99 days ago I left Australia. Since then I traveled to Nepal, trekked to Everest Base Camp, went through a breakup and an earthquake, flew to Vietnam and traveled alone for the first time in my life, then moved to Scotland. I can say without hesitation that those 99 days have been the most condensed period of learning I’ve ever gone through (I’m lookin’ at you, uni). So in keeping with the educational spirit, I’ve decided to make use of my unique position as an unemployed Aussie living in the West End of Glasgow, with too much time on her hands and too many charity shops beckoning her pound-less purse, to document the differences between Scotland and it’s bastard child borne of convicts and slaves, Australia. (Note: Scots, please do not get offended. You invented dark humour so you should be able to take these wee innocent observations in your stride.)
- The weather
As I write this beside my bedroom window, outside a drizzle falls delicately from the grey-white sky. I am wearing a green Christmas jumper and hold my Earl Grey tea protectively. This, folks, is summer in Scotland. While those from the UK, Canada or any cold country may shrug and continue to take off their t-shirt, my fellow countrymen would gasp and exclaim “Bloody hell mate!” before proceeding to ask where one takes a dip, catches a wave, gets a tan, has a barbie, or cracks open a fresh goon sack they bought from the bottlo. To this I would reply that one does not do these activities in summer, aside from the rare sunny day when every male is compelled to have a “Who Has The Whitest Torso” competition on the closest grassy surface they can find. Drinking, Aussies will be glad to know, has been passed down the ancestry line and is a commonplace activity for those celebrating anything or nothing. (I’m yet to see someone chickenwinging a goon sack on the street, though). I am told that this in fact is nice weather for Scotland, and (chortle chortle) wait till winter comes around.
- Drinking curfews
While I’ve only had three weekends here so far (albeit pretty big ones; Glasgow, you party hard), one detail which twists my tartan knickers is how early bars shut: 12 am. There are always clubs open till 3 am in the city, but unless you’re wanting to snort something from a toilet seat and dance against a speaker-wall with sweaty strangers, your options are limited. We Aussies are chilled people; we love a good bar with some good beer and a good vibe. We also love to stand outside with our drinks and have a durrie, an activity which is admittedly more suited to real summer weather (oops…what?), but in Scotland one mustn’t drink outside after 10 pm. While this rule confronted me at first, I am starting see its benefits: a) not freezing to death because you won’t linger after having a puff, and b) not giving a crazy ned (we’ll discuss these creatures next) the opportunity to glass you with his smashed beer bottle. I suppose it also gives you a chance to get cosy with all the redheaded, bearded strangers inside who sometimes show off their muscled calves by wearing kilts (yes, they really do wear them over here). Lastly, to the plumber who stole my miniature one-gulp-sized whisky bottle from the kitchen cupboard last week, could I please have it back (YEH WALLY BAMPOT)?
Neds are the equivalent of Australian bogans. Urban Dictionary defines neds as: “Non-educated delinquents who “fight” in groups of 10/20 (ie. slashing or chibbing, using any instrument other than their fists), wear casual sports clothes, drink cheap alcohol on the street and have a poor vocabulary.” Nedettes, the female version, exist too. Urban Dictionary describes bogans as: “A male Aussie who wears a wife-beater shirt, drives a Holden or Ford, carries a can of VB and swears every second word.” The female version is pretty much the same, adding some durries, a cheap handbag, tiny shorts and a crop top that reveals most of an unseemly belly. I’ve been having a little trouble discerning the neds from people who just wear tracksuits, and as I haven’t had a personal interaction with a ned yet, I’ll have to take society’s word for what they are. The main difference between bogans and neds is their attraction to violence; while bogans seem happy to crowd around a ute and drink beer, neds seem more intent on stabbing or glassing innocent passers-by. I think I may have witnessed a ned out of his natural environment last night at a spoken word poetry event…he screamed rhyming insults into the microphone and the shocked faces of the audience, who had innocently left their homes to have a cultured evening out. Cultural indeed.
This is only the beginning of a very long list so I’ll keep you hanging till tomorrow, because I really should leave the house at some point and experience the culture I’m writing about…or…I could stay home, drink tea and eat shortbread biscuits, because that’s a deeply embedded cultural activity isn’t it, Scotland?