St Patrick’s Day Horseplay and The Donna Syndrome

You’re not Scottish — and you’re not Irish either

Celtic Chameleon
10 min readMar 13


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Ironically, nothing makes you sound more decidedly American than appropriating another country’s nationality.

How it all began — Or, Oh, I’m Scawdish!

On my first day in Sunny So Cal, back in the 90s, a friendly lady with a nasal Californian accent showed us around our apartment complex in Newport Beach. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of youthful vim and vigour, we were delighted with our new accommodations, and could hardly believe the size and comfort of the king sized bed, the cars, or the lovely well-appointed apartments — all with air conditioning, natch.

If I’m honest, it was Costa Mesa calling itself Newport Beach, which I can understand as it probably bumped the rent $200 a month.

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As we perambulated, the American lady enquired about my accent. Little did I know this was to be my fate for the rest of my life.

My Scottish cadence is an endless source of small talk, and quite useful for breaking the ice. Just last week at the checkout in Aldi, the nice man was telling me how much he loved Frankie Boyle and was suitably impressed when I explained I grew up in the same street as Frankie.

As Mr Boyle once famously said, Pollokshaws was like Bladerunner without the special effects.

I try always to remember that the person asking me these questions and discussing my accent doesn’t realise I’ve had this same conversation literally thousands of times. It’s brand new to them. I always trot out one of my stock responses with a smile and remind myself it’s nice to be noticed in a positive way.

But on that day, long ago, this was my first ever taste of “Oh, what’s that accent?” In London, they had you pegged as a Jock straight up, and treated you with suitable condescension.

And upon my fateful response “I’m Scottish” she brightly proclaimed “Oh I’m Scawdish!”