Monday, 23 November 2009

The Wee Book of Calvin by Bill Duncan

A hilarious exploration of the North-East of Scotland, The Wee Book of Calvin analyses the people of the region through their language and behaviour with particular attention paid to all things dour...

Of course, no book on Scotland can omit its most famous alcoholic export, Whisky. Uisge beath. The water of life:

‘Freedom and whisky gang thegither’, according to Scotland’s national Bard. In the North-East, wild mood swings, gratuitous insult, physical and verbal abuse of strangers, imagined slight, self-injury, false bonhomie, spontaneous singing of Frank Sinatra songs in a broad Dundonian accent, delirium tremens, unwanted sexual attentions, incontinence, unaccompanied public dancing, indecent exposure, memory blackout, insolvency, uncontrollable facial tics, temporary loss of motor functions, social ridicule, divorce, sexual dysfunction, random violence, a face prematurely ravaged by thousands of ruptured blood vessels and whisky gang thegither.

Duncan gives a potted history of distilling in Scotland, before ruminating on some of its more unfortunate side effects, exemplified by some horrifying newspaper headlines gleaned from the local press:

Each instance of fracas, disorder and alcoholic mayhem accompanied by the tired litany: ‘The accused had been drinking heavily... the accused had no recollection of the incident... a history of alcohol-related offences.’

He leaves us with a treatise on the hangover, with its age-old trinity of sin, guilt and self-loathing. The hangover, his uncle once explained to him, is the yin to whisky’s yang: a Calvinist he recognized The Hangover as a necessary moral device, balancing polarized cosmic forces in a zen-like harmony, each moment of pleasure tempered by the certainty of its opposite.

Or to put it more simply:

The hangover – yer payment fur havin a guid time.

1 comment:

  1. Well the Calvinists have a point. Drinking in public may lead to sex standing up. And THAT could possibly lead to DANCING!