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Issue 20 - First impressions last

Whisky Magazine Issue 20
December 2001


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First impressions last

Dave Broom mulls over recent world events, the stereotypes that influence first impressions and the ties that bind us all. The world to rights over a glass....

Even now it's like a dream, the feeling you've been sucked into a film set. Then the papers come and reality thunders in. They reinforce the old saying that one of the first victims of war is truth. The second is the simplistic demonisation of the enemy, in this case anyone who dissents or belongs to the ‘wrong' religion. My thoughts are with friends in New York, people I know, the families of the victims, like the barmen, waiters and busboys of the Windows on the World restaurant. But the events of September 11th made me remember another story, giving it new resonance.

On holiday in Tunisia I'd been coming up against a language problem all week. “Where are you from?” I'd be asked in French. “Ecosse,” I'd reply. Blank stare. I'd then embark on a garbled geography lesson straining my brain for the words north, snow, haggis, trying to act out kilt and cold. It was no use.

We couldn't help noticing the table of large shaven-headed men in their late 20s behind us in a restaurant. Soon, they started talking to us – you get used to it. Curiosity as to the names, occupations, and birthplaces of strangers isn't an intrusion, it's an extension of hospitality. Where I was from came up almost immediately. Once again, the Ecosse gambit failed. “Whisky!” I said eventually, a note of irritation creeping into my voice. It was greeted with huge smiles and backslaps. “Whisky! Scotchland! Johnnie Walker!” England conforms to normal linguistic parlance as Angleterre – ...

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