The Scottish and English Divide: a single male Scot 'tells all'

yahooavatar15On occasion us 3 American ladies at She’s Not From Yorkshire post interviews with random Brits. This week, Owen, a single (take note, single ladies, take note!) Scot gives us his opinions on the fabled  Scottish and English Divide– and  everything else from visiting England’s chippies to the Simpson’s…

Tell our lovely readers a little bit about yourself.

I am male, Scottish, and born and largely bred in Scotland -  I have recently started regularly visiting various English towns (several in the picturesque north-east) but also mainly London and the Midlands. Thus I may not be wholly typical of most Scots/English! I am a newly thirty-something, newly-turned homeowner (just pre-crunch), who is trying to find some drive to finally de-clutter all previously acquired possessions and rediscover youthful ambition in order to decide where I want to go in life – or to just confirm that I am happy plodding along in my new little house!

And your work?

I have a good job,  if a little lacking in prospects, but also outside interests which compete for my attention and I probably should organise both better!!

What is the main difference between the English and Scottish in attitudes (if there are any) from your point of view?

I believe stereotypes have some use and do exist to an extent though I realise the dangers of generalising too much!  I would say the English can be a bit “chipper” – if that’s correct, more up-beat, possibly more confident without a bevvy in them first – though that is not possibly wholly true.  The Scots can be very proud (as can the English) and certain sections can be noisy and boorish in equal measure!

How so?

The Scots are always the underdogs which possibly seems to cause them to give up in sporting events and on balance England has often been seen as superior in many things e.g. football, rugby and cricket.

I’ve heard that opinion from my English boyfriend, too.

But, that said, Scotland has given the world numerous inventions and can stand as proudly as England (perhaps more so – my history could do with brushing up!) in terms of the number of pioneering people and inventions originating somehow from Scotland.

Yes. Like the Alexander Graham Bell chap.

It might be worth noting that several pioneering Scots (e.g. John Muir) made their fortune in the Americas – either through voluntary emigration or perhaps earlier through forced emigration by clearances. It is not as black and white as English land-owners and red-haired bearded randy drunken Scotch Picts, however!  Several land-owners may well have been Scottish – there are also some divides between English north and south and Scots lowlanders and highlanders. Several, perhaps slightly anglicised, land-owners (possibly simply through having business interests in London rather than any particular English favouritism) may have been hard on their more native Scottish tenants.  Thus it is as always a complex picture.

Do you feel out of place when you are “Down South?

I don’t feel hugely out of place when south of the border – oddly I am possibly more British than Scottish (although I feel one ounce of guilt with that lack of Scottish-ness balanced by one ounce of it being perfectly reasonable to be British and a mistrust of blind nationalism.)

I am aware of being a Jock – however I have been called Scottish in England (not sure it matters so much in London – except for Scottish bank notes)  But significantly (and possibly due to a slight twang in my accent from my years in the Midlands) I have been called English when in Wick! (Wick can be a wild place on a Saturday night). I have however been considered to have a broad Scottish accent by a posh Liverpudlian girl so it all gets a bit confusing.

Give us an example.

I don’t really notice being a Jock in London – though I do notice it a bit more in other parts of England.  I was at a fish and chip shop in the Midlands last year and when asked about salt and vinegar I was taken by surprise (as if they don’t have salt and vinegar in England) and stammered out “aye, a wee bit” – since I was speaking to a more working class fish shop operative (ok they may have been a middle class student I suppose but it was the outskirts of this small town away from the college. Upon returning to my guests house I was given my order which was identified by “a wee bit” !

How about that Scottish money people always moan about accepting  in England?

On balance though I only really notice people occasionally pretending to complain about Scottish money… generally less so now.  Ironically that has only been an issue in London when I’ve dealt with foreign bar staff.  Doubly ironic given that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are both Sots – the point I always have ready to fire at them if they complain.

Why do you think that the English and Scots don’t get along?

There is a some degree of rivalry and mutual resentment/mistrust – most commonly however which appears thankfully only as light-hearted rivalry. I don’t think they seriously hate each other – not when considered intelligently – more likely there are isolated cases of racism towards other nationalities like ones I have sadly witnessed where I live in Glasgow. There is friendly rivalry although there are instances of more serious stuff but I think that is people’s nasty behaviour coming out with the Scottish-English thing rather than being inherently anti-English.

But how about you personally?

I can’t claim to be immune from a borderline racist slur (if just thought) but this is just a way of making the pain or frustration inflicted by the other person’s behaviour or bad driving seem less…

That said, any deep-seated subconscious resentment (which is hard to shake off over many generations) can be traced back to the Highland Clearances and attempts by the centres of power in the south to subjugate or whatever the heathen people of the north.

The subsiding of any justified bitterness has of course been hindered by things such as the Poll Tax experiments, perceptions of Scotland’s supposed oil being raided – (more likely by Norwegian, American and other companies than England!) – and last but not least the Scots’ ability to wallow in sentimental self-pity! Look at the portrayal of the Scots in the Simpsons – it’s not that far off!

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(If you have missed previous interviews in our interview series, you can click here .)