​The definition of ‘paranoia’ in my dictionary (a large book containing lots of words and their meanings) is ‘a form of mental disorder characterised by constant delusions esp. of grandeur, pride, persecution; intense (esp. irrational) fear or suspicion.’.  My problem is with the word ‘delusions’!  Rather than everything I touch turning to gold, it falls apart or refuses to work.  Over the past seven days, I have bashed my car, my oven no longer heats up and, out of the millions of printer ink cartridges one could buy, I seem to have the one with invisible ink!  Forewarned that I must also buy a solution to render the ink apparent to the human eye, I would have done so BUT …  Now, tell me there isn’t somebody out to get me.  Don’t forget the phone that rings only once and cuts off any incoming call!
As I write (well, type), it is Burn’s Night – although, that will be yesterday for anyone choosing to read this on the day of posting.  Confused?  You will be.  Is it worth mentioning that that is a nod to ‘Soap’, an iconic sitcom of the 80s?  No?  Moving on, then.  Burn’s Night.  A celebrated event in the Scottish calendar or merely an excuse to over-indulge, yet again?  It may have passed me by had it not been heralded in the media and I do find the television coverage more than a little embarrassing.  Reduced to a nation of whisky-swilling kilt-wearers who, in memory of the great bard, feast on sheep’s heart, lung and liver – minced together with oatmeal, among other things, and encased in a sheep’s stomach  – in the name of haggis!  All accompanied by the bagpipes, let’s not forget, and the aforementioned copious amounts of Scotch.  Straight over my head.  I have never studied Burns – perhaps one day I should.  A vegetarian for over twenty years, there is the added fact that whisky was once responsible for the worst hangover imaginable.  Apart from almost killing me, it  resulted in my being referred to as ‘Miss Coca Cola” for the duration of a week’s luxury holiday to Penina in the Algarve!  I shall never forget hearing my brother phoning my parents on the morning of our departure – he was not coming – suggesting that they bring his suitcase as, in his own words, ‘she will never make it!’.  Suffice to say, they had to prize the bucket from me before I boarded the plane.  
Burns’s Night and the accompanying patriotic celebrations did, however, make me question what it is to be Scottish.  Anyone who knows me is well aware of my views on Nicola Sturgeon and Independence and, thus, I was enraged to learn of her proposal to restrict the flying of the Union Jack over Scottish Government buildings from fifteen days to one: namely, Remembrance Day.  Nothing if not embarrassing, it is also designed to be antagonistic.  The SNP forced a Referendum for Scottish Independence in September 2014 causing mayhem, division – and, in some cases, violence.  The nation voted ‘NO’!  In a world already so divided, thankfully the Union of 1707 remained intact.  That was over three years ago.  Time has moved on.  Nicola Sturgeon and her ego have not.
Regardless, I understand what it is to be Scottish.  It is embedded in one’s very being; one’s soul and, the moment one moves away, it can manifest itself as an ache!  I moved down to London, briefly, in my mid 20s and I yearned for the quintessential hills and glens.  Seriously, in my mind, that’s exactly what I had swapped for a huge, polluted city full of strangers; strangers united only in the quest for that elusive pot of gold and a foot on the next rung of the corporate ladder.  No camaraderie, community; rather anonymity and the loss of belonging.  Little chance of walking into a pub ‘where everyone knows your name’ …  Let me go home!
I worked in an office where the majority, by their own admittance, had never ventured north of Watford Gap.  Worse still, they had no desire to rectify the matter.  I was the only Scot and was known to tease that all television programmes north of the border were in Gaelic; that haggii flew, routinely, in the sky …  There were those who believed me.  Where the hell was she working, I hear one ask?  No, not a home for the bewildered but rather an office in East Sheen.  What my job entailed, to this day I am none the wiser.  Suffice to say, Julia and I achieved little more than filling our ashtrays with Marlboro Lights!  It was the eighties.  A lifetime ago but the memories remain.
The sound of the bagpipes invoked an instant yearning for home.  Born of Scottish parents, I grew up in Scotland.  My heritage is Scottish.  It is a part of me.  In Austria over Christmas – as in day-to-day life, I might add – I found myself correcting anyone who automatically assumed we were English.  No, Scottish.  Surprisingly, we don’t all sound or behave like Rab C. Nesbitt!  Think more Billy Connolly with that gentle Glasgow lilt, sharp brain and wonderful dry wit.  The fact is, those seen on television (particularly one!) or heard speaking on the radio are not necessarily a true representation; do not encompass the broad spectrum of those proud to be called Scottish … and British!  So, as Scotland celebrates the life of one of its own, may it be for his literary genius which, I fear, may be buried under haggis, neeps and tatties.
I look up Robert Burns in my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and, perusing those listed, I vow to curtail my ignorance.  The following are chosen for different reasons:  the first, well the words and imagery are just so evocative; the second, I have never seen it written but I know it so well!  Memories of my childhood come flooding back as I hear myself singing … embedded in my psyche and in my heart.
‘But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white … then melts forever.’
Tam o’Shanter (1791) l. 67
‘My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go’
My Heart’s in the Highlands (1790)
This is Trish, signing off.