With Scotland and all things Scottish very much in the air, acclaimed writer, comedian and now ex-pat, AL Kennedy, reflects on what Scottishness means to her in this new series of The Essay. Today: tartan, the kilt and a sense of identity.
A L Kennedy was born in Dundee, and now lives in London. She is the award-winning author of 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. Her latest short story collection, ‘All the Rage’, was published in Spring 2014.
Written and performed by A L Kennedy Published on July 14, 2014.
If it is true that we spend adulthood trying to reconstruct the warm, free, and happy fantasy places of childhood, then it will be interesting to find out how a generation brought up on the Sims can nostalgically rework its computer-mediated memories of geographical play.
On the one hand we want to protect children, but on the other we want them to relive our own imagined childhood adventures. Play professionals are asked to both secure children from risk and introduce them to risk by prying them from the grip of screen-based leisure.
Den-making is a particular kind of play, not with dolls or toy guns but with place. It’s a form of play that is particularly private and vulnerable. Any adult or teenage presence can destroy it at once: a looming face would reduce Paul’s and my dens to a dull clutter of sticks. For adults it’s hard to recapture this ephemeral, playful approach to place-making because, as we grow up, we get used again to the idea that the meaning of places is fixed and not ours to command.
As we forget what we once intuitively understood, the point of real places, it becomes ever easier to be convinced that mobility—ceaseless, on-the-go motion—has intrinsic value: that going to places is more important than being in places.
For borders are far more than lines of exclusion—their profusion reflects the varied nature of people’s political and cultural choices. The paradox of borders is that they close down free movement yet suggest a world of choices and possibility.