Yesterday my buddy Rory – who is currently vacationing in Scotland and Ireland – posted a picture on Facebook with this comment: “Downtown Dublin – I love the energy & spirit of this town. Reminds me of my mum. Same qualities & then some.”
My first response was to comment with “I love that you spell “mum” properly and haven’t succumbed using the American spelling.” because “mom” both as a spelling and a pronunciation is a pet peeve of mine. I generally prefer British language conventions to American ones. “Sox” and “Drive thru” and “check” instead of “cheque” are other examples of American peculiarities that I detest.
Something about Rory’s FB post got me reminiscing, so I sent him the following stream-of-conscious rant in a private message. I enjoyed writing it. He forgave me this morning.
Your comment about Dublin was interesting to me. It’s almost like we have something of the homeland of our predecessors burned into our DNA.
My mum was born and raised Edinburgh, and my dad was born in Perth but did most of his growing up in Aberdeen. We’re part of Clan Gordon, and our territory is/was the NE highlands…sort of between Aberdeen and Inverness.
Although I only spent a small amount of time living there as a boy, it feels very much like “home” to me. Last time I was in Inverness, everything inside me was screaming “STAY HERE! STAAAAAYYYYYY!”. It just feels like the right place for me to be, even though I’ve never lived there. It’s impossible to explain to somebody who’s never experienced it, but it seems like Dublin speaks to you in this way. I have a buddy whose parents came here from Poland, and he knew exactly what I was talking about because he felt it last time he was in Leszno.
My grandfather traced our family tree back to the mid-1500’s (this was long before ancestry.com), and until my parents emigrated in 1967, every generation lived in Gordon territory…mostly in the Aberdeen to Braemar corridor that runs along the river Dee. For 500 years, and probably 500 years before that.
If you believe in evolution (I do), then that has to have some sort of impact on your DNA. Call it “genetic memory” for lack of a better term. I dunno, maybe I’m just imagining it and/or romanticizing it. But it FEELS real.
Fun Fact: My dad was in the RAF and was stationed in Gibraltar when I was born, so technically I wasn’t born in Scotland. I am however, a purebred Scot. That explains my love of kilts and my hatred of cold weather.
Enjoy your trip. I’m envious.
And screw the English.
PS…before my grandparents died, they lived in Ballater. If you stood in their front yard, you could see Birkhall (the Queen Mother’s residence) on a clear day. It’s about 2 or 3 KM away. The back yard opened out onto the 16th green if I remember correctly. Balmoral Castle is about 15 KM west. The royals used to walk around the area pretty much un-guarded in the 70’s before the media feeding frenzy really got traction. The place was lousy with them. It wasn’t unusual to see Prince Edward and Prince Andrew walking around. Scots are like Canadians when it comes to the treatment of celebrities. We’ll give them a quick nod to acknowledge their presence, and then carry on with whatever we were doing. The royals are so common around there that nobody pays them any more mind than they would to the local grocer. Or at least that’s the way it was in 1975. Probably not now.
When I was 11, we were visiting “home” as my parents used to call it. One day, we were walking up the side of the road – the scary, narrow, F1 training road – a little ways out of Ballater. We heard an engine roaring up behind us, and the SOB who was driving it WAY TOO FAST honked at us as if to say “get the hell off the road”, then politely waved as she flew by in her Land Rover full of Corgies.
The SOB was the Queen.
I’ll never forget it. My grandma just waved back casually like “Oh…there goes Liz. I must remember to ask for my muffin pans back next time I see her”.
That same vacation, I got invited to watch a movie in the Ball Room at Balmoral Castle with a bunch of locals and castle employees. It was “One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing“, and the Queen and Prince Edward came down to watch too. We all had to stand up as they came in, and we had to sing “God Save the Queen”, but after that it was all shits and giggles. Very informal.
My dad and grandpa had played golf on the private Balmoral course by invite of the greenskeeper. My grandparents were a pretty big deal in the local golf community. Everybody knew them. I still have membership privileges at Ballater because my grandma was on the board until the day she died at 95.
Anyway, the greenskeeper’s son apparently went to these movies pretty regularly so he took me along while the adults did whatever adults did for evening entertainment in the mid-70’s. A key party, probably.
Sorry for the rant. Your comment about Dublin just got me thinking…
And screw the English.