Friday 29 June 2018


"You are the most Scottish person I know," said a friend on the Glasgow indie music scene. That would be quite outstanding today, where it is de rigeur to have a beard and a cardi, be into world music and all things Scottish, and hate the Labour Party. But this was twenty years ago. In those days the socially acceptable thing for members of obscure Glasgow bands was to follow Celtic Football Club, vote Labour, and hate Protestants and nationalists.

I didn't really think I was that Scottish. But then I found a picture of myself from the same period at a fancy dress party. While everyone else was dressed as a pirate, robot, or sexy cat, I was clearly eye-swivellingly drunk, wearing a kilt and Scotland football top with an arrangement of saltire flags sticking out the back of my head. I looked like an absolute roaster. Perhaps there was something in my fellow scenester's perception after all.

And here's something strange. For someone so deeply Scottish, I've never been to Bannockburn. Only the site of the most famous Scottish battle. You know, The One Where We Beat the English. I had been to Culloden a couple of times. Flodden. But never Bannockburn, despite the NTS visitor centre. Visiting Bannockburn just always seemed a bit too Braveheart. And this from the guy who once wore a headband full of Scotland flags.

High time to sort that out, because there is a new visitor centre. What would it be like? Now I'm posting more about history than hillwalking, I reckoned I would go and find out.

On a beautiful day I arrived at Bannockburn and made for the flagpole, trying to get a feel for the battle site.

On a hill stands a flagpole, surrounded by quotations.

In a clearing next to the flagpole is a powerful statue of Robert the Bruce, his steed no thoroughbred prancer but a sturdy battle horse.

I went to the visitor centre, to discover that tours had to be booked. I had just missed the start of a tour. Did I want to wait a while and book myself on the next tour? Not really. I knew what happened here. Before heading home I went back for one last look at the statue, surrounded now by a modern housing estate.

You can take the indie scenester out of Glasgow, but it is harder to take Glasgow out of the boy. I left Bannockburn with the irresistible impression that what the dignified statue of Robert the Bruce lacked was a traffic cone on its head.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aye, cheers for that.