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Skidmore's Island: The Great Imperturbable

"The nearest thing we had in our family to a tradition was the
Hogmanay Fight. My father emigrated to Manchester but
always returned home to Edinburgh on 30 December. He went a day early to get in training,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

My objection to immigrants has nothing to do with race. My family were Norman for a thousand years. In the last fifty years they have added, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Jewish, Catholic, Saxon,Cambodian, Italian and German. I am a Buddhist. I was born in Lancashire of Scottish stock. I lived briefly in Liverpool, in Wales for thirty years,Yorkshire for ten.

Now I live in the Fens which has become Mittel Europa.

What I object to is the refusal of many immigrants to integrate. If they come to Britain presumably they are attracted to our way of life. So why do they try so hard to change it?

That is not true of all immigrants. The Royal Regiment of Scotland is kept up to strength by blacks. In my own regiment they prove themselves again and again. In Afghanistan they were called out to rescue the SAS.

Twenty SAS men and 30 Afghan troops on a special mission had become pinned down after their Chinook was crippled by a fault. Alpha Company of the 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland (Black Watch) drove back the Taliban, who swarmed from surrounding mountains to attack the out-numbered SAS.

Former head of the Army General Sir Mike Jackson stressed last night that five of the soldiers from Alpha Company's No 1 Platoon were black - showing BNP racists who have tried to hijack Britain's military heritage are out of touch. - M.O.D despatch.

A Welsh extremist website once honoured me with the title of Traitor of the Week. I shared it rather puzzlingly with Ryan Griggs, S4C, Radio Cymru, the Welsh Language Society, the Welsh Language Board and a very nice man called Jonesy who was a Radio Cymru presenter.

I am not a nationalist. Nationalism is a road which ends at the gates of Auschwitz and we have had a lot of trouble with it in our family.You may recall my Auntie Jeannie was the widow of Uncle Tommy, a Scottish Nationalist so incandescent that ten years after his death she was still afraid to visit England.

Her son-in-law Jackie, who looked after the boats of the Emir of Kuwait, invited Auntie Jeannie to visit.

"It's no in England, is it?" she inquired fearfully.

In the event, she had a great time, including supper with the Emir in his palace. She was not impressed.

"Does he aye get his dinner on tin plates?" she asked Jackie.

"They're no tin," whispered Jackie, "they're real gold."

"Maks nae difference," said my Auntie Jeannie. "Puir man,
ye cannae keep food hot on tin plates."

The day she got home she went to an Edinburgh market and bought the Emir a six-piece china dinner service.

Alas, we have lost the charming letter of thanks the Emir sent.
My Auntie Jeannie was the Great Imperturbable.

The nearest thing we had in our family to a tradition was the
Hogmanay Fight. My father emigrated to Manchester but
always returned home to Edinburgh on 30 December. He went a day early to get in training for the whisky drinking marathon which was the family New Year.

By tea time on Old Year's Night whisky had washed away any
seasonal goodwill. By 9 pm naked hostility had replaced it, my
father invariably igniting it by taking out a provocative cigar.

"Bloody Englishman," growled Uncle Tommy, socialist
principles enflamed at the sight of such a capitalist accessory.

"That makes bliddy two of us," my father would reply every

Uncle Tommy's darkest secret was that he, the most passionately Scottish of the family, had been born during a brief visit by his mother to Lancashire.

Blows were exchanged. Three step-brothers, Jimmy and Matty
and Alec who tried to join the row, were rebuffed by Uncle
Tommy on the grounds they weren't family. This made Jimmy and Matty and Alec madder than anyone.

Whilst five brothers fought in the middle of the room, the
wives moved their chairs to the wall and continued their
conversation.Auntie Jeannie served tea.

At 11.45 pm she would say, "Tommy, have you seen the time?"
The fight ended at once and quarter of an hour later the
brothers had their arms round each other and were singing
Auld Lang Syne.

They don't make Hogmanays like that anymore. Or Auntie


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