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Issue 78 - What I Love About Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 78
December 2014

 

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What I Love About Scotland

A series in which well known individuals based around the world express their thoughts about the Scotland they know well

Although I once spent a year as a student in London, I never got to Scotland then. It wasn’t until something happened in Australia that I first realised I needed to go.

It was multiculturalism that did it. When that became an official Government policy in Australia, numbers of recently arrived nationalities began to form cultural groups and lobby for government funds.

But for Scots and those of Scottish descent – who, by the way, are the third largest ethnic group in Australia after the English and the Irish – there was no such support. Why not? We had been there too long; we were “assimilated”; we were indistinguishable from the general population.

Well! That was a red rag to an Aberdeen Angus bull. Scottish genes are extremely persistent and Scottish culture can never be forgotten by those born of it, even after three or four – or more – generations. At a public meeting in Sydney in June 1981, the Scottish Australian Heritage Council was born and the move to remind all Australians of the contributions that Scots have made to their country was underway.

Until then, I had loved Scotland in a theoretical kind of way – my family still went to Presbyterian schools, some of us learned the bagpipes, we knew that sacrifices had been made in the early days and we remembered our pioneer Scottish ancestors with gratitude. But now, thanks to the regeneration of interest in one’s cultural heritage engendered by multiculturalism, I realised that I was part of a Scottish Clan – and therein lay a responsibility.

Based on a very strong family identity, some of us set up a Clan Davidson Society in Australia which soon had several hundred diverse members, all connected to the Clan and all wanting to be a part of an official heritage body honouring Clan traditions. The new society became prominent in the quest to renew our Clan Chiefship, dormant for nearly 80 years, and took a special delight when the legitimate successor was found to be a third generation New Zealander. The Lord Lyon King of Arms recognised Duncan Davidson of Davidston as Chief of Clan Davidson; his cousin, Alister (‘Jock’) Davidson of Davidston, also a New Zealander, has now succeeded him as the current Chief.

And so, some time in the 90s, off to Scotland I went. On the flight I sat next to some Scottish people, perfect strangers, to whom I must have revealed that it was going to be my first visit, because when I exited the baggage hall at Edinburgh Airport, there they were, waiting for me. “Come on – we’ll give you a lift into the city,” they informed me. I was flabbergasted – could you imagine this happening at Heathrow? I don’t think so!

So what do I love about Scotland? Number one – the people. Scots have a generosity of spirit that seems to pervade the entire population. You are acccepted in Scotland – it’s as simple as that, and attitudes to Scotland’s current migrant intake seem proof of this.

Secondly, I love the fact that I have an extended family in Scotland. Pedigrees are important in the higher eschelons but clanship means more than title. The Scottish clan system, in its present form, is a living relic of pre-historic social organisation, unique in Europe and probably the world. It gives people of today the social cohesion that is so lacking today.

And finally – the country itself. There are places in Scotland that give me the uncanny feeling that I have been there before. Why is this so? It’s part of the mystique that Scotland wraps around those of us who have come back from other worlds to see where we have really come from.

I’ve talked myself into it – again. Can anyone recommend a Highland Games somewhere for 2015 – say, next August?

Author biography

Frank Sutherland Davidson, a past President of the Scottish Australian Heritage Council and the appointed High Commissioner for Clan Davidson in Australia, is a writer of short stories and plays. His first novel, The Coral Airlines Mystery which he describes as “a light-hearted crime story with only one murder" is available online.