Thursday, January 29, 2015

A True Scotsman: Kilty, kilty caul' bum

Kilty, kilty caul' bum
Three sterrs up.
The wummin in the tap flair
Hit me wi' a cup!

Ma heid's a' bleedin',
Ma face is a' cut -
Kilty, kilty caul' bum,
Three sterrs up!

(Traditional Scottish skipping rhyme)

Like the monster at the bottom of Loch Ness one of the most well kept secrets of Scotland is … what, if anything is worn under the kilt.

Stock answers include:
"No, nothing is worn, everything is in perfect working order!" or
"Yes, socks, shoes, and talcum powder," and "Yes, socks, shoes, and two shades of lipstick."

The True Scotsman it seems wears the kilt without undergarments.

But where did this all originate from?

Highland drovers wore the kilt and found it perfectly appropriate attire for crossing rough terrain in summer and winter. The absence of technology to produce underwear at the time meant nothing was worn under the kilt. The Dress Act which formed part of the 1746 Act of Proscription prohibited the traditional wearing of clan tartans and kilts. But fear of rebellion in the private armies and mercenaries that made up the Scottish Regiments. kilts continued to be worn. Whether as a mark of respect for the once proud nation or pure disrespect to their English masters nothing was worn under the military kilt.

About a hundred years after the Acts of Union (1707), all things Scottish once again became very popular in England and Scottish Fancy dress was the vogue in upper class society. Naturally civilians became inquisitive about what lay beneath the pleated plaid.

This was humorously referred to as ‘military uniform’, leading to popular metaphors such as "going regimental" or “military practice.” No different really to to today’s “going commando.” By the time of Queen Victoria, a true scotiafile,her interest in the Highland Games and dancing necessitated participants were modestly clothed. Later the regulations of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD) stipulated “dark or toning with the kilt should be worn but not white. Highland athletes were also required to wear shorts of some type during competitions.

During the First World War on the Western Front the kilt was worn into battle and sergeant majors reportedly used mirrors tied to the end of walking sticks to inspect up and under the kilt at parade inspection. In 1940 the kilt was retired from combat but used instead as the formal dress uniform of the regiments. “Up skirting” continued with a floor mounted mirror in the barracks.

Kilts have once again become very popular as Highland dress has become popular evening wear for men of all ages. The matter to go fit and proper without underwear has become quite controversial The Scottish Tartans Authority recently decreed refusing to put on underwear beneath a kilt is both "childish and unhygienic". Others remain stoic in the belief going regiment is perfectly acceptable dress. There is certainly no scientific evidence to support the unhygienic argument but one needs to be wary of how and where you sit if your dignity is to be preserved. In Greenock in 2011 a terrible fight broke out at a local wedding after the groom decided to sit on his bride’s white gown. All too quickly it was noticed he had unwittingly left a skid mark and one almighty fight between the in-laws ensued.

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