This section allows me to purge my discomfort at the sight of a Scottish man in a kilt. I noticed that I had carefully put aside these examples for a lecture on National Stereotypes, a socially acceptable means of venting my spleen. In my teens when should have been out with friends, I sat seething with anger that New Year's TV had been colonised by ranks of artifically energised Scots people at tiny tables with a pipe band and fishing orientated novelty acts. Every year before I left home, my parents used Hogmannay as a threshold for Family Bonding at the prospect of a New and More Promising Year.

We sat in Gade Avenue, Watford and sang along with Andy Stewart as he roared,

"Let the wind blow high,

Let the wind blow low,

Through the streets in my kilt I'll go

and all the lassies say to me...

Donald where's your trousers..."

According to the song, he was just down from the Isle of Skye and was very small and mighty shy.

The Kilt and Sporran are vaguely amusing in single units, but, in multiplicity the spectacle of Hogmannay was garish and threatening. Couples threw each other round with glassy smiles, dressed in swirling pleated skirts, and shoulder sashes, with pendulous pubic pouches from which no objects were ever extracted. Some of the men sported daggers in their socks withy little green fabric tabs protruding from the fold. As celebrants, dancers, comedians and jugglers lined up to wave at the camera during the count-down to the New Year, they inadvertently presented to the viewer a hideous uni-sex freize of bare knees.

Don't miss the editorial feature on Americans who celebrate their Scottish ancestry with the authentic costume and some surprising variants. Theodore McKeldrin's ancestral tartan above (with a six tassle sporran) has made him a happy man in Baltimore, a city later associated with darker social issues. Theodore wears his hemline short but the caption reassures us he is using two safety pins to ensure decency. "The well dressed Scot, armed to meet the public, must take care to sit in a lady-like way..." another caption addresses the concealed anxiety that Scotsmen are prone to accusations of exposing themselves. Peter Stevens' glorious concept of The Plunging Piper provides that point of convergence hinted at throughout - the fear of looking up the Scotsman's kilt.

The Kilted Jock as Brand Character, shades of Harry Lauder with Western Electric, presents an immediately recognisable profile beyond that provided by other national costumes (Eskimos, Mounties, Munich Waitresses). It allows the advertiser to make claims of sensible expenditure. "Do you believe in THRIFT?". Those with unkind prejudices about the Scots may suspect that what is left may be spent on vast amounts of whisky and beer.

It was not until John Vernon Lord's lecture on Hatching (which should have been broadcast to every household instead of Hogmannay) that I encountered Tartans again and realised the formal complexity of hatching and cross-hatching as applied to the decoration and ientification of the Human Body.



two caricatures

...GEORGE IV ADOPTS A KILT ON HIS VISIT TO SCOTLAND IN 1822. It was too short and revealed his pink tights.