Friday, March 17, 2006


Taylor Tartan

Although I've lived in Scotland for a whopping 12 years, I've never worn a kilt. I'd never had any reason to - the one wedding I was invited to where Scottish formal dress was required I couldn't attend (I had another wedding on the same day in Wales). But this weekend two of my friends are tying the knot, Scots-style, so yours truly is donning the Tartan for the first time. They've come all the way from New Zealand - so you've got to make an effort, I guess. This was me visiting them in Wellington (I'm on the left).

So accompanied by my Scottish mate Grant - at least one of us knew what he was doing - we walked through flurries of soapy snow to Princes Street. One of the many twee Scottish shops there is Cameron Ross, which is all Tartan rugs and toy Highland Cows (or Hee-land Coos as they are pronounced) on the ground floor. Elbowing the tourists out of the way, we went up the stairs and asked to hire a kilt. We were then shown up a winding staircase, and through a series of doors, to the top of the building. On the way we passed stockpiles of shortbread, photos of Scottish views, and a battered hoover.

In the kilting room, a young girl took us through the stages - although Grant had hired one previously so it was just yours truly who got the attention. I was measured as high round my waist as old men wear their trousers, and down to the knee whilst my legs were bent slightly. She then picked out a couple of kilts in my size. You only have a choice of a few generic tartans - so as Grant had gone for the Black Watch, I went for the other one, Scottish National. Sean Connery would be proud. I then had to try it on, which involved wrapping it round like a towel and buckling it in place. Amazingly it didn't fall off - but I hadn't done it tight enough. "Although you need to be able to breathe" said the girl, cheerily.

I was measured for a jacket and shoes - which involved a complicated method of tying I won't go into here, and was given socks and a 'Full Highland Accessory Pack' - which consists of a Sporran, Belt, Skean Dhu, Hose, Flashes and Kilt Pin. The Skean Dhu is the dagger you tuck into the top of your sock - but what with Scotland leading the world in knifings (Hello Glasgow!), it was plastic. I jokingly asked the girl if there was a Taylor tartan - and she replied that there was, which was news to me. So after we'd gone downstairs I searched the touristy shop for proof, and did indeed find it. As Grant said - "It's worryingly lime-greeny". And purple. You'd think a popular surname would have a decent colour-scheme, at least...