The other day Maggie and I went down to the beach for lunch. There was a brief respite in the rain, so we wrapped up warm, put some soup in a flask and drove about 10 miles down to Rascarrel Bay. With all the vile weather we’ve been having of late, it was good to be out of the house for a while.
There was still enough wind to create a few waves and I was reminded of being a child when to go to the beach was to go for a swim. Although I was in no way tempted to go leaping in there and then, it was easy to recall the sensation of diving into the waves, just as they were about to break, or wading out until I was neck-deep and when the waves came along they would lift me up, so that for a moment or two my feet weren’t touching the sand underneath.
When I mentioned to Maggie that whenever I was by the sea part of me just wanted to strip off and leap in, the look she gave me was one of disbelief tinged with horror. It was another of those moments of cultural difference.
You would think with us both speaking the same language, using the same currency and living with the same fallout of the inept decisions of successive UK governments, that the Scots and the Southern English would be more or less the same people, but you would be mistaken. It is not just a difference between Celtic and Anglo-Saxon bloodlines, the sense of whether you are the oppressor or the oppressed, nor whether you have a fondness for tartan; the geography plays a huge part too.
Not only does it tend to be wetter and colder, for a longer proportion of the year in Scotland, but the sea is considerably cooler too. Inhabitants of this half of the British Isles just do not have swimming in the sea as a part of their collective childhood experience. Paddling, maybe, in the height of a heat wave, but no self respecting Scot would dream of going any further than knee deep.
I may have lived in Scotland for over 17 years, but there are times when it’s not just my accent that gives me away as a foreigner.