Cover -- Scotland is Not for the Squeamish

Published by
Ruminator Press, 2000
ISBN: 1886913420
Currently available in hardcover only.
List price: $27.00

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Scotland is Not for the Squeamish

Editorial Reviews

Perfect for those still reeling from a Glasgow kiss
Casey Selix, Staff writer
Story ran in the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press on Sunday, November 26, 2000

A little more than a year ago, author Bill Watkins dressed up as the doomed captain of the Titanic for a Halloween celebration at Molly Quinn's pub in Minneapolis.  He chose the costume because the Titanic was made in Ireland, and he had just come out with his first book, "A Celtic Childhood," a hilarious memoir of growing up with an Irish mam and a Welsh dad.

This Halloween, he chose another fitting costume for the debut of "Scotland is Not for the Squeamish," the second in a trilogy published by St. Paul-based Ruminator Press. Watkins, a British citizen who now lives in Minneapolis, became a Highlander for the party at Molly Quinn's, where he is now co-owner, storyteller, singer, poet and bartender. As he's still a "free-lance druid," he says he needs a steady income.

Scotland is Not for the Squeamish" picks up where "A Celtic Childhood" left off. In his preface, Watkins confesses that as a lad he was dazzled by all things plaid. In the late 1960's, Watkins is a young radio operator ("Sparks") aboard a freighter to Tangier. Sparks delivers the news that the Isle of May is ordered to return to London after delivering her cargo, a sure sign the ship will be permanently docked.

The Scottish helmsman tries to calm the captain. "Och, they'll tart the old doll up enough to get her through the Board of Trade inspection and she'll be fine and no mistake. Ye just see if she don't."

Watkins' ear for dialogue and nuance brings the helmsman to life. You feel like you're eavesdropping on colorful and off-color conversations. When you don't understand what they're saying, there's a handy glossary. "Och" means but or however; "Alba gu Brath!" is Scotland forever! Ever wonder what a Glasgow kiss is? A head-butt.

Watkins is also a poet, and it shows in his prose. Consider this passage: "Edinburgh, mystic mistress and newfound friend, rises gently from the salt-soaked cobbles of Leith docks like Aphrodite from the sea. The medieval Old Town uncoils in concentric castellations..."

If you want a total immersion in Scottish culture, "Scotland is Not for the Sqeamish" is the way to go. Watkins uses humor, history and his own stories -- many true, some a wee stretched -- to give context to the rogue country.

Do heed the title. This is not a book for little lads and lassies. But young adults and older folks will appreciate just how rotten is the job of fish-gutting, which an unsuspecting Watkins is shanghaied into for his passage to Aberdeen.

 

Amazon.com readers have this to say about Scotland is Not for the Squeamish

Celtic magic and Caledonian missadventure., December 6, 2000
Reviewer: KLM (see more about me) from Wisconsin
I thought Bill Watkins would find it hard to top his first book "A Celtic Childhood" but he's done it! "Scotland Is Not For the Squeamish" is a rip-roaring, 'seat of the pants' adventure that will thrill Scotophiles and armchair travelers alike. His discriptions of Scotland and its hardy people sing out from the page in crackling poetic imagery. History and song blend to fill the reader with salty tales of the high seas and earthy stories of everyday life in pre-oil boom Aberdeen and the magical city of Edinburgh. Though his contorted trail takes him up mountains and down mine shafts, panning gold in the Highlands and fishing for cod in the Arctic, he entertains another ambition; to become a Druid! See how he gets on in this feast of a book. Hurry up and write the next one, Bill. I can hardly wait to see what happens next!