Tae See Oorsels. . .
Author(s): Prof Christian Kay
Copyright holder(s): Prof Christian Kay
I used to get a laugh out of noticing that the strangest incidents reported in the column usually took place abroad, especially in the U.S.A. Sometimes I wondered if the Americans knew what sort of picture we were getting of them. But I never wondered what sort of picture they were getting of us!
I say “wondered” because two years ago I went to live in the United States. Like most exiles, I kept an eye open for news about home when I read the papers. And I soon began to think that the British were pretty odd people too.
Events in Britain didn’t have to be world-shaking to make the American papers. People all over the U.S. got the chance to read about one poor Scot who fell asleep at a football match and didn’t wake up until the match was over.
Another story widely reported in the American papers told of some glaikit English workmen who built a whole bus shelter on the wrong street while the natives looked on and said nowt. My favourite piece of home news of all was about a man down South who lost his false teeth during a bathe, only to find them waiting for him on the beach when he went back two days later.
Although important British news was reported too, it was these little items that my American friends pounced on with most glee. I remember chuckling with them over the sad tales of the birdman who tried to fly off London Bridge and the trombone player who was hoping to sell 40 jackets with one arm longer than the other. We also liked the story about the shop that was raising its moral tone by putting wedding rings on wax models clad in negligees.
Scottish stories, like the one about the pipe-band who refused to play until they got replacements for kilts made in 1898, were always popular. The day the licensing laws were changed, the American press came up with more corny jokes about whisky than I’d heard during a lifetime in Scotland.
Altogether, American newspaper readers must get the impression of strange goings-on in Britain.
Now that I’m back home, I know what job I’m looking for. I want to be the person who travels round looking for people who’ve dozed off at football matches or miraculously found their false teeth. It would be an interesting life – and I’m sure it would be good for international relations!
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Tae See Oorsels. . . 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved February 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1533.
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