Whisky Magazine Issue 43
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Being Scottish isn't being depressed, you know. Not all the time, anyway
There was an intriguing story on the radio recently. A man claiming to be suffering from depression had been baffling psychiatrists, none of whom could work out what the root cause of his condition was. Eventually one shrink arrived at the correct diagnosis.
“You're not depressed,” he opined. “You're Scottish”.
My wife – who is English – was overjoyed. According to her I only ever listen to ‘depressing' music.
I counter that country music (which is basically what she's talking about – with an extra smattering of Nick Cave) isn't depressing, but cathartic.
Let me give you an example of a lyric: “An empty bottle, a broken heart, and you're still on my mind.”
Is that depressing or strangely uplifting? If it is the latter, then you can see that what appears to be maudlin self pity is in fact acceptance – and a cry of forgiveness. See this, and you have an understanding of west coast sensibilities. It's a complex, paradoxical, state of mind – something which was brought home when I returned home to Glasgow for Whisky Live.
For the first time in my life I was allowed into the ostentatious brown marble interior of the City Chambers, a triumph of Victorian municipal architecture – all high ceilings, gilt and Escher-like staircases.
It was built at a time when Glasgow was the second city of the Empire and home to some of the worst slums in the western world. Contradictory? Glaswegian. Where else would you find a placard-carrying prohibitionist happily ...