Monday, June 10, 2002

Okay, I'm back from Scotland. We headed up to Glasgow, where we had a lecture on how the Scottish Parliament works, which was as interesting as anything can be after sitting on a train for six hours. He did win the prize for "best joke told in Scotland during my trip," though, with the following:
Classmate: "Weird, I hear Scottish music coming from that room over there..."
Lecturer: "Yes, it's piped in."

Anyway, we then wandered around Glasgow, which was a decent city, though not all that interesting. The next day, we met with Keith Raffen in Edinburgh, a Lib-Dem MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament), who was a very entertaining guy, though he was one of the "Dirty Dozen" Conservatives that ousted Thatcher. The Lib-Dems seem to essentially be like American Libertarians, sometimes being so right that you want to pump your fist, and sometimes being so mind-bogglingly wrong that you want to bang your head against the table a few times. Anyway, after his dissing of Thatcher and Reagan, I decided not to ask him a softball question designed to stroke his ego as a way of saying "thank-you" for taking the time to speak with us. After that, we had a few hours in Edinburgh to ourselves. The idea was that we would go with our professor to a pub and eat lunch while discussing what we'd learned about the Scottish Parliament. Most of the guys and I really wanted to see the imminent England-Argentina game, while the girls all wanted to go shopping. Our professor, not caring about soccer, wasn't going to let us go. However, the first pub we went to had a broken fryer, so they weren't serving food. As we were walking along searching for another, one of the girls piped up with "Professor, how about we all split so the boys can watch their game?" No sooner had he said that this was okay, and that those who wanted to could accompany him to Holyrood (where the Scottish Parliament building was being constructed), than the girls vanished. The guys were left essentially in a position where we had to go with the professor, and making me realize that we'd been used. In any case, we went to another pub which also turned out not to be serving food, but we watched the first half of the game there since we were all tired and felt like sitting. England scored, and we were happy (though more than a few Scots were going for Argentina since they apparently hate the English, which seems more than a little immature to me). After this, the guys left and we found another pub, where we watched the second half and England hold on to beat Argentina. From there, it was time to look in the shops, which all seemed to be selling swords and plaid. It occurred to me fairly quickly that something was amiss, since every store had virtually the same merchandise at the exact same price. Since none of them had anything in my family tartan, I decided to wait until I went to the Robertson Museum to make my purchases. We then met up by the Scott Monument, which looks like a structure of Pure Evil rising up from the center of the city. If I had to imagine a demonic church rising out of the ground at the Apocalypse, it would look a lot like the Scott Monument. From there, we met a friend of my professor's who was a rabid SNP (Scottish National Party) member who wanted independence for Scotland. I talked to him, and got the impression that while the Scottish may dislike the English, they wouldn't do very well on their own, and besides which have a disproportionate influence as members of the United Kingdom. I had planned to go to Perthshire the next day, to see my family museum. However, one of the girls at our table had been left out of the planning (we all had the weekend free, and were going in different directions), and asked if she could go with me. I couldn't very well say no (don't snicker, I try to be a gentleman), so off we went the next day.
I took a train to Perth, where we got a hotel room cheap (with three beds, which was an unexpected bonus). From there, I travelled to Pitlochry and then Blair Atholl, in an attempt to get to the hamlet of Bruar, where the museum was. However, along the way I walked by Blair Castle, so I decided to go have a look around. Figuring that it couldn't take very long, I didn't have a problem with it. The castle itself was very impressive, with plenty of 18th- and 19th-century expensive stuff on the walls. Unfortunately, it was also huge, and so by the time I finished, my museum was closed. I plan to go to Scotland again while I'm over here, but I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get a chance to see the museum on Saturday. The next day, I headed back to Glasgow, and then back to London. It was a fun enough trip, and Scotland is exceptionally beautiful, but I still wish I'd made it to Bruar.

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