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Scots for Dummies – Scottish Review of Books
by Kenneth Harrison

Scots for Dummies

October 28, 2009 | by Kenneth Harrison

Actors, Scottish theatre. In the Scottish theatre world, alcohol is frowned upon. It is well known that the bulk of Scottish actors are teetotal, preferring the backbreaking discipline of mastering their craft. (see Pantomime & Liver replacement).

Alcohol Heritage Centre. Popular tourist draw celebrating our proud tradition of getting violently incapable.

Baldie, Hey you’ve just had a.

De rigueur playground taunt of the Scottish primary school, often followed by the group chant “Baldie! Baldie! Baldie!”

Big massive. Scots phrase meaning “large”.

Blame. One of the seven national traits. “Look what you made me do!”

Carefulness. (See Meanness)

Child beating. A glorious tradition passed down through the generations, which makes us the nation we are today
(see Psychopaths, Bed Wetters & School Teachers)

Curling. (see Television, nothing on)

Day here and there, A. “Holidays” for poor people. “Are you off anywhere this year, Jean?” “No, we’re just having a day here and there.” (Literal translation: “No”.)

Dependable Friend. Magazine for the Scot over sixty featuring articles on the cheery side of illness and death.

Doonreay, Baxter (1845-1912).

Psychologist who published the seminal work on child rearing in Scotland, Just Wait Till I Get You Home,Young Lady! The work, whose influence survives to this day, gave us the timeless phrases “I’ll give you something to greet about!”, “Right, you two! Bed!” and “Who do you think I am – Andrew Carnegie?” Perhaps because he advocated breaking the child’s spirit, Baxter’s work was hugely popular, his final work Lift Your Feet When You’re Walking! selling over three million copies.

Downpour Festival. A popular tourist draw with its origins in antiquity. Scotland will celebrate its thousandth annual Downpour Festival in 2015.

Dreich. The ancient capital of Scotland.

Fear. A good Scottish teacher.

Fearmonger General. Scotland’s oldest insurance company, dating back to 1610.

Haddock Festival. Annual street event, celebrated by the people of Millingery. The Haddock Girl drinks a basin of brine and brings it up over the Haddock Boy. The chosen couple are taunted and ridiculed until a new Haddock Boy and Haddock Girl are chosen the following year. (see Tradition)

Highland Clearance World. A great day out for all the family.

Jackals,William. Astronomer. Looked at the cosmos from a uniquely Scottish perspective. Famous for his statement “God is Scottish” – a theory that, at the time, gained great respectability in Scotland.

Kilt. National dress of Scotland, worn everywhere by Scottish men (except at weddings, where trousers are preferred).

Knife attacks. Always ‘frenzied’.

Law, Scottish. Present Scots law differs in many ways from its English counterpart. For example, murder is legal in Scotland if the assailant is under the influence of alcohol, whereas sitting down in a factory is punishable by immediate dismissal, even if there is no work to do at that particular time. (see Murder, Alcohol & Presbyterianism)

Love. Introduced into Scotland as late as 1792 by Englishman William Posey. The Scots were at first hostile to the idea and had Posey drowned and then burned. The second attempt to introduce the emotion to the North came from Italian prince Anton Bruno who, as punishment, was forced to wrestle wild bears. Finally, in 1825, French smuggler Louise Berg illegally shipped in the exotic cargo, famously disguising the virtue as forty barrels of rum.

Malaise. Ancient capital of Scotland.

Margaret. Bizarrely, two-thirds of women who work in Scottish charity shops are called ‘Margaret’. “Is Margaret still on her tea break!?”

Mathematics, Scottish. Differs from standard mathematics in that it is acceptable that some proofs are left unproven. “Well, it’s probably true anyway.”

“Muggins here.” Literal meaning: “Me”. Phrase coined by Edinburgh lawyer, Sir William Muggins, who was considered a soft touch by virtually everyone that knew him. Left to foot the bill for his own funeral, his headstone inscription reads “…and who’s going to end up paying for it? Muggins here!” (see “Do you think I’m made of money!”)

Museum of Happiness. A great day out for all the family. Closed Mondays.

“Nobody’s looking at you!” Phrase used by mothers while holding their children over drains in the street.

One O’clock Gun. The shock of Edinburgh’s cannon kills, on average, two senior citizens per week.

Pantomime, Scottish. Traditional theatre art where alcoholic Glaswegian actors travel to provincial towns, dress up as old women and tell crude jokes in front of children. (see Dames, Scottish pantomime)

Playgrounds, Scottish. Traditionally made from concrete and broken glass. (see Town planning)

Religious belief. The ancient Scots believed that Purgatory was a settlement on the east coast of Fife, close to modern-day Leven. This is now thought by many to be false, though there is still credence given to the claim that the devil lived in Scotland up until 1958 and was driven south by the cold and the damp.

Scoddish. The correct television pronunciation of “Scottish”.

Starving. “You’ve just had your tea! How can you be starving!?” (see Childhood, Scottish)

Steelies. Inventor Cuthbert Doig saw that children’s steel marbles could be re-employed in the smooth running of industrial machinery. He, of course, renamed them “ball bearings”.

Stoud, Bella. Singer of traditional island songs born in 1905 on the Isle of Munch. Her repertoire included such classic ballads as “Shut the Door, it’s Freezin’ in Here!”, “Hey, Keep the Door Shut!” and “Were You Born in a Field?!”. Stoud died of hypothermia while touring the Northern Isles in 1951. Her last recording was the tragic and moving “I Said Close the Door!”

Undressing, Scottish. Always in the dark.

“Young Lady.” Sarcastic phrase passed down from mother to daughter since the early 17th century. Most popular in the classic “Don’t you come the madam with me, young lady!” Variations include “Don’t you talk back to me, young lady!” and the oft-used “Just wait till I get you home, young lady!” The substitute “young madam” became fashionable in the 1970s, though these days, is rarely heard.

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