I may, I stress ‘may’, be donning a kilt for the first time in my puff come March.
The reason is a family wedding and, ironic though it may seem, not being clad in the tartan skirt could make me look like the odd one out.
This rankles me a bit. You see my bloodline, on the Scottish side that is, is definitely lowlander.
Back in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, catching a glimpse of a Gaelic speaking kiltie would have had you locking up your daughter, your sheep and reaching for your musket.
My ancestors would have saved up for a privy while the true ‘hielander’ was still quite happy to be squatting in the heather.
I know in 2012 Scotland when the push is on to, metaphorically at least, rebuild Hadrian’s wall, such words are heresy, but... all is not as it seems beneath the plaid.
Take The Black Watch – you can’t get much more traditionally Highland than that, or can you?
When the regiment was raised, its mission was to bring order to the Highlands. The soldiers, in their dark (‘black’) tartan were charged with keeping ‘watch’ over the feuding, fighting, claymore swinging clans. Hence the name.
Of course The Black Watch went on to carry Scotland’s pride through the centuries with courage and dignity but, in the beginning, many a Highland Scot saw them as Government men.
The somewhat bizarre ‘Sobieski Stuarts’ laid the foundations of modern day tartan in the 1840s with their Vestiarium Scoticum which has led to the tartan business we know today, where football teams, companies and institutions can all commission their own colours.
So, really, I shouldn’t feel a ‘phoney’ for donning a kilt; by Royal decree even an Englishman is entitled to wear the Royal Stewart tartan – and the groom at the wedding I’m attending will be doing just that despite hailing from the other side of the Border.
The fact this strikes me as a little ironic would seem to be proof enough that there is a touch of the kilt culture about me – the real “och aye McCoy” as it were.
But then we come to panda tartan... I don’t really get that at all. Apparently, Scotland has taken those two slothful monochrome mammals to heart (tough on the more boring looking but even more endangered Gobi bear).
Is panda tartan going to threaten Burberry? Should I be looking for a panda kilt and, perhaps, a sporran of a wee panda’s heid? Would all Clan Panda members get together and eat a third of their body weight in haggis every day?
Somebody said it was an acknowledgement of their uniqueness in Scotland, in which case we should have a Tory MP tartan because there’s only one of them.
Then again, instead of hiring the hielan’ outfit I might just ask Edinburgh Zoo to sponsor my kilt, after all does anybody really know the difference between the Aiton and Yukon District tartans (both exist!) unless you’re directly involved.
Instead of a sgian-dubh I could have a sprig of bamboo in my Dunfermline Athletic socks.
I might just save a few bob, especially when the zoo sees this in black and white...