The definitive guide to Scotland
During the London Olympics, when excited sports fanatics (and their unfortunate relatives) flooded through the arrival gates of nearly all British airports and engaged in such thrilling activities as taking pictures of red phone boxes and riding the bus, it came to my attention (and the attention of many other British citizens, I dare say), that many tourists arrive to the U.K. with certain erroneous expectations of what awaits them.
The disappointment is evident on tourists' faces as they travel through the country, discovering that the Queen does not walk her Corgis up The Mall, our policemen will very rarely (if ever) say "Allo, allo," and that most of us will not ask a stranger in for a cup of tea and a biscuit when you arrive on our doorstep. That said, however, nothing really disappoints a tourist more than a visit to the mysterious land of Scotland.
Having lived in Scotland for all of my 16 years, I have come to believe that I am an expert in all things Scottish, and therefore I think it is only right that I help the youth of America (and elsewhere) obtain a more realistic view of what to expect when visiting "up North."
A good starting place in Scottish culture, I believe, is haggis. Haggis is a ghastly concoction of oatmeal, onions, pepper, suet, and, oh yes, sheep organs. That's right, haggis includes sheep's stomach, heart, liver, lungs, and windpipe. This delightful dish is normally served on Robert Burn's Night, when we all stand around in kilts and sing to it.
This brings me to the subject of kilts. Michael Mclntyre once joked that the Scottish invented the kilt in order to look the complete opposite of the English, who wore trousers. This may be true; I don't know. What I can tell you is that I am not currently wearing a kilt, nor is anyone in my family. Perhaps if I were to drive into a big town, I would find a man playing bagpipes in a kilt, or maybe see some guests in kilts at a wedding, but the average Scottish person does not wear a kilt on a daily basis.
Next, we have the aforementioned bagpipes. Pretty much everyone believes that all Scottish people love bagpipes. I do not. When played in a large field during, say, the Highland Games, I don't mind them. That's fine. It's quite jolly, everyone feels patriotic, and all is well. However, when they are played in a small room while someone is carrying a haggis to the table and my ears feel like they are about to bleed, I must say that I'm not very fond of them. The average tourist will see and hear bagpipes during their visit, but you probably won't see any young Scottish teenagers involved.
Finally, we have the Scottish citizen in general. Most people imagine Scots to be ginger (meaning having red hair, which I don't), freckly (I am), bearded (I am not), and grumpy (I dare say that this is true - after all, it's always raining here). Sure, you may find some people during your visit who fit that description, but you may be surprised to find that most Scottish people look like your average non-Scottish person. Are you shocked? I thought so.
There you go, a definitive guide to Scotland, as written by a very sarcastic teenager. I do hope it helps; please share it with your friends as I really don't want to have to hear another tourist say, "It's just like England, isn't it?"
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The purpose of the text is to
- reveal the mysteries of the Scottish land.
- encourage tourists to visit Scotland.
- give a true account of Scottish culture.
- share a 16-year experience of living in Scotland.
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