Thursday, December 5, 2013

Those RUK flag options

As the possibility of life's destruction draws near, for those on the London Gravy Train at least, the Brit Nats are spiralling into a descent of Titanic proportions. First of all, the ridiculous talking anus that is Fraser Nelson - he who makes Malcom Rifkind sound like Begbie - admits in the Telegraph that the 'broon eyes' in Downing Street are 'knittin socks' at the prospect of a 'yes' vote for Scottish independence next year.

Then, LibDem 'big beast' Alastair Carmichael morphs into 'Carcrash Carmichael' as he splutters a response to the SNP's White Paper on a future independent Scotland. A scapegoat is found in the form of 'comatose' Alistair 'Black Dwarf' Darling, he of the silver hair, swarthy eyebrows and sorry record of taking Bankrupt Britain's economy to new depths. Equally, within the Labour camp, there is much frothing about standing together with the toxic Tories in the Bitter Together campaign. Fancy that... the Unionists seem to be falling apart!

Do not disturb.
On top of this, a bitter cherry was placed to finish off the cake. Just what would the RUK - Rest of the UK, that is - flag look like without the Scotch input?

Tocasaid has garnered some ideas from a variety of graphic-expert whizz kids and here, they will be thrown into the mix. A whisky soaked tongue may be stuck firmly in the cheek but are they really any more ludicrous than this garish gallery of grimness from the BBC?

The titular example above not only alludes to the UK's eye-watering debt, its lap-dog relationship with the US but has added LibDem yellow to the great flag as to pay tribute to the Lib Dem's selfless determination and true Brit Grit to prop up any minority government it can be it Labour or Toxic Tory.

Grey Britain
On a similar theme, we have a modern grey and brown construction. A camera reminds us that we are being watched more than ever, for our own safety. The grey represents the grim reality of a drab life in boom and bust Britain. The brown... is left to your own imagination.

The British Rising Sin
But hey! Chin up Rupert! There's always a cheery sun to lift our spirits. This one is dominated by a soft pink to project the caring face of Britain. The image of Princess Di was chosen by a narrow margin over that of John 'G4S' Reid to shine down upon the adoring British subjects. Her spirit above will surely guide the good ship RUK safely away from Scotchland's rocky shores. The title though is an apt warning that even the saintly can find themselves going astray and refers to the People's Princess' unwise dalliance with an Arab playboy shortly before her death at the hands of the evil Duke of Edinbane.

RUK plc

The last offering comes from those bright-sparks at the Tax Payers' Alliance who suggested the novel idea of having sponsorship on the national teatowel. This shows that RUK plc will be back in business, oil money or not! It is thought that Amazon and Starbucks have offered slightly more for their advertising than they paid in tax over the last five years.

The last one is for real and perhaps the scariest thing to come out of Project Fear's anti-independence arsenal so far.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bigot Story

Once upon a time, there were two bigots. Peter the Bull and Hazel the Mary. They owned an abode down in Celtic Cornwall. Their abode was open to weary travellers and to those on pilgrimage to view the natural beauty of this Celtic land.

Unlike other similar establishments, merely crossing their palms with silver was not a guarantee of rest and nourishment. What you did with your own palms was of utmost importance.

If you were a lone traveller and used your palm to administer pleasure to oneself then a blind eye was turned. If you were a man with female companion then each others' palms could be used by either partner to satisfy the demands for carnal knowledge and the innkeepers would interfere not.

However, if two male travellers were to simply place their palms in each others then the wrath of the innkeepers would be incurred and those who had sullied the purity of the chamber would be thrown out into the night. The innkeepers claimed that their actions were guided by an ancient text and by the teachings of three beings known as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost who were also one being. However, news of this unjust regime reached a higher court where not one Lord but five ruled against the innkeepers and their imaginary god and implored them to cease. This came to pass and now the inn is no more.

In another world and another time - 30 years previous to be exact, there was a US punk-hardcore band which bore the name of 7 Seconds. These angry teenagers were both of another time and ahead of their time. They wrote a song which railed against the mentality of those innkeepers who close their doors to those they deem to be impure. The words were simple. But the words were true...
Okay, the fact that someone's gay, some say,
"how could they live that way?",
To me, it all comes down to choice, why fight?
It's just a waste of time,
Get hip, there's nothin' you can do,
Why should that bother you,
For decency, you fight,
But who is really right?

Regress, no way!

There are some, who'd like to enforce fear,
Don't bend, or you're a "commie queer",
Wake up, to human rights and see,
The truth, and your hypocrisy.
I spit on "the majority",
And what they want us to be,
And their "democracy",
Just will not work for me

Regress, no way!

I see, but I can't fit the mold,
Or do as I am told,
And if we are so free,
I'll do what's right for me

Regress, no way!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hugh Reilly. Bigot.


Hugh Reilly is an everyman. Particularly, he's an auldman. While women may become crabbit with age, many men unfortunately morph into something quite different. And unpalatable.

Some men develop this rather nasty syndrome - some call it the EDL years - during adolescence and it never clears up. For others though, the salad days of radicalism and rebellious but progressive politics disappears with their libido sometime between the ages of 40 and 50.

The hair evaporates, the jowls creep south, the gut expands and the wedding tackle down below goes into early retirement. Worse, if you're in a profession that's notorious for alcohol abuse, then the poor battered braincells just don't function like they used to. Bitterness takes over.

In the case of Hugh Reilly, most of the above is undoubtedly correct. Except, he used to be a teacher. Teachers have a duty not to be hateful. They have a duty to teach regardless of their pupil's colour of skin, cultural background, language or creed. Just why Hugh Reilly is not a teacher anymore is not known. However, leaving behind a noble profession to write hate speech in the Northern Daily Mail/ Scotsman is not widely regarded as a smart career move.

Hugh Reilly clones take to the streets...

Due to his professional past, Reilly may labour under the illusion that he's different to the proles who attend EDL rallies or march with the Orange Order. He's not. He may choose to spread his hate while sitting in a Byres Road cafe but he's still a bigot. It's probably fair to assume that he harbours hatreds of other peoples too. He's wise enough to know that expressing these hatreds in the Hootsmon would land himself in very hot water. Substitute Gaels or Gaelic for another culture though and that's what you have. Illogical, base hatred.

He says:
BBC Alba, a channel whereby one can watch football with the annoying Gaelic commentary turned down and await the half-time analysis in English by monolingual pundits.
Would he write something along the lines of, 'I like a curry but can't stand the annoying Asians talking in Urdu and can't wait to get home to my ane white folk'?

He further talks about Gaelic being stuck in the past and plays the number game. Namely that just under 60000 can still speak the Scottish tongue. Given that the Scotsman's ethos, ideology and world-view has barely shifted since the days of the Highland Clearances when it was known as the 'Daily Liar' and that it's circulation has plummeted in recent years, Gaelic has a lot more going for it than Hugh Reilly and his right-wing conservative rag.

Amazing, wee rotund Hugh also places the 'class card' saying that only the more affluent in Glaswegian society say 'slàinte mhath' when raising a dram. This says more about his social circle than anyone elses. As someone who once worked in a squad of gardeners in the 'Corporation' I can attest to the richness of the daily language used - Scots English as well as 'slàinte' when in the pub.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that could Hugh have joined us to share his fantasies and prejudices with us, then before long, his erse would've been knitting socks.

Indeed, most Gaels I know as well as non-Gaelic speaking parents of kids in Gaelic medium are more progressive, more outward looking and more accepting of multi-culturalism than 'monoglot English speakers' like Hugh Reilly.

Hugh's world-view is a race to the bottom. And, in a race to the bottom, only bottom-feeders come out smelling of roses.

More here:
An Sionnach Fionn
Arthur Cormack

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Bureau de Change 2013

Or, the United Colours of Independence go to Calton Hill. Do we only do marches like this because Better Together can't? Could you really see rank and file nurses and postal workers marching behind Alastair Darling and a cameo walk-on by David Cameron? All headed by an Orange flute band in full song and security provided by the EDL?

There may have been many of the already converted among the twenty to thirty thousand who marched from the High St to Cnoc a' Challtainn yesterday but a demonstration it most certainly was. A demonstration of what the 'no' campaign have yet to manage - people of all colours and from many nationalities marched for a positive and progressive future. German and French was heard alongside Gaelic. Bairns and bodaich gripped their Saltires. And those who were once counted as the 'Labour vote' giving passionate and pertinent speeches for old-school British values like the Welfare State - now threatened more by a right-wing London hell-bent on privatisation than by Scottish 'separation' which seeks to keep them intact.

Elaine C Smith gave the kind of speech that Johann Lamont couldn't write in her dreams:

Then, we have a son of a Falkirk scheme. Why has Alan Bisset gone so far off the Labour message?

Let's get out there and do it. Bitter Together can't touch us.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pet Shop Boys v. John Kerry

John Kerry has come the full circle. He famously told a Congress inquiry into the Vietnam War:

Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war." We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
More than three decades later and in the aftermath of the Iraq debacle, his quote becomes the inspiration for a Bruce Springsteen song. England's synthpop wizards, the Pet Shop Boys, are never slow to employ either irony or a good tune to their own ends and have included the track on their new, and excellent, Electric album.

In a further update to the tale, a Republican Senator, Rand Paul, has asked Kerry how he can ask 'a man to be the first to die for a mistake'. While the Republicans, or some at least, are cock-a-hoop at the chance to kick a black president when he's down, Paul's quotes are nevertheless spot on.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Paul pressed Kerry, who’d appeared just before him, on his anti-war past, saying, “I wish he’d remember more of how awful war is.”
Kerry becomes a hawk and a Republican becomes a peacenik. Who'd have thunk it?

Springsteen and the Pet Shop Boys - both versions are worth a slot on your playlist - are the soundtrack of Autumn.

"The Last To Die"
(Bruce Springsteen)

We took the highway till the road went black

We'd marked truth or consequences on our map

A voice drifted up from the radio

Some other voice from long ago

Who'll be the last to die for a mistake?

The last to die for a mistake?

Whose blood will spill?
Whose heart will break?

Who'll be the last to die for a mistake?

The kids asleep in the back seat

We're just counting the miles, you and me

We don't measure the blood we've drawn anymore

We just stack the bodies outside the door

Who'll be the last to die for our mistakes?

The last to die for our mistakes?

Whose blood will spill?
Whose heart will break?

Who'll be the last to die for our mistakes?

The sun it sets in flames as the city burns

Another day gone down as the evening turns

And I hold you here in my heart

as things fall apart

A downtown window flushed with light

and faces of the dead at five

I see her martyr's silent eyes

petition the drivers as we pass by

Who'll be the last to die for our mistakes?

The last to die for our mistakes?

Whose blood will spill?
Whose heart will break?

Who'll be the last to die?

Who'll be the last to die for our mistakes?

The last to die for our mistakes?

Tyrants and kings both meet the same fate
strung up at your city gate

Who'll be the last to die for our mistakes?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The slavering James MacMillan

The highly esteemed, or is it just steaming? - composer James MacMillan CBE has opened his little bearded slit again. The pompous Tory and defender of the Catholic Church has this time pulled his wire in the direction of National Collective - comparing them to "Mussolini's followers" and whinging that artists should not support politicians.

Ho-ho! Firstly...

Being an evangelical proponent of Roman Catholicism, I would imagine that Fascist dictators are something MacMillan and his church know a lot about.

Secondly, while I agree that 'artists supporting politicians' probably ain't cool, coming from a pompous phallus like MacMillan whose name is suffixed by CBE it is a wee bit strange. It is worth remembering that CBE stands for Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and is part of an 'order of chivalry' known as Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. How very progressive.

Lastly, to my knowledge, National Collective do not support any 'politicians' but seek self-determination and a progressive, fair future for Scotland.

Statue to MacMillan CBE in his native Ayr
Is he for real?

Alas, he is and he has form. He used to vote Tory but of late he has taken offence to the Scottish Tory leader, who happens to be gay, and her comments on Catholic schools. Interestingly, MacMillan was supported by the Glaswegian-turned-Irishman Phil Mac Giolla Bháin - a man who views love of Celtic FC and the Roman Catholic superstition as integral to the Irish ethnicity. Once upon a time, Phil used to be left-leaning proponent of Celtic solidarity but in his interview he gave the very Scottish and right-wing MacMillan carte-blanche to expound upon his 'social conservatism' and why the Tories should do more to attract Catholics to vote for them.

Funnily enough MacMillan seems to have kept schtum on the Catholic Crutch's shameful and ever-emerging record of child abuse. Why speak out on behalf of children - designated 'Catholic' by their parents - when you can lambast a lesbian Conservative on her opposition to segregated schooling? And, as he has a lingering interest in Fascist dictators, I wonder what his views are on the equally shameful collusion between the Catholic hierarchy and the Nazis?

I don't hold my breath.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Syria - who used the gas?

A brutal dictator that 'we' don't like anymore. The guy kills 'his' own people. He has a stockpile of horrid weapons - the kind of stuff that doesn't respect man-made borders. And, if that's true, it's means our pals over there - Israel - are threatened. Reason enough then to send in Bruce Willis to sort out those damn A-rabs...

Deja vu? How about Saddam? Bush and Blair meet up at their men's club to thrash out a propaganda job that claims Saddam's bombs could - will! - reach Londum in 45 minutes.

What do we know? Assad is a dictator who has oppressed his own people. Sure. And 'we' stood by and watched this happen. Sure... but we also stand by and watch David Cameron's pals in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia do much the same. We've stood by and watched China do the same for decades. China though is big enough, not only to bankroll the ailing US economy, but to kick our ass if we question their attitudes to democracy, free-speech, respect of international boundaries and human rights.
Incredible but true, a poor man's Bruce Willis
What else do we know? Apparently - the UN are or were satisfied at least - the Syrian rebels who William Hague wants to finance not only possess chemical weapons but have used them. We also know that the rebels' cause is going pear-shaped, Hibs-style. Assad knows that while 'us' in the 'West' may have hitherto stood by while Syrians slaughtered each other - any really heavy misdemeanour on his part could see the Yanks, the ConDem Brits and the newly bloodthirsty French come in to relieve him of his power and wealth with his likely execution filmed for the YouTube generation - a la Saddam and Gaddafi - to gawk at.

We also know that US and Brutish intervention in the middle-east does not usually end well. Afghanistan is hardly the land o the leal. Iraq has yet to see many of its wonders rated on TripAdvisor by bright-eyed backpackers from leafy Western suburbs. Libya lags someway behind Norway on the democracy, freedom and happiness fronts. Would Barrack 'Death by Drone' Obama be any better?

The answer? I don't have one... though if pressed, I'd go for dialogue over a foreign adventure that will only push the body count higher. It is good though to see some, such as the New York Times and Democracy Now explore the facts and ask questions of both sides while reminding us that the propaganda war is being played by both sides.

Channel 4 - Syria: the rebels battling for Assad's chemical weapons

NY Times - Images of Death in Syria, but No Proof of Chemical Attack

Friday, August 9, 2013

Community control in Scottish football?

Another August and another interesting, if turbulent new season for Scottish football has kicked off. Last year saw The Rangers, aka Sevco, take their place in the fourth tier of Scottish clubs. The club having been re-animated, Pet Sematary style, from the club formerly known as Glasgow Rangers. They're knee deep in shit, again, with some of their ane directors predicting another bout of administration while an early exit from the League Cup at the hands of Forfar has added to the ever-simmering fury or their fans.

This year also sees Scotland's third biggest club, in recent times at least, in administration and with a minus 15 point start to the league. Liquidation is a possibility though fan ownership will probably win the day. If it does and a CVA is agreed with creditors, it will leave Hearts in a much better place than they've been in for some time. They might be in the 1st Division but with no debt, a sensible signing/ spending policy and increased participation and ownership from the fans, a more stable and eventually successful future beckons.

Other clubs may follow suit. In Edinburgh, Hibs' fans have understandably revelled in the plight of Hearts. Is Hibernian FC though in a better place? Owned by an aging millionaire with no love of football, Hibs themselves are in debt - somewhere between £6 and 9million depending on what you read - and made a loss of £1m last year. Years of bottom six finishes in the SPL combined with woeful and embarrassing performances in important games have seen the enlarged Easter Road awash with empty seats at most home games. Kilmarnock and Aberdeen are also labouring on under heavy debt.

Community ownership of Scottish land is growing. The crofters' buy out in Asainte was deemed unlikely or unworkable before the event but it happened nevertheless and some 17 similar community purchases have happened since then. Crofting estates, islands and other tracts of Scottish land have too long been bought and sold at a whim. Rich owners with little or no clue about local culture or traditions have seen them merely as another toy or status symbol. Are football clubs any different?

Is it too much to expect for government - national or local  - to support of our football clubs or other significant sporting institutions? Scottish football enjoys larger crowds, per head of population, than any other nation in Europe attending games. Local government surely has a vested interest in both the success and survival of their clubs. The benefits to the local economies are significant and the good publicity from even an extended cup run adds to it. When clubs work with local schools the benefits for education, health and crime prevention increase the value further.

Needless to say perhaps that this is also an issue of independence and self-determination. On the political front, a 'yes' vote will bring independence to our government. Community ownership and participation brings it to our neighbourhoods and communities.

Local people also have a duty to support their local club. It's a sickener to go to places such as Greenock, Kilmarnock, Paisley, Falkirk, Stirling, Perth or even Inverness and see busloads of glory-hunters heading for Celtic Park or Ibrox. For all the Celtic fans' talk of being 'rebels', the truth is they are the 'establishment' in Scottish football. Celtic are the McDonalds to Rangers' Walmart.

Hearts may not escape relegation this year but if community ownership is achieved and a young, mostly Scottish, squad built up then the future will be a  bright one. I also hope that the locals in Stirling and Dunfermline can turn out in numbers to support their own community-owned clubs.

The Foundation of Hearts

Pars Supporters Trust 

Stirling Albion Supporters Trust

Thursday, August 1, 2013

BBC London - what abuse scandal?

Some say that aspirations for Scottish independence are insular. Ditto the demands for a 'Scottish Six' national news service. However, one look at British television, especially in the company of someone from abroad, and the Anglo, London-centric nature of it stabs you in the eyes.

When Hearts met Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi-final in 2006, the novelty of an Edinburgh derby in a major game was deemed to be of some importance in Londum. The guy in the studio turned to the video link and announced that 'our reporter is at Hampden Park in or is it, Glasgow...'.

The general modus-operandi of the BBC and other channels based in London when assessing the value of a story seems to be one of:
  1. London
  2. The rest of England
  3. The US
  4. Anywhere else, if the body count is high enough
The latest child-abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up involving the Roman Catholic Church is one such example. BBC Scotland, to their credit, uncovered another saga of sickening child abuse at the former Fort Augustus Abbey School. As one of the offenders was allowed to flee Fort Augustus and to carry on his activities in his native Australia, the story has an international dimension. A dimension that failed to make it dahn sath though.

On a day when BBC Scotland's various media outlets were dominated by the story, the 'British' output from London neglected to mention it. We did learn though about increasing numbers of jelly fish on the west coast and of a project in Cornwall that teaches kids to swim in the sea.

As long as 'national news' continues to mean 'Britain' meaning 'England' meaning 'London' we'll be treated to 'news' that doesn't concern us - Scottish devolution, indeed the ins and outs of the Act of Union, has yet to seep into the London consciousness.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The new Scottish dictionary - some suggestions...

It is good news that £2million has been promised to the project which will create a new and comprehensive Scottish/ Gàidhlig dictionary. Tocasaid is pleased to offer a few more contributions for the corpus. The sources of these terms cannot be identified - though some were coined air ball out of necessity - but the powers-that-be in the Gaelic community can sleep soundly at night in the knowledge that they are used and understood in at least one household.

Being Scots, it is a given that some whinge about the new dictionary. Even within the Gàidhlig community there are some who think that having a body of academics or professionals (the 'Gaelic establishment') - who are charged with serving speakers of the Scottish tongue or developing it - is A Very Bad Thing. Some think that the money would be better spent on Other Things. 'Hurrah' say the Daily Mail and sinister Tax Payers' Alliance to that.

As if we don't deserve both. Taigh a' Chac to those who think Scots should continue to scrabble for the crumbs that fall from the table. We've been passive for too long and basically need to grow some.

And so, onto the Tocasaid pictorial corpus of household Gàidhlig for the modern era, in no particular order...


sùgh tiugh
bileagan bragail
sguabadair sràide
An Donas

bleideagan blasta
beul nam breug
ceàrnagan caise
am bìoball

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

San Fermin - Acts of Man

All cultures have their detritus. Some of it left over from less civilised times is filed alongside art, poetry and song under the catch-all term 'tradition'. In Scotland, we managed to get rid of fox-hunting but still allow our moorlands and hills to be ravaged so a few rich folk can come here and shoot some tame birds. We even have a golf club that - bizarrely in the year 2013 - doesn't admit women. Worse still, a course like Muirfield is still selected for a major championship.

Another sick 'tradition' that deserves to be binned is the San Fermin bull run. In the traditional Basque city of Pamplona or Iruñea in the indigenous tongue thousands of locals, Spaniards, Australians, Americans and Brits gather to slaughter and get slaughtered.

That's entertainment.

It's not just the bulls that are treated like lumps of flesh.

The tide seems to be turning against this barbarity though, both in Spain and in the Basque Country.

The 'Antitaurinos'

Protests are imaginative, graphic and multilingual.

Donostia/ San Sebastian

And the music which captures the moronism that surfaces here and in most cultures? The words come from the pen and genius of Scott Hutchison and Frightened Rabbit. Acts of Man:

Acts of Man by Frightened Rabbit on Grooveshark

I am that dickhead in the kitchen
Giving wine to your best girl's glass
I am the amateur pornographer
Unpleasant publisher by hand

Not here, not here, heroic acts of man
Not here, not here, heroic acts of man

I see the stumbling pinstriped trouser
Flecks of sick on an office shoe
Part of the fatty British average
Who lives in the houses around you

Not here, not here, heroic acts of man
Not here, not here, heroic acts of man

Let's all crowd 'round the cowering body
Throw stocky fingers, bricks and stones
Let's promise every girl we marry
We'll always love them when we probably won't

While the knight in shitty armour
Rips the drunk out of her dress
One man tears into another
Hides a coward's heart in a lion's chest

Man, he breeds although he shouldn't
He's breeding just because he comes
Acts the father for a minute
Till the worst instincts return

Not here, not here, heroic acts of man
Not here, not here, heroic acts of man

I have never wanted more, to be your man
And build a house around you
I am just like all the rest of them
Sorry, selfish, trying to improve

Monday, July 8, 2013

Kay NicMhathain: clach air a càrn

No pun intended but I'm sure that every clach put on her càrn will be genuine. The story of the Bana-Ghaidheil from Allt Beithe in Wester Ross has been well told elsewhere, most notably in the Gaelic short film An Ceasnachadh.

Coronation of King Alexander III on Moot Hill, Scone on 13 July 1249. He is being greeted by the ollamh rìgh, the royal poet, who is addressing him with the proclamation "Benach De Re Albanne" (= Beannachd Dè Rìgh Alban, "God's Blessing on the King of Scotland"); the poet goes on to recite Alexander's genealogy.

It's also very fitting that another tribute to her and her friends' exploits in retrieving the Lia Fàil is also composed in the indigenous Scottish tongue that Kay fought to keep alive in her own corner of Scotland. Oran na Cloiche was written by Dòmhnall Mac an t-Saoir (Bàrd Phàislig).

'S gur coma leam i 'n Cearrara,
no Colbhasa no 'n Calbhaidh,
Cho fad 's a tha i 'n Albainn
nan garbhlaichean casa;
'S i iù ro bha hò ro hill i em bo hà.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lipmugi Etxarri. Art of Crass.

From the Basque Country, a famous tune is plagiarised and young and old celebrate their Basque culture, old and new. Members of Hesian and other Euskal artists included. No cringing here!

From MocaTV, an insight into the art of Crass. It's maybe worth mentioning that Gee Vaucher's role in the collective and considerable contributions to Crass' output isn't covered in sufficient depth. Go here for more. Now you know where Banksy got his ideas.

And back home in Dùn Eideann:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When is a tongue not a tongue?

While it's always sad when a language passes, and every effort should be made to preserve our linguistic diversity, sometimes it may right to view the apparent 'birth' of a new tongue with some suspicion. I say 'birth' as I, and most folk it seems, had never heard of Ulster-Scots or 'Ullans' until recent years.

There are some who feel that it is the latest figment of the Ulster Unionist imagination. After all, the 'Ulster Scots' in the north of Ireland were very happy being Irish when Queen Victoria visited in the 19th Century. Indeed, the good Protestants hung banners that read 'Céad Míle Fáilte'.

Certainly, I'd always understood that many of the Protestant 'settlers' to Ireland came from parts of Scotland - such as Galloway - that were Scottish (Gàidhlig) speaking at the time. Protestant church services in Irish continued on the east coast of Ulster until the 1920s. Further:

With their Scottish Gaelic links, the Ulster Presbyterians were in a position to evangelise
the Irish from an early date. Scottish Gaelic-speaking ministers arrived to minister to
communities of Presbyterians who spoke the language; for example, two came to
minister to the Gaelic communities on Inishowen in the seventeenth century. Others came as army chaplains in the 1640s. Some Presbyterian ministers found Ireland more
attractive that remote parts of Scotland, and some ministers who fell out of favour in
Scotland made their way to Ireland. Gaelic-speaking Scottish ministers also came to
Ireland as they were suspected of being Jacobites in Scotland.
A History of Protestant Irish Speakers

Wiki also give us this:
There are at least two Orange Lodges in Northern Ireland which represent the heritage and religious ethos of Saint Patrick. The best known is the Cross of Saint Patrick LOL (Loyal Orange lodge) 688,[69] instituted in 1968 for the purpose of (re)claiming Saint Patrick. The lodge has had several well known members, including Rev Robert Bradford MP who was the lodge chaplain who himself was killed by the Provisional IRA, the late Ernest Baird. Today Nelson McCausland MLA and Gordon Lucy, Director of the Ulster Society are the more prominent members within the lodge membership. In the 1970s there was also a Belfast lodge called Oidhreacht Éireann (Ireland's Heritage) LOL 1303, which argued that the Irish language and Gaelic culture were not the exclusive property of Catholics or republicans.[70]
Personally, I can remember songs from both 'sides' at football matches in 1980s Scotland and ugly as they were, English was the medium.

And so, we have this from An Sionnach Fionn:
The Ulster-Scots Agency or Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch was set up as part of the negotiations surrounding the Irish Peace Process of the late 1990s. Its purpose was to assuage the “ethno-nationalist” demands of the most militantly separatist political leaders of the British Unionist minority in the north-east of Ireland by giving them an official body to promote the dialect of English known as Irish-Scots which they claimed as their own. Representing a hybrid mix of Scots-English, Hiberno-English and Anglicised Irish this regional patois was supposedly spoken by several thousand people at the time of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 (though in fact when the EU sent an investigative team of academics to chart the language they were unable to find a single native speaker). The Agency’s purpose was to serve, protect and promote the language with joint funding from the nation-states of Ireland and Britain.
It could've been worse I guess. The Anglo-Saxon tongue could've adopted 'Irish' as a name and then identity crisis really would have ensued.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yes Scotland. No Gaelic. Feart horses.

It's the language that dare not speak its name. Partly because its name - Scots/ Scottish - has been hijacked by another - Inglis/ Anglo-Saxon. There are those in the movement for Scottish self-determination who regularly, and quite rightly, draw attention to how Scotland and her culture, politics and weather even is overlooked by London based navel-gazers.

One also notices that independence movements in other small nations - thinking Basque Country, Wales, Catalunya and Quebec in particular - wear their languages as badges of pride. Here though, the 'Nats' have caught the Scots cringe. Instead of educating Scots about the place of Gaelic in their history and present, they've airbrushed it from their glossy campaign.

A misty past, replete with totems...

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 gives Gaelic status as an 'official' language of Scotland that is entitled to 'equal respect' with the Queen's Engerlish. However, on top of Yes Scotland's stubborn refusal to countenance any Gàidhlig - or Scottish to be old-fashioned - the Scottish Government has also declined to put the language alongside English on the referendum ballot paper.

As Dr Wilson Macleod puts it in a recent paper:
 Whatever the stated rationale for the Government’s position, it seems reasonably clear that political calculation plays a role. As part of its general strategy of endeavouring not to ‘frighten the horses’ in relation to the referendum vote, the Government may well fear that a bilingual English-Gaelic referendum paper could alienate some wavering voters who might (quite unrealistically) see Gaelic as some kind of nationalist totem. A number of Gaelic-speaking independence supporters have backed this view, arguing that the symbolic value of a bilingual ballot paper is outweighed by this political risk.
from Lost in Translation.

Some say that the 'Gaels need to do it for themselves'. Aye, we should and some of us are. However, a similar argument could also be made for the Lesbian/ Gay, Asian and 'business' communities who are well catered for by YesScotland. Not only that, but as a campaign - should you target your audience or should your intended audience 'do it for themselves'? What will YesScotland do then to convince the 'don't knows' in the Gàidhlig community?

To be crude, if the London establishment and media treat us like 'Porridge Wogs' then are the Gaels amongst us even less deserving of recognition and respect? The fact that some Gaels think this way is neither here nor there - every indigenous and once-repressed people has it's own doubters. Centuries of repression and decades of having the language beat out of you in school will leave some people's self-respect at a low ebb.

But is Gaelic a 'nationalist totem'?

No for fucks sake, it's a medium. I don't know any Gaelic speakers who wear the long plaid, cover themselves in woad or Celtic tattoos and who hanker for a life amonsgt the hills acting out epic lifestyles in the vein of Cù Chulainn, Sgàthach or Fionn MacCumhail.

Will Gaelic speaking cartoon pigs threaten YesScotland's feart horses?

On the other hand we use Gaelic in everday social media, at work and at home like anyone else. And while our classical Scottish literature from the 'Fenian cycle' is an amazing part of our heritage - my kids and those at school will digest it in glossy-covered text books or from animated cartoons. Older users of the language may upload Gaelic for Punks lessons to SoundCloud or play air-guitar to Oi Polloi.

As Nancy Dorian points out in an essay on the Gaelic dialects of the east coast of Sutherland, languages enjoy the perceived status of those who speak them by those who dominate/ rule them. So, in the eyes of YesScotland, we really are Porridge Wogs?

Now the important aspect of this background is the fact that languages --  anywhere, any time --  have no independent status of their own.  Instead they have the status of the people who speak them. This explains why the prestige of languages can rise or fall so dramatically in a short time  if the fortunes of their speakers undergo an abrupt change.  If you look at Quechua, the language of the Incas, it was an imperial language, the dominant language of a large part of the Andean region before the Spanish arrived, and the Incas had in fact succeeded in imposing it on a number of the peoples whom they conquered.  Then came the Spaniards, and before very long, Quechua was an insignificant Indian language, associated with backwardness and poverty.  It wasn’t the language that changed, but the circumstances of its speakers.  The same thing happened to Irish, which was a language of great learning at a time when the Germanic peoples, including the English, were still largely illiterate and were by comparison with the Irish very little acquainted with the learning of the Classical world.  The Viking conquest, the Norman conquest, and most of all the Cromwellian conquest and the period of the Penal Laws broke the Irish, destroying the culture that had supported Irish learning.  As the Irish lost their aristocracy and became a peasantry, their language was transmuted into a peasant language, too, in spite of its past glories.                
Scottish Gaelic had claims to ancient learning and to literary respectability, too, at one point, as an offshoot of Irish with a subsequent literary tradition of its own, but the failure of the Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1746 did to Gaelic roughly what Cromwell did to Irish, and the tradition was broken and submerged, if not entirely lost.
Nancy Dorian,
Using a Private-sphere Language for a Public-sphere Purpose:  Some Hard Lessons from Making a TV Documentaryin a Dying Dialect
One worry, especially of 'radical' campaigners for self-determination, is that the SNP's vision of independence is too 'lite'. Is there any evidence of a different approach to Gaelic? We've had support from Thatcher's little puppet here, Michael Forsyth as well as from Labour's right-wing Unionist Brian Wilson. We've had a little from the 'Nats'.

In the SNP's latest dereliction of duty in relation to Gaelic, their councillors in Glasgow staged a walk-out of a meeting prior to voting through the local Gaelic Language Plan. Poor stuff.

YesScotland - get a grip. Do we want a new Scotland populated by feart horses ignorant of their own heritage and culture?

Send them a message here.
They have something whereof they are proud. What do they call it, that which maketh them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguisheth them from the goatherds. Nietzsche
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