Monday, 23 August 2010


There's nothing quite like a Big Hairy Scotsman to keep us amused. A friend jetted in from the Continent, never having visited Scotland before. Without flinching, we wheeched her directly to some Highland Games, as though this was quite normal and we did this kind of thing every weekend. (Having said that, at this time of year, there are those that do exactly that every weekend.) There she was confronted by some splendid examples of the BHS, resplendent in the get-up required for the Heavy Events (throwing the hammer, putting the light stone, putting the heavy stone, and even the odd tossing of a caber).

While her petite stilettos puncturing the damp turf beneath, she nervously nibbled on a Haggis Buttie, clearly wondering if she'd landed in the set of about cliché...this was verging on the cruel.

'Aye,' remarked our neighbour in the crowd, glancing at our friend's Armani tailoring and subtly matching Hermes scarf, 'they're a fair bunch o' stoatin' loons. It's enough to put hairs on ony'one's chest just watching this kind of shenanigans.' A mild blush crept across her Mediterranean complexion, but her eyes were bright with intrigue as she observed the fine examples of manhood before us.

It was really all very reassuring. Truth is, while living in Norway, one forgets that anyone else is super-strong, super-fit, and capable of keeping themselves in trim. The Norwegians are so spectacularly into outdoor activity it's hard not to be struck by their insatiable desire to cycle up vertical slopes with rocks on their backs, or ski across an Arctic landscape for several weeks with just a few pieces of dried-out cod to keep them company. Reading about Scotland in the press, it is nothing but a barrage of information on how unfit we Scots are, how fat we are, how prone to disease and depression, how young we die. It's enough to make you top yourself. Apparently, we are becoming a nation of couch potatoes, and it's all going to cost us a fortune in the future.

There are times when a Scot abroad must wonder what on earth they are coming back home to...a nation of obese, drunken, drug-addicted smokers who have no concern for their health. The individual abroad must have faith that, while we know the figures and statistics are hair-raisingly bad, the majority of us still care about our health and do at least attempt to do something about it. Nobody could ever deny that these statistics are anything less than shocking, and we must concentrate on how to deal with our national eating, drinking and drug problems...evidently, whatever we have been doing up until now has not been working sufficiently, (although evidence shows that we are making little chinks of progress in some areas, so it's worth the effort).  But it's not every one of us.

So it was with some relief that I watched the Big Hairy Scotsmen as they went about their caber-tossing. Frankly, the whole spectacle could only be described as very impressive indeed, and proof that we are not the bunch of tossers the media would like to make out.

And of course, there is one particular BHS I must mention here as he's been in the news this week. I first came across him when I was 13, and haven't stopped laughing since. It is impossible to even look at the man without laughing, even when he hasn't uttered a syllable. He is of course, our beloved Billy Connolly, who has just been awarded the Freedom of the City by Glasgow. Which I'm sure will be a relief to him since he is now permitted to graze his cattle of Glasgow Green...phew, he was worrying about that.

Now for those of you reading this abroad who may not have come across Billy Connolly, all I can say is how on earth have you managed without him up to this point? He is the ultimate Big Hairy Scotsman who is automatically programmed to make us laugh, so much so I can't understand why he's not available on the National Health. Be prepared for a few sweary words, (you have been warned) and I hope you can manage his 'Glasgwegian Patter', but look him up some place and he'll make you fall off that couch and roll about on the floor in paroxysms of mirth. The perfect tonic.


  1. Regrettably - have missed something/someone very special I gather - I've have not come across Mr. BHS perform as comedian just yet, but how I adored him in Mrs. Brown, a different kind of tonic maybe but so nice:)

  2. I've just discovered that you have returned to the blog world. Welcome back! And now I'm off to check on this Billy Connolly. I could use a good belly laugh.

  3. Cath, a fantastic film, and I think Billy Connolly and Judy Dench had an absolute hoot making it.
    Pam, so glad you didn't give up on are much appreciated!

  4. Brilliant! And I can't help but laugh at Billy Connolly too.