Having read up the lastest Cothrom issue I could go on praising it or list those articles that were the most interesting to me like I did the last time round. In the end I decided instead to focus on a single sentence, which immediately struck home to me.
It appears in Ruairidh MacIlleathain’s interview with Alasdair Mac an Tàilleir, an Australian Gaelic storyteller, and it runs like this:
Tha Alasdair ag ràdh nach robh na buidhnean Albannach ann an Astràilia ga shàsachadh oir bha iad air an dèanamh de sheann daoine aig an robh ùidh ann an “tartan, dannsa Gàidhealach agus sgonaichean ‘s cupa tì”.
How does this relate to me? I have already mentioned here in passing ‘na Gaidheaileamailtich’ or ‘German Gaels’. Something partly similar exists in this country – people who allegedly call themselves ‘Czech Scots’. Now and then somebody hears about them and asks me whether I’m in any contact with them and if not, why. I’m not in any contact with them, never have been.
Why? To paraphrase the above quote, I could say Chan eil na buidhnean Albannach anns an Teic gam shàsachadh oir tha iad air an dèanamh de dhaoine òga aig a tha ùidh ann an “tartan, pìobaireachd agus Prionnsa Teàrlach.” I genuinely respect them. Some of them can sew a true kilt. Others can play a’ phìob mhòr. Presumably, some of them know significantly more about some periods of Scottish history, or the Highlands’ history anyway, than me. And so on.
Still, all this seems to me as little more than historical reenactment. Before writing this blog I checked some of their websites and it does seem that by Scottish music, literature, history, sport and politics they mean Capercaillie, Rabbie Burns, clans, tossing the caber and Jacobitism; maybe they would be willing to somewhat reluctantly include The Corries, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Clearances, shinty and the Wars of Independence; but they certainly don’t seem to have any interest whatsoever in The View, Irvine Welsh, the Enlightenment, rugby and the Calman Commission. In fact, I doubt that many, if any, have ever heard of the latest.
Once again, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, I’ve no interest whatsoever in rugby either. But my own interest in Scotland isn’t limited by history and folk culture and generally I care more about Scotland’s present than about its past.
(Just in case you wondered: no. As far as I know, they’re not into Gàidhlig. I have only once upon a time seen a single learner mentioned.)
Update, 8/5/11: This is exactly what I was talking about. Here we have a Russian girl who loves Scotland enough to be learning Gaelic (and not doing bad), but not enough to know, one day before the parliament elections, they were to take place at all.