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In the Heart of Scotland: Inverness

submitted on 21 August 2023 by

Highlands High Jinks

Inverness, to the uninitiated, is a city of haggis, kilts, and bagpipes. And while these clichéd signifiers of Scottish culture may ring true, what they fail to address is the city's overwhelming sardonic charm. You see, Inverness is a city that takes itself about as seriously as the Loch Ness Monster takes itself for a swim. A place where logic is tossed out the window and replaced with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor, a bit of sarcasm, and a pinch of absurdist flair. So, join me on this peculiar promenade through the streets of Inverness.

The Great Kilt Rebellion of 1746

Inverness is a city with a storied history, and no tale is more emblematic of this than the Great Kilt Rebellion of 1746. This absurd mutiny began when the British government, in an attempt to suppress Highland culture, banned the wearing of tartan kilts. As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the locals. They took matters into their own hands, forming an underground network of rebels who would go on to fight for their right to wear the garment. One can only imagine the terror on the faces of British soldiers when they were confronted by a battalion of kilted warriors, faces painted blue and weapons drawn, all in the name of a plaid skirt.

Loch Ness: Home to a Monster and a Connoisseur of the Absurd

Of course, no visit to Inverness would be complete without addressing the mythical creature that haunts the depths of Loch Ness. The story of the Loch Ness Monster, or "Nessie" as she is affectionately known, is as murky as the waters she allegedly inhabits. To this day, it remains one of the world's most enduring mysteries, with alleged sightings and hoaxes fueling the debate on her existence. But what is often overlooked is how the entire concept of Nessie feeds into the delightfully absurd nature of Inverness as a whole. The idea that a prehistoric creature has managed to remain hidden for centuries in a lake just a stone's throw from civilization is, frankly, preposterous. And yet, it is this very preposterousness that has drawn people to the area for years, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive beast. If you ask me, it's all a clever ruse by the locals to lure in tourists – and it's working.

The Invernessian's Guide to Haggis

As we stroll through the streets of Inverness, it's impossible to ignore the ubiquity of haggis. This strange and oft-misunderstood dish is a staple of Scottish cuisine, and Inverness is no exception. But what exactly is haggis? Allow me to enlighten you, dear reader.
  • Ingredients: sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, all encased in the animal's stomach.
  • Preparation: Boil the concoction for three hours and serve with neeps and tatties (that's turnips and potatoes for the uninitiated).
  • Taste: Somewhere between a savory sausage and a countryside romp gone horribly wrong. But in a good way.
As you can see, haggis is not for the faint-hearted. But there's something about its offal nature that speaks to the Invernessian spirit. After all, if a city can embrace a dish made from the innards of a sheep, what can't it conquer?

The Inimitable Charm of Inverness's Bagpipe Buskers

As we wander through the city, the unmistakable drone of bagpipes fills the air. Inverness is a haven for bagpipe buskers, a breed of street performer as singular as the instrument they play. Here, you'll find men and women of all ages proudly puffing away, lending an unmistakable Scottish soundtrack to the cityscape. But what sets Inverness's bagpipe buskers apart from their counterparts in, say, Edinburgh or Glasgow, is their unwavering commitment to the absurd. You may come across a kilted piper playing AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" or a full-on bagpipe rendition of the "Star Wars" theme, complete with Darth Vader mask. In Inverness, it seems, bagpipe buskers have embraced the city's tongue-in-cheek ethos with gusto.

A Toast to Inverness

As our journey through the streets of Inverness comes to a close, it's time for a farewell toast at one of the city's many fine establishments. With a dram of whisky in hand, we raise our glasses to a city that is at once steeped in history and unapologetically irreverent. A place where ancient battles are fought over kilts, haggis is consumed with gusto, and bagpipe buskers serenade the absurd. Slàinte mhath, Inverness, and may your peculiar charm never fade.
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