Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scots Wahey!

As far as I’m aware I’m pretty much Scots on both sides, ancestor-wise, with some suspected German thrown in with some distant relations and if you delve back far enough the ‘son’ bit at the end of my surname suggests something Danish, maybe brought over during a Viking invasion. But without either documented (and both families are pretty well covered post-landfall in New Zealand), then Scotland’s my default ‘ancestral home’. Nice culturally, not so great for international Rugby tournaments.

I am observing St Andrew’s Day, a concession I make partly for the above, and partly in defiance at the enduring saturation coverage St Patrick’s Day gets – a festival of a figure of the church perpetually observed by all-day drinking and questionable boasts about one’s ancestry. I’m no hypocrite, so that’s not for me thanks. I am a little sad the holiday isn’t observed as greatly over here or outside Scotland – it’s not as though both countries haven’t had similar stories to tell over the years with internal warfare, repeat invasions, clearances and extreme disenfranchisement leading to great diasporae and desperate journeys abroad to new opportunities, diving families utterly (it's only been in the last fifteen years my Dad has reconnected with relatives in Aberdeen). I do wonder whether culturally the Irish have it over the Scots in the US, and like Halloween we here in the Antipodes defer to the big countries in these observances. The other influence may be the most telling of them all; early last century St Patrick’s Day was made an official public holiday in Ireland, while as recently as the turn of this century my dour brethren back ‘home’ voted to acknowledge their day, but not as a holiday as that would necessitate the removal of an existing day off in its place. Something about national stereotypes plays in my mind here…

Anyway, there was a brief flowering of Scots identity in the Nineties with a spate of celebrated movies based on Scottish stories old and new. Braveheart kicked things off, and Trainspotting brought modern Scotland to the big screen, followed by Rob Roy, Plunkett and Maclean and lesser projects which inspired author Irvine Welsh to lament the trend and dub the movement “Jocksploitation.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly comics got a look in as well, when in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine new script droid Jim Alexander created his own spin on Mega City One's lawman with Judge Ed MacBrayne in Calhab Justice, a tongue-in-cheek exploration of Scottish identity in a future Caledonia that has become a dumping ground for nuclear waste, its best and brightest lawmen are snapped up by Brit-Cit, and the remaining population have reverted to savage clan-based feuding, while behind the scenes a civil war with CalHab's southern neighbours is formenting. The series is not fondly remembered, and Dredd's 'father' and fellow Scot John Wagner has elected to ignore the whole thing, as did latter writer (and fellow Scot ) Gordon Rennie. Well I liked it - not all of it, but there was a lot more to the story than the wayward tale it wove in its short life. They were fractious times for the Megazine though, and though a trade is still nowhere to be seen, I have the feeling a more flattering collection might change a few minds.

For what it's worth, here's my interpretation from a while's back. Now I'm off fer a wee dram.

1 comment:

  1. Festively scottish...???

    The other dave :)