I have recently become hooked on the tv crime series Rebus, taken from Ian Rankin's books (one of which I have also just started reading). Me being me, I didn't just accept this new found interest but began to think instead...why am I interested in watching this show, and, to a lesser degree, the similar Taggart? Why are we interested in watching crime shows at all, or reading true crime books? There is the classic whodunnit element of course, but is it also that characters like Rebus are living lives we would never want to actually lead - investigating horrible crimes, never seeming to sit down to a good, square meal or sleep peacefully in their beds - but which we are happy to vicariously lead through tv shows? Is it perhaps even the location? I have never been to Scotland - I would love to go - but the mean streets of Edinburgh that Rebus paces are not streets we actually have to (or want to) walk down. We can rest back on our sofas and watch him do it. Is there an essential 'Scottishness' to the show, just as I imagine there are certain unique aspects of Scandinavia in Denmark's The Eagle, which I mentioned a little while ago, and which I believe you can definitely see in Austria's Inspector Rex and Stockinger. Parts of the landscape that write themselves into the story.
Further to this I have also been enjoying A History of Scotland, hosted by one of those charismatic tv historians, Neil Oliver (and I mean no disrespect here - I spent 10 years trying to make history sound interesting to university students - anyone who can do it gets my vote!) Such a beautiful, beautiful place! Yet another one to add to my holiday wish-list. Has anyone been there? Are there any Scots out there reading this blog? My husband's surname suggests that long, long ago his forebears were from Scotland, but he has no real interest in it. My suggestion that he wear a kilt in his clan tartan to our wedding fell on deaf ears :)
So, as a stereotyped homage to all this, now that the weather here has cooled down here, I am going to bake some Christmas goodies from Ena Baxter's Scottish Cookbook this weekend...it is the land of shortbread afterall. But, as with all cultural bower-birds, I pick and choose. There will be no haggis.