As befits a city long known for the multitude of North Britons among its merchants, bankers, investors, law enforcement officers, hoteliers and, at one time, governors, Hong Kong is now home to a tartan-tinged magazine – A Broad Scot, a quarterly cultural publication based in the glens of Lantau and aimed at the world’s Caledonian diaspora.
The latest issue includes short stories, photos, profiles and some interesting articles. They’re all a bit self-consciously Scottish and saltire-laden, but that’s the point.
One is on the perhaps predictable (so best get it over with) subject of identity, a burning question among certain people who don’t want to say they are British (though historically they are) because the word has been adopted by the English (who historically aren’t). Not everyone has a problem, but for those who do, this story offers an elegant solution: US citizenship.
(A more drastic resolution to the identity issue would be to dig down beneath all that fake romantic Victorian bagpipes, kilts and shortbread stuff and ask who these people really are if you go back a bit. We find two groups. There are the Gaelic-speaking, Catholic, rebellious, less-learned, unmanageable, sort-of-Irish-really lot up in the highlands. And there are the ones they called Sassenachs, or Saxons – the Scots-speaking, Protestant, businesslike, academic, convivial, bit-like-the-um-English-now-you-mention-it lot in the lowlands. Perhaps the magazine will carry a feature on it sometime: ‘No such people as Scots, scientists find’.)
Another article addresses a question that many people have possibly been too polite, shy or afraid of a beer glass in the face to ask. How come the two British banks that faced the biggest disasters in the 2008 financial crisis – costing the UK taxpayer unimaginably horrible sums of bailout money – both had the word ‘Scotland’ in their names?
(The feature’s title refers to the fascinating story of the Darien scheme, the 1690s attempt by Scotland to have an empire and get rich. The plan ended with settlers starving in a mosquito-ridden patch of Spanish-claimed jungle in what is now Panama. It bankrupted the country. Next stop: union with England/whisky-fuelled expansion of the British Empire/Keir Hardie/Gordon Brown/those banks/the rest of history. FIPTH: Failed In Panama, Try Hongkong.)
And then there’s a feature on whisky, of course – but the regulatory aspect.
All this and, so far as I can see, no horoscopes, sport, sordid human interest stuff or celebrity gossip. Another bold step in the development of Asia’s cultural and creative industries hub. Och aye.