Friday, March 06, 2009

The cultureless, consumerist, middle class, erstwhile Ulster-Scot

How many people do you know who fit this description? The reason I ask is that I spent a fair bit of time earlier this week with a man not much older than me who grew up not that far away from where I grew up. Spent much of his life in a farming community (like me), went to the local secondary school... but has completely rejected his own Ulster-Scots language and identity.

He's in some warped but slightly smug kind of denial, never missing an opportunity to scorn and ridicule Ulster-Scots and those of us who are into it. He excels in this when taking a hand out of me (translation - making fun of me), but especially in public when there are other folk within earshot. Fortunately I'm fairly accomplished at slapping people like this (verbally of course), but it's got to the point where I meet so many of them that I have decided there is clearly some kind of widespread cultural identity malaise within Ulster Prods.

So, for the time being and until I can think of a better acronym, I'm going to call these people CCMCEUS - cultureless consumerist middle class erstwhile Ulster-Scots. (It trips of the tongue as easily as UCU-NF - which is another good example of Ulster Prods and identity crisis).

Self-loathing is not a pleasant sight. For example, some folk I know from the posher bits of Belfast really wish they were English - they want it so bad it hurts, and they Anglify their accent as part of this ambition.

Listen for words like "great" being pronounced "grayt" instead of "gree-it" - it's a dead giveaway.

Real English people are no doubt really glad that these Belfast wannabes (and the other similar UK-based wannabes, like the ones in Edinburgh) are NOT English. And anyway, many English folk I know who live in southernmost England don't want to be English - they want to be French - nipping across the Chunnel for cheap wine and a weekend break in Brittany a few times a year. Air kissing is uncomfortably frequent in the south of England... this is not a practice an authentic Ulsterman can tolerate. Either do it right (and only with a woman you have a romantic attachment to) or don't do it at all. Mind you, it's hilarious seeing an Ulsterman frozen in terror having received his first air-kiss, and not knowing how to retaliate - will he reciprocate or head-butt?

There is a bit of a class dimension to this, because ordinary folk are too busy working and making ends meet to wallow in self-analysis. And they have far too much common sense forbye.

4 comments:

Elaine Briggs said...

How 'bout ye Mark!!
Well Mark, I'm afraid that I, like your friend am one of those acronyms!! I come originally from Ballymoney, the heartland o Ulster Scots. I now live in California and have to say I do have a wry smile on my face at the whole Ulster Scots 'language' idea. I grew up speaking English...that was the title of the class in school. However, what I spoke was a colloquial form of it, not a different language. A bit like here in America where they say 'trunk' I say 'boot', they say 'stroller' I say 'buggy', they say 'chips' I say 'crisps'. Does this make it a different language? I would say not. Yes, we laugh about it and have a running commentary on different words but it is still English!
These are just a few of my thoughts but I'm just a culchey frae Bellymoney Hi!

Ulsterscot said...

Fairly remarkable - but entirely predictable - that the first comment posted would be from someone embracing the acronym!

@Elaine - it seems to me that all is not lost - you have retained a little of your identity in the language you have taken with you (and yes, it is a language) - now all you need to do is recognise that you should be proud of it.

As Ulster-Scots we have a rich history and cultural heritage. If you need proof, have a roam round Mark's own blog! Pride in that identity will only make us stronger.

Hopefully, even though they've taken the girl our of Ballymoney, you'll be happy to shout loud and proud that they'll never take the Ballymoney out of the girl!!

Mark said...

Here's a comment from another reader - he tried to post it but it wouldn't work:

You have hit the nail on the head here Mark.This nancy boy trait is common throughout every segment of our society eg many Orangemen now blush when they use the word Protestant, but at the same time would be pleased to regale you all night with stories about bouncy castles and "cultural evenings"
Oh yes. And another thing, how long is it since we heard an Ulster born soccer player from across the water speak with an undiluted Ulster accent???
King James vi. of Sscotland spoke Llans . Colloquall? Part of the language!
Let us unashamedly use our own God given Ullans.

Mark said...

Hello Elaine! I reckon if you give us all a few weeks to work on you you'll be sorted out! How's California at this time of year?