And I'll Be In Scotland A'Fore Ye

There’s no word for this, which is surprising and fun. There’s no definitive word, I mean.

My mind went to Scotophile, but that’s awkward as scoto- is a prefix referring to low levels of light/darkness. Gallophile or Caledophile might be better, but they’d be meaningless to most people until I explained.

I just have an interest in Scotland, and have for a long time. I’ve always been drawn to the northern-most realms of this planet, for whatever reason, although it’s less about climate (no desire here to visit Russia, say, or the Arctic Circle) than culture. And it could just be some genetic compulsion to phone home, as my ancestors mostly hail from Northern Europe, apparently. Looking at my genetic profile, there are lots of hits in Scotland, as well as England and chunks of Scandinavia.

But my immediate ancestors seem to have been in this country since colonial days. There is no old country for me, no family lore of immigrants winding their way to the land of opportunity. I apparently come from serious opportunists.

I just like the look of the place. I admire the accent, the musicality of the vowels and consonants bouncing up and down the scale, the lilt, the up-speak, the glottic stops. I stare at photos and drone footage for hours, I memorize maps, I use Street View to virtually walk the roads of Pennem on the east coast, near Aberdeen, the small village where many scenes from Local Hero were filmed. I skim history, fascinated and overwhelmed at the same time.

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There are plenty of Americans with passion for Scotland, usually with family histories and connections that they take personally. There is always lots of talk of clans and kilts, bagpipe music is on their playlists, and they make efforts toward Gaelic, although my eyes glaze over a bit. I’ve known people like this. They are not me.

Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly

I just had an interest, and then developed a friendship with a woman who brought Glasgow to Puget Sound. I’ve become enamored with Glasgow, developing almost a fierceness about this place I’ve never been, a preference for the western coast that is based on nothing, just the stories from my friend. And Billy Connolly, the Big Yin. Not to mention Billy Elliott.

So while I’m not one of the clan people, my passion is real, and growing. I’ve been watching videos from BBC Scotland. I search out Connolly and Craig Ferguson on YouTube.

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I’ve been a good mimic since childhood, and accents were something a student actor can sink his teeth into, a skill to practice while he waits for a role, so I know I’m going to come back talking funny. My O- and L-sounds are already a little wonky, just from the videos. It’s a wonderful way to speak, open and joyous, self-deprecating and sarcastic. It’s the sound of Sean freaking Connery, good grief. I’ve been hearing it all of my life, it’s now dancing on my tongue, and in four weeks I get to immerse myself. Shaken and stirred at the same time, that’s what I’m expecting, and it’s getting close now.

Chuck SigarsComment