Lori Anderson: Couthy use of ‘Scots’ is patronising

LAST week, on a meander along George Street in Edinburgh, I was verbally cudgelled. Not by a Jack the Lad or any other kind of rapscallion, but by an advertising campaign.

PR firm Frank used an image of Lord Kitchener in a tartan hat to announce its Scottish office. Picture: Contributed

The bright red signs may not have stopped the traffic, but they stopped me in my tracks and left me slack jawed and a little bit ragey. The sign that caused so much ire read: “Keep the heid our wee showroom is still open.”

Et tu Lululemon? We’ve been getting on so well all these years. I know my wunder unders from my cropped groove pants. I clapped with glee when I heard you were opening in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and not just because it would save me a hefty wad of import tax, but here you are attempting to ingratiate yourself with your couthy pally Jocky lingo.

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Oh, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The London-based public relations company Frank announced the forthcoming arrival of a satellite office north of the Border to be known as “McFrank” with a website image of Lord Kitchener in a tartan ‘see-you-Jimmy’ hat with a parrot perched on his shoulder who announced: “Och aye the soon!” If the movie Single White Female taught us anything, it is that imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.

Then, of course, there was the stooshie in Glasgow just a few months ago when Gourmet Burger, which hails from Shoreditch in London, decided to translate their menu for their new northern clientele who could now choose to add “baucon” or “rid onion” or even the “hoose mayo” to their burgers, which were to be washed down with a “bananae milkshake” or a wine list comprised of “riddys, whiteys, and rosys”.

They may have been inspired in their novel campaign by Pizza Hut who previously announced their arrival at the Silverburn shopping centre, also in Glasgow, with a menu that described a Margherita pizza as “just a plain wan – a proper mozzarella and tamata pizza”.

I don’t know what has prompted advertising executives to believe that the best way to endear consumer loyalty and colonise our purse or wallet is to communicate with the Scots like a pantomime ‘ned’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that the Scots language, which arrived with the Angles from AD 600 then developed and grew apart in the Middle Ages from its sister tongue English, has a ripe vocabulary, and if James VI & I had authorised that the Bible be translated into ‘Scots’ instead of ‘English’ in 1611, then whole swathes of the world could be using words such as ‘heid’, ‘stotter’ and ‘mingin’. As the poet Norman MacCaig said: “It’s as absurd to call Scots a dialect of English as it is to call English a dialect of Scots.”

Yet these campaigns don’t strike me as subtle exercises in linguistic diplomacy, but come across as crass and patronising, and make me wonder if they would ever attempt to infiltrate the French market with a focused pitch of Onion Johnnies purring: “oh la la”. Yes, we are well aware of our rich literary tradition, but really I’m afraid it’s time for them to “haud their wheesht”.

Cat cafe doesn’t tickle my fancy

THE differences between lovers of dogs and cats has long been apparent. I know of no dog lover who would walk into a cafe, look around and ponder: “Do you know what this place lacks? Dogs, heaps of dogs, a positive smorgasbord of canines.” And yet, to the aficionado of feline company, it would seem nothing could improve a cafe more than cats. If so, they are sure to be beating a path to the doors of Maison de Moggy, Scotland’s first-ever cat cafe, which opened its doors in Edinburgh as a temporary pop-up, but is now set to become a permanent fixture. Popular in Japan, the culture who gave us Hello Kitty then wouldn’t take it back, cat cafes claim to offer a form of therapeutic relaxation that can only be found by sipping a decaf cappuccino and nibbling on baked goods, all the while being eyed by a gaggle of ginger toms.

My friend is over the moon at the idea of cats and cakes, but even though they insist that all food and drink is prepared in a “cat-free environment”, for me Maison de Moggy sounds like aversion therapy for over-eaters anonymous. To me, certain passions should not be combined, that’s how dangerous perversions are formed. The website even has pictures of these felines posing alluringly for selfies. All very Dutch brothel, but neither are my kind of cathouse.

Painful truth of high heels

A NEW study from Stanford University has confirmed what women have long known – that high heels can be a pain. The university found that such elevated spikes can put dangerous pressure on knee joints, wear away the cartilage and so increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. Women wearing the highest 3 1/2 inch heels apparently held their knee in such a contorted position that the knee joints began to act as if they had prematurely aged. Christian Louboutin may have said, “High heels are pleasure with pain,” but I’ve decided that when it comes to high heels I need to be cut down to size and will no longer totter out on anything above 3 inches. Like many, I can’t bear to abandon them completely and live life on the flat. «