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.
Man, we’ll have be wearing kilts and eating haggis. Imagine that, a Chinese man wearing kilts and eating haggis!
or playing the bagpipes. Oh….wait…
From the film ‘Trainspotting’…
TOMMY: Doesn’t it make you proud to be Scottish?
RENTON: I hate being Scottish. We’re the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can’t even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete arseholes. It’s a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world will not make any fucking difference.
Historian, you are right No HK Air Cadet Parade would be complete without RAF uniforms, RAF Drills, RAF trained marching, swagger sticks, topped off with a HK pipe band, kilts, spats, the lot. You can take the Brits out of HK but there are some British things HK will only relinquish when pried from its dying hands. To see all of this is to marvel at the wonder that is HK.
It;s very sad what bilge our operatives have to read sometimes.
As the publisher of A Broad Scot, I’d first like to thank this widely read blogger for his interest in the publication and of course – the free PR.
It would seem a non-too-negative a piece, given his proven caustic capabilities and were he to sign up online (i.e part wi’ a wee fee), he would be able to read these articles in full and find his own opinions reflected – to a degree.
Witticisms aside, his simplistic generalisation of the a Scotland divided into Highlands and Lowlands had some validity hundreds of years ago – and even then was a generalisation – but is as much an irrelevance to Scots today, as the so-called ‘traditions’ o’ haggis, tartan and bagpipes.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with these clichés in themselves – and the canny use of them to ‘brand’ Scotland has proved to be very lucrative for many – except they obscure so much of the vibrant Scottish culture of today.
The purpose of A Broad Scot is to attempt to redress this imbalance somewhat by giving the reader food for thought – not a diet o’ haggis, as do Scottish ‘lifestyle’ mags. Sure, in the next issue we’ll cover the Pipefest Global Challenge 2010 (www.pipefest.com) which includes incidentally, new Chinese pipe bands playing here in Hong Kong. That’s part and parcel of our purpose: ‘celebrating the breadth of Scottish culture today at home and abroad’.
And perhaps we’ll even take up the suggestion for an article:
‘No such thing as Scots, scientists find’
because – and here’s some food for thought for ALL Brits, who have swallowed whole the History, the doctrine fed tae us as kids:
“History teacher Adrian Targett and Cheddar Man were connected, across 9,000 years, by an unbroken strand of DNA…Scientists have found that despite the passing of millennia, the arrival of one foreign culture after another, no real watering-down of British DNA has taken place in the last 10,000 years. Tests across the wider population of these isles have returned the same result: something like 80% of us have the DNA of the first hunter-gatherers. Whoever arrived after the hunters – the first farmers, Romans, Anglo-Saxon colonists, Viking raiders, Norman conquerors or anybody else – they never came in numbers sufficient to alter fundamentally the bloodstock of the resident population. We are mostly the same people we have always been.”
(Niall Oliver, A History of Scotland, published by W&N)
To FO: Oh Aye! Unfortunately sentiments like those expressed in ‘Trainspotting’ published nearly twenty years ago, do still exist within Scotland in no small measure.
To Chanboy: It’s already happening but there’s no need for you to wear the kilt – just keep giving yer money tae that fine ‘Scottish invention’ – HSBC
To Historian: get the the next issue
To Maugrim: ??????????????????
And by the way, rest assured, A Broad Scot will never carry horoscopes et al.
Find out more at http://www.abroadscot.com and on Facebook
Your link from the image of an Incredible String Band album cover takes us to a video of some prancing tartan-tinged head-banger band, and not the gently loony hippie group that I still love…
I did wonder, as I know ISB are not (as a group) Scottish.