Column: Time to ditch the shortbread tin image of Scotland
I really wanted to join the outrage over William and Kate’s royal choo-choo journey around the UK this week, but found myself overcome with indifference.
I’ve never really understood the fascination with, and fawning over, the Royal Family.
But I get that, for many people, being invited to meet them is genuinely thrilling, and there are certainly worse things to do than saying thank you to frontline health staff.
What was much more interesting was watching our political leaders dance on a protocol pinhead to avoid the question over whether they should have travelled at a time when restrictions are in place.
“Essential travel” was the very handy get out of jail card deployed when journalists asked why it was okay for the royals to wheech around the country when we can’t even meet for a pint.
Had it been Tam and Big Wull from Lanarkshire hopping in their car to drive round the country’s hospitals to hand out a few selection boxes as thank yous, I suspect our First Minister may have had a few more words, and give them that death stare she normally reserves for journalists whose questions she doesn’t much care for.
As with all royal trips, Kate and William were gone even before the first wave of righteous indignation swamped the echo chamber that is Twitter where lots of folk howled in fury at something they wouldn’t have been seen dead at even with VIP access and free Highland toffee for life.
For me, the biggest cringe wasn’t their trip, it was how we presented ourselves. Again.
Do we really need to haul out the tartan and bagpipes to greet them at every train station or city chambers?Scotland is a vibrant, creative, modern country, but the only face we seem to want to show the world is the one which also adorns every tin of shortbread in the window of the Royal Mile’s tartan tat shops.
I know our heritage and history are important, but we seem stuck in a ‘here’s tae us, wha’s like us’ Brigadoon mode which must leave the rest of the world wondering if we all wear kilts for dinner, and practice how to make a hellish racket with a set of bagpipes of an evening. The very stereotype we then rail against ...
Surely our national image is due a re-boot for 2020.
A sprig of heather and a dash of tartan by all means - the colours are vibrant - but can we stop acting and looking like we’ve just stepped out of a long lost episode of Thingumyjig which featured the Alexander Brothers and Fran and Anna?
And that doesn’t mean hauling in the Red Hot Chilli Pipers or dredging up Runrig for a blast of Loch bleedin’ Lomond either. Just no.
C’mon, let’s emerge from lockdown with a bolder, more modern look for Scotland.
We wear our welcome as a badge of honour, and our humour and warmth are known across the globe, so let’s put them ahead of the obligatory token piper, and offer folk a proper Scottish welcome.
Even royal visitors on “essential travel” during lockdown …