25 Scottish Sayings That Will Get You Through Life

No matter what happens in the referendum over Scottish independence this week, the wit, expressive depth and wisdom of the Scottish people is something to be cherished. They know a thing or two about stoicism in the face of poor fortune, and there’s a clear knack for cutting through airs and graces too.

So here are are few expressions and truisms that should come in handy when everything turns as black as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat.

Note: Where absolutely necessary we’ve also provided a brief translation from Scots dialect into English:

• Failing means you’re playing.
Translation: It’s better to be doing badly than not taking part.

• Mony a mickle maks a muckle.
(mickle = small thing, muckle = big thing)

Translation: Look after the pennies and the dollars look after themselves.

• You’re all bum and parsley.
Translation: You’re all mouth and trousers. You’re a blowhard.

• Keep the heid.
Translation: Don’t lose your head. Stay calm.

• We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns.
(bairn = child)

Translation: We are all equal in the eyes of God. Or Jock Tamson.

• Heid doon arse up!
Translation: Get on with it!

• Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye.
Translation: Que sera sera. What ever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.

• Don’t be a wee clipe.
Translation: Don’t be a tattle-tale.

• Yer bum’s oot the windae.
Translation: You’re talking nonsense. Continue reading

Theatre review: Rowan Rheingans: “Dispatches on the Red Dress”

Undramatic yet utterly spellbinding singing and narration. Picture: Contributed.

Rowan Rheingans treads a circular path round a stage, evoking the route she takes when walking round the village in Germany where her grandparents still live.

Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress, Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30) * * * * *

Rheingans is a notable name amid the recent generation of English folk-revivalists, and this deeply personal piece of one-woman musical theatre, co-written with Liam Hurley, sees her deftly reach for fiddle, viola, banjo or a gently reverberating electric guitar to unspool the story of the titular dress Rheingans’s great-grandmother made her grandmother to go to a dance, and of the village’s collective experience during and after the Second World War.

She evokes the youthful excitement of the dance, pirouetting gently about the stage, but gradually the wartime and post-war experience of the village, with its “field of misery”, emerges, unfolding along with that dress.

Rheingans is a persuasively clear teller of songs (her songwriting won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award in 2016), accompanying herself with unobtrusive ease and judiciously deploying electronic looping that leaves notes hanging and fading behind her words, or introduces a glorious chorus of birdsong, as the bitterly inglorious history of the field becomes clear, recalling how her grandfather, on his way to school, would cycle hurriedly past the stacked dead.

All these things emerge unhurriedly through Rheingans’s undramatic yet utterly spellbinding singing and narration. History is brought up to date as her grandparents recall how, in the face of Nazism, they sang the old, forbidden songs in their home and covertly took provisions to their neighbours who were barred from visiting the local shops; yet on the other hand, they in turn express their anxieties at the “new faces” appearing in Germany, the old distrust of The Other.

But there remain glimmers of hope amid the darkness: the village and its legions of ghosts may be laden with unspeakable sorrow, but there is still dancing. And as the red dress’s true origin unfolds, the revelation will leave you quietly breathless.

Source: Theatre review: Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

The Scottish islanders conned by a new life in New York

18th c  map New York province
18th c map New York province

Around 450 people from a Scottish island packed up their houses and sailed to New York province on the promise of a new lucrative life – but were to find themselves without homes or promised land after the shaky scheme to get them there went awry.

Dozens of families from Islay fell victim to the manoeuvres of the royal governors of New York who were accused of roguery, deception and heartlessness in their attempts to attract a new settlement of Protestants to the colony. Leading the bid to attract Ileachs to this new frontier was Lachlan Campbell, an army officer from the island who led a company of government soldiers during the 1745 rising.

Read more at: The Scottish islanders conned by a new life in New York – The Scotsman