A passport to Scotland

Paul Briscoe with his 'Passport to Scotland'
Paul Briscoe with his 'Passport to Scotland'

WHO knew you needed a passport for Scotland?

A Burntisland writer created his own passport nearly 35 years ago as a joke, and it has gone on to be a very successful book which has recently been re-published in colour for the first time.

Paul Briscoe, (70) is the deputy editor of the Burntisland Burgh Buzz, a community newspaper and website.

Now retired, he has lived in Burntisland for the past five years, but he previously lived in Dundee, when he first wrote the passport as a tongue in cheek pocket-sized guide.

After a runaway success, selling between 80-100,000 copies a year, he was approached by Visit Scotland to write a more serious edition of the book.

Mr Briscoe, although born in Scotland, grew up in Washington DC, USA and has written two other books, one a Scottish historical novel.

He said: “I knew what I wanted to see in a book about Scotland.”

The Passport to Scotland is subtitled ‘a compact visitors guide to Scotland’ and features a variety of geographical facts, a potted history of Scotland and a Scots to English dictionary to help visitors understand the local language.

Foodies can discover more about traditional dishes and drinks, not forgetting Scotland’s other national drink, Irn Bru.

There is also a visa page which visitors can get stamped at tourist attractions or hotels they have been to.

With information about clans, well known Scots, a feature about malt whisky and a page for children or young explorers to record their travels around the country, the little book also contains a quiz to test your knowledge and a thumbnail sketch of Scotland.

Mr Briscoe is well versed in writing about Scotland as he has lived in almost every part of the country.

The former graphic designer and publishing employee said: “I really enjoyed writing the Passport to Scotland and I learnt a lot of things I didn’t already know about Scotland and the country’s history.

“In particular Sir James Douglas, he was a very important person historically.

“I visited many places featured in the book as part of my research.”

And as not everyone is so fortunate to be Scottish, the back page of the book invites honorary members to join or elect someone for membership into the Honourable Scotsman Society.

Someone ‘deserving’ can receive a hand lettered parchment with a woollen tie in the society’s parchment or for the ladies, a headscarf embroidered with the society logo.

As Mr Briscoe writes, it is ‘the ideal gift or the perfect revenge.’

>> Available from

Waterstones, Kirkcaldy, priced £4.99