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Loch, Stalk and Burials: A. A. Gill on Scotland in Vanity Fair

January 2010 A A Gill on Scotland Vanity Fair

The blissful nose-drip misery of stalking rutting stags in the bleak and craggy wilds near Loch Maree puts everything into perspective, from the imminence of violent death to Lindsay Lohan’s career to the importance of tweed and local newspapers.


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Sounds like he had a fine time in Scotland. 

Well worth the five minutes to read, especially the part about TWEED!

Deer stalking is all about the great fallacy of waterproof.

Tweed is the great warm coat and the corollary hair shirt of Scotland, the most beautiful and durable and flatter­­ing of cloth. Harris Tweed from the outlying islands is cast from the wool of small, stoic sheep, dyed with lichen and flowers, earth and root, woven by cooperatives of crofters in squat, stone cottages. Tweed is born of this land. It has understood the truth that you can’t keep the elements out. You just have to reach an accommodation with how much you let in. Tweed doesn’t pretend to be waterproof, but it does have the magical and unique prop­er­ty of remaining warm when wet. Every year I make the pilgrimage to Campbell’s of Beau­­ly, where the Camp­bell sisters, after much tooth sucking, jaw tapping, and scamp­ering up and down ladders, will sell me a suit’s length of something that in Scotland looks muted and re­strained and back in London will look like a clown’s shower curtain.

I wondered about this. So they hunt for deer while wearing warm wet tweed?

Isn't there ANYTHING more comfortable they could be wearing?

To be Scottish is to be Catholic, and to be Catholic is to endure suffering.

Can we at least be comfortable while we're enduring suffering?


I was wrong:  it's a Protestant sensibility.

"Being out in all this is a very Northern European pleasure. The Germans do it, the Scandinavians do it, even the Dutch and the Bel­gians do it. The British shiver and sniff with anticipation at the day’s blissful nose-drip misery. There is something in our itchy, Protestant parsimony that leads us to understand that all faint joy must be paid for with equal amounts of torment." 

All I ask for is joy without torment.