Scotland is a great place to study and write, chiefly because the weather is so bad.
I’m only half joking. Well, no I’m completely not joking at all.
I mean, look at Scotland, a country with some of the most beautiful and scenic beaches in the world that nobody has ever heard of because it’s completely dreich outside. Who wants to go to the beach to be cold? Who intends to go to the beach and return paler than when they first went out?
The weather is so gloomy that the ingenious Scots created an onomatopoeic word that sounds just like the weather. Dreich, of course, is that word, a word that defines itself when spoken aloud.
Dreich is a particularly sinister and sneaky form of weather and, much like waterboarding, it is designed not to kill you but instead make you wish you were dead. Also, like waterboarding again, its repetition is what gets to you.
It’s dreich on Monday, dreich on Tuesday, dreich on Wednesday and on Thursday…also dreich but with a patch of sun at around three in the afternoon that lasts until about four in the afternoon. Just enough sun so that you can peak out of your office window and think that at five, when you will be leaving, maybe the weather will be good. At five, when you are leaving, it’s dreich.
If you don’t live in London, of course, you hate London because that’s where all the people you hate live. (Except for Piers Morgan, who lives in New York, but if you lived in the UK you can bet he’d live in London.) To complicate matters Londoners hate London because it’s also where all the people they hate live as well.
If you live in Edinburgh or Glasgow, not only do you hate London but you also envy its sun. Yes, let’s go over that again, people in Scotland envy London because it’s sunnier in London. That proves everything is relative and pale Londoners’ lifting pints of warm ale in a musty pub look like Hawaiians at a Luau to people in Renfrewshire.
Scotland, of course, has a grand literary and intellectual tradition. There is a lot to think about when you are waiting for it to warm up and stop raining.
Perhaps this is the reason the statue of David Hume on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh is clad it what could be a tartan toga. He is hoping to get a tan through the heat of a drunken tourist passing him on the street. In the meantime, he’ll invent the Enlightenment.
Adam Smith, across the street, discovered the law of supply and demand when he tried to open a pop-up ice cream shop next to St Giles in February. He had plenty of time to write the Wealth of Nations whilst waiting for a customer.
All this bad weather keeps Scots writers tapping away on laptops, typewriters or scribbling with quills, depending on the era, because they just can’t face another day of dreich. Would Hogwarts be created on a beach in California? I think not.
It’s why Robbie Burns himself, the national bard, had so many mistresses. He was trying to stay warm.
Of course, there are people who write novels in places like Miami, Provence and Madrid. They are just weird and should get outside more.
In Scotland, there is no excuse not to write. So let’s hear it for the dreich!