|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation o she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
The other day when I was driving down the street I passed a man standing on the sidewalk dressed in a kilt and playing bagpipes. I love bagpipes. It must be my Scottish blood. The pipes don't appeal to everyone, of course. People generally love them or hate them. For that reason it occurred to me that the happy piper was either entertaining the afternoon commuters or had been thrown out of whatever building he had been practicing in by an angry mob. Either way, it was all good to me.
Chuck is very interested in his Scottish heritage and occasionally asks me questions about Scotland. He loved bagpipes right from babyhood and liked to have recordings of bagpipes played when he went to bed at night. He can do a wonderful, spot-on Scottish accent.
The other day we were watching an episode of the fantastic BBC production of Sherlock Holmes, (one of his major literary heroes), and was interested to learn that the name Holmes was Scottish in origin. This led to a discussion of Scottish names in general, and ours in particular. Clan Anderson has a tartan and everything. As a matter of fact, the Anderson tartan is the only one of all the Scottish tartans to have 7 colors rather than the standard 6. This fact caused Chuck to remark that it was possible that the Andersons were either way too flamboyant or just couldn't count. I told him that regardless of possibility that our ancestors were mathematically challenged, the Anderson crest was a giant oak tree and our motto was 'Stand Sure'.
“Meaning what, exactly?” he asked.
“Meaning that we are solid and strong and whatnot, like the oak,” I responded.
“Or alternately,” he suggested, “we are a big tree with a lot of little nuts.” Also possible.
I went on to tell him that there were all sorts of Scotsmen who had invented numerous brilliant things. The list is rather impressive. The television, electric locomotive, modern rubber tire, fax and ATM machines, the motion picture camera, the bicycle, penicillin, radar, velcro, and the adhesive postage stamp were all invented by Scotsmen.
“So were banks, golf, and Tony Blair,” Chuck reminded me.
“Okay, so no one's perfect” I admitted. “At least they didn't come up with the Spice Girls.” That would be just too embarrassing.
We talked about all things Scottish some more and he ultimately asked me what “Haggis” was.
“Believe me, you don't want to know,” I told him. He insisted and I explained that Haggis was a Scottish dish of sheep's heart, liver, kidneys mixed together with some other nasty stuff and boiled for an hour in the stomach of the sheep. He looked a little green.
“What kind of people would actually eat something that disgusting?” He asked in horror.
“Some of your ancestors, apparently,” I replied.
“No wonder Scotsman are so miserable and grumpy,” he declared. “I would be too if I had to eat that.”
I told him that Charles II of England, whose great grandmother was Mary Queen of Scots, had been a favorite historical person of mine when I was studying history and that I had given him his name after the Merry Monarch of England. I also told him that Charles had once remarked that Scotland was home to the most wretched weather, the most unpleasant terrain, the worst food, the most miserable men, and the ugliest women in the entire world. Apparently, old Charles didn't have a lot of warm feelings for his ancestral homeland after spending some time there.
Chuck was looking somewhat depressed. The quote from Charles II and the description of Haggis had obviously taken some of the wind out of his Scottish sails. I cheerfully reminded him that one of the greatest and most practical inventions of all time sprang from the genius of an American woman of Scottish descent.
“Don't tell me,” he moaned, “she invented the dental drill.”
“No,” I assured him, “Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper, without which driving around in the pouring rain and blowing snow would be incredibly dangerous and really, really stupid.”
“That reminds me,” he said miserably, “winter is coming.”
Sheesh...what a Scotsman.