Friday, March 28, 2014

You commoners may now call me "Laird"

If you've been reading this blog from its beginning -- and, really, what's wrong with you, don't you have anything better to do in life? -- then you know Kate has earned thirteen fancy letters following her name (see here). And you know I've suffered woefully from prestige envy.

No worries anymore.

Henceforth, I shall be known as "Laird." Or, more appropriately:  Brian, Laird of Kincavel.

That's right, I now can be addressed as a landholding member of the Scottish gentry. I command a parcel of land in the highlands.

Obviously, to have such a title, I must have performed a great service for Scotland. Engaged in heroics. Cured a disease. Perfected cold fusion. Or something of that sort. It's impressive, I know, that an American has risen so quickly in Scottish society.

Incidentally, if you 'Muricans are now wondering the appropriate way to address me {Ed.'s note: dispensing with "dimwit," "moron," or "buffoon"}, the proper written salutation is "Sir" or "Dear Kincavel," while in person I am now simply "Kincavel." As a laird, I rank just below a Baron but above the distasteful "esquire." I've been esquire long enough; it was time for an elevation.

As the wife of such a highfalutin laird, Kate is now addressed as "Madam." My heir-apparent, Jackson, should be called "Young Kincavel."

What precisely makes me a "laird" here in Scotland? This piece of paper:

Seems legit, right?
If you've read the above deed carefully -- what? you haven't? you lazy commoners are all the same -- you can see that my landholding is "one square foot." You'll also note my control of such a vital 144 square inches is not absolute. And further, you may notice these 92,903 square millimeters {Ed.'s note: the landholding seems ever so much larger if you just use the right form of measurement} have nothing on them lie unspoilt in natural beauty, unless a two-thirds majority of bungling idiots my fellow lairds vote to cash in for development.

These tens of thousands of unspoilt millimeters are located within the Ardnamurchan peninsula on Scotland's west coast. My gorgeous estate can be found at Latitude: North 56 Degrees 43.821 Minutes, Longitude: West 6 Degrees 11.155 Minutes. If you find it, I hereby decree you may trod upon my land whilst under good behavior. Please leave a small heartfelt memento to commemorate your visit.

Nearly a hundred thousand square millimeters of Scottish highland glory, all mine.
Like any hero of the realm, I have obstacles and opponents to overcome. As the saying goes, "heavy is the swollen head that deems itself a laird." One such adversary, the Court of the Lord Lyon, has explained that the title of "laird" is not, actually, a title at all. Rather, it's a description which historically was sometimes applied to the owner of an estate, usually by the estate's workers. The Lord Lyon -- an official post dating back to the 14th century serving as the King of Arms in Scotland and the heraldic authority for the nation -- states flatly the use of laird "is not appropriate for the owner of a normal residential property, far less the owner of a small souvenir plot of land. It goes without saying that the term ‘laird’ is not synonymous with that of ‘lord’ or ‘lady’."

The fearsome officers of the Court of the Lord Lyon, in 2009.

Another foe, a solicitor from Edinburgh, wields legal arguments to explain "in Scotland anyone can, subject to requirements of good faith, call themselves whatever they like, including 'Laird', 'Lord' or 'Lady'." He further declares "just as adopting the moniker 'Duke of Earl' wouldn't make you either, let alone both, simply calling yourself 'Lord' or 'Laird' does not make you a Lord. You cannot render yourself a peer simply by changing your name and you won't acquire a right, say, to use heraldic devices like coats of arms. This is something which Scots law still takes very seriously and the use of unauthorised Arms is a criminal offence." Finally, he cheekily points out that while you might foolishly pay money to buy "one square foot" of land for the title of laird, Scottish law "legally allows you to use the courtesy title 'Messiah', and to update accordingly as much paperwork as you like, for nothing."

But these fuddy-duddy villains come armed only with mere trifles, such as logic, tradition, and law. They're no match for my weapons of delusion, propaganda, and brazen proclamation. {Ed.'s note: Please ignore the means of proletarian tactics for the ends of redistributing (i.e., acquiring) hereditary ruling class positions.}

Your calumnies are vanquished, I declare! I'm a laird. It says so on my piece of paper. And since this entire scenario of buying a square foot of land to become a laird seems vaguely Monty Python-esque, I say to my opponents: "I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."

Unquestionably, my exalted status as Laird of Kincavel suggests requires me to buy a kilt -- what kind of laird would I be without one? -- and I now have the perfect rationale for buying one. And for wearing it all the time.

The question is not whether I am Laird of Kincavel. Rather, the question is why should I stop with only one title? Many more titles abound. I could add Laird of Lochaber; Laird of Jura; Laird of Glencairn, of Glencrannog, and of John O'Groats; Laird of Dunans Castle and of Chaol Ghleann; and so on. I can add hundreds of thousands of square millimeters to my estate. If I acquire enough lairdships, undoubtedly my burgeoning status would require elevation to Baron . . . .

But this dream is not mine alone. I share it with you, the little people. In just a few strokes, for a current pittance of £22.32, you can break free from your chains and rise into the Scottish gentry.

And so the people rejoice and sing: Benevolence, thy name is Brian, Laird of Kincavel.


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