Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Us and Them

This blog post has spent several days in my head, numerous times the tips of my fingers have hovered over a keyboard ready to write but I’ve never got past the first few lines due to my increasingly sore head.  Like a sickly heroine from an Austen novel I'm prone to feeling lightheaded and faint from being in ‘the wrong sort’ of light.  This is always worst when it’s gloomy outside and we have to use the dodgy overhead lights found in all offices that somehow bounce pain straight into the back of my brain.  Anyway, this is finally me committing words to screen – hurrah!

So what pertinent, amazing thoughts have I been thinking during those lost days?  Mainly they have been about doing up my new flat and my imminent bridesmaid duties.  Amongst all that, I also had a conversation about the differences between the Scottish and the English sparked by Andy Murray and the incredibly boring 'is he British or Scottish' debate.  He is of course both so let’s all stop having that conversation and making ‘Come on Tim’ comments too while we're at it, it’s incredibly tedious.

I’m Scottish and have lived down south for almost four years (a year and a bit in Norwich of all places and the rest in London town) and before I moved I never ever thought about my cultural identity.  Since I’ve been here it’s something I have to talk about more often that I’d like.  Obviously there are differences, my accent, words I say that I don’t realise - until uttering and seeing confused reactions - are colloquial, food I crave but somehow hasn’t found its way into the English diet.  But there are only three truly fundamental differences between us and them, well, as far as I can tell anyway.

1. Talking about the weather
In Scotland it rains A LOT, it's cold A LOT and when there is no rain the sky is still an ominous shade of grey.  So, on days where the sun shines and it is above 15°C we rejoice at our good fortune.  In England people seem to be in a permanent state of confusion as to why it is not a tropical paradise.  Unless it is beautifully sunny I am subjected to several conversations a day about why the weather is so bad.  It’s not bad, weather cannot be categorised as ‘bad’ until your house is flooded or you’re snowed in. When that happens, let's have that chat.

2.  Zebra crossings
The rules of the road are that when a pedestrian walks on a zebra crossing cars MUST stop.  In Scotland this seems to be understood and people walk onto the road and expect the people in the cars to know what to do.  In England this rule seems to not be taught to anyone.  I walk past two zebra crossings on my way to work and every day see people dithering at the side of the road waiting for the traffic to stop.  Hint, it will not stop until you step on the bloody road.

3. Puns
I like to pride myself on being fairly amusing and being able to find comedy in most things.  There is only one form of humour that I do not understand – puns.  The English LOVE a pun.  Up until moving I think I heard a pun-based joke as rarely as I saw sunshine.  Now I hear them regularly and am unable to respond because I just don’t get it.

Now, I’m no anthropologist so this is just my anecdotal musings.  However, I’m pretty sure that if David Cameron worked on the three things above then there’d be no independence debate and we'd be one big happy family.


  1. Oh you can't beat a good pun!... and I too lament about the lack of Aberdeen rowies south of the border.

  2. You can beat a good pun, preferably with an implement. You appear to be my sole reader Harding, I quite like the idea I'm writing just for you. xx