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Tartan Ferret

What's Down Under?

Reprinted from The Daily Telegraph (UK)
2nd November 2010

The time-honoured practice of wearing nothing beneath the kilt has been condemned

- by an organisation dedicated to upholding Scottish traditions.

The Scottish Tartans Authority want people to wear underwear beneath their country's national dress and has decreed that refusing to do so is "childish and unhygienic".

It also warned that "going commando" flies in the face of decency.

Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton said kilt wearers should have the "common sense" to realise they should wear underwear beneath their country's national dress.

He said "The idea that you are not a real Scot unless you are bare under your kilt should be thrown into the same wastepaper basket as the idea that you're not a real Scot unless you put salt on your porridge.

"People should not be browbeaten into believing that nonsense. Just because Highlanders wore nothing in the days before Y-fronts were invented doesn't mean that we, in the 21st Century, should wear nothing too.

"Sending children up chimneys was traditional at one time, but we don't do it now and the same should apply to wearing nothing under a kilt.

"Common sense and decency suggest that for the majority of occasions one should wear under the kilt what one would wear under a pair of trousers.

"You only have ask hire specialists about the problems they have cleaning their kilts. We have heard quite a few hygiene horror stories."

But Scotland's kilt wearers condemned the advice. Former Formula One racing driver David Coulthard, 39, of Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire, said: "Kilts are from the past and so is the tradition of not wearing any underwear. I'm proud to be a true Scotsman. It's a tradition that should be left alone.

"I have about five kilts. Ten years ago, I even registered my own Coulthard tartan because Coulthard is an English name, sadly.

"I've been wearing kilts since I was a little boy and will continue to wear my kilts in the time-honoured fashion. There is nothing childish or unhygienic about it."

Inverness-based kilt maker Ian Chisholm, a spokesman for the Scottish Kilt Makers' Association, said: "The tradition of no underwear being worn was a stipulation of Scottish military regulation.

"To say it is unhygienic is wrong. The freedom of movement is healthy. We always tell customers to wear nothing under the kilt if everything is in good working order."

Earlier this month, 23-year-old Scottish tennis star Andy Murray revealed he had been made to wear pants under his kilt at brother Jamie's wedding at Cromlix House, near Dunblane, Perthshire.

Highlands and Islands Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor, who campaigned for the introduction of a Scottish Tartan Register, said: "I have normally worn underwear with my kilt. In the West Highlands, midges can mount alarming and unexpected attacks on so-called true Scotsmen."

Kilt maker Slanj, which has provided Highland dress for Billy Connolly and Ewan McGregor, insisted last year that underwear must be worn with hire kilts.

The firm, which also made a kilt for self-confessed true Scotsman Sir Sean Connery, said some kilts had been returned in such a dirty state that they were too unhygienic for staff to handle.





The article on the left was published in the UK's Daily Telegraph on 2nd November 2010 and was part of a media frenzy that met Tartans Authority Director Brian Wilton's responses to a question on a UK radio programme.

What Brian actually said and what he was reported as saying were somewhat different as those with experience of journalism will not be surprised to learn.

However . . . the resultant international coverage confirmed that old adage of 'no publicity is bad publicity' and the topic was aired in tiny newspapers in Australia to giant newspapers in America (Wall Street Journal & New York Times) and countless journals and newsheets inbetween.

On some websites, the hounds of hell were let loose having been given a sniff of the wicked Brian Wilton. Radio interviews mushroomed and at the end of the day tens of millions of people around the world were aware that a degree of controversy surrounded what the Scotsman should wear under his kilt.

Selective editing was extensively employed and one can feel a certain amount of sympathy when listening to politicians protesting their innocence with "I was reported out of context."

What BW DID NOT SAY was that "going commando" was childish and unhygenic and flew in the face of decency. What he DID say was that under certain circumstances it could be childish and unhygenic and flew in the face of decency. A world of difference and a statement of incontrovertible fact! Doing a wild dance in front of women and children at a church fete is one such example.

But . . . no matter . . . BW did not complain . . .neither did the Tartans Authority neither did the Scottish tourism world and neither did all the various branches of the world's media that gave its readers, viewers and listeners a little bit of salacious tittle tattle to amuse them.

For a statement of fact and not opinion, read The Real Story by Andrew Pearson.


© Scottish Tartans Authority
Scottish Tartans Authority (Scottish limited company no. 162386), c/o J & H Mitchell, 51 Atholl Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5BU
Scottish Charity Number SCO24310

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