Saturday, August 11, 2007


I was reading this article in the Scotsman newspaper, about Larkhall hooligans vandalizing the green lens of local traffic signals. Larkhall is a town in Scotland infamous for its Protestant (orange) biased religious sectarianism, its powerfully popular Orange Order and Masonic Lodge, and its per capita vast majority of Glasgow Rangers Football Club fans (the big rival being the Roman Catholic (green) biased Glasgow Celtic Football Club.) The Rangers home strip (uniform) is colored red, blue, and white; while Celtic play in green and white hoops. The article chose to parallel this town’s inherent generational sectarianism as possible chief factor in this senseless, shameful, and dangerous vandalism. Of course, it could be coincidental that the green light is lowest to the ground, thus easiest to reach. Whichever and whatever is not the focus of this blog, instead I’d like to mull over how something as simple, innocent, and a natural phenomenon, as color is, invokes hate-fueled division and destruction; and is it particular to Scotland? (Ireland too, of course.)

My life in Southern California at large is blessedly sectarian free, which fits my makeup to a tee – I couldn’t give a stuff about anyone’s religious beliefs and which football (soccer) team they support, on a core level I never have. So long as they’re essentially a good person, they could fanatically believe in everything I don’t, and I really couldn’t care less. However, I cannot deny my background, my raising, and my native country’s biases, beliefs, and fanaticisms. Born, raised, schooled a Protestant in the Kirk of Scotland tradition, there was no escaping that non-chosen by I religion’s heritage and peculiar local culture. Favored graffiti scrawling of my childhood days reflected fervent Protestant and bitter Orange of the neighborhoods. The two predominant tags were “1690” (representing the Battle Of The Boyne – an attempt by King James VII of Scotland, and his cohort William III of England, to enthrone William, AKA King Billy) and “FTP” (F**k The Pope). Almost an anthem in many parts of Scotland was The Sash, AKA The Sash My Father Wore, a sectarian song commerating the Protestant victory over the Catholics at the Battle Of The Boyne...a ride in my school bus was regularly accompanied by the older kids bellowing out their passionate rendition.

It was all lost to me. I just didn't get it. History bored me terribly, maybe that played its part in my switch-off over things that happened eons ago. Organized religion never really touched my soul, so perhaps that also came into play. Anyhow, I played the spectator role, never a participant in this affliction of the Scottish gene.

Division Multiplies

So, there I am one day in my Spiritual haven of sumptuous Malibu Colony Plaza – geographically 6000 miles from the divisiveness, chronologically 10 years removed, and culturally light years beyond the Scottish sectarian crap – I order up a cup of coffee only to have the American guy behind the counter grin and ask, “So, you orange or green?”

A Kodak moment, indeed. In an instant, my Californian sun-tanned face morphed to Scottish peely-wally complected childhood days. Got me thinking, well it would, wouldn’t it?

Not so far from this heavenly retreat of Malibu, where I worked for the local media excepting cultural and economic variances, of course lie areas such as South Central, Compton, Watts, and their ilk, where colors – as per Scotland – are viewed as denoting affiliations and associations that can, and do, determine whether one is going to survive unhurt, or not, this day. Crips in blue; Bloods in red. A belief held in Scotland, as a bandanna worn in Los Angeles, can either make or break your day!

Fortunately, for me that day in Malibu, I was born on the ‘right side of the track’, and had DJ-ed at the famous Glasgow Rangers Social Club, so got to enjoy a friendly cup o’ Joe. But, I’m puzzled – Why aren’t the Crips vandalizing red stop lights? Can it be that the red lens is farthest from the ground!

© 2007 Nigel Hamilton-Allan

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