Rare gift at risk

I brought my small family to live in Scotland five years ago. We love the country and the 
culture and have always been particularly impressed with the way Scottish people can demonstrate pride in their heritage without implying the jingoistic posturing that similar English efforts evince.

It’s great to see every generation enjoying traditional dancing at a wedding, for example; this would never happen in England. You would never see a sulky urban teenager flinging their gran around at a south London barn dance.

Our first Burns Night was a particular joy. The pride on the face of our friends’ 15 year-old’s face as he recited the Address to a Haggis was so touching and, again, it was impossible to imagine his counterpart south of the Border ever submitting to such timeless pleasure.

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All such traditions seemed to be transmitted in such an open and welcoming tone. Over the past 12 months, however, the independence debate seems to have introduced a subtext that feels increasingly xenophobic.

Not just direct political discourse, but the arts have been co-opted.

It’s of course understandable that the discussion should take place throughout Scottish society and there is no reason that the arts should be exempt. It’s just that recently, and for the first time, we have felt like outsiders.

I do honestly envy Scotland’s ability to celebrate its culture without sounding nationalistic and excluding. I hope this rare gift is not lost in the clamour.

Paul Alexander

Edinburgh