If there’s such a thing as genetic memory, it kicked in when we got to Scotland eight years ago.
It wasn’t a feeling of coming home, that’s definitely New Zealand, but there was a sense of familiarity and recognition.
The prosaic explanation for this could be similarities in the landscape which made me realise why the Scots felt at home in the southern South Island. But the romantic in me put the sense of connection down to the knowledge that this was the land from which my forbears came.
My mother’s grandfather and all her great grandparents were Scottish. My father was born and brought up there and although he moved to New Zealand in his late 20s and spent nearly three quarters of his life here and loved the land he chose, he also retained a close affinity to the land of his birth.
In many ways he became more Scottish as he aged. The kilt which was worn only when he went to Scottish Country Dancing when my brother and I were children, became a staple part of his wardrobe and his clothing of choice for semi formal and formal occasions. Even now, nearly nine years after his death I meet people who tell me they remember Charlie in his kilt, greeting them at the church door on Sundays or addressing the haggis on Burns night.
For all the great inventions and distinguished people that have come out of Scotland, St Andrew’s Day doesn’t get the recognition that St Patrick’s Day does. While I’m quite happy that it hasn’t been commercialised my tarten genes called for a post in recognition of Scotland’s patron saint.