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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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tartan

Claiming My Heritage

It’s National Tartan Day. I’m proud to say I have the bloodline to wear a few different Scottish tartans. My father was a Carmichael, his grandmother was a McIntyre and they could prove lineage back through the Royal Stewarts. In the old days, I’m talking 1700 and 1800’s, a tartan was a visible sign of where one lived, and who that person was loyal to. Wearing a tartan you didn’t have the bloodline to claim was a punishable offense.

I lived in England from September 1974 – April 1977. My Aunt Ruth Carmichael came to visit the summer of 1976. I was talking with her about wanting to get a coat made with the McIntyre Tartan. She asked, “Why not the Royal Stewart?” then explained that it was acceptable to wear the tartan of the highest ranking family you could prove. I was elated, the Royal Stewart Tartan is bright and attractive. I got that coat, and wore it until the butt was thread bare. I even got stopped on the street one day in Thetford, Norfolk, England, and asked if I had the bloodline to wear it. How fun it was to say yes and know what I was talking about.

.royal stewart                                                           Royal Stewart Tartan

If you study tartans, you will learn that there are two or three plaids that “belong” to each family. One is worn for everyday and another for dress-up occasions. They were woven in cotton for summer wear and in wool for the winter.

Of course when I see a tartan, my mind jumps to bagpipes. I always wanted to learn to play them. I’ve been told I have enough hot air to do so. Anyway, on our recent visit to New Orleans, weren’t we surprised when one of the musicians that had been playing all of the woodwind instruments, and the harmonica, turned from the crowd, and turned back around playing a jazz harmony on the bagpipes. Everyone’s mouth dropped open. I wouldn’t have believed it was possible had I not seen, and heard, it myself. What a treat.

These days anybody can wear a tartan plaid, but if you are in Great Britain, don’t be surprised if you get questioned.

 

 

 

National Scotch Day

Scotch whisky, often simply called Scotch, is malt whisky or grain whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky must be made in a manner specified by law.  Scotch whisky was originally made from malted barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late 18th century. Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky.

All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.

The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.

Many Scotch whisky drinkers will refer to a unit for drinking as a dram.  Source -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_whisky

I included the above because it was information I did not know.  Now to the personal part.

I’m sure you know someone who is not much of a conversationalist until they have had a few drinks.  I’ve never been accused of not having anything to say, but a couple of drinks reduces my fear factor so I might be more apt to divulge inner feelings.

I know lots of people who like to do tastings of Scotch, all the different types listed above.  I also know people that like a Scotch that is so oaky it tastes like you just chewed on the wood itself.  Neither of those apply to me.  I’m much happier with bourbon.

I do have Scott blood.  My great-grandmother was a McIntryre from Perthshire, Scotland.  When I lived in England in the ’70’s I had a beautiful Royal Stewart Tartan coat.  I was stopped on the street one day and asked if I had the legal bloodline to wear it.  That was actually still a valid question at that time.  I happily told the person, “In fact I do!”  My immediate response sent them on their way.  I held my head high whenever I wore that coat.  I was sorry when I wore through the wool.

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