Written by Lucy Sweet


Saints Preserve Us

Buffing your haggis in preparation for St Andrew’s Day? Adopted Scot Lucy Sweet couldnae gie a hoot.

Illustration by Lucy Sweet

I once wrote an article for a national newspaper about not really liking haggis and was promptly pitchforked to death in the comments section. “HOW DARE AN ENGLISHWOMAN HAVE A HAGGIS RELATED OPINION”, was the general consensus.

And now I’m back to say I don’t really care about St Andrew’s Day either. Nope, nothing. Couldnae gie a shiny shite.

Now, before I get a bajillion angry Cybernats at my door, let me confirm that I have lived in Scotland for 20 years, so I know my bridies from my bahookies and my blootered bampots from my bonny bairns. I can also drink you TO DEATH.

My husband is Scottish and my son is Scottish and most of my friends are Scottish. But not one of them has ever wrapped themselves in a Saltire on St Andrew’s Day and barked Flower of Scotland through the letterbox before crashing into my house and staging an impromptu ceilidh in the toilet.

In fact, we mostly just ignore it.

When I asked my friends about it, I didn’t exactly get an avalanche of national pride. “I have never marked the occasion,” says my pal Emma, a Glaswegian. “In nursery they used to give the kids Irn-Bru to celebrate which made me so mad. I don’t even like the name Andrew.”

Curiously, this hallowed day of nationalist fun is kind of…quiet. It’s not like Scotland goes overboard celebrating it and that’s saying something. We have been known to celebrate any old crap bank holiday by getting completely hammered for three days straight and hanging out of the window singing the complete works of The Proclaimers. Is it Friday? Then strip to the waist, crank up the tunes and pass out in a pile of chips and cheese. WAHEY!

But not here.

“I don’t even know what date it is,” says my friend Blair. “It’s definitely not got as sharp a PR department as Burns Night. Even if I had any interest in it, it would have nothing to do with the saint and more what we could attach to it for goodwill. And I say that from the viewpoint of a Yes voting non-nationalist.”

But let’s be honest: wherever you’re from, has a Saints Day ever got you in a lather? My identity has absolutely nothing to do with a dead saint. Just because I’m English doesn’t mean I’m riding my horse down the street on St George’s Day, waving a flag (in Glasgow, that would get you shot). Although I’m a quarter Welsh, you will not find me brandishing a leek on St David’s Day, either.

And as far as I can tell, St Andrew – legendary mate of Jesus -never went north of the Sea of Galilee and certainly has never frequented the Auchtermuchty Working Men’s Club and danced in a hired kilt from Slaters.

Of course, the only possible exception to the rule is St Patrick’s Day. Most of us can get behind St Paddy, because he lets us get pished. In fact, my Norn Irish friend Karen is dismayed that Scottish people don’t make more of St Andrew’s Day as an opportunity to run drunkenly down the street in a comedy flashing top hat.

“Scottish people should embrace it,” she says. “You get a day off work for no reason other than celebrating the place you happen to be born in. It’s the fun side of nationalism – get drunk and embrace its cheesiness, I say!”

Until then, though, Saints Days are essentially for braying, insecure men who like waving flags and behaving like dicks. Or posh people who enjoy having pointless gala dinners and comparing sporrans.

As for the rest of us – we’ll probably be at home watching EastEnders.

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Written by Lucy Sweet

Lucy Sweet is a writer and incorrigible lard arse. Her nursery school teacher said she would never be a proper lady, and she was right.