Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why You Should Move to Scotland

Ever since moving to Scotland, the two questions that I am asked most frequently are: why? And how?

I always knew I wanted to come to Scotland – specifically Glasgow – in the same vein that I always knew my Great Poppy was Glaswegian. Growing up, however, Scotland was always “over there”; existing on the periphery and only becoming fully-fledged when it made the news for all the wrong reasons.

Likewise, my Great Poppy was a seemingly fragile old man who was not born in Canada, but emigrated from somewhere “over there”. I knew him to be a quiet man of few words and whose few words were abrupt and loud. After his death in 1992, I began to learn more about him from family members and the more I learned, the more I realised that I had no idea who he was.

Apparently once in Canada, he quickly turned his back on his heritage and homeland and returned only once to Scotland – in the 1970s. To Canada, however, he brought his history.

And the more I learned, the more I became angry.

Where I thought he was a quiet decent man who left the shipyards of Glasgow for a better life, in actuality he was a harsh man who escaped the drunken rages of his father to Canada. Where I thought he was a fragile old man, he was once a vocal bigot – opposing anyone who wasn’t a white protestant.

Perhaps you could argue that he had a difficult life himself or that the war changed him but I would hope that people better themselves to spite these circumstances or because of them. Apparently, however, my Great Poppy could not escape these deeply ingrained clutches and as such, my Great Nanny, Grandmother and her sisters rarely spoke about life with my Great Poppy. I suppose it’s a true testament to just how strong my Great Nanny was.

To be completely honest, I only became more interested in Scotland and my own “Scottishness” after seeing the film, Trainspotting. I was completely blown away by it; it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to study film (alongside Woody Allen films) and more so, why I wanted to see Scotland. It was around the same time that Belle and Sebastian hit the scene and I thought that Scotland – more specifically, Glasgow – was the most authentic and exciting arts and cultural scene around.

My Great Poppy had originally piqued my curiosity with his “otherness” but it was the city and people itself that I truly fell in love with. And so, after a year on exchange at Glasgow University, I wanted more. I loved the city, the people, the culture, and the junk food; reader, I was hooked!

The city itself is a true dichotomy: once an empire of industrialisation (evidence of which can still be seen from the cranes of the shipyards to coal-encrusted buildings), it’s now a rich enclave of music, art, culture and film. In fact, the new BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow is the most technologically advanced broadcast facility in Europe and compares directly with the best in the world. There’s a lot happening in Glasgow beyond the pubs. From the Glasgow Film Festival to the Comedy Festival to socialist marches and of course, pubs for all kinds – there is always something happening in Glasgow. And not just knife fights.

Glaswegians are passionate, kind, value “good chat”, and possess cutting humour. And of course, most are always up for a good time and pint, which I esteem to be quite civilised…

Coming soon: Part II: How to Move to Scotland


STAG said...

Very civilized.

mandi said...

like your blog found it by accident. I am a glaswegian living in New York I miss home :)