We Scots have kept our kilts but shed our historical myths – a process sadly lacking south of the border
I had never heard of the game called “welly wanging”, but there it was on the News at Ten this week – in a report by the BBC’s home editor, Mark Easton, on the traditions that give the English regions their splendid variety. The report showed some people, probably children, throwing gumboots in a field – the competitor who threw a boot furthest was the winner. It was things like this, Easton said, that made Yorkshire different from other places, which had their own traditions that were just as special to them. Some morris dancers appeared, and a man in a Tyneside pub talked about how collective hardship had forged the Geordie identity, these days manifested in a love of Newcastle United Football Club and an equal hatred of its rival in Sunderland. It all felt flimsy and sad – that “regional identity” should amount to this rickle of bones.