11 June 2007

Scotland c.55BC–2007AD

Scotland, that mighty nation located inconveniently to the north of England, which gave the world whisky, a fair legal system, an excellent education system, the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, Billy Connolly and Gordon Brown, has taken the high road for the last time, following the publication of reports by the Federation of Small Businesses and the OECD showing Scotland is the worst performing small country in Western Europe thanks to its terrible health record and appalling life expectancy.

The conception of Scotland is, like so many other conceptions, clouded in a haze (though not, unusually, of alcohol). Doubtless it had been around for many millennia, quietly getting on with whatever it was doing, before it first came to the world's notice in about 55BC when Julius Caesar's forces successfully invaded Britain (shortly before successfully leaving as quickly as they could the moment they realised what a cold, damp and dark little island it was). It was with the Emperor Claudius's decision to invade again in 44AD (thus proving himself to be the drooling idiot his critics accused him of being), that Scotland really began to make itself known - largely by its habit of sweeping down into England for a bit of looting and pillaging. By 121 AD this habit had become so irritating to the Romans that the Emperor Hadrian decided to build a wall from Northumberland to Cumbria to contain the loosely affiliated tribes to the north thus provoking one of the world's longest neighbourhood boundary disputes and inadvertently providing the spark for Scottish nationhood.

Over the following centuries relations between Scotland and its southern neighbour would prove fractious, with England constantly sidling up to Hadrian's wall and peering jealously over it to eye up Scotland's beautiful glens… and bonnie morags. Down the centuries, the two countries would frequently come to blows, each invading the other repeatedly. In 1296, England's Edward I even succeeded in stealing the sacred Stone of Scone, not only depriving the nation of the artefact on which each of its kings had been crowned but also denying the Scots the recipe for one of their most exquisite items of patisserie.

Despite such incursions, the Scots busied themselves with becoming a powerful small nation. As a sign of their pride, the people dressed themselves in the favourite accessory of the British traveller, the long tartan rug, thus signifying their deep desire to proclaim the greatness of the nation across the globe, while oppressing all the locals and never, ever returning home.

Although the Act of Union with the Auld Enemy in 1707 failed to halt Scotland’s flowering, as philosophers, scientists and artists made their country the cradle of the Enlightenment, the first signs of strain in Scotland’s health were to show when Bonnie Prince Charlie failed to wrestle control back from the English – leading directly to the Highland clearances as Scottish mountains were offered at knock-down prices to English landlords. But, for the next two centuries, though subjugated, Scotland continued to extract its revenge on the English by exporting its shortbread, Rabbie Burns and prime ministers.

By the 1970s the years of struggle had begun to weigh heavily. When North Sea oil was discovered off the coast of Norway Scotland, it was wickedly siphoned off by the English, denying the Scots vital revenues to maintain their infrastructure and access to the premium grade oil necessary to maintain their world-renowned cuisine. Soon, unscrupulous establishments sprang up offering traditional Scottish fare deep-fried in inferior oils (and sometimes even whisky). A daring retaliatory raid at Wembley during the Home International against England, saw a squad of crack Scots reclaim some English soil (and turf and goalposts) in retaliation for the theft of their oil, but it was too little too late. The annual invasion of Edinburgh every summer by English comedians drained the country of vital resources (mostly whisky and accomodation), and a desperate attempt by the Scottish Health Board to reverse the decline in public health drastically backfired when their drama-documentary series Rab C Nesbitt failed to appal right-minded Scots.

A last gasp attempt to wrestle Scotland away from the English gave Scotland some hope in its dying moments when the SNP swept to an indecisive victory in the Scottish elections. But even the ban on smoking in enclosed public places failed to halt the decline of the nation’s health as plucky Scots huddled together in doorways for warmth (in June) as they stoically puffed their way through a packet of 20 whilst preparing to roll themselves back haim to an evening drinking lager on the sofa while tucking into a vegetable, fruit and indeed food-free 20,000 calorie meal and the prospect of a premature grave.

Scotland will be buried at the High Kirk of Irvine Welsh, the service will be conducted by the Reverend Begbie and the congregation will sing “Lager, Lager, Lager, Lager, Lager”.


McGroe said...

I hope your wee book sells well north of the wall.

Anonymous said...

Could you do the same to Welsh, Irish and Yorkshire folk please?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Brilliant yet again, Dodo! "Inconveniently situated to the north of England" and "dressed themselves in tartan rugs" - I'll be giggling for the rest of the evening now!