The psyche of a nation is a contested in sociological terms; you know the old argument about how your sense of right and wrong, your attitude and your personality can be shaped by something as malleable as the lines on a map.
It is also well known that we Scots are a self-deprecating lot who spend most of our time with furrowed brows thinking of something sarcastic to say. It’s just the way is. In John F. V. Eunson’s brilliant Caledonication these humour and quip traits are there aplenty.
Essentially this is a book that looks at the history of Scotland with an emphasis on the light-hearted and believe me given the history of this great nation generally involves blood and battles, it is a pip to turn something as gruesome as the Scottish history in to a laugh-a-page offering, which is exactly what Eunson achieves.
He describes the 1890 opening of the Forth Road Bridge as being ‘Good news for local painters’ and suggests that the Old Firm have turned the religious divide ‘into a highly lucrative business model.’
But it is not just modern history he looks at and the book reads in pretty much a chronological order at the outset. In an early observation he tackles the standing stones which are prevalent in the Western Isles and the Orkneys but laments the fact that the locals will probably stop making architectural discoveries as they no longer have to cut peat for heating.
Caledonication is laced with satire, observational humour and some downbeat takes on the last 9,000 years of Scottish history. If you want to know more about the country which gave the world the telephone, television, steam engine, modern economic theory, deep fried chocolate and the KKK, but don’t want to be bored to the point of narcolepsy, then get your hands on this as soon as you can.