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    #1

    Question Every Englishman is born a double Scotch below par.

    While reading Jeremy Paxman's "The English: A Portrait of a People", I came across the phrase that is given in the title to the thread. As it follows from the context, the author used it with reference to "a strong streak of natural gloominess they (the English) have".

    My guess is that the origin of this saying has something to do with the colour of the drink, whose dark shade of deep brown figuratively suggests "gloom" as a state of mind. In addition, its being below par makes the "gloom" even darker.

    To be honest, I've never seen double Scotch below par, not to mention tasting it, so I am not sure that my guess is right. If it is not, where does this saying come from?
    Last edited by Weaver67; 29-Jul-2015 at 15:00.

  1. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Every Englishman is born a double Scotch below par.

    Hi Weaver67,

    This is my personal view of what he is saying. I should say, I have never actually heard this phrase used by anyone before. Perhaps I don't mix in the right circles!

    You mention that Jeremy Paxman has noted that the English possess "a strong natural gloominess".

    To me, in this context his phrase "Every Englishman is born a double Scotch below par" means that every Englishman needs a double scotch in order to feel better about themselves and to bring themselves up to par, which in this sense, means up to the proper level. Par, is a golfing term which basically means "the standard or expected number of hits needed to sink your golf ball into the hole". This term has been applied to general life now, where things are either "above par" or better than expected, or "below par" worse than expected. So he is saying, Englishmen need a double scotch in order feel good about themselves and to be like other nationalities.

    Strangely enough, it's quite a gloomy phrase itself!

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    #3

    Re: Every Englishman is born a double Scotch below par.

    Thank you very much indeed, Eckaslike!

    You have actually confirmed my second guess. To be candid, not being completely sure, I simply didn't find enough courage just to blurt it out thoughtlessly. This is such a sensitive topic, after all!

    Jeremy has said a lot of things, some of them in fact being really disturbing, about national identity and such. But you know what, after reading chapter 1, to my great surprise, I find that we are not as different as it is usually represented. But please don't get me wrong: by that I do not mean the shared popularity of such "antidepressants" as scotch and vodka.
    Last edited by Weaver67; 29-Jul-2015 at 20:14.

  2. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Every Englishman is born a double Scotch below par.

    In my experience most people from aound the world have more similarities than differences.

    Do not worry about expressing what you think something might be, as long as you try to explain it tactfully then people should be ok about it. After all, you are learning and so need to be able to say what you think things mean.

    Jeremy Paxman is actually expressing a view raised by many today regarding something like a crisis of English identity. There is still quite a strong feeling among many that you can't display an English flag on your home without being regarded as holding extreme right wing views. However, if you display a Scottish or Welsh flag on your home then you are displaying that you are proud to be Scottish or Welsh.

    As Mr. Paxman was discussing this in the paragraph before the quote I also thought he was alluding to this identity crisis by including a clever dual meaning.

    He wrote "double Scotch", which refers specifically to whisky from Scotland, rather than Ireland or anywhere else. "Par" is a golfing term, and the home of golf is Scotland. So he is also meaning that in order to feel as good about themselves as the Scots do, the English need a double dose of what the Scots drink!

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