Harry Lauder - what a clown

A typical Harry Lauder portrayal of his fellow Scot

Born in Portobello, Edinburgh, Harry Lauder is something of a Scottish icon. And there, in essence, lies the problem and the basis of our beef. An icon is defined in the Oxford dictionary as "image or representation" and it is in this context, rather than his musical ability, that the wee man's contribution to Scottish culture must be judged.

That judgement is "Guilty".

In short, the image of Scots that Harry Lauder portrayed to the world probably put this country back at least 50 years, and was so powerful it lingers to this day, like a bad smell that's so deeply ingrained in the furniture it won't ever totally go away.

His act was a lurid and mythic representation of the "stereotypical" Scottish male.

Drunk, tight-fisted with money, a hairy kneed, sheep-shagging, hielan' haggis catcher in a shabby skirt.
Do you wonder why we don't like him?
Do you wonder why we don't like him?

His "comic" character went down a storm with audiences, particularly down South, but the real joke was that so many people believed what they saw.

Scotland's credibility was the butt of that joke. Reduced, like the costume he wore, to a caricatured mockery. A matter of mirth.

Harry probably did more to pervert the perceived popular notion of Scotland and the Scots than anybody since Sir Walter Scott in the middle of the previous century.

For that, as much as for singing crap songs like "Roamin' in the gloamin" and "Stop yer ticklin' Jock", he more than deserves his place in the FirstFoot Hall of Infamy.

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