Sunday, 13 January 2013

Alexander McCalll Smith on "The Edinburgh Look"


This afternoon I finished reading the latest in Alexander McCall Smith’s “44 Scotland Street” series of novels.

It’s entitled “The Importance of being Seven”, and has to do with the various fictional characters who live in or around Scotland St, Edinburgh – especially the sweet boy Bertie Pollock (aged 6) who is dominated by his insufferable mother Irene Pollock, and longs to be seven years old, at which age he believes that he will be “free”.

The “44 Scotland Street” novels are rooted in a weekly column which McCall Smith writes for  “The Scotsman” newspaper (much as some of Charles Dickens’s novels originated in weekly episodes for the newspapers of his day”.

Alexander McCall Smith can be a wee bit preachy.

He seems to be a “small c “conservative, with a longing for the old days and ways.

But he can also be very perceptive and funny.

Here he is on the pious, circumspect, closed-mouth old-school  Edinburgian.

“There were various sorts of looks in Edinburgh, the best known and most widely used being the general Edinburgh look, which was best described as slightly discouraging.

It did not involve a narrowing of the eyes, rather it entailed keeping the eyes quite open, but sending forth a sort a sort of steely air of disapproval mixed with feigned surprise at what was being surveyed  - surprise, really, that the other person actually existed.”


Edinburgh or not, we all have encountered that same “look”.!

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