So with a spirit of adventure and this amicable rivalry in mind I ventured down to the local pub to watch the match with the natives. The driving rain seemed to have kept most people at home and there were only a few drunks slumped at the bar, Scotch in hand, and it was as cold inside as outside. The barman was wearing a coat. Being off the booze and behind the wheel I asked for an orange juice and lemonade, but they didn't have any of that, hadn't seem to have heard of it, so a Coke it was.
Musing that I haven't yet quite mastered the Scottish accent well enough to get away with it, I just dived in with the English one, which certainly caused more than a few cauliflower ears to prick up. One old sot gave me a big warm smile and shouted out, "So who will ye be singing foor?"
"50-50," I said trying to be diplomatic and to avoid a good kicking.
"Och nae, ye cannae be fufty-fufty. It's gooht ti be wonn pissent oop or doon."
So I gave him my backstory (half Scot) and other than a sour-faced witch (you find them throughout the world) who tutted and huffed about my Sassenach origins, they seemed happy with that and we settled down to watch a truly dismal match, the Scots somehow managing to play even worse than the English, flattering them by losing 3-0, and I made them all laugh by saying, "What you really need is another Charlie Nicholas."
But there were no repercussions, no fists in my face or glasses smashed on my head, merely a general acknowledgement that, whoever they play, the Scotland team is going to be at best mediocre and at worst appalling and I was grateful to the boozers that night for shaking my hand and smiling and being welcoming on a rain soaked evening in Methven where the English had inflicted another defeat in 1306 when Robert the Bruce had his butt kicked during the Scottish Wars of Independence and where I'd walked the dog that afternoon and where she had shamelessly peed on the battleground.
But the people I've met so far have all been friendly and not in the slightest bit anti-English. An osteopath did tell me "I'd avoid going out on a Friday night in Dundee, but other than that you'll be fine" and taking in to account the number of Scots down south in England, they can't really complain about some of us coming up here, in peace.
I've gotta say though, the people are damn difficult to understand at times, especially in the pub on a sodden night.