New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Long reads
26 March 2007

What does Scotland mean to you?

Interviews by Sarah O'Connor and David Thorley

By Staff Blogger

Charlie Reid, singer, the Proclaimers

“It’s home, it’s identity, it’s family history and it’s a sense of belonging. I wouldn’t say it was any better than any other country, I’d just say it was my country.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy

“Scotland is a central part of my identity; without hesitation, I say I am from Scotland when I am abroad and then explain that I live in London. My upbringing in Glasgow sowed the seeds of my commitment to social justice. Everyone I was brought up with believed that we had to give each other a helping hand, that those of us who were lucky in life had to give something back. I loved that the Scots railed against the poll tax, that they campaigned with such passion against apartheid, that they led the Make Poverty History campaign, that they hate the war in Iraq and don’t want Trident. These are my people; I love them and am proud to be one of them.”

Ian Rankin, crime novelist

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“Scotland has always been my main subject matter. It provides me with material for my books, and it shapes the lives, neuroses and philosophies of my characters. I would, quite literally, be lost without it.”

Mohammed Ali, waiter, Glasgow

“To me, we live in a little world. It’s a bit closed off, but I’m a Scotsman and love it. You get four seasons in one day.”

Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats

“Scotland is the place I return to when I need time to think and a place to relax. I am a Scot in my heart and in my head, by birth, inclination and temperament.”

Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussionist

“Scotland means rugged beauty, hard-working people, high standards of education, innovation, individualism, yet respect for our history and mark on the world. It’s a small territory but with a big welcoming heart and great vision.”

William Dalrymple, writer and historian

“I am enormously proud to be Scottish, but living in India, each year I become more and more cut off from the reality of modern Scotland, and increasingly see it with the eyes of an exile, even a tourist. Practically speaking, being Scottish is an enormously useful dodge in India: say you are Scottish, and people treat you as a fellow sufferer from English colonialism, apparently unaware that many of the worst excesses of British rule in India were perpetrated by Scots. But this same paradox – of being both the coloniser and the colonised, the conquered and the conqueror – does allow one to understand what it is like to be on both sides of the imperial divide.”

Mylo, musician

“Hard to say in a couple of lines – unless you mention deep-fried confectionery . . . I do think we should be independent if we so choose, but personally I would be just as unhappy being led by Alex Salmond as I am with the status quo.”

Elaine C Smith, actress

“Scotland for me will always be an argument, as the writer Peter Arnott so aptly put it . . . But I love the chat, the raking over, the detail, the rage, the discussions . . . and I love the fact that we don’t always agree. Long may the argument continue.”

Christina Slater, B&B owner, Isle of Lewis

“Scotland to me means Gaelic. I’ve grown up speaking it. It’s the most expressive language there is.”

Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records

“The best sense of humour in the world.”

Jim Tough, acting chief executive at the Scottish Arts Council

“What does Scotland mean to me? – I think Kathleen Jamie covers it in this poem.”

Lucky Bag

Tattie scones, St Andra’s bane, a rod-and-crescent
Pictish stane; a field o whaups, organic neeps,
a poke o Brattisani’s chips; a clootie well,
computer bits, an elder o the wee free Kirk;

a golach fi Knoydart, a shalwar-kameez;
Dr Simpson’s anaesthetics, zzzzzzz,
a gloup, a clachan, a Broxburn bing,
a giro, a demo, Samye Ling; a ro-ro

in the gloaming, a new-born Kirkcaldy baby-gro;
a Free State, a midden, a chambered cairn:
– yer Scottish lucky-bag, one for each wean;
please form an orderly rabble.

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