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Donkin's World: Proof Of The Pudding Is In The Haggis

"It started with a throwaway line on Facebook after an observation that I'd been in Scotland a lot these past few weeks. Now I've decided it's time I affirmed my Scottishness,'' declares author and journalist Richard Donkin.

It started with a throwaway line on Facebook after an observation that I'd been in Scotland a lot these past few weeks. Now I've decided it's time I affirmed my Scottishness. As a waif growing up in the West Riding of Yorkshire I was led to believe that my family hailed from the North East as there were Donkins in Bridlington who emigrated to West Yorkshire and started our branch of the family.

While I enjoyed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as a kid I found I was particularly partial to the odd bit of Haggis. Not only that, but I rarely missed an episode of Doctor Finlay's Casebook, read the Beano (published in Dundee) every week and my favourite book was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. Then, as a family we'd always welcome in the New Year with Andy Stewart's White Heather Club on telly.

Moreover I've always had an inexplicable fondness for stones and my moustache is ginger. I remember watching the Peter Watkins' film Cullodon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2BVeAz4Vzg on TV years ago. Why did I want the Scots to beat the English? It happened again watching Braveheart. It could have been a tendency to sympathise with the underdog but I suspect it's more than that.

There are not many Donkins http://www.donkin.com/ about in the south of England but they occupy quite a few lines in the Durham and Hull telephone directories. A Donkin even established a settlement in Nova Scotia which he named with an uncharacteristic lack of imagination: Donkin.

There are more notable Donkins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkin_%28surname%29 in history than you might think, none of whom are ancestors of mine as far as I know (and I haven't looked very far).

I know from this website http://clan-duncan.co.uk/CDSforum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7&p=9&hilit=derbhfines#p9 that I can feel at home in the Duncan clan. It's not a bad tartan http://www.clan-duncan.co.uk/duncan-tartans.html so I'm up for a kilt even if, as an old friend rudely pointed out, I don't have the legs for one.

The problem with researching a clan name is that it can get complicated as this forum shows http://clan-duncan.co.uk/CDSforum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7&p=9&hilit=derbhfines#p9, discussing derbhfines (a four generation kin group) and armigers (people entitled to use a coat of arms).

I couldn't give a stuff about either of the latter but I would like to know where the Donkins originated. Just as some residual meme connects me spiritually to the glens, another meme takes me to the Outer Hebrides. http://www.visithebrides.com/ I can't see the Norse chessmen (found on Lewis) without experiencing a frisson of excitement (that may also have something to do with a liking for Noggin the Nog http://donkinlife.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html as a kid. I love the Isle of Lewis - the way they chain up the playgrounds on a Sunday in Stornoway, the Wee Free http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Church_of_Scotland_%28post_1900%29 heritage and the wholesome miserableness of the place.

It's possible I could be wrong. This site http://www.researchmyname.com/Donkin/index.htm suggests the name originated in Kent but that's plain tosh. I am not and have never been a southerner. While I like the idea that way back there might be some Viking heritage, I think it must have been the oddball Icelandic strain rather than the tall blond and handsome Norwegian types. But I can't associate with the long-haired Celtic types such as Neil Oliver whose voice turns Gill weak at the knees.

Geneology is big business on the internet but I can't be bothered with it. I suppose I should call my cousin Ian in Bradford who's done a bit of that work and traced the record of Black Bob Donkin. But Black Bob was part of that Bridlington strain and I haven't gone back any deeper in to the past.

If I did, I know it would take me north over the border in to the heather and finally across the water to the Hebrides, to a hidden bothy perhaps, where a long dead ancestor is drinking the local poteen while moving his Noggin knight. Outside there's a gale blowing and the sun hasn't shone for a week, but Donkin doesn't care because he's at home and warm by the peat fire.

When Alex Salmond decides to close the borders I hope he'll accept my passport and ancient Scottish name as proof of residency. OK, I might not have a great Scottish accent but I can take instruction. http://www.ehow.com/how_2081077_talk-scottish-accent.html In the meantime I will continue to eat porridge for breakfast, renew my membership of the Muriel Grey fan club and recall that Archie Gemmill goal against the Netherlands. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1axsnMRbbo

I suppose that supporting the England Rugby Union team is a slight problem but, let's face it, the Scots don't really do rugby, or soccer for that matter. They're good with stones on ice and tossing telegraph poles, stuff that entertains the Queen (who is not remotely Scottish), but musically, well some of us like the bagpipes and some don't. They're not my cup of tea. Did I say tea? I meant whisky. Yes, the memes are kicking in: it's haggis tonight, imported from Kelso, no kidding.


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