Artist David Mach this week declared HP sauce quintessentially British.
A bold choice indeed. The Fifer was making a shout out for empty sauce bottles so he can use them to capture the essence of Britishness, as he sees it, in an upcoming art installation at the Saatchi Gallery. In the interests of neutrality and balance, I thought it only right and proper to flag up the quintessentially Scottish.
Shortbread. Only in Scotland could bread actually be a biscuit.
A good debate. To foreign ears, the sound of a Scottish accent engaged in lively banter has been described as akin to that of two terriers fighting with a rag.
Scotch pies. Beloved of football fans everywhere, the clue is in the name when it comes to apportioning blame for this most beloved of foodstuffs. For generations, ravenous Scots have chowed down on these dubious treats. For hard-core carb fans, the scotch pie can be enjoyed within a bread roll. In recent times, a low-fat version has been created to allow waist-watchers to partake.
Highland Toffee. Surely the most delightful way to lose a filling.
Tenements. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are still dominated by 19th-century tenement housing. Many of the inferior warrens constructed to replace them have since been pulled down.
Weather-based mood swings. The joyful abandon with which the natives greet a burst of sunshine is unprecedented. Within a nano-second of the clouds parting, Scottish parks resemble saunas as yards of blue flesh is enthusiastically unveiled, the air fills with the whiff of barbecue and suddenly everyone is a-whooping and a-skipping. Indeed, only in Scotland could there exist a weather website that divides the forecast simply into "Taps Aff" and "Taps Oan".
Talking of weather, surely another defining characteristic of the Scottish male is a peculiar form of climate denial that refuses to accept the existence of rain. When faced with a cloud burst, many of our menfolk refuse to don a jacket or use a brolly, preferring instead to simply bow the head and hunch the shoulders up towards the ears; aka the "Scottish umbrella".
Interacting with strangers on public transport. There is obviously a sliding scale of interaction that ranges from the brief exchanges of rush hour to the wild, raucous abandon of the last train home, where everyone is your pal and chips are for sharing.
GSOH. The ability to not take ourselves too seriously. See above.