  58. Irn Bru and Tennent’s Lager adverts. Making wee bits of genius from the evil of advertising.
  59. The Falkirk Wheel – a futuristic fantasy made flesh (well, concrete).
  60. The great big ‘Teletubbies’ horn on the M8.
  61. Being welcomed abroad by all nations.
  62. ‘500 miles’ by The Proclaimers (See alternative anthems, page 25).
  63. Glasgow School of Art hipster kids in Deirdre Barlow spectacles, rocking the skinny jeans way before Kate Moss got her bony knees into them.
  64. The stink of Mellis’ Cheesemongers. How can something that smells so bad be so very, very good?
  65. The BIG glitterball in the ABC. It’s the biggest in Europe apparently. Although we’re not exactly sure who measures these things mind you,
  66. The Variety Bar.
  67. A strong tradition of scepticism – from David Hume to the Poll Tax.
  68. Feeling your trousers flap courtesy of the Messenger Sound System. More than just bass in your face.
  69. The land reform act (in principle if not in practice).
  70. Instal, Kill Your Timid Notion, Le Weekend, Dialogues, New Territories – embracing the weirdness in art.
  71. The Juke Box in Nice N Sleazy’s.
  72. The light – the quantity and quality of the stuff is something special. October is the best month.
  73. Triptych. RIP.
  74. Pioneering the deep-fried Mars bar.
  75. The smell of the brewery in west Edinburgh.
  76. Legitimate, skilled ceilidh dancing at weddings.
  77. Pringle knitwear (off the golf course only, mind).
  78. ‘Roamin’ in the Gloamin’’.
  79. Der-ner Neh-neh Ner-ner-ner! Der-ner Neh-neh Ner-ner-ner! (See here).

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