Jeremy Watson

What do you know about the reasons for emigration from Scotland?

I live in Scotland, having emigrated from south Africa. It felt like coming home as family tradition has been that we are British / Scots. In fact only my father’s father had Scottish roots and that via mainly naval family in Plymouth. But that was definately Scots – Edinburgh, Haddington, Campsies, even Foula. And one of those seafaring Watsons married a Scott, one of which was the doctor who attended Nelson. (Anyone else have that family story?). Well some of us Watsons had adventure in their blood. My grandfather emigrated to South Africa as a banker in the promising days of colonialism. Not as exciting as a naval officer, but that is where I emanate from. Another Watson ancestor moved to Poland to work on the railways and associated engineering. A nephew of his Alexander Skirving Watson followed and later moved to Canton, starting what is now one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. (No, I haven’t inherited any of it, but it is fun to see the family name in Chinese script). My wife is Scots so my roots are now here.

If you live overseas yourself, where do you live and can you say a few words about your personal Scottish diaspora story?

I was brought up in East London, on the south east coast of South Africa and left due to some scary safety issues. But I do still have relatives there and in Zimbabwe.

Have any of your ancestors or members of your family emigrated? If so, where to? And do you know anything about their story overseas?

This is covered above.

What do you think is the legacy of the Scots abroad?

I am heavily into the Scottish Referendum issues and read up and comment online eg through kiltr.com, a Scottish social network. I have become passionately nationalistic at heart, but with a world view and don’t see any conflict between the two. The very concept of Scots abroad keeping their specific identify even beyond a generation is fascinating. Few other nationalities do so quite the same way. And it means that they can be both Scots and identify with that other country simultaneously. How this affects how one sees oneself or Scotland within the UK or separate has become more complicated with the pragmatic and heart felt issues conflicting in different ways that are usually felt on different continents. And difficult to explain here. But perhaps identifying oneself with Scotland inspires to stand above others.

Ending with something light-hearted: what did you think when first looking at the image called ‘Piper Kerr and Emperor penguin’?

Note that the penguin is standing to attention when it hears the pipes. It feels completely penguin and proud of it and fully understands that strong identity no matter where it is even without a reassuring thistle in sight. And so fully appreciates how Scots feel.

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