When I was in Europe in July this year, I got to go to Scotland for the first time. This was a Big Deal as my family has a lot of ties to Scotland (including a town that holds my surname). While we drove through the hills and past the Lochs of Scotland, we listened to the Proclaimers, possibly the most Scottish band ever. Now whenever I hear their songs I am transported back to Edinburgh, Leith, Bathgate, Glasgow, Newton Stewart or Creetown.
Scotland’s history is vast and rich – it was only joined with England a little over 300 years ago when Elizabeth I died without an heir and it passed to her cousin’s son – James I, the child of Mary, Queen of Scots (whom Elizabeth had executed). It’s always been complicated between England and Scotland.
But Scotland, like Australia in many ways, has often acted as a refuge for those fleeing Europe or England. It was a stopping point between most of Europe and the New World of America for those brave enough to make the journey.
When you think of Scotland’s story you may only think of red hair, pale faces and surnames starting with Mac, but it’s wider and richer than that.
In the Proclaimers’ song, Scotland’s Story, they celebrate all the Scots – whatever their story.
In Scotland’s story I’m told that they came
The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane
But where’s all the Chinese and Indian names?
They’re in my lands story and they’re all worth the same
Christina McKay, I learned of your name
How you travelled south from Delny one day
You raised a whole family in one room they say
And the X on the line stands in place of your name
So in the old story I’ll bet that I came
From Gael and Pict and Angle and Dane
And a poor migrant girl who could not write her name
It’s a common old story but it’s mine just the same
The same is true for Australia. Whatever your story – new or old or returned or visiting – your place amongst us is valid and you belong. Whether it’s the common old story or a truly unique tale, it’s valuable and adds to our collective story as the Nation of Australia. We’re glad you’re here. We’re excited to hear your story.
Read the lyrics to Scotland’s Story here and listen to the whole song here: