A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brief Note to my Scots Readers: Either Way You Go, Alba gu bràth

There's Scots and "Scotch-Irish" in my DNA, and I like to think about Bannockburn and Culloden, Wallace and the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charlie, but romanticism has its limits in the age of the EU.

I have no vote in this, but think I'd vote "no" if I did, and in any event I plan to raise a glass (I think there's a dust-covered bottle of Laphroaig in the basement somewhere, though I rarely touch the hard stuff these days) and toast Alba gu bràth (Scotland forever, for the Saxons among you, and cognate for you Irish ti Eireinn go bragh).

In the British Empire's high period the Highland regiments were the elite vanguards of Empire, though themselves no longer independent, a memory with a Middle Eastern theme in the pipe tune, "The Barren Rocks of Aden"

And the haunting, Lallans Scots tune, "the 51st highland Regiment's Farewell to Sicily," AKA "Banks of Sicily," here sung by Ewan MacColl:

Proof that Lallans (Lowland Scots)  is related to English but at times mutually incomprehensible.

And finally, an early rendition of the Corries' modern song Flower of Scotland, already the unofficial national anthem st sporting events, and sure to be heard a lot whichever way the vote goes:

I dearly love the lines "That stood against him/Proud Edward's Army/And Sent them homeward/tae think again."

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