Men in skirts

Wednesday, and I’ve got tartan on my mind. I’m married to a Scotsman, you see. And every now and then I stop and think about things he says, and things I now say, and I realise a lot of these things are well forrin.

Just to clarify – my husband was born in Africa. His parents and elder brother, who was a toddler at the time, left Scotland to seek their fortune in warmer, African climes and my husband was born there a few years later. My parents-in-law lived in Africa for the rest of their lives – around 40 years – and they both had broad Scottish accents till they passed away. Something that I find so sweet is that my husband and his brother both had broad Scottish accents until they started school – until the pressure to sound like everyone else overwhelmed their little minds and they learnt to blend in just fine!

We travelled to Scotland as a family when our boys were ten and twelve. We stayed with wonderful relatives and were also on a mission to meet some long-lost, newly-discovered relatives, but that’s a story for another day. It was so interesting to see how at home my sons felt in the land of their father and his people, and how intrigued they were with their Scottish heritage. By the time we left, they both wanted kilts in the family tartan and, if we’d had an arm and a leg to spare, we would have indulged them.

My husband has since inherited two kilts, and these are worn with much pride at any suitable occasion: my elder son wore one to his Matric (school leaving) dance, and both sons wore kilts to their cousin’s wedding in Cape Town last month. The five boy cousins together in family tartan kilts looked just fabulous and, of course, made the faraway (in miles) mother in me weep at the sight. My younger son is dreadlocked, and made a wonderful McRasta. Gorgeous boys.

Some years ago, my husband wore his kilt to a very posh, advertising awards ball in Zimbabwe. He went to the bathroom early on in the evening and the bathroom attendant (I told you it was a posh place) said to my husband as he exited, “Oh! I thought you were in the wrong bathroom.”

So here’s some Scottish forrin:

  1. Gibbles – this means stuff, or things. For example, my husband’s bedside table is full of gibbles.
  2. Bairns – we have two of them. They are big bairns now. Children.
  3. Bo’heed – my parents in law used to chuckle if they called anyone a bo’heed (usually their grandchildren) – it is used affectionately, to mean big head. “I canna’ see the TV, will you move yer bo’heed?”
  4. A Scottish friend at work said once, pointing at the desk of the absent manager, “Where’s his nibs?” This made me laugh out loud, as I’ve heard it so often from my family … It is used slightly mockingly to refer, in their absence, to someone of self-importance, usually someone in authority.
  5. My new blogging buddy, Wendy, is about ages with ma’sel’. This means she is about the same age as I am.
  6. Dreich – this means cold, damp and miserable, and refers to the weather. We’ve had real dreich days in London this week – autumn has shown its tawny face.
  7. If you’re talking nonsense, a Scotsman will say you’re talking blethers.
  8. If you’re mean to me, I’ll greet. And it’s not a pretty sight. Greet means to cry.
  9. My mother-in-law used to leave things in the kitchen sink to steep (soak).
  10. If you’re called a tattybogle that’s not a compliment – it means you look a sight, like a scarecrow!
  11. One of my husband’s and my favourite pastimes is to bogle in shops – that means to look and browse.
  12. My father-in-law had some choice sayings, but they are not fit for the blog! But if he thought someone was not very attractive, he would call her coors but hamely. This is liked being damned with faint praise – coarse but homely. Ugly, but could be worse.
  13. Had yer weesht – this means be quiet, shush.

A dear, late uncle of my husband’s used to say the best thing to come out of England was the road to Scotland! We took that road at Easter, to travel up to Pitlochry in central Scotland (Perthshire) for the weekend. We checked to see what was happening there over the weekend and were so excited to see that the Red Hot Chilli Pipers were playing at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre!We booked tickets and went to see this fabulous Scottish phenomenon that played to a packed auditorium.

They call themselves a “bagrock” band, or “jock ‘n roll” and they play music – as their forthcoming new album says – for the kilted generation! They are fronted by three bagpipers, with two guitarists, two snare drummers (including a world champion snare drummer), a keyboard player, a drummer and occasionally some brass. Of course they all wore kilts, and they looked pretty darn fit! They played songs like Smoke on the Water, We Will Rock You, Hey Jude (they called it Hair Jood) and Clocks mixed with a bunch of traditional Scottish numbers. They sure made it a brilliant evening’s entertainment and, being Scottish, all the banter in between songs was really funny. I read that earlier this month, they played at BB King’s 42nd Street Blues Club in Manhattan. Go figure!

One of the opening acts was a Scottish duo of fiddler and guitarist who played a variety of choons, fabulously. The fiddler introduced each number including one that the guitarist had written, inspired by a trip to Egypt. It was called The First Time Ever I Saw Your Fez.

I’ll dedicate some future blogs to writing more about our trips up to Scotland and the beautiful country it is, filled with wonderful, warm and kind people. A country where humour is woven into the national DNA, and laughter is their battle-cry and for me, that’s my kind of people. My husband’s ain folk.

Sunshine signing off for today.


14 thoughts on “Men in skirts

  1. Hi Sunshine:

    Didn’t know your husband was Scottish…the coincidences continue! My ex’s family was of Scottish origin, although I’m guessing they landed on Canadian soil in the latter part of the 19th century (Prince Edward Island). I liked his last name enough to keep it!

    I’ve definitely heard “his nibs” before…I’d thought it was a British expression!

    Don’t know if you’ve found “The IT Crowd” yet, but Roy on that is Scottish.


    1. Hi Wendy, coincidence after coincidence! Not sure about you, but I absolutely love the Scottish accent, and I do have a thing for men in kilts!
      I haven’t found the IT Crowd, but will look out for it now!
      Sunshine xx

  2. As I read the forrin, I couldn’t help but hear faint echoes of it in certain dialects of Canadian english. There are people here who say “choons” and “chewsday” and other such things, and now I know where it comes from! Meself, I’m part scot, but I didn’t know what was really special about it because it’s basically ignored in my family, and it’s the irish that everyone focuses on. Of course, we blame the extreme body hair (of certain family members) on being scottish, but that’s aboot it.

    1. That’s so funny, Winn! Och aye, the hairy Scots, hey? I didn’t know they were famous for extreme body hair! 🙂
      So interesting that you hear Scottish echoes in Canadian English – I’m so fascinated by language!
      Sunshine xx

  3. My husband’s family is from Scotland too! His dad emigrated to England when he was 18, but the rest of the Broadfoot clan is still in Straenraer. In fact, David’s namesake, his grandfather, also David William Broadfoot, received the George Cross posthumously and there’s a Wikipedia entry about his bravery!

    Anyway, your post made me REALLY want to go there and visit. We keep saying we’re going to do that one summer.

    I LOVE the Scottish vocabulary lesson and can’t wait to share it with Dave!

    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! Scotland is very special – and I do hope you do come over one summer! I don’t know Straenraer – but I’ll check out where it is now! And I’ll add to the lesson as I think of more words and sayings!
      Sunshine xx

  4. Loved the list, and could hear the accent as I read through it…so endearing. What a life you’ve lived! I would guess your men must have some good legs on them for those kilts — I can’t say that I’m too anxious to ever see my husband’s legs in that light.

  5. I could hear the accent as I read this too … and what a wonderful and funny list! I can’t say I know anyone from Scotland, though I am from Brasil and write about it occasionally.

    I look forward to hearing more stories from you.



  6. Hey Sunshine! Fun blog! My best friend is a Scottish immigrant and I love how she says wee as “get you’re wee arse off me floor!” and every w question is how. When I spend too much time with her, I find myself losing the Canadian accent and slipping into a Scottish one 🙂
    I’ll be round later read mo’r!!
    Edmonton Tourist

  7. Hi Sunshine! I have a similar story to your man! My dad and mum came out to S Africa from the UK after WW II. My dad who was at Alamein with his regiment the Balck Watch, said the bagpipers were famous for going into battle armed only with their pipes. The Germans reallising I guess how this affected the morale of the Scots, (or was it their awful din?) used to call them “The ladies from hell”.

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