7th August 2015
I was dressed up in a tartan frock handing out my business cards and postcards for my book at the Colorado Scottish Games, feeling a little silly, gasping for a cup of tea. Although it is true that Americans of Scottish descent are willing to toss the caber and dance a Highland fling, they mostly shuffle away from haggis and don't ever gasp for a cuppa. At Highland Games in Scotland there is always a tea tent with empire biscuits (woops - just realised the significance of that little piece of confection!) and scones and millionaire shortbread. And a team of older ladies sporting pinnies and perms who natter between themselves as they pour endless cups of tea, and none of your foofy flavours either, just plain tea like you get in Scotland and don't have to be asked what kind. Tea. Tetleys. PG Tips. Co-op. At these games there was not a cup of tea in sight.
But men in kilts there were aplenty, clan tents, even a McDougall tent. It's all authentic Scottish filtered down through America. It's highland dancers with big smiles, and bagpipers chewing gum. It's hot sweaty weather instead of drizzle. I won't say it's all a bit Disney. I happen to enjoy Disney, and I enjoy American Scottish games, too. I was just walking around in my tartan, not a thing I would do in Scotland, wondering what it was all about?
Well, you don't have to think too long. It's all about identity, silly. Everyone hankers after it, including myself. From one end of the earth to the other, everyone feels the need to belong. We're a clannish species and work better in small groups. If you share a little DNA, it helps. If you wear the same tartan, you're half-way there. And if you drink tea by the gallon and relish a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties, you can be sure where you really belong.