Saturday, 11 September 2010

Is the Scottish reputation for being “dour” justified or is it a myth?

First, let me give you the dictionary definition of the descriptive word :



 [door, douuhr, dou-er] –adjective
1. sullen; gloomy: The captain's dour look depressed us all.
2. severe; stern: His dour criticism made us regret having undertaken the job.
3.Scot. (of land) barren; rocky, infertile, or otherwise difficult or impossible to
1.  morose, sour, moody. See glum. 

To make it more clear, just think of some Scottish images: Gordon Brown, well, ok, yes, he was in a lot of ways the personification of the word. Also think of these: 

I must admit, I was a bit stopped in my tracks and delayed writing this when I found a really good newspaper article written by a “native” that will gives an excellent glimpse of how people here really think on this subject. I really thought that said it all and what more could I say? 

Well, all I can do is tell you what I personally have experience with the people I’ve met so far and the man I’ve been living with for almost three years now. For my part, I don’t think that the “dour Scotsman” as a description is valid today. Sure, you’ll find a few sour people around but you can find that sort anywhere in the world. And, we all have our cranky moments anyway, no matter how perky, bubbly and optimistic you are.

So, all that aside, I have to say that most of the people I’ve met and in the most surprising places, have been lovely, friendly and kind. There are a lot of smiles when you meet people and most are very welcoming without prejudice. They also have an excellent sense of humor and really know how to party (even without alcohol). They like to chat, converse, sing, dance and laugh. They enjoy having a good laugh or what we would call teasing, they call “taking the mickey” sort of a gentle making fun of. But they mostly like to make fun of themselves and really hate to blow their own horn. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to compliment themselves or each other.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the dour reputation is that I don’t think they have been taught or encouraged to pretend or put a good face on things. Usually, what you see is what you get. If they don’t feel like smiling they won’t and they don’t feel the need to put on a mask although they do hide their feelings inside so it’s sort of a dichotomy.  I’ll use my Robbie as an example: he always said he’d rather not smile than go around with a phony smile. Plus he likes to put the worst possible spin on things rather than brag about something. He’s explained this to me as the “tall poppy” syndrome that I guess they teach them early. If you poke you head above the others and think you’re better than anyone else you’ll soon get cut down to size—at least as they think.

It can be quite frustrating, though, because when we go out together he sometimes looks like the most miserable person in the room. When I question him on it, he’ll say, yes, he is having fun or yes, he is happy, or yes, he is having a good time. I always reply, usually with great emphasis: “Well then will you PLEASE tell your face?” 
Taken at Robert's niece Pauline's 30th birthday party Sept. 3

Yes, as I said they do like a good party. We attended Robbie's niece's 30th birthday party last Friday, Sept. 3rd. As with most all parties, she had what's called a "disco" which means either a DJ or a music machine that plays songs, sometimes with karaoke. They love to karaoke over here. Every birthday party I've been to so far is in a hall with a dance floor, disco and a buffet. It really is like being in a disco or a club and just as difficult to visit or converse but that's not really what it's about anyway. I did enjoy being out and I did like seeing family and people I hadn't seen in a while but it was loud and hard to talk. Oh well, it wasn't my party anyway. I had to sit for part of the time with my leg on a chair and that got to be a little uncomfortable. Still in all, I'm glad I went but I wish I could have gotten Robert et. al. out of there sooner!

So, as I said, I don't think it's fair anymore to call the Scots dour. Probably the most dour person I know is my own husband but he's really a marshmallow inside. Probably most of them are!

So, as I said, that's my experience since being here. I really can't say if people here are different with each other and just being nice to me. Another thing I've always tried to do is live by the Golden Rule and treat other people like I've wanted to be treated and try not to be crabby or rude so whether that makes a difference to the way people react I can't say. I really do think, though, that the people here have had a bad rap in the past. If you want to meet some really welcoming, friendly people just come here sometime and visit!

No comments:

Post a Comment