Gav Prentice: On Being Patronised


We all know what it’s like, all of us. Some of us have to face it more often than others, but it’s always there.

If you’ve had a slap on the back for completing an insultingly menial task at work.

If you’ve been ID’d in a supermarket and told to take it as a compliment.

If someone has told you they, basically, don’t like the art that you make, but they can appreciate that a lot of time was spent on it.

If you’ve been wearily told “I thought that way when I was your age.”

If your humbly-supported but excellently-run football team does well in the Scottish Cup and a cavalcade of bigoted, glory-hunting arseholes attach themselves to it claiming to have always had a soft spot for their “wee team.”

If you’ve been called “wee man” despite being of average height.

If you’ve been accused of having “wee man syndrome” for taking issue with that.

If you’ve seen genuine bewilderment at why you wouldn’t choose to move to London.

If, when in London, you’ve been asked if you’ve just handed over “fucking monopoly money” because it “doesn’t even have Her Majesty on it.”

If you’ve been called “Jimmy” when that doesn’t even bear a passing phonetic resemblance to your name.

If you’ve been told the only way that you can be understood is by changing your accent.

If, based on your accent, a noticeable assumption has been made that you’re poorly educated.

If you’ve been told that your native language is dying a “natural death.”

If you’ve been told that a 300 year-old political movement you sympathise with is solely about one 59-year-old man’s self-image.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Aw that Braveheart shite.”

If you’ve been told that your nation’s chief export is tramps.

If you’ve been told that your nation’s economy will collapse if it’s not run from London.

If you’ve been told that your nation is the only one on Earth incapable of ruling itself.

Then you know what it is to be patronised. And you most likely know that, actually, you know much better. And we can take at least some satisfaction in voting Yes.

Gav Prentice
National Collective


About Gav Prentice

Gav Prentice is a Glasgow based musician originally from Bathgate, West Lothian. He is one half of the euphoric pop duo Over the Wall, best known for their debut album 'Treacherous' on Motive Sounds Recordings, their Around The Isles in 80 Days endurance tour of Britain and Ireland, and their flagship anthem 'Thurso', borrowed for the theme of BBC comedy series Burnistoun. His debut solo album The Invisible Hand was released in 2012, containing original songs which would later feature in National Theatre of Scotland’s 'Rantin', in which he also performed for its nationwide tour in 2014. Over the Wall recently released the 'This Is How We Did It' EP before announcing their split with a run of farewell performances in May 2014. Gav plans to work with a variety of producers on new solo recordings in an independent Scotland later in the year.

There are 4 comments

  1. Anne Lawrie

    Thank you Gav – been there, done that. I’m below average height and fully expect to be patted on the head at any moment. I’m further disadvantaged by being female and of advancing years. Doesn’t happen so much now, but the greatest challenges I received when younger were that “I couldn’t do that because I was a GIRL”. Someone even thought they were paying me a great compliment when they told me I drove like a MAN, for goodness sake. Now the country I was born in is too wee, too poor and just too stupid to be independent. I don’t think so!!

  2. Mark Harper

    “If you’ve been ID’d in a supermarket and told to take it as a compliment.” Really diddums? Poor wee man! What pisses me of is dealing with petulant children in adult bodies when I’m just doing the job I’m paid to do. I’m pissed off being a 50 year old checkout operator because of the de-industrialisation of Scotland by successive westminster governments that shut the Mill I worked in and led to me doing the job I do now.
    Supermarkets have a policy, it’s called “Challenge 25” where by staff are required to check the age of anyone who looks to be 25 or under. There are “secret shoppers” employed by the shops themselves and local councils to make sure staff do this. So it’s a toss-up between hurting your feelings or getting a reprimand or possibly losing the job.
    You need to live a life and suffer some real humiliation try working as a checkout operator.

    1. Gav Prentice

      Hi Mark! That one was supposed to be a light-hearted way to kick it off, I’m quite obviously not claiming that it’s patronising on a par with the more serious stuff I get to later in the piece. I suppose the “you should take it as a compliment” thing is more just shite patter than really patronising in any great way, so thanks for taking that one throwaway line so seriously. I worked as a checkout operator for a couple of years in Safeway in Bathgate. I didn’t like it either. Sorry to hear about your troubles. I share your feelings on de-industrialisation (again, I’m from Bathgate), and as for “you need to live a life and suffer some real humiliation” – I won’t bore you with the details, but rest assured that humiliation and I are no strangers. I’m away to dwell on that for a while, if it makes you feel better. Thanks again!

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