Scottish fiends

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KHS

Senior Member
I read Alexander McCall Smith's books, and from time to time try to track down unknown references. I learned a great deal from my hunt for "cod liver oil and the orange juice," but am currently having difficulty finding out much about "Scottish fiends." In The World According to Bertie, it is a passing reference made by Bertie in reference to he and his father getting something wonderfully unhealthy to eat.

Googling brought up only one apparently related reference, "a selection of brownies (nuts or not, as opposed to the Scottish fiends). ..."

Can anyone offer further details?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Can you give us the exact sentence, KHS? And maybe the one before and the one after?
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Could it have something to do with: "This dead like butcher and his fiend like queen"(Macbeth):
    Malcolm made the remark "This dead like butcher and his fiend like queen," when he was crowned as the king of Scotland, after Macbeth's reign of terror. It becomes questionable upon the fairness of this justification, whether or not Macbeth was really a "butcher" and whether or not Lady Macbeth was a "fiend." In some ways, Macbeth would have fit the description of being a "butcher," after all, he had taken the lives of many people, some of them were even close associates of Macbeth. He assassinated Duncan, the king, in order to gain the throne, as he says, "I have done the deed"
    I don't know if it's relevant.

    Tom
     
    Last edited:

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Here's the exact context:

    -----------------------------------
    Bertie, he said, I promised you an outing and you will have one. When we come back, we'll go to that little cafe in Dundair Street. We might find something really unhealthy to eat. Would you like that?

    Bertie said that he would. Scottish fiends!

    [end of segment]
    -------------------------------------------------
    Later, when they go to the cafe, they get a different type of cake and Irn Bru. (I *did* find out exactly what Irn Bru was.)
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Brownies are chocolate pastries, and can be made with nuts or without nuts. The word "brownies" also refers to a type of elf found in Scottish and northern English folklore, although it is slight hyperbole to refer to them as "fiends". The sentence means "a selection of brownies (the type that are pastries and come with or without nuts, and not the type that are mythical Scottish creatures.)"
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Here's the exact context:

    [...]
    -------------------------------------------------
    Later, when they go to the cafe, they get a different type of cake and Irn Bru. (I *did* find out exactly what Irn Bru was.)
    Can you tell us anything about the "different type of cake"?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I may be reading it totally wrongly, KH, but I'm reading it as follows:
    Bertie said that he would. He [Bertie] and the rest of those Scottish folk are such fiends when it comes to food! ~ they'll eat anything, the worse the better!
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    The fact that I was able to find a reference to Scottish fiends and brownies which said, "a selection of brownies (nuts or not, as opposed to the Scottish fiends)" suggests to me that it is a kind of cake, but *different* from brownies. (I'm familiar with brownies.)

    There was a whole intervening section involving a saxophone lesson, and the 'Scottish fiends' were apparently forgotten by the time they finally got to the cafe, especially as the proprietor (Lou) brought out a cake she had baked that day. Bertie had a piece of that cake along with a bottle of Irn Bru.

    Bertie is a six-year-old in Edinburgh, so I think when he said "Scottish fiends" he was not thinking the fiendish Scots would eat anything. (Although you never know...)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    My brain keeps drifting to "deep-fried Mars bars", though I have absolutely no reason to believe that "Scottish fiends" is a reference to these ...:(
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I was about to say the same as Ewie. "Scottish fiends" refers to the Scots, affectionately, of course, in this context, either for eating unhealthy foods, or more likely, I think, for making such foods available. If Bertie is a Scot, it may be even more likely that the writer refers to him, as being of this kind.

    If I had read this "cold" I would not have assumed that "Scottish fiends" were a kind of food.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    I guess I should mention that I am actually *listening* to this as an audiobook, so I also had the reader's tone of voice to help me in my interpretation. (It may also mean that my punctuation or some other visual aspect is not quite the same as the original.)

    And, to answer Panj's question on what type of cake they did eventually eat (I had to locate the place on the audiofile), it was a Dundee cake with sweet cream on top.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    My reading is:

    Scottish fiends = (ironically), those "evil" Scots who bake all manner of tempting, tooth-rotting, waist-expanding, sugary delights - cream cakes, biscuits, pies, tarts, shortbreads, currant loaves, butteries, scones and so on.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I read Alexander McCall Smith's books, and from time to time try to track down unknown references. I learned a great deal from my hunt for "cod liver oil and the orange juice," but am currently having difficulty finding out much about "Scottish fiends." In The World According to Bertie, it is a passing reference made by Bertie in reference to he him and his father getting something wonderfully unhealthy to eat.
    Some older grammarians would go for "to his and his father's getting", but "to he" is definitely wrong.
     
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