What I learned about Scotland in California

Well the kids are back at school, summer’s over if today’s anything to go by, and I’ve just returned from my ‘vacation’ in California. So I thought I’d ease myself back into blogging with a summary of what I learned about Scotland during two weeks in The Golden State.

1. John Muir is widely respected in California for his pioneer work in conserving the natural environment, in particular his promotion of Yosemite as the USA’s first national park. I saw his work recorded in the park, in the California Museum in the state capital Sacramento, and even in a display in San Francisco airport. Nowhere did it mention he was Scottish (or more accurately since he emigrated, was of Scottish origin).

2. Listening to a ‘soft rock’ radio station driving North near Merced I heard the disc jockey introduce a song by Rod Stewart. He claimed that when the eponymous rocker played a concert in Las Vegas he said he’d buy anyone a drink who turned up at a certain bar later wearing (and I quote verbatim) a ‘celtic skirt.’ He was shocked to discover he had to buy 150 drinks.

3. When the governor of California issued a Wanted poster for murderer Walter Hitchcock in 1912, he described Hitchcock as ‘Scotch’ and his accent as ‘Scotch. Very profane (even in general conversation).’ The words are in the poster but you’ll have to click to enlarge and read them.

And that’s just about it. I learned that Americans don‘t know where John Muir came from, that they think a kilt’s called a celtic skirt, and that ‘Scotch’ murderers speak very profanely even in general conversation.

It’s not exactly a scientific survey and not wholly serious. But surrounded as I seemed to be in the state’s tourism hot spots by hordes of tourists from mainland China, and not hearing the word ‘Scotland’ spoken once, it was a useful corrective to the perception you’d get following Scottish politics that we’re, well, the centre of the world and everyone’s watching us. They ain’t. The future is Asia, Europe is the Old World, and the idea that you’re going to get anywhere as a separate entity of five million people is so much *!?#$!* hokum, as Walter Hitchcock might have said, or BS, as today’s Americans would say.

Here endeth today’s political lesson. Two other things I learned are that California is hotter than Scotland ever will be, and the whole of Yosemite is not only higher than the highest Munro, but is staggeringly beautiful too. Images follow to back up these claims.

Chowchilla weather

Yosemite Creek and Half Dome from Tuolumne Road

That’s all. Normal service will be resumed once the nationalists start to annoy me. It won’t be long. Have a wonderful day, you guys.

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One Response to What I learned about Scotland in California

  1. I was in a Doritos ad a few years ago at the Rest & Be Thankful and got chatting to American lead, who was lovely guy, well-educated New Yorker, fluent French speaker – and he thought Scotland was an island – he seriously thought you needed a plane or a boat to get to England from Scotland.

    Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers knew better but many of them don’t seem to have liked us very much. Jefferson had to be persuaded (by the Scot Witherspoon) to take a derogatory reference to the Scots out of his draft of the DOI. The erroneous notion – as Eck and other non-historians still allege – that Jefferson was influenced by the so-called ‘Declaration’ of Arbroath is of course a piece of modern nonsense, fostered by the segregationist apologist Trent Lott.

    The Americans liked the Ulster Scots settlers – who they still call ‘Scotch-Irish’ – even less. Franklin called then ‘white savages’. But the Americans used them as imperial shock troops encouraging them to colonise Indian land where they could be counted on fight war to the knife.

    Liked by 1 person

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