Thursday, 10 May 2007

A note to Hubris

I got my first critical comment yesterday. I suppose, I'm glad to get it out the way. And just to twist the knife in my already bleeding heart, here's what it said:

Whilst your blog is undoubtedly well crafted and funny, I am sad that you are having such a miserable time in Scotland. Obviously this is down to the fact that we Scots suffer from a lunacy, perhaps caused by cerebral hypothermia.

I wish I could apologise wholeheartedly on behalf of this miserable little country. Undoubtedly things are far better in SA. Unquestionably I am proud of a nation which in the last week has stood up against Trident, the War in Iraq, and environmental rape. Personally, I am more passionate about these issues than the temperature.

Please don't waste your time here being miserable and blogging about it. Go out. Meet some people. Learn some things.


So, there I was, bracing myself to take it on the chin – I have, after all, been a bit of a moaner – when there came a twist in the tale. Hubris turned out to be a good friend. Well, I use the phrase loosely - she was a good friend yesterday and we'll work our way back there with time. I will not lie, I was really hurt that she aired her grievances on this, my soapbox.

But, as we went through the awkward tribal dance that is making peace, she did make one valid point (well, maybe more than one, but that's as much generosity as I'm prepared to show while the wound remains raw). I have not once mentioned anything of the hospitality, kindness and friendship I have experienced since moving here. So, dear Hubris, here are some of the things I love about my current home:
  • I live on the best street in Glasgow. It's a row of terraces, which means that my neighbours live one wall away. In my street I am surrounded by people who are always ready with a cup of sugar or an hour of babysitting. People who take my mother sightseeing when she visits and who love my daughter. We share our wine and we share our woes. In my street live my Scottish family. They keep me in laughter. And, today, one kept me in tears.
  • Glasgow is a city of parks. Beautiful parks with ponds and play areas filled with wee Scottish children who are sweeter for their sometimes unintelligible accent. The parks change with the seasons. Most of all I love Autumn and Spring, periods of transition and promise which we don't really get in South Africa.
  • I secretly love that my Bambi is developing a Scottish accent all of her own. The way people speak here has a way of adding a twinkle to even the driest dialogue. If she loses the accent, I pray she keeps the twinkle.
  • The arts are valued. Until now I have lived in countries dealing with such basic socio-political issues that the arts have been a very small blip on the social radar. In South Africa it is extremely hard for even the most talented artists, musicians and performers to eke out a living. Here there is a plethora of theatres and venues, galleries and exhibitions providing to an appreciative and discerning audience. Love it.
  • Everything is available. Always. Except Soba noodles. I hear they can be hard to find.
  • The history. Old castles, fortresses and priories, meticulously maintained and just waiting for a visit from Princess Bambi and I.
  • My friends, who have also become Bambi's friends and their children who have become mine. Together we watch them play, explore and learn and get to do some playing and exploring and learning of our own. I fear the effect the loss of their presence in our lives will have, when the time comes to move on.

There is more, dear Hubris. But maybe that can be for another post.

Can I moan again now?


Gwen said...

I think that the Scots have a tendancy to be a little on the pessimistic side. However we can equally be very passionate about certain issues - Trident, the War in Iraq, and environmental rape - as Hubris has said. I also have a sneaky suspicion that people tend towards tales of woe on blogs - and that is what keeps them interesting. It is however nice to know that there is much that you enjoy about Scotland. Don't give up the blogging.

lady macleod said...

I think we Scots have a thick enough skin and enough of a sense of humor to take a bit of moaning. No one could moan more about Scotland than the Scots! Perhaps Hubris feels it is a privilage that comes only with citizenship? I say pashaw!

Annie said...

I can also say from experience that the Scots are among the friendliest, and funniest, and 'MOANIEST' people I've met!

I can also say from experience that it is hard, very hard to be away from your family in an unfamiliar country, and sometimes, especially in the relatively early days, it can be very hard not to feel down and that can come across in our dealings with others. For the first 2 years that I lived here, I was ready at any moment to step on a plane and hightail it back to Ireland. It gets better - you acclimatize to the weather (here I do not step outdoors in summer, unless I absolutely have to, the 90 degree with sticky humidity weather has me groaning just going to the mailbox and back!), and you acclimatize to the people.

I have also encountered the 'if you hate it so much here, why not go back where you came from?' from an individual who took my rantings about the health system here (which does in fairness leave a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility), to be a personal attack on her and on the USA from an 'outsider'.

I say hold your chin up, continue to write about your experiences, of all kinds and 'dinny worry yer wee heed' about Hubris!

Okay - sorry for 'blogging' in your blog ;)

Katie said...

I complain about Glasgow a lot too, but only because I love it. To me, Glasgow is like a younger sibling that I care about even though it annoys me from time to time.

Regarding soba noodles - you can usually get them at Lupe Pintos on Great Western Road. I love that store - maybe I should be their spokesperson...

Hubris said...

Thank you.

I apologise wholeheartedly for upsetting you dear friend. It was a joke too far.

In response to Lady Macleod, it isn't the moaning that I take issue with, merely the lack of balance. Now that balance is restored.

As I sit in my office typing, I look out the window and am compelled to agree with you Good Woman . . . sometimes the weather sucks.


Horrible and well named,

Hubris xxx

The Good Woman said...

Thanks Gwen. I do feel myself slowly turning a wee bit Scottish. One day I may even feel like I fit in!!

Pashaw ahoy, Lady Mac.

Annie, please do no hesitate to blog on my blog. Especially when your comments are so warm and supportive.

Katie - thanks for the heads up on Lupe Pintos. Will recommend thay pay you commission.

And Hubris... tea at mine on Tuesday?

Kaycie said...

Sounds like a perfectly wonderful existence. Wouldn't I love to live in Glasgow?

Amy said...

While Hubris may have a valid point, does she know what it is to be truly homesick? I will soon be moving to one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Sunshine Coast of Australia, yet I know that I will be sick with missing Colorado. There will be times when I love the Sunshine Coast, and times when I will hate it for it's humidity, heat, and bugs -- if nothing else, because it's not "home."

You have every right to moan about Scotland on your own blog, and Hubris could use a little understanding and empathy in her life.

After all, you did move from a paradise of sorts, to, well, Scotland. I've never been there, but give me a choice for a vacation between the two, and I can tell you which I'd choose.

(P.S. My husband is also from South Africa, and now moving to his 4th country! I hope you come visit my blog sometime soon.)

Theresa111 said...

Sounds as if Hubris may very well turn out to become your best friend. Remember…Your friends tell you and your enemies laugh. Now for your penance…no moaning for another five days. Come round for a visit. Take care!

Cursed Tea said...

I am amazed at the number of Scots on here admitting that we like a bit of a moan!! (maybe that's why we aren't independent yet..? - we couldn't moan about the English)

However I totally sympathise with the homesickness aspect. It is hard to get balance in an expat blog when you are just ever so slightly homesick (the funny thing being that the things you moan about Scotland make ME homesick!!!).

In New Orleans I find I have to be careful to balance out the dire state of the levees, the spotting rebuilding, the lack of support from the government, the state of the schools etc etc with the most wonderful architecture, people, music, food, art that I've ever experienced.

Being an expat means being two things at once. I wrote a post on this not long ago -

Moan away - I like it - it reminds me I'm Scottish :)!!!!

Best Wishes

Stay at home dad said...

That's all ended well then! It's a tricky balance, and as with life a lot of the good things remain unsaid...