THE SCOTTISH OMERTA

For years I kept a guilty secret. I had a habit I thought was a dirty one and I would stay up late at night to indulge when everyone else was asleep.

If anyone else was there I would have to wait to get my next fix and I would become morose and unpleasant because discretion demanded I wait until my next opportunity for the gratification of my secret pleasure in silence.

Then, I discovered that one of my closest friends and flatmate had the same habit too and that he had also been keeping it secret.

We talked through our respective feelings on the issue and decided to indulge together, and it gave us many emotional moments in the privacy of a dark room, with the curtains closed and in our shame, we bonded.

Because I now had someone to share it with, after a while I felt more confident about indulging in this habit and I began to ask other friends, and notably my brother if they did it too.

It turned out they almost all did, and the ones that didn’t, after it had been explained to them, began to do it also.

This habit made many people bleary-eyed and unresponsive at their jobs as it could only be satisfied late at night, in dark rooms.

A kind of Scottish Omerta – a law of silence – had been in operation all along as we had all been keeping our guilty secret.

However it is now time to come out from behind the wall of silence. I can’t keep our little gang secret anymore.

I am talking about watching ‘Weir’s Way’.

‘Weir’s Way’ was a television programme which began in 1976 and featured nothing more than an amiable old man walking around the mountains and villages of Scotland. In the days of 15 second culture and supposedly glitzy and expensive and definitely crass TV programmes this incredibly slow-paced and beautiful programme seems like something of a guilty pleasure.

It resulted in unresponsive workers because over the last few years they have only ever put on an episode in the middle of the night.

The decency of the man and the historical places he went and stories he told were fantastic, as were the things he talked about protecting when he met with people who were working on the land he was talking about. He received several awards, including a lifetime achievement award for his environmental work.

As well as his love for the countryside in Scotland Tom Weir also climbed in Nepal [which is another I have in common with him – though I didn’t climb, I just did the walking part] Syria, Kurdistan and Greenland – above the Arctic Circle.

Asked about Scottish independence…

“Scotland could easily do it. It has everything. There is no reason why we can’t look after ourselves. I believe we should, but I have never been actively involved in politics”.

I honestly believe that if we consider all the nonsense that is pumped onto TV screens around the world then this programme was and still is a breath of fresh air and an example of what TV should be like. And more than that, 30 years after it was made I hope it still inspires people to get off their fat TV watching arses and sharpen their TV addled brains and get onto the mountains of Scotland where they can get some real fresh air and have a few beers and whiskies when they come down.

It certainly inspired me.

Here is some of Tom Weir in action….

Finally, if anyone has some old episodes somewhere, stick them on you tube as there isn’t much of it there.

9 comments

  1. Just dropped by after you left a comment at my place. Tom lived in a wee cottage near Gartocharn (on the A811 from Balloch to Stirling) although latterly I think he was in an old folks home. He was a one off with his infectious enthusiasm for Scotland and the outdoors.
    Looks like a good site Michael and I’ll return the compliment of a mention on my blogroll

  2. 🙂

    I started watching Weirs Way in 1976 and am still a big fan. Have spent many enjoyable late nights puffin away watching the sprightly one. I’ve even got a five DVD box set of Weirs Way which i picked up somewhere along the line. Every one is a gem. And dinnae get me started on Hutton’s rock, the Radical Road and Arthurs Seat! Quality man.

  3. Pingback: Weir Here |

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