Sunday, 13 November 2011

There Was A Soldier, Hopefully A Scottish Soldier.

Hark when the night is falling,
Hear! Hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen.

The bagpipes. I love the sound of them. It always evokes a feeling of pride. A sense that things are good with me. That I belong somewhere. That I am part of a proud race. The haunting beauty of a pipers lament can make a grown man cry. A march can raise the spirits like nothing else.

These strong emotions are really all I have left of my Scottish heritage. For I was born in England. Mother was a Scot, and I presume my Father was too.

I never knew my Father, and it was difficult to get anyone in my dysfunctional family to talk about him. My sister told me he came from Bedford, which is in England, but I don't think he originated there.

The only photo I have of him, is a faded one of him and Mother on their wedding day. He is wearing his army uniform. He was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He is wearing tartan trews. All these facts lead me to strongly suspect that he too was a Scot. I am happy to leave my investigations there. I want to be a Scot.

He chose not to be part of my life. That was his decision freely made. As far as I know, nobody forced him to make it. For my part, when I was a child growing up, I cannot recall one instance when I wished he was there for me. Although there were men that I wished could be my Father.

When I became a Father myself I underwent a short period of wondering about him, but it quickly passed. It was not an urgent need. My Sister who was much older than me, told me a few things about him. But she was disparaging, and in view of the fact he chose to abandon me, I was inclined to believe her negative assessment of him. He did however leave me one important legacy. He made me determine to be the best Dad I could be.

I am upset with both my parents that they chose to live in England when I was born. That decision of theirs, coupled with the fact that I was then brought up in a children's home in England, makes me feel unable to declare myself a true Scotsman. Also I do not have the beautiful highland brogue of my Mother. Instead I speak without an accent at all. Someone, in a fit of anger, once called me a "posh English bastard." How hurtful, and how bloody ironic was that?

I started off by talking about my love of the bagpipes. This love could be explained by a conversation I had with my Sister in which she cast doubt on my legitimacy. She thought perhaps that she and I did not have the same Father. The conversation went something like this...

"Mum told me she had an affair, before you were born. When Dad was away in the army."
"What are you implying?"
"That you are not Dad's son."
"So who is my Dad?"
"The Inverness pipe band!"

Honestly, my Sister. Such a joker. At least I think she was joking. But I do love the bagpipes!


  1. I find bagpipes very moving ... I mean in the musical sense. If it's any consolation to you I think you look like a Scot.

  2. I come from Dunedin which I believe is the twin city to Edinburgh. There is certainly a strong Scottish flavour to the city and I use to frequent a bar called the Robbie Burns. I'm sad that your early days were so unsettled and that you didn't get a chance to have a close bond with a loving father. My dad has always been very close to all 5 children.

  3. John, I find these personal accounts of your family,unsettling and interesting. I have never been to England or Scotland, but would pfer the latter.

  4. A lovely tale to read about. I came from a broken home too, my parents got divorced when I was six and I could remember how I used to be daddy's girl. Well, let the past stay in the past. happy blogging to you, sir

  5. I do love your writing and your new header. It must be hard not knowing your father but you seem to be able to deal with it. I'm sure , you as a loving father, find it difficult to comprehend a father abandoning a son. I had a son in my teens, who was adopted out ( It made me very sad but in those days there was little other choice). I was lucky that he made contact with me when he was 30. I was so excited to meet him. However, his father (not my husband) will not meet him. I can't understand that other than unlike me he has never told his wife and family of his existence. Unlike you, though, my son was brought up in a happy family even so he went off the rails after he left school but that is another story.

  6. There's only one way to find out if you really are a true Scot...ahem...could you lift your kilt please sir?

  7. I don't remember you mentioning a sister before. Is she still with you? Sadly, many fathers believe that all they must do is donate sperm. They don't realize how important it is to a child to have two parents involved in their upbringing. At least you have your children. I do hope your relationship with your daughter has improved.

  8. Emma, my blog like my life is very disjointed. My sister? A strange woman, with a badly troubled life. Thought I knew her. Turns out I never really knew her at all. This blog will go on forever, if I start writing about my mad family. If I can bear to do so.
    My daughter? There is hope.

  9. Well sisters are like that don't worry I told everyone of my six brothers they were adopted and they thought it was true for years. Sisters love you but they are evil.
    We all have strange families I could write a very very strange book that my (adopted:)) brothers would wonder if it was true or not. Life is a very funny journey sometimes hard sometimes not isn't it? B

  10. I love the bagpipes too you know. Years ago I remember one of the chaps on Gregg's ship played them and brought them along to all our parties. I often wondered what the neighbors must have really thought but I think they enjoyed them as they never complained, and the fact that we had more space between our houses must have helped and they certainly gave our get-togethers a lot of life.

    I had a Scottish aunty but she was brought up in England and though her mother had a strong brogue, my aunty lost hers in childhood. She never forgot her roots.

    Out of adversity comes strength and you seem to have found yours and become a wonderful Dad, one to be proud of I'm thinking.


  11. Your sister must have watched Barry Wom's wedding

  12. I'm good with them at a little distance. We have a piping friend, and they are hard to take in the house.

  13. Love the pipes too... and I'm getting a kily soon too.