To get you in the mood, watch THIS, the latest advert for Irn Bru, Scotland's other National Drink which rather sets the tone.
(I'm not being paid* to run that by the way, it's just has essence-of-the-moment-Scottishness runing through it and anyway I only drink Irn Bru when I have a hangover, about once a year thankfully.) (Unless I drink beer). (Which I don't)
Now London is a cosmopolitan city so it's no surprise that Hyde Park is almost entirely populated by foreigners trying to find their way to the Princess Diana Water Feature Memorial so they can slip and graze their foreheads. Yesterday three Japanese Ladies, using their umbrellas for the rain for a change, were determined that I was pointing them in the wrong direction. I wasn't. But they insisted. Then there were the Poles, the French, the Americans, etc etc. You get the picture. They can't read the signposts so they ask a man with a dog.
Anyway, me and the dog continue on our way through the rain when a Middle Eastern gentleman approaches us. (Sorry, but I really do have to try the accent here, it's relevant to the story. Honest).
"Eees a naise dog" he says, with his little wife behind him, and their dog too as it happens.
"Yes, thankyou" I say.
"Eeees same. As mine"
"No it's not," I say, "It's just the same colour"
It's clearly not the same, but I humour him anyway..
"What kind is it?"
"Oh," I say, "It is the same. Is he a pup?"
The dogs play in the puddles and the man, who is very nice, tells me that mine is the first one he's seen in London.
"Are you on holiday then?"
"No. I live ere. I bring dog from Scotland"
"Oh," I say, "That's nice. They're country dogs anyway. Did you go up specially to get him?"
"No. I bring im down when we move. I live there. Im Scottish"
"YessI'mScottish. I move here now"
I'm incredulous. (and obviously a little stupid)
"Where you from then?"
"Kirriemuir," he says, "Av you eard of it?"
Well everyone's HEARD of Kirriemuir. Here's the song...
"At the Ball, at the Ball,
at the Ball of Kirriemuir,
Four and twenty maidens
And everyone a whore...." ***
"You're joking, aren't you?" I say, smiling.
"No, live there long time."
There's a pause here while I look around for the Hidden Cameras, convinced I'm being wound up.
"All my life. My parents, they come from Iraq"
"From Baghdad to Kirriemuir?"
"Yes. They run restaurant in Dundee"
"What, an Iraqi restaurant?"
"No. Dundee people no like Iraq. Indian. Tandoori"
Yes, yes, I know, it's perfectly normal for people of foreign extraction to live wherever they want, especially refugees fleeing the late Saddam Hussein, or restauranteurs spying a gap in the market, but this man did not have a trace of Scottishness about him. And it's at this point we enter the realms of fantasy.
"What school did you go to then?"
He lists the schools he went to and then says, in that specifically Scottish way.
"Next you'll be asking what team I support!"
This is nothing to do with class, but sectarianism. Rangers (Protestant) and Celtic (Catholic) supporters can slyly identify the enemy with such a question. Anything sounding vaguely catholic (St Aloysius, St Matthews) will get you a biffing from the Rangers fans, and vica versa.
"Well, what team do you support?" I counter, testing him.
"Rangers" he says, momentarily bursting into song, and a small jig.
"Hello! Hello! We are the Billy Boys!
Hello! Hello! You can tell us by our noise...."
This is a traditional, and offensively sectarian, Rangers song, and I'm standing in the rain in Hyde Park, watching a small Iraqi man perform it perfectly. In a Middle Eastern accent. With his smiling wife standing beside him, nodding her head and tapping her foot along with him.
"I believe you, I believe you" I stutter out, glancing around to make sure there are no stray Celtic supporters lurking, about to attack us.
"Yes", he continues, "The Billy Boys. They celebrate the beating the Celtic every Saturday. With a curry. And a lot to drink"
I guessed that last part, and am suddenly transported to some curryshop in Dundee where Mohammed here has to serve a gaggle of pissed up teddy bears (colloquialism) shouting their way through the lager and the chicken bhuna. .
I change the subject.
"How'd you like London?"
"I don't. Too busy.
Just like Glasgow"
And at that point I said goobye and walked off into the pissing rain. And you know what?
He was right.
*(Oi! Leith Agency! Where do I send my invoice?!)
**(this is actually "whit??" meaning 'you are joking pal, aren't you? I'M Scottish. Not YOU!")