A Short History of Anglo-Scottish Rivalry

There’s something about this referendum that feels a little bit like marriage counselling. Scotland: the flighty wife, tired of always being the butt of jokes at dinner parties, never getting to watch what she wants on the telly, never getting the spotlight, thinks she’s outgrown old reliable England. ‘You’re boring’, she claims, ‘stuck in your ways. You never tell me how you feel. I want excitement, I want change, I want my independence back’. And we stand there, pretending to be shocked and hurt, but we can’t lie; we’ve seen it coming for a while. We don’t really care. We can’t remember the last time we agreed on anything: football, politics, what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet. We’re sick of all that deep-fried food she keeps cooking us, sick of her extravagant, rolling Rs, sick of hearing about Bannockburn again, every time she’s had a bit too much to drink. Sitting there, on the therapist’s couch, I want to recount the ups and downs of Anglo–Scot relations.

The earliest acknowledgement of tension between the cultured people of southern Albion and the warring barbarians from the Highlands came with the Romans, who built two huge walls to keep them apart: the Roman emperor Hadrian knocked up the first in AD 122 and then Antoninus Pius the second, which extended much deeper into Scotland, in AD 142. Traditionally these have been seen by historians as a desperate defence against the blue-faced barbarians they could never conquer; but it turns out that, actually, the north of England was just about as far as the Romans wanted to go. There was nothing to tempt them across the border. Fragments of letters have recently been discovered from Roman soldiers stationed on the walls – none of them mention nightmares of fearsome Scots, though one contains a desperate plea for more warm socks. Hadrian’s Wall was never designed to prevent migration or to repel invaders, but was erected as a way of regulating and taxing imports. Scotland might like to brag – at the pub, pint of whisky in hand – about how fearsome its warriors were, but no legion was ever stationed at Hadrian’s Wall; only customs soldiers.

Over the next thousand years things plodded along calmly enough. The Scots kept their hand in with a little light raiding of English cattle, but otherwise we coexisted like good neighbours (if good neighbours with a hefty fence between us). But their first really ambitious move was when Scots king Malcolm III challenged England’s, that bastard William (sorry, I mean William the Bastard), in 1072. When William grumpily reached the Scottish borders, Malcolm (whose nickname was Big Head) employed the shrewd tactic of immediately surrendering. But it was all part of a cunning master plan to destabilise England. By 1075 William’s own earls were revolting and within ten years he was dead.

After that our relationship was on rocky territory. Neither side trusted the other. If mobile phones had existed back then, you could bet that England would be sneaking a look at Scotland’s texts every time she left the room. England’s preferred enemy has always been the French, but spending every summer fighting in Normandy could drag. In 1296 Edward I clearly wanted a change and so he invaded Scotland and deposed King John. A certain William Wallace (so memorably and inaccurately captured in the tartan-clad blockbuster Braveheart), offered up some resistance at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, but the aptly named Hammer of the Scots soon had him hung out to dry – in five different locations.

In 1314 Robert the Bruce, one of Edward’s trusted commanders, was sent north to police the Highlands. But he decided to change sides along the way. He surprised the Hammer’s son, Edward II (sadly more of a spanner) at Bannockburn and, much to their surprise, the English were trounced. The first Parliament of Scotland met and, two years later, Edward III (more of a sledgehammer) signed the Treaty of Northampton, which recognised Scottish independence. But he was only joking and invaded the following year.

Scotland bided her time, grumbling to anyone who would listen about how mistreated she had been, and waited for the English to get distracted. When Henry VIII declared war on France in 1513, Scotland grabbed her moment and promptly invaded the north of England. This wasn’t a success: they were promptly crushed at the Battle of Flodden Field and those few left alive limped home and continued plotting revenge.

Here’s a name that pops up every time we fight: Mary, Queen of Scots. When Mary married the French dauphin in 1558 the English were alarmed: our two ancient Catholic enemies were uniting. But the French prince died young and Scotland’s beautiful princess turned out more Lindsey Lohan than Grace Kelly. Eventually she ran away from Edinburgh Castle and Elizabeth I’s England was the only place that would take her in (and looked after her for twenty years). But, still unsatisfied with her comfy Yorkshire castle, Mary plotted revenge (unsuccessfully) against her cousin, Elizabeth, and was beheaded for treason. But she had the last laugh. When Elizabeth died childless in 1603, Mary’s son James inherited the crown and Scotland and England were united (unsurprisingly, James left Scotland as soon as he could and never went back).

Unfortunately, England’s new Scottish royal family proved neither steady nor popular. James’ son Charles I, a Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen type of a king more famous for his flamboyantly ruffled collar than his parliamentary prowess, proved such a poor king that after a civil war that claimed around 200,000 lives, the English parliament tried him for treason and chopped his head off. The Stuarts got another chance with Charles II, but when he died without an heir and his very unpopular brother inherited the throne, England decided they’d rather have a Dutchman named after a fruit than another Scot.

England was in a re-conciliatory mood, keen to patch things up, and so, in 1707, offered the political equivalent of a diamond ring: the Act of Union. We weren’t just great, we were Great Britain.

Not everyone was happy with this and Scottish nationalists claimed the Scottish signatories were bribed. The poet Robert Burns later wrote: ’We are bought and sold for English gold. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.’

In 1745 the last of the Stuarts, the self-styled Bonnie Prince Charlie, capitalised on Scottish anger about the Act of Union and raised an army in the Highlands to claim the Scottish and English throne. But unfortunately for the Scots he wasn’t much of a soldier and wimpishly stationed himself so far behind the battle lines that he couldn’t actually see what a terrible mess he’d made of battle strategy. When his army met the English forces at Culloden they were completely crushed. Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to Europe, dressed as a girl, leaving his supporters to face the extremely unpleasant consequences of their rebellion. Laws were passed condemning any man who wore a kilt to seven years in prison or transportation (this was the original crime against fashion). The English then began a brutal land-grab that became known as the Highland Clearances, an atrocity remembered by a ten-foot bronze statue in Sutherland and, less surprisingly, a urinal in a Glasgow pub bearing the names of those responsible so that customers can show their appreciation.

So, Scotland, you want to be your own country. Well, fair enough, but who are you going to turn to when things aren’t going your way? That old historical ally, France? Spain perhaps? Maybe Ireland? That’s a rhetorical question because we all know, don’t we? Once she’s had her fun – travelled the world, got a tattoo and spent all her money – she’ll come back to us. And will we help her? The answer is probably yes, because that is the English way. Despite generations, or even centuries, of Scottish insults and attacks, she can rely on our support when she needs it. It’s the small-island mentality that has repelled would-be invaders for thousands of years and built up a defensive mentality. It is why we do not learn other languages, are hostile to foreign tourists, will not listen to their music with any enjoyment and think their bathrooms are a disgrace.

Scotland, we know we’ve been harsh at times. We know we’ve been distracted, unfair and dismissive. But do you really want to call it quits? You still look great in that tartan skirt you always wear. Couldn’t we put our differences aside and be great (Britain) again?
Albert Jack
What enemy would invade Scotland, where there is nothing to be got?
Samuel Johnson

It’s nae good blamin it oan the English fir colonising us. Ah don’t hate the English. They’re just wankers. We are colonised by wankers. We can’t even pick a decent, vibrant, healthy culture to be colonised by. No. We’re ruled by effete arseholes. What does that make us? The lowest of the fuckin low, tha’s what, the scum of the earth. The most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat intae creation. Ah don’t hate the English. They just git oan wi the shite thuv goat. Ah hate the Scots.’
Renton in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting

Edinburgh is the loft extension of England.
Al Murray

[On the Geordies] I love them. They’re beautiful people. A genetically engineered race of hawklike people whose sole responsibility it is to keep the Scots out of England.
Al Murray

Asked by a Scot what Johnson thought of Scotland: ‘That it is a very vile country, to be sure, Sir.’ ‘Well, Sir!’ (replies the Scot, somewhat mortified), ‘God made it.’ Johnson: ‘Certainly he did; but we must always remember that he made it for Scotchmen, and comparisons are odious, Mr. S——; but God made hell.’
Samuel Johnson

Braveheart is pure Australian shite . . . William Wallace was a spy, a thief, a blackmailer – a c**t basically. And people are swallowing it. It’s part of a new Scottish racism, which I loathe – this thing that everything horrible is English. It’s conducted by the great unread and the conceited w***ers at the SNP, those dreary little pr**ks in Parliament who rely on bigotry for support.
Billy Connolly

When he awoke it was dawn. Or something like dawn. The light was watery, dim and incomparably sad. Vast, grey, gloomy hills rose up all around them and in between the hills there was a wide expanse of black bog.

Stephen had never seen a landscape so calculated to reduce the onlooker to utter despair in an instant. ‘This is one of your kingdoms, I suppose, sir?’ he said. ‘My kingdoms?’ exclaimed the gentleman in surprise. ’Oh, no! This is Scotland!’
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!
Samuel Johnson

There was a Scotsman, an Englishman and Claudia Schiffer sitting together in a carriage in a train going through Wales. Suddenly the train went through a tunnel and as it was an old-style train, there were no lights in the carriages and it went completely dark. Then there was this kissing noise and the sound of a really loud slap. When the train came out of the tunnel, Claudia Schiffer and the Scotsman were sitting as if nothing had happened and the Englishman had his hand against his face as if he had been slapped.

The Englishman was thinking: ‘The Scottish fella must have kissed Claudia Schiffer and she missed him and slapped me instead.’

Claudia Schiffer was thinking: ‘The English fella must have tried to kiss me and actually kissed the Scotsman and got slapped for it.’

And the Scotsman was thinking: ‘This is great. The next time the train goes through a tunnel I’ll make that kissing noise and slap that English b**tard again.’


Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here

Rose Verses Thistle (Divided by Language)


English is technically the official language of both Scotland and England but the Scots have twisted the language they speak over the last few centuries into something almost unintelligible. Whether they have been trying to evolve an entirely new language to safely discuss their independence plans in front of oblivious English people, or simply to stop any non-Scot enjoying golfing holidays, we will probably never know.

In England, however, we developed a manner of communicating – called speaking – a very long time ago, during a period when the Scots were at the gesticulating-and-grunting stage. Out of the wheezes and squawks of Geordie, Brummie, Scouse, Manc and Mackem, our public-schooled elite nurtured a rarefied form of their mother tongue, nourished by Milton and Wordsworth, and enunciated in tones purged of the guttural Northern vowels and Essex glottal stops: Received Pronunciation. How – the argument ran – could provincials so benighted as to mouth words like clarty, stottie, minging or alreet be thought to animate such linguistic monstrosities with wit or intellect? It stood to reason that the upper classes – to whom girls were ‘gels’ and your father was ‘deddih’ – had happened upon a language fit for angels. ‘Do pa-ass your mathar the ba-ath bans and the batter-dish’.

Throughout England different regions have slowly developed their own dialects, perhaps the most famous being Cockney rhyming slang. When I was growing up this was used widely in our house, so I always knew when it was time to head for the ‘apples’ or ‘up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire’, or if Granddad was ‘having a sherbet in the rub a dub’ of a Sunday dinnertime.

So what can anybody who speaks proper English expect when they visit our Caledonian cousins? I’ll start by asking the one question any visitor to Scotland needs: ‘Please could you direct me to the nearest bar?’ (Fortunately because of the BBC they can easily understand our English accents, but of course this might not last in an independent Scotland.) So far so good, until they reply, ‘Alreet big mon, yer lukkin fur a’ wee dram? Neigh dangur, hees wat ya wann doi, reet. Reet dunn tha reed reet, bat ha bus stop on yer lift. Un maind ha ya gee,’ which translates as: ‘Hello, sir, are you looking for a drink? No problem. What you want to do is go straight down the road and the bar is on the left by the bus stop.’ No wonder all the guidebooks on Scotland advise you that the best thing to do is to get so drunk that it all makes sense (not their actual words, but you get the drift).
It’s not really their fault though. The English have Shakespeare: the Immortal Bard, spouting pentameters as easily as breathing, his pen charged with manna rather than ink. The Scots equivalent is Robert Burns (aka Rabbie Bins); and what hope can you have when the finest flower of your literature is a pedlar of folksy jingles, barely legible behind the mush of phonetic spelling? This is the first verse of his famous ‘Address to a Haggis’, the centrepiece of any Burns Night celebration:

Fair fa’ yer honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s me arrrm.

Ignoring the question of why on earth anyone would want to write a poem to a glorified pile of tripe in the first place, what he means is this:

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face
Great chieftain of the pudding race!
Above them all you take your place,
Gut, stomach lining or intestine
You are well worth a grace
As long as my arm.

Which raises the question: why couldn’t he just say that in the first place? The reason, I believe, is that the Scots do not want us to understand what they are saying. So, although an independent Scotland will be taking the English language with them, without us to translate for them they will have to start learning it properly if the rest of the world is going to understand anything they are saying.

If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.

Doug Larson

English, a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages and rifles in their pockets for spare vocabulary

Urban Dictionary



France – Les Rosbifs: the ‘roast beefs’. A Gallic commentary on the national cuisine, not just the sunburn.

Malaysia – Mat Salleh: ‘mad sailor’. The crews of English sailing ships got pickled as newts in port and the name has stuck.

Roman Empire – Brittunculus: translates from Latin as ‘wretched little Brit’.

South Africa – Soutie: from soutpiel, meaning ‘salt penis’ in Afrikaans. The idea is that the English have one leg in South Africa and one leg in England, leaving a certain appendage dangling in the brine . . .

America – English are called ‘Limeys’ since Royal Navy rations included limes to prevent scurvy. However, they could have been ‘Krauts’, as Captain Cook tried them on sauerkraut first but his men refused to eat it.

NB (Cockney rhyming slang for a Scot is ‘sweaty’: ‘sweaty sock’ = ‘Jock’.)


[The English] have a lot of trouble with pronunciation, because they can’t move their jaw muscles, because of malnutrition caused by wisely refusing to eat English food, much of which was designed and manufactured in medieval times during the reign of King Walter the Mildly Disturbed. Dave Barry, Dave Barry Talks Back

A cut glass English accent can fool unsuspecting Americans into detecting a brilliance that isn’t there. Stephen Fry

Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here

Rose Verses Thistle (The Class System)

Chapter 2 – The Class System

Over 60 years have passed since George Orwell described England as ‘the most class-ridden country under the sun’ and he would be as disappointed as I am that the class system is still alive and well both north and south of Hadrian’s Wall. For centuries now, whether they be working class, middle class, down and out, up and coming, a toff, or an obscenely rich banker who could do with my sister’s sort of back-hander (which are not delivered in envelopes), the English and the Scots have grown up understanding where they fit into society.

The aristocracy of both England and Scotland is made up of people who have forgotten the humiliating lengths their distant ancestors went to achieve power and position. I was once unfortunate enough to find myself in the Royal Enclosure at Epsom on Derby Day, in an attempt to study the upper classes, only to hear one very well spoken lady say to another, ‘well, of course, we all know the Royal Family are naff.’ Maybe so, madam, but can we assume you live on your sprawling country estate because one of your ancestors wiped a royal bottom every day for twenty years? Or had sex with it?

Because that is how the class system of England was developed in the first place. Peerages and other noble honours have been handed out in England to royal favourites since King Edward III initiated the first English Dukedoms by naming his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, the Duke of Cornwall in 1337. Ever since then the reigning monarch of England has been creating Viscounts, Earls, Marquises and Barons out of his or her favourite lackey, loafer or lover. Meanwhile, north of the border, our neighbours were looking enviously over the fence.

And perhaps that’s why the reveal has not emerged throughout the language there as it has in England over the centuries. The reveal, by the way, is what I call the words that can always tell me as much as I need to know about a person’s background. For example, when I hear somebody asking for directions to the lavatory I know they are from the upper classes because any normal person would ask for the bathroom, or toilet. Of course, asking for the loo or the bog reveals something entirely different. And do you take a spot of lunch at lunch time or is that dinner time? Perhaps you make a point of having afternoon tea instead of a can of lager as they prefer in Caledonia. I know I do. And then there is the last meal of the day. For some people that is called dinner whilst others are asked what they want for their tea. When I hear these words I know who you are, and where you come from.

If you say to me, when we meet, ‘how do you do,’ then I know how to reply. But if you say ‘alright mate’ then you can expect a different one. If you react to a surprise by saying ‘good gosh’ you are one kind of Englishman and if you say ‘bloody hell’ you are another, completely different kind. Either way you are not Scottish who would say something along the lines of ‘ohh ach the nach nook.’ You may be a huntsman or a saboteur. And you will be different Englishmen. It took an Irishman to sum up that peculiar noble pastime when Oscar Wilde dismissed it as ‘the unspeakable in full pursuit of the inedible.’

Is it balderdash or bullshit, fiddlesticks or fish hooks, blimey o’rielly, jeepers or cripes? Do you say ‘for crying out loud’ or ‘gor blimey?’ Am I a gentleman, bloke, geezer or a bonnie lad? If you use these words you reveal your background and where you come from in a manner that only another Englishman would instinctively understand whilst, at the same time, would confuse the Scottish. The class system and the way we reveal it is inherent in England. What is peculiar is that both the upper class and the working class appear proud of their status whilst those in the middle aspire, or pretend, to be one or the other.


My folks were English . . . we were too poor to be British. ~ Bob Hope, My Life in Jokes

The English country gentleman galloping after a fox – the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable. ~ Oscar Wilde

He would not allow Scotland to derive any credit from Lord Mansfield; for he was educated in England. ‘Much’, said he, ‘may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.’ ~ James Boswell, speech at the House of Commons, 1828

In England only uneducated people show off their knowledge; nobody quotes Latin or Greek authors in the course of conversation, unless he has never read them. ~ George Mikes

It is not that the Englishman can’t feel…it is that he is afraid to feel. He has been taught at his public school that feeling is bad form. He must not express great joy or sorrow, or even open his mouth too wide when he talks… his pipe might fall out if he did. ~ E.M. Forster

English clubs are very exclusive. I played Royal Foxshire and they made me wear a suit and tie. . . in the shower. ~ Bob Hope, Confessions of a Hooker

Here was my first lesson on the resolutely maintained untidiness and ill-health of the English upper orders. In baggy evening dress and old before their time, they displayed gapped and tangled teeth in loosely open mouths. Gently shedding dandruff, they lurched across the lawn. ~ Clive James, Falling towards England

What class am I? All three! ~ Grayson Perry

I was once naïve enough to ask the late Duke of Devonshire why he liked the town of Eastbourne.  He replied with a self-deprecating shrug that one of the things he liked was that he owned it.  ~ A N Wilson

One has often wondered whether, upon the whole earth, there is anything so unintelligent, so unapt to perceive how the world is really going, as an ordinary young Englishman of our upper class. ~ Matthew Arnold

Class is something bred into us like a religious faith. We drink in our aesthetic heritage with our mother’s milk, with our mates at the pub, or on the playing fields of Eton. We learn the texture of our place in the world from the curlicue of a neck tattoo, the clank of a Le Creuset casserole dish, or the scent of a mouldering hunting print. A childhood spent marinating in the material culture of one’s class means taste is soaked right through you. Cut me and, beneath the thick crust of Islington, it still says “Essex” all the way through. ~ Grayson Perry

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

King Arthur: Bloody peasant!

Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, didn’t you?

~ Monty Python and the Holy Grail

If someone is very upper-class, you have a stereotype of him which is probably true. If someone has a working-class accent, you have no idea who you’re talking to. ~ Michael Caine

Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here

Rose Verses Thistle (Manners and Etiquette)


Manners are extremely important to the English.  Our speech is littered with how are you, please and thank you, although these are signs of politeness rather than of actual gratitude; we don’t really care how you are.  We have a hatred of appearing to show off, even when we actually are showing off. Our Nobel Prize or Oscar can only be referred to indirectly and then placed in the downstairs toilet. Opening a car door is for gentlemanly reasons and not for sneaking a glimpse up a lady’s frock and we do not spit, belch, break wind or speak with our mouths full.

When it comes to manners, the Scots are rather more direct.   In England the words ‘excuse me’ are usually used as a way to attract a person’s attention. In Scotland if you hear somebody say ‘excuse me,’ followed by ‘Jimmy’ it normally signals the start of a confrontation. There are also certain taboos running throughout Scottish society and mentioned in many guidebooks, the most important of which appear to be never turning down a drink if offered, always buying a round in return and, most importantly of all, never, ever calling a Scotch person English.

Another guide-book warns tourists to avoid football fans, recommends Irn Bru, encourages pub crawls, urges readers to become ‘merrily drunk’ on whisky, carry an umbrella at all times and avoid council estates. The guide-book goes on to say ‘please do not expect to receive the same quick, polite and accurate service here to compare with the service in Japan. Be patient anywhere in Scotland, this is not Japan.’ Wise advice indeed, apart from the Irn Bru part.  Finally it explained that the Scots are a ‘low contact’ type of people and that, instead of touching or standing close, it is better to remain at least one arm’s length from a Scotsman. This is also good advice although, if you are English, you may want to make this at least a couple of miles.


An Englishman even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one. ~ GEORGE MIKES

When I first read this comment, I thought it was an amusing exaggeration but then I found not only that it was true, but also that I do it myself. When waiting alone for a bus or at a taxi stop, I do not lounge about anywhere roughly within striking distance of the stop as people do in other countries – I stand directly under the sign, facing in the correct direction, exactly as if I were at the head of a queue. I form a queue of one. If you are English, you probably do this too. ~ Kate Fox, Watching the English

I’m amazed by how compliant people are in this country. They go into service stations – “cathedrals of despair”, as I call them – where baseball-capped ghouls of the night lord it over their congealed bean kingdoms, their fried-bread twilights, their neon demi-mondes, tempting you to enter to become them, undead. ‘Ooh, beans on toast, £18.95, very reasonable. Oh no, I’m not going to complain. They probably pump them up from London in special tubes.’ ~ Bill Bailey

When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in Scotland. ~ Bette Midler

Once upon a time the English knew who they were… They were polite, excitable, reserved and had hot-water bottles instead of a sex-life: how they reproduced was one of the mysteries of the western world…They were class-bound, hidebound and incapable of expressing their emotions. They did their duty. Fortitude bordering on the incomprehensible was a byword: ‘I have lost my leg, by God!’ exclaimed Lord Uxbridge, as shells exploded all over the battlefield. ‘By God, and have you!’ replied the Duke of Wellington. ~Jeremy Paxman, The English

I was allowed to ring the bell for assembly [at school]. It was the beginning of power. ~ Geoffrey Archer

To be born English and healthy is to win first prize in the lottery of life. ~ Cecil Rhodes

Ask any man what nationality he would prefer to be, and ninety-nine out of a hundred will tell you that they would prefer to be Englishmen. ~ Cecil Rhodes

Today, as most true Englishmen almost certainly won’t be aware, is St George’s Day and, like most true Englishmen, I’m not going to be celebrating it because we English don’t go in for that sort of thing. We’re aware that other countries like to set aside special days to paint themselves tartan or impersonate dragons or toast each other in poetic, but moribund, tongues and generally give themselves a big up for coming from somewhere obscure and ethnic. But we English, we don’t need to. When you spend 365 days every year knowing how wonderful it is to have been born in the land that invented pretty much everything that is good, beautiful and noble, why single out one day for special treatment?  ~ James Delingpole, The Times

Let us pause to consider the English. Who when they pause to consider themselves they get all reticently thrilled and tinglish, because every Englishman is convinced of one thing, viz; that to be an Englishman is to belong to the most exclusive club there is. ~ Ogden Nash

He was inordinately proud of England and he abused her incessantly. ~ H.G Wells

The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner. ~ Margaret Halsey

On the continent people have good food; in England people have good manners. ~ George Mikes

If an Englishman gets run down by a truck, he apologizes to the truck. ~ Jackie Mason

England is a nation of shopkeepers! ~ Napoleon

Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.  ~ P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

The Englishman who visits Mount Etna will carry his tea-kettle to the top. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The English are proud of their stoicism and resilience, though often in practice they are hypochondriacs. ‘Musn’t grumble,’ the English say straight after grumbling…’ ~ Henry Hitchings

Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here


Rose Verses Thistle (700 Years of Winding up the Scottish)

Introduction: My England, My Scotland

As a proud Englishman, I am also a Scottish Nationalist. That is, of course, in the same way that I may be considered a lesbian. I am in favour of all the same things. I fully understand. I am sympathetic. I see where you are all coming from. The love of a lovely woman and an Independent Scotland would both do me nicely thanks. We are on the same side.

The rivalry between the English and Scots has been going on as long as history itself. No sooner did man learn to walk upright and light a fire, did the people from the colder end of this island start arguing with the Sassenachs over who owned what cave, where the goats could be grazed and whose unevolved woman belonged to whom. (Not unlike parts of Scotland today.)

And this is the perfect time to examine such a rivalry. What with 2014 being the 700th anniversary of Scotland’s original bid for independence when spider-inspired Robert the Bruce laid a trap for the effeminate King Edward II near a small stream called Bannockburn, south of Stirling. But what has really got me going is Scotland’s referendum in September when everyone north of the border gets to vote on whether they want out of the United Kingdom or not.

I have two major issues with this referendum. The first is why so many of the prominent, high-profile Scottish Nationalists, who have been calling so loudly for independence, no longer live in Scotland. I could name the actors and the tartan-wearing pop singers I refer to but what is the point? My point is that the notable thing about the Scots is as soon as they can afford to leave, they usually do. My other irritation is that whilst these expatriate patriots are respectfully listened to, we English aren’t even eligible to vote in this referendum that affects us all. But that is probably just as well because it could result in the unique situation where the Scots vote to stay in and the English vote them out.

So, If the Scots were to hand back everything we’d given them, when we waved them on their un-merry way, then how would they be affected? Well for one thing I doubt they’ll be very happy when they start having to queue up at immigration. Imagine that. Applying for an English visa just to pop across the border to Berwick for their weekly shopping. And then having to pay import duty on the way home. And don’t anybody north of the Border expect the European Union to recognise an independent Scotland any time soon. That would be seen as a green light to every other backward thinking province and region in Europe to start demanding independence. An independent Scotland would give the Basque people of Spain ideas above their station and that is not going to happen. So Scotland’s independence from England means independence from Europe as well. Not a glorious separate European state at all. Far from it. Don’t think Italy, Portugal or the Netherlands, think Andorra, San Marino or Liechtenstein instead.

We even introduced the Scots to their national dish. Haggis was actually invented in Scandinavia by the Vikings (haggva is Old Norse for ‘to chop up’) who brought it along when they invaded England. ‘Hegese’ as it was then called was very popular in medieval times (English tastes were more primitive then) and was first written about in 1430: Scotland only formally adopted it during the 18th century.  So that’s Haggis off the menu for an independent Scotland. Not to mention the Scotch egg, which was brought back to England from India by the soldiers of the Empire and worked up for Victorian picnics by London’s Fortnum and Mason. And Scotch broth, which turns out to be a very English soup (its name is a dig at the legendary meanness of the Scots as it’s something that can be made from very cheap ingredients). And that’s just the starters.

Our pathetic Chancellor has threatened them with the removal of the pound but what about if we took back our language too. There is no question that the good people from north of the border would struggle without English. A recent census revealed that as few as 1% of the population can speak Gaelic which, by the way, is Irish anyway but they can have it all the same.

But this brings us to the question of who is actually Scottish and who is actually English anyway? Those lines blurred a long time ago. I have a friend who insists he is Scottish because he supports Glasgow Rangers. I keep telling him he isn’t but he will not listen and wants me to mind my own business. But my evidence is compelling. Namely that he was born in Newcastle and has a Geordie accent. But that is not good enough for him and so he is Scottish. Mind you, he has made a few quid and lives in Los Angeles now so that doesn’t matter anyway.

Even Scotland’s very own patron saint, St Andrew, wasn’t a local boy. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and was born somewhere near the Sea of Galilee. He has also been adopted by Russia, Malta, Cyprus, The Ukraine, Sicily and, because he apparently told Jesus that story about the loaves and the fish, is also the Patron Saint of the Association of Fishmongers. He was later crucified on a Saltire Cross (that’s an X-shape if you are reading this in Glasgow) which accounts for the Scottish flag but there is no record of him ever visiting Scotland. He had probably never even heard of it. Mind you, England’s St George was himself a Roman soldier, the son of a Greek Christian. Whilst it’s just about possible he may have spent time in Albion, as the legends have it, he certainly didn’t slay any dragons. So I think honours are about even in the debate of saints.

So you can see it is complicated. So complicated that out little group of islands in the North Sea can’t even decide what to call ourselves when we are united. Is it England, as many insist? Or is it the British Isles. How about Great Britain? No? Ok, try the United Kingdom then. Could it just be Britain, as the Americans believe? I don’t know why I just brought them into the debate, what do they know about our history? They have precious little of their own. In England and Scotland we have schools that are three times as old as America. Even some of the public conveniences in our towns and cities are older than America. Forget I mentioned them.

Of course there has to be a head to my tail: just how would England cope if she were deprived of all her Scottish influences? One thing we do know for sure is that in the past, despite our natural dislike, mistrust and rivalries, whenever our small little group of islands has been threatened we have always put our differences aside and fought together against our common enemy. And as soon as that threat subsides we are quick to adopt our old prejudices again.

In contributing to the debate between England and Scotland, I intend to explore both cultures of our once-great countries, where they differ, where they match and where, on occasion, they meet somewhere in the middle. We all live on the same island, only separated by a thin and unguarded border. Could it be possible we are more alike than is comfortable to admit? The good people of Newcastle and Carlisle might well have more in common with the Scots than they do with the natives of southern England. And what does a line on a map mean anyway?

While the Scots have moaned and bellyached about the English for centuries, we have for the most part maintained a dignified silence. But as I’ve never been too good at being dignified, or silent, I’ve decided that it’s high time to get to the bottom of the situation.  Now, be warned that I come into this debate armed with the sword of fact and a shield decorated with historic events. I may even have God on my side. I’ve gathered together all kinds of amusing stories from history, surprising statistics and witty quotations from everyone from Samuel Johnson to Frankie Boyle. What I want to find out is how English culture has influenced the Scots and vice versa and what exactly we have done to annoy each other so much over the last thousand years. So now it’s time for you to settle back into your favourite armchair with a glass of something neutral, a nice Irish whisky or French wine, and enjoy the argument. Is it really too late to learn from our shared history?

Albert Jack, England

Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here



The beginning is a good time to remind ourselves of who we actually are, and this is easy to do with the help of the latest United Kingdom Census (2011).

Name: England
Just off the coast of mainland Europe
Official Language:
A Constitutional Monarchy
Queen Elizabeth II (London, England)
Seat of Government: London
Gross Domestic Product: $2.6 trillion
Religion: Not really
Population: 56.1 million
White (92%) Other (8%)
National Pastime: Cricket
Motto: ‘This Green and Pleasant Land’

Name: Scotland
Location: Attached to the north of England and surrounded by the North Sea on three sides
Official Language: English (Until further notice)
A Constitutional Monarchy (For now)
Queen Elizabeth I (Well, she is their first Elizabeth)
Seat of Government: London (Forward mail to Edinburgh)
Gross Domestic Product: $235 billion (or three shillings and sixpence)
Religion: Christian (Anglican, Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) with a hint of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others
Population: 5.2 million (and falling)
White & Ginger (98.2%) Other (1.8%)
National Pastime: Drinking
Motto: ‘In My Defence God Defend Me.’ (I don’t know what that means either)

Thistle vs Rose (700 Years of Winding up the Scots) by Albert Jack is available now

Albert Jack books available for download here


Albert Jack Bibliography


Forget Debt in 90 Minutes – (2002) London: Management Books 2000 Ltd. ISBN
The Jam: Sounds From the Street – (2003) London: Reynolds and Hearn. ISBN
Red Herrings and White Elephants – (2004) London: Metro Books.  ISBN 978-1843581291
Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep – (2005 ) London: Penguin Books. ISBN978-0140515732
Red Herrings and White Elephants (2005) New York: Random House. ISBN978-0060843373
Red Herrings and White Elephants (2005) Tokyo: ISBN-13: 978-1843581536
That’s Bollocks (2006) London: Penguin Books ISBN 978-0140515749
Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep PB (2006) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-141-02425-9
Ten Minute Mysteries (2007) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-140-51590-9
That’s Bollocks PB (2007) London: Penguin Books ISBN 976-0-141-02426-4
Rumeurs; Legendes et Mythes – (2007) Paris: Hatchette Pratique. ISBN 9782012373372
Red Herrings and White Elephants PB – (2007) London: Metro Books.  ISBN 978-1-84454-461-5
Red Herrings and White Elephants (2007) Korea: International Scripts LTD. ISBN unknown
Pop Goes the Weasel (2008) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-846-14144-7
Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep PB (2008) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-141-03956-5
Loch Ness Monsters PB (2008) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-141-03781-3
Phantom Hitchhikers PB (2008) London: Penguin Books. ISBN  978-0-141-03851-3
Loch Ness Monsters (2009) New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0812980059
The Old Dog and Duck (2009) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-846-14253-6
Pop Goes the Weasel
(2009) New York: Penguin Books USA. ISBN 978-0399535550
Pop Goes the Weasel PB (2010) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-141-03098-2
Black Sheep and Lame Ducks (2010) New York. Penguin Books USA. ISBN 10: 0399535128
What Caesar did for my Salad (2010) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1846142543
What Caesar did for my Salad (2011) New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0399536908
The Old Dog and Duck PB (2011) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0141043432
It’s a Wonderful Word (2011) London: Random House. ISBN 978-1847946690
Phantom Hitchhikers Part One (2011) Peking: Yilin Press. ISBN 978-7-5447-2098-4
What Caesar did for my Salad (2012) London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14104-344-9
It’s a Wonderful Word (2012) London: Random House. ISBN 978-0-099-56232-0
Phantom Hitchhikers Part Two (2012) Peking: Yilin Press. ISBN-10: 0399161538
Phantom Hitchhikers and other Urban Legends (2012) New York: Penguin Books USA. ISBN-10: 0399161538
Money for Old Rope (2012) Kindle Edition. August 2012. ASIN: B011C4DTXW
Money for Old Rope Part Two (2012) Kindle Edition. October 2012. ASIN: B011A9060S
The Jam: Sounds from the Street (2012) Kindle Edition. October 2012. ASIN: B0091GIBY6
Last Man in London (2014) ISBN-10: 1494358433
Rose Versus Thistle (2014) ASIN: B00KQO2F3A
They Laughed at Galileo (2015) London: Constable & Robinson. ISBN-10: 147211664X
They Laughed at Galileo (2015) New York: Skyhorse Press. ISBN-10: 1629147583
The Greatest Generation (2015) ASIN: B0119RSZ4U
Debt Freedom Program (2015) ASIN: B0119RSN6K
Want To Be A Writer? (2015) ASIN: B011A8AJH4

 Albert Jack books available for download here