Season 1

Episode 6: Scotland: MisInfoNation – Haggis, Braveheart, and Unicorns

A Scotsman named English helps Neil and Andrés understand just how much they don’t understand about Scotland.


Passport is a show about the world. Our team — who are from all over including the US — believes in telling stories that bring people just a little closer together.  From time to time, there will be things that happen that we feel like we should address, and we’ve included some thoughts in our newsletter – which is available here – about events unfolding right now.

To our friends in the U.S. we love you. We’re thinking about you. And we hope you’re safe.

In this, our first MisInfoNation, we head to Scotland with filmmaker and Scotsman, John English, to find out just how much we all get wrong – or right – about bagpipes, haggis, kilts, and of course the Loch Ness Monster.

MisInfoNation: What the world gets wrong, and right, about Scotland.  

There are things we think we know about countries. But viral videos, tiktok and 24 hour news has made everything we understand about other places somewhat misinformed, twisted or just downright incorrect. 

Today on Passport we take this misinformation and turn it on it’s head, upside down, the wrong way round and inside out. That’s why we’re calling it MisInfoNation.  Think of this as a cultural Mythbusters. 

So we’re heading to Scotland to find out the truth about haggis, the story behind Irn-Bru, if there’s anything the Scots won’t deep fry, how they feel about Donald Trump’s heritage, and what’s really going on under a kilt.  Also, we’ll discover the absolute best view in all of Scotland.  

We laugh a lot during this episode, fittingly, because the Scots take great pride in their sense of humor. Which explains their choice of national animal. Be sure to listen for that. 



5 places to visit in Scotland that are pure barry!*

    Live music, Scottish style.
    The view from the top of Glen Doherty is the best in Scotland.
    How to see Edinburgh properly.
    The most authentic Scottish weekend vaca.
     Gorgeous coastline, delicious seafood + whiskey

*That means “utterly wonderful and fantastic” in Scottish slang.


On Instagram: @passportpodcast

On Facebook: @passportpod

On Twitter: @passportpod

On The Web:


John English


This week’s episode of Passport was produced and edited by Neil Innes and written by Neil innes and Andrés Bartos. 

Huge thanks to brilliant John English. You can see just how good a storyteller he is by visiting

Music on this episode was willed into existence by Nick Turner with additional stuff by Fish and Chips, Eric M. Amour, and Shake that little Foot. 

The show is mixed and mastered by Julian Kwasneski.

Our Production Assitant is Eliza Engel

Stacey Book, Dominique Ferrari and Avi Glijanksy are all born unicorns, they also executive produce the show…

Which is hosted by Neil Innes and a man who would almost certainly wear nothing under a kilt given the chance, Andrés Bartos.

See you in the next place!  


Header image by Rudolf Hein


ANDRÉS: Quick note before we start the show.

We at Passport are an international crew making a show that hopes to connect to people – no matter where you are in the world. From time to time, there will be things that happen that we feel like we should address. If you get our newsletter, we’ll be including some thoughts there about events unfolding right now. It’s available at

To our friends in the U.S. we love you. We’re thinking about you. And we hope you’re safe.


ANDRÉS: Alright, so this is happening.

JOHN: I’m excited. Let’s count to 10 together, like each taking a number to see what the delay is like.  


 JOHN: Two.  ANDRÉS: I’m sorry.


NEILDon’t worry. The magic of editing. We’ll cut out the silence of our dumbness.

ANDRÉS: Oh God. If I could only have that in real life.


ANDRÉS: A destination isn’t always a place.

NEIL: Sometimes it’s a new way of seeing things. I’m Neil Innes

ANDRÉS: And I’m Andrés Bartos.

NEIL: From Frequency Machine, this is Passport.

ANDRÉS: Your ticket to everywhere.


NEIL: There are things we think we know about places, but history, prejudice, stereotypes, and the viral nature of 24-hour news and social media has made common knowledge about faraway places even more twisted than ever.

ANDRÉS: Today on passport, we clear up some of the outright lies about an entire nation by doing what we do best.

Talking it out with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

NEIL: Think of this as a kind of cultural mythbusters. We’re calling it MisInfoNation, and today we’re going to Scotland, kind of.

[Bagpipes playing]

NEIL: Yeach.

[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: People talk about Scotland like it’s just Sean Connery, haggis, Braveheart, scotch whiskey, bad weather, and even worse food. So we scoured the internet and wrote a list of the top 10 things the world believes about Scotland.

NEIL: Are the Highlands just filled with the sound of bagpipes and drunken indecipherable redheads? 

ANDRÉS: Do the Scottish embrace Donald Trump’s heritage? 

NEIL: Is there a dinosaur living in Loch Ness?

ANDRÉS: And what should a man really wear under his kilt?

NEIL: With help today from John English, the only Scotsman we know with an understandable accent, we discover just how wrong the world is about truly one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.

ANDRÉS: John is a filmmaker, teller of tall tales, pop culture beast born and raised a stone’s throw away from Loch Ness. If anybody has the answers, it’s gotta be him. Welcome to MisInfoNation. 


JOHN: Do you know that I am, I was speaking to a non-Scottish friend about this upcoming podcast?


JOHN: They were asking, well, what do you think they’re going to talk about? So I actually have a list. I want to know how many of these are on your list to talk to me about.


NEIL: Oh, awesome.

JOHN: Right. Number one, incoherent dialogue.

NEIL: Ding 

JOHN: Number two, alcoholism.

NEIL: Ding

JOHN: Number three. Inferiority complex about England.


ANDRÉS: Close, but no cigar. I mean, that’s a good one though. That’s a really good one.

JOHN: Number four, um, battered Mars Bars.

NEIL: Ding 

ANDRÉS: Yes, oh yes.

JOHN: Number five, battered food stuffs in general.

ANDRÉS: Ding, ding.

NEIL: God dammit.

JOHN: Number six would be generally unhealthy lifestyles stemming from battered Mars Bars and battered food stuffs in general.


ANDRÉS: I like how important this section is.

JOHN: Number eight, heroin addiction based entirely on Trainspotting even though it’s a 25 year old film

ANDRÉS: Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding

If we could make balloons fall over you right now.

NEIL: Yeah


JOHN: Okay. Next one. Obsessed with football, but rubbish at football.


ANDRÉS: Oh, that’s so wonderful

JOHN: Vile and abusive language.


JOHN: Brilliant. Uh, and the Loch Ness Monster.

ANDRÉS: Of course, are you kidding.

NEIL: Holy God.

JOHN: I mean, fortunately for you both, that is the end of my research. I didn’t think of anything witty or stylistic to say about any of those things, so it won’t help us at all.

ANDRÉS: Perfect.


NEIL: Clichés follow us around. John knows this because he has to hear about what the world thinks it knows about Scotland every time he meets someone, anywhere in the world, or even if he hangs out with me and ANDRÉS for a few hours.

Scotland is a pretty small nation about the size of South Carolina. It sits on the northern end of the United Kingdom, right above England. It’s home to 25 and a half million people, but its whole culture is internationally emblematic.

ANDRÉS: It’s known the world over and has been the butt of, oh so many jokes. The truth is Scotland is a total knockout. In fact, in 2017 readers of rough guide voted it the most beautiful country on earth.

NEIL: Tall tales and incredible beauty live in Scotland. JK Rowling put Hogwarts in the Scottish Highlands when she wrote Harry Potter.

That’s how much magic this place inspires. It’s truly mythic. And with that in mind, young John English grew up right near one of the most infamous, mysterious stories in the country.


JOHN: I am from a not even village called Mulbuie, population hyphen. Like I honestly, I think the hyphen would be stated in the census. My address doesn’t even say the word Mulbuie in it. It’s this vague sort of sweeping Highlands notion.

NEIL: That is an amazing name though.

JOHN: Mulbuie. It means something in Gaelic.

ANDRÉS: John English was born in a town called something.

JOHN: Mulbuie is 11 miles north of Inverness. Inverness is obviously at the mouth of Loch Ness, so there, that’s going to locate, suddenly, suddenly the knowledge level rises for all listeners from zero to 100 percent.

NEIL: So that’s pretty Scottish.

JOHN: I mean, my father literally grew up a mile and a half from the banks of Loch Ness.


NEIL: How, how far back do they, does the Mulbuie English’s go?

JOHN: Well, I mean as, as our more discerning listeners might have noticed, I have quite a shit name for this podcast. Um, so on, on one side of my family, like my mom’s side of my family, they go back like way back beyond what I know.

They’re from Shetland, the islands that are so Scottish, they’re almost Norwegian.

NEIL: The Shetland Isles way off the northeast coast of Scotland are barely 200 miles from Norway. The Shetlands are stunning. A cluster of a hundred islands, only 15 of which are inhabited. It’s a bird watchers paradise, a whale watchers paradise, and apparently Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop in the village of Brae is the best in the country, which puts it certainly in the running for the best in the world.


ANDRÉS: A lad with roots in the most northern Scottish isle raised only a few miles from the most famous lake in Scotland. That’s loch in Gaelic. Saying lake in Scotland is a no-no.

The general thought is that everybody in Scotland loves the Loch Ness Monster.

JOHN: Nah. Like I think people who, people who love the Loch Ness Monster are people who make money from the Loch Ness Monster. 

NEIL: There have been accounts of Nessie since the late 1800s. But the most famous sighting of the beloved huge long necked creature was in 1933. Over the years, there’ve been photos, hoaxes, DNA tests, and weird sonar blips. There’s no one in the world who wouldn’t think of Nessie while standing on the banks of Loch Ness.

JOHN: There’s something weird about that place. Definitely. There’s something weird about that loch. There’s mountains all around it and they just carry on straight down. So if you can imagine, it just creates this really, really deep base and there’s a vast quantity of really cold water in it.

ANDRÉS: What was your relationship to the Loch Ness Monster? Is it only tourists or did somebody ever talk to you about like…

JOHN: My auntie got school bused along the sides of Loch Ness and whether she saw something could be disputed, but whether their bus stopped, pulled over and all of the people on the bus, and the driver got out is undisputed, they saw something weird that day in the loch. Obviously like, ah, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a fucking dinosaur in the water.


NEIL: The first time it was ever in a bout was in was 1933 right, this guy called Alex Campbell.

JOHN: Well, you can’t trust a Campbell. My family are McDonalds. You’ve just discredited this whole section. Nessie is not real, but there’s something weird. There must be something weird about, I don’t know whether it’s the wind or whether it is the wave patterns or whether something weird in that loch that makes people see stuff.

That is undeniable. I might have said lake there. That’s really depressing. I never say lake unless I’m speaking to you two.

ANDRÉS: Oh, we’re so gonna make your life a living hell.

JOHN: Oh God.


ANDRÉS: The Scottish language has been used as a comedy foil in countless films and TV shows. Well, since forever. Even a machine program to understand every word in English fails every time.

NEIL: Check out this clip of a desperate Scot getting in a fight with Alexa.

[Audio from Alexa clip]

NEIL: Scotland in fact holds many, many dialects of its own, tens of them and three languages, Gaelic, Scots and English. Most of the accents and dialects come from a blend of them. And despite the fact that most of the world claim they don’t understand them, I do, and I love them.

Do you love the Scottish accent?

JOHN: Do I love the Scottish accent? Not dear listener, quite as much as Neil Innes loves the Scottish accent, is what I would say.

NEIL: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

ANDRÉS: 12 voice messages, maybe just today that all have… how, how bad is Neil’s Scottish accent?

JOHN: Surprisingly I’ve heard a lot worse.


JOHN: He’s all right. I mean, don’t take that as a compliment, it’s shocking but I think there’s something about the Scottish accent that people believe they’re really good at it.

I think like they’ve seen Billy Connolly once and they just think that you’re going to be blown away by how good their Scottish accent is. 

NEIL: Oh, I’m so guilty. 


NEIL: I can’t help it. I’m like a sponge. I’m like a stupid sponge. Like I do it with ANDRÉS and I can’t, I just can’t help it. Especially on voicemail when I’m like alone, I’m like, this will be funny. Hello?

In some parts of Scotland, it really is hard to believe you’re hearing the English language.

ANDRÉS: I have only come across a couple of times where it really was like a different language.

JOHN: Incomprehensible

ANDRÉS: For me, yeah, as a, as a young Bolivian lad, it was the word, like certain words where it’s like ‘hame’ for home.

JOHN: You’ve got the distinction there’s between the accent and the actual, like the Scot’s language, because there’s a Scot’s language that is, you’ve got in the north of Scotland, like where I’m from Gaelic was predominantly the language. 

But in the south, Gaelic was never the main language. It was, it was a language called Scots. And when you hear like modern day Glaswegian, what you’re hearing is, is a kind of mix of English and Scots. So, you could argue that that is, if not a language, certainly a dialect, that’s a mix of northern English and southern Scots.

NEIL: Is that what you’re, is that what you’re reading when you’re reading those old Scottish poems? Like the Robbie Burns poems.

JOHN: Right, so Robbie Burns, Robbie Burns. Yeah. Robbie Burns wrote in Scots. Um, and that’s, so that’s what you would be, that’s what you’d be reading there.

NEIL: It’s incredibly weird and beautiful at the same time, especially, it’s trying to work out how it’s, how it’s spoken. It’s really incredible.

ANDRÉS: That’s Robbie Burns address to a haggis. A very confusing love letter to Scotland’s infamous national dish.

Traditionally, it’s read before eating it on Burns Night on the 25th of January. Most people know haggis because of its highly questionable ingredients in which you’ll find hearts and lungs of one lamb, one pound of beef or lamb trimmings, two onions finely chopped. Eight ounces of oatmeal, salt and pepper, coriander, mace, and nutmeg.

When you cook all that up and you stuff it inside a sheep stomach, and then you boil it. So clearly, the world thinks that haggis is frigging disgusting.

JOHN: MisInfoNation haggis is amazing. It needs to be in with nips and ties. Like you need the sweetness of that, of that turnip and the kind of solely buttery potato or just to take the edge off it cause it’s a pretty spicy dish, you know?

But, but good haggis is one of my favorite things. Have you ever had a battered haggis?

NEIL: They deep fry that too. 

JOHN: Of course. That’s like, I would say that that is the sixth most ordered item in Scottish chip shops.

NEIL: What John is describing is haggis dunked in batter, kind of like Southern fried chicken, deep fried, and then surrounded by French fries. 

Where would you go for like the best battered haggis in Scotland

JOHN: Your like your local chipper. I mean they like the northeast is good for fish and chips in general for like chip shops, as long as you’re throwing it a lot of batter into hot fat and surrounding it with chips, you can’t really go wrong. 

[Song playing]

NEIL: Deep frying is one of many things that Scotland does well, so much so that the world believes that every single living Scot is one second away from a massive coronary. They’ll throw anything in batter and dunk it and oil. Chocolate bars, haggis pizza. There’s even a fish bar in Perthshire, which offers a deep-fried Christmas dinner.


The fryer is an undisputed hero of Scottish cooking, but we found a whole load of other weird dishes. So, it’s time for a MisInfoNation lightning round.

How many of these dishes you know you’ve tried and if you like them.

JOHN: Cool.

NEIL: Number one, festy cock.

JOHN: Never heard of it

ANDRÉS: Festy cock is a pancake made with oats.

JOHN: Sounds delicious.

NEIL: Number two. Cock-a-leekie soup.

JOHN: Ah, cock-a-leekie soup. Sure. Yeah. It’s nice.

ANDRÉS: Cock-a-leekie soup is chicken, leek and potato soup.

NEIL: Fatty cutty.

JOHN: Fatty cutty. Are you sure you’re saying these right? 

ANDRÉS: Fatty cutty is a scone. God knows why they named it that 

NEIL: This is the best. Rumbledethumps.

ANDRÉS: Rumbledethumps. 

JOHN: That’s made up.


 ANDRÉS: Best name of a dish ever. Rumbledethumps is basically any leftovers you have in the fridge, thrown in a pot with some cheese, then slammed in the oven.

NEIL: Strippit baws.

JOHN: Strippit baws. No, I’ve got no idea how that is.

ANDRÉS: Hard candy, usually aniseed flavored 

NEIL: Deep fried pizza.

JOHN: Deep fried pizza is outstanding. When Scotland played Italy at football, and obviously there is a huge divergence in the quality of the football played by Italy compared to the football played by Scotland.

Um, but to try and wind up the Italian crowd, um, the Scottish fans sang, deep fry your pizzas, we’re going to deep fry your pizzas.


ANDRÉS: I guess at this point, I should also note that the mother of your children is from Italy.

JOHN: She is, yeah. So I particularly enjoyed that. Like we might not be any good at football, but oh, we can fuck with your food.


ANDRÉS: The UK in general and Scotland in particular, usually top lists the world over as one of the worst countries to get a meal. What does John think?

JOHN: Yeah, I think I, yeah, I would disagree with that. A, because like, I think that we have amazing fish and amazing game and like amazing, like soil for like homegrown vegetables if cooked right.

And there’s, I, there’s loads of incredible Scot chefs using our ingredients really well. But also, I think because like we’ve, we are a nation that has embraced immigration and like embraced it, not just for social or economic reasons, but like really kind of celebrated the things that other people have brought.

So like, I think you can get a better tandoori in Glasgow than pretty much anywhere else in the world outside India. I mean, the people at Bradford may argue with you about that, but there’s just fantastic food from all over the world because I think like Scottish people are quite adventurous when it comes to food.

They’re like, if there’s, there’s a new type of food that came along at one point in history, yeah, we might chuck it and batter it, see if we can improve it, sometimes we can, but um, on the whole, we’re cut out for it.

NEIL: In just a minute, more fun with kilts, heroine and the wonder of irn bru, the world’s greatest soda.


[Song playing]

NEIL: Almost top of the list of things you picture when you think about Scotland is a man in a skirt. The kilt is arguably the most identifiable cultural dress in the world. Weddings, formal occasions, need a kilt. It dates back to the 16th century when it was worn as a six-meter length of fabric, which wrapped your whole shoulders and body.

In the 19th century, the kilt got shorter and turned into the pleated knee length which the world knows and loves.

ANDRÉS: Super stylish.

NEIL: It’s thought to originally have been Scandinavian, comes from the word kjalta, which means pleated. Interesting enough, but in the world of MisInfoNation, there is really only one question. It’s the obvious one. What’s going on under there

ANDRÉS: Does a Scotsman wear anything under his kilt or does he free ball that shit?

JOHN: I’ve been known to dabble in both. I’ve never started an evening without a pair of boxer shorts underneath it, but at various points in evenings, it is quite commonplace for the knickers to be ditched.

NEIL: That’s a weirder answer than I was expecting. That’s like well sometimes, and sometimes not, but I didn’t expect like the sometimes and sometimes not to be within the same evening.

JOHN: Always.

ANDRÉS: I’m going to be really, really Bolivian about this cause I have no idea how this works. But like when you’re given your first kilt…

JOHN: Yeah.

ANDRÉS: Do you like get instructions?

JOHN: Oh man

ANDRÉS: Is like, what is it 

JOHN: It’s, um, the fitting of a kilt is such a mission. It is a good few meters of material that’s required to create a kilt and you have to go for a number of different fittings where like, a sort of old, very grumpy man kind of just hoists you about a bit and kind of like, there’s nothing, there’s nothing gentle about it.

ANDRÉS: That’s amazing. So it’s a big deal.

JOHN: Yeah. Yeah. And like a typical kilt will definitely cost upwards of like 500 pounds. So like 600 euros-ish for the, for the actual, the actual kilt itself, and then you’ve got all the other stuff that goes with it. You know, you’ve got your like your day dress, which is like waistcoat and tweed jacket, and you’ve got your, I mean, I’m going to list just for comedy purposes, all the different things that are part of the kilt, so you’ve got your sporran, historically, your um, ball protector, now your mobile phone carrier.

ANDRÉS: That’s what that thing is. Oh my God, that thing is meant to protect your balls.

NEIL: It’s meant to protect your balls, but, but it actually just hammers you in them like all of the time.

ANDRÉS: So Neil Innes, you’ve worn a kilt.

NEIL: Yes. Once for a fancy dress party. 


JOHN: That is some cultural appropriation right there.

That’s a sporran. And uh, and then you have knitted socks and essentially your socks must be knitted by your granny and they must be knitted in a width and itchiness of wool that is similar to fluffy steel. I think that’s how I describe them. They are misery to wear.

ANDRÉS: Wait, wait. What are the things that keep these things up?

JOHN: Garters with flashes, you have the garters to keep them up and the flashes are the sort of bits of material that comes out at the end of those garters and then stuck into the side of your socks, um, is your sgian-dubh, and that’s your knife. That’s your knife that you have tucked into your sock for stabbing Innes when he dresses up in a kilt at a fancy dress party.


ANDRÉS: Oh my God.

NEIL: Oh God.

ANDRÉS: What, what’s really cool about this, I’m now going to go a little meta just for a second, but I’m actually learning things, first of all, which is amazing. Second of all, the kilt actually seems like the least interesting part of this whole fucking outfit. Why are we focused on the kilt?

 NEIL: Definitely.

JOHN: Absolutely and it is like you need, you do need like a construction manager to put together the sort of bag that it goes in any time that you’re, anytime that you’re traveling anywhere, you know, it’s like all the pockets and zips and things like that that are required to store your various kilting components.

ANDRÉS: How, how far away from your kilting components are you at this very moment?

JOHN: About two and a half meters away from my main kilting components. I have them, have them all here in the wardrobe. I am Covid lock downed in my, in my bedroom. So yeah, not, not far away at all. Would you like me to change?


ANDRÉS: That’d be some good radio. 


[Song playing] 

ANDRÉS: So along with the kilt, the bagpipes must be tied for top spot of all things uniquely Scottish. Even though some historians claim they are originally Egyptian, the bagpipes were probably brought to Scotland by invading Roman legions in about 58 AD. The squealing sound of a cat in heat being strangled by an even larger, and even hornier cat runs in the nations veins.

It has the power to reduce large, hairy sports fans to tears just as it brings the rest of us to our knees. Everyone in Scotland loves the bagpipes, right?

JOHN: Nah, they’re just kind of like, it’s weird. They’re one of those things that are just there and like sometimes in the right setting, they can sound all right.

Most of the time, they sound brutal though don’t they? Like you’re walking on Princess Street in Edinburgh and there’s like 64 pipers busking against each other essentially, just clashing with each other. Uh, it’s horrific. But, um, but done, right, yeah, it’s amazing, and like inspiring and motivating and glorious, but, um, it does just make you think, yeah, come on, fuck England.

[Cheering audio]

NEIL: The historic rivalry between the English and the Scottish is a never-ending source of incredible banter between the two countries. And it’s old. Since 122 AD when some Roman bloke called Hadrian put up a wall between England and Scotland because, well, the Caledonians as they were known then scared him. In 1072 William of Normandy invaded Scotland.

In 1296 King Edward I, he overthrew Scotland’s King John, and this led to William Wallace’s uprising. That’s Braveheart, to you and me. 1314’s Battle of Bannockburn, when King Edward II was defeated by Robert the Bruce was the moment when Scotland secured its independence. But the battles continued over the next 300 years.

The most famous in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie laid claim to the Scottish and English throne, his army was initially successful, but ultimately beaten at the Battle of Culloden. The Scottish, would have a reason to hate them, but in a poll conducted in 2018 the reasons that the Scots hate the English was actually revealed to be a list of good natured and often hilarious grudges, including football hooliganism.

Not being able to handle the booze, being afraid of snow, voting for Brexit, applying fake tan, and of course wearing socks with sandals. So do the Scottish truly hate the English?

JOHN: I don’t think there’s, there’s anyone that holds like that much deep seeded resentment to England as a country at all. The problem, the problem more than anything else is it’s all of these things that then get bundled in with Englishness because they’re kind of overrepresented in the right wing English press and in Westminster, that’s where it all stems from

NEIL: I’d say that it’s like, it’s one of the greatest things about the United Kingdom in general is like the, you know, the English shit on the Scottish. The Scottish shit on the English. Everyone shits on the Welsh, the Irish are in the middle of everything, the Scots shit on the… It’s like, it’s this like kind of just, it never kind of hurts.

JOHN: Just, you know, my, my sort of sociologic sociologist grown up answer is the one that I present to podcasts that I’m on. But then the truth is also that I would say 98% of favorite Scots if polled would describe their favorite moment of any film of all time being the hold moment in Braveheart, which is essentially the moment before thousands of English people are going to be bludgeoned to death by pointed trees.

You know, like how old is that film? But if you still go into any pub that’s a bit rowdy in Scotland and start going holes, holes, people will join in.


ANDRÉS: That’s amazing. We made it to Braveheart.  

JOHN: It’s unavoidable.


[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: So the question of the Scottish hating the English is not really gonna get you anywhere. Anytime you ask, you always end up at Braveheart, either that or Trainspotting. Irvine Welsh’s squalid, brilliant junkie novel turned kinetic Danny Boyle classic left a mark around the world and made Ewan McGregor a star. 

But with fame comes great MisInfoNation. 

[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: John, you’ve tried heroin right?


JOHN: I have let my country down by avoiding heroin up to this, but hey, there’s still time. You know? That’s why I always, I always, I always feel about drugs they haven’t taken yet, you know, if there’s some new youthful drug or something like that.

NEIL: Knowing John, we kind of guessed he didn’t quite have that addictive personality.

Until we mentioned something very Scottish, something very sweet, very bright, very bubbly, something John was once very much addicted to. Something that took over his life and his house.

[Song playing

NEIL: If haggis is the national dish, then surely the national drink is not whiskey, but Irn-Bru. A magical drink with an unplaceable flavor and a color so orange that even the color orange just goes, what the fuck is that?


JOHN: Irn-Bru is, yeah, who knows? Like it’s made in Scotland from girders as the, as the advertisement said.

[Irn-Bru advertisement audio]

NEIL:  Made in Scotland from girders, the huge iron beams, which hold up buildings. This is the hardest soda in the universe.  

JOHN: Drink Irn-Bru. You’ll be rock solid at Scottish. That’s the, that was the message. It’s like, yeah, it’s just, I don’t, I’ve no idea what flavor it is, but it’s truly glorious.  

It was like, um, when we were at uni, we made it into the local paper because, um, we, I mean, there was six of us, six of us in the flat, and I would say that there was consumption of, at least three to four liters of Irn-Bru per day in that flat. Like most of us would pick up a glass bottle of Irn-Bru on the way back from classes and we kept them because obviously you, back then you got like, you get 20 P back on your, your bottle of Bru, your glass bottle of Bru cost you about between 61 and 69 P depending on your retail establishment.

And, um, and you get 20 if you returned, if you took it back. So, but we, we kept them all year. They became the decor of the, of the, basically the skirting boards of an entire flat. Like you, you come in the front door and they just, they traced the outline of the flat all the way around it. Sometimes like two or three deep and they were into people’s bedrooms and stuff like that.

NEIL: The house that Irn-Bru built.

JOHN: Yeah. The, and at the end of the end of the year, we’re moving out of the flat, and we, we call Barrs, who are the makers of Irn-Bru. We called them up and um, we told them that we had however many hundred bottles of Irn-Bru that, and, could they, and they sent, Barr sent to pick them all up and cashed us out.

And, we had a party and got rarsed with the money that we made from it. Bought a lot more bottles of Irn-Bru in the morning to deal with the hangovers.

ANDRÉS: A heartwarming story brought to you by Irn-Bru.

JOHN: Fucking love Irn-Bru.


[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: We couldn’t help a jump from one incredibly orange thing with no taste to another.  

NEIL: Is it true that Scotland has embraced Donald Trump as their true Scottish son? You may not have known this, but Mama Trump, Mary Anne MacLeod, she came from the Hebridean Isle of Lewis just off the coast of west Scotland.

JOHN: It is of course bollix um, people in Scotland despise Donald Trump the same as pretty much people everywhere else. Although we do get good opportunities to, to embrace it because he often visits his golf courses, there are some cracking signs and the um, that people prepare every time he visits, um, golf courses, which are just one interpretation or another of could you fuck off please?



NEIL: Some of these signs are outstanding. I hate crowds, but I hate Trump more. Zen monks against Trump. Beat it you big orange Jobbie. Scotland: we hated him first and many jabs at the blonde cobweb he calls hair, including we shall over comb and there will be hell toupee. Toupee. Get it? We’ll put our favorite signs on Instagram at Passport podcast.

I guess anyone around the world with any semblance of Scottish heritage is super annoying to an actual, Scot. My last name is Innes, pretty Scottish. I thought I’d see how angry we could make John English the Scotsman by properly tracing my family’s family tree. My father bought like the full membership for the right.

ANDRÉS: I love where this is going.

NEIL: Yeah. He got quite far and uh, sort of handed, handed me the keys, so I got, I got into it on my grandfather’s side, all the way back. I’m almost a hundred percent sure that I have direct lineage or as direct as can be to the first Innes.

JOHN: Wow.

NEIL: 1140 James Innes, the Innes.

JOHN: Is this your, is this your most journalistic moment, Neil? I’m not really sure what’s going on here.  

ANDRÉS: Is this just a ploy so you can use the Scottish accent on John English. Is this what you’re trying to do here?

NEIL: It seems we’re both Scottish.


JOHN: Yeah. Is it, or have you just sort of deleted any creeping respect I might have had for your Scottishness?


ANDRÉS: I love it. I guess this is something that must happen quite a bit, at least from Americans right? 

JOHN: Yeah. 

NEIL: The Irish must get this. I don’t know if the Scot’s get this.

JOHN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. When I was in the States, like someone come up to me and go, ah, yeah, I’m Scottish too, and I’d be like, you have literally never left Philadelphia in your life.

I’m all for it. I have to say, I kind of like it, like when, when Americans comes come to Highlands and they, and they, like, they talk about the history, they’re generally really fascinated, really respectful.

They kind of have a laugh at themselves for pronouncing stuff wrong. Like generally the Americans that care about their clan history are totally open to learn and want to know, want to know more about it and kind of want to be schooled on it a bit. It’s good fun, most of the time. 

NEIL: I, I want to know so much more now cause I, you know, I didn’t want to be that Scottish. It wasn’t in the nice surprise.

JOHN: You can let that concern go. You’re not Scottish at all, you’re some croft burning laird that’s rolled up from England to burn people out of their homes and put sheep on them.

[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: Oh my God.  


NEIL: The Scots definitely don’t suffer fools gladly. It’s part of the incredible whit and sharpness of the people there. I’m just a charlatan Scot. I don’t know Scotland at all. But does John? Final round… Scottish slang.

ANDRÉS: Here is a Bolivian reading some Scottish slang, probably pronouncing it horrendously.

Here’s the first one, bawhair.  

JOHN: I mean, bawhair, uh, is definitely slang by, we both understand and use in a metaphorical context to define something that was missed, but only by a fine margin. As in you are a bawhair away from a beating would be a way of telling someone that they’re being cheeky.

 ANDRÉS: I think this is to boak?

JOHN: I’ve definitely boaked in my time.

ANDRÉS: Ah, you’ve boaked. 

JOHN: Oh loads. So, so to boak is to, to vomit or to be sick and if something is boaken, it’s disgusting as well. So, uh, that’s boaken.

ANDRÉS: In fact, there, there is, there’s like an extra like side MisInforNation segment, which would be. Do the Scottish vomit more than the rest of the UK.

JOHN: Definitely not. We can hold our liquor much better than the rest of the UK. And our heroin and our battered Mars Bars and all the other stuff that might induce boak.


ANDRÉS: So I’m going to give you a phrase, and you’re going to tell me if I’m pronouncing this bit of slang properly. Wit even is your voice, ya teuchter diddy.


JOHN: I honestly don’t know what you’re saying.

ANDRÉS: Teuchter, maybe.

JOHN: If it’s teuchter, that’s me. That’s an, that’s a Northern Scot of farming background. That’s what, that’s what like people from like the central, central lowlands, Glasgow and Edinburgh, would describe people from Aberdeen and Inverness. The kind of Highland folk. Didn’t make any of the rest of it.

ANDRÉS: Never mind.

NEIL: John nailed all of the slang questions. He was so annoyingly good I cut most of them out. He’s one of the most verbose fellas we know. So not much of a surprise there. Talking is what the Scottish people excel at. There must be something in the water or the Irn-Bru. We asked John how he thinks we did.

Are the people of the world misinformed about this beautiful nation?

ANDRÉS: You know your feelings on what people think about Scotland from the outside, all of these kind of general stereotypes. Are you tired of this shit? Are you kind of proud of some of this? Like how do you feel about all this stuff?  

JOHN: Ah, changes on a daily basis. Um, but generally I think one thing that we’re quite good at is being able to take the piss out of ourselves. So I think that we’re like, we’re, we quite enjoy it because it’s an excuse to just have a bit of a laugh at ourselves as well, because we know that the weather is rubbish and we walk about in skirts and we eat sheep stomachs and wash, wash them down with a drink that has no identifiable flavor.

Um, like all of those things are totally true, but they’re brilliant.

ANDRÉS: Oh my God, that is so good, man.

NEIL: So we added up the questions. We asked John about Scotland and based on the top things the world believes about the country, thanks Google. And we counted how much was right.

ANDRÉS: So according to our judges here at Passport, the final tally is that the worldview on the country of Scotland is about 30% accurate.

But you gotta hand it to the Scottish, they revel even more in making you think that the remaining 70% is true too just for the conversation and just for the laughs and that really tells you everything you need to know about them

NEIL: Here’s a little takeaway for you. The Royals of England originally adopted the lion as their own national animal because you know, there are so many lions in England. According to folklore, dating back to the ancient Babylonians, the lion only has one enemy. So in true, brilliant Scottish fashion as a nod to the magical quality of the land, Scotland chose, as their national animal, the unicorn. It’s true. Look it up. They chose their symbol of their country as a laugh to wind up the English.


NEIL: So huge thanks to our English. For lending us wind him up.

JOHN: I actually think you did all right. I think, I mean, you did well and as much as like three things. One was that you knew a tiny bit about Scotland, um, two was that, that you are radio hosts looking for provocative answers and three, you are my friends who would never miss an opportunity to take an hour and a half to wake me up about Scotland.


ANDRÉS: He’s onto us.  

NEIL: Not to mention the fact that the opening five minutes of our conversation was you basically predicting this whole fucking episode.

ANDRÉS: Amazing.

JOHN: Yeah exactly.

ANDRÉS: Thank you.

NEIL: Thanks so much, man. All right. 

ANDRÉS: This was lovely.

JOHN: Did me nice darlings


[Song playing]

NEIL: Here’s John English again with his five favorite authentic Scottish experiences. Because on MisInfoNation we like to get our saved pins straight from the unicorns mouth 

JOHN: Here are my five unmissable bits of Scotland. Number one, The Barrowlands Ballroom.

ANDRÉS: A Glasgow institution, live music done Scottish style, which means discerning but mental crowds who take their music and their celebration of it super seriously. It’s the most glorious place John has ever watched live music and one of the few genuinely independent venues left in the world that still attracts important and amazing artists who rave about it.

JOHN: Number two is a view, and it is the view of Loch Marie from the top of Glen Doherty.

NEIL: The view of Loch Marie from the top of Glen Doherty. John reckons this is quite simply the best view in Scotland, and it’s up against some pretty fierce competition. The spot John’s talking about is on the North Coast 500, a route around the north of the country, which is also worth a shout.

You can even find some of John’s work close by in Gairloch Heritage Museum, which is a disused nuclear bunker, double whammy 

JOHN: Number three. Arthur’s Seat.

ANDRÉS: If you want to see the capital, then dodge the waddling tourists on the Royal Mile and Princess Street and climb the hill that lets you take in the whole beautiful, expanse of Edinburgh. 

Then when you’re back at the foot of it, visit the parliament building. It causes great debate from the outside and unified aw from the inside.

JOHN: Number four is Shenavall Bothy.

NEIL: What’s a bothy? Bothies are publicly funded and maintained cottages. They’re dotted all over the highlands. Mainly for walkers and farmers who are out on the hills overnight.

It’s a free place to stay. There’s no fees, no booking systems, just an unlocked door. Shenavall is set in a particularly spectacular location, but any bothy experience leaves you liking Scotland just a little bit more than before.  

JOHN: And then finally, number five, the Isle of Islay. 

ANDRÉS: The Western Isles are all incredible, but Islay benefits from fewer tourists than Skye, wonderful coasts, distilleries, pubs, seafood and a sense of proper Scottish isolation and tranquility.

NEIL: We’ll put a link to these saved pins in our show notes and also on our Instagram at Passport podcast.


[Song playing]

Hope you enjoyed that as much as we did. Um, that’s it for this week. As always you can check us out on all social media. Passport podcast on Instagram for all kinds of show related fun. If you want to represent your country against an ignorant barrage of questions that you’ve heard a thousand times before, you can write to us at and we’ll help the world try and sort the fact from the fiction.

Next Tuesday, we head to Finland’s capital Helsinki for a look underneath the city. Bunkers, tunnels, and more. But is this national level prepping or something else entirely? We’ll see you next week.

[Song playing]

This week’s episode of passport was produced and edited by me and written by myself and ANDRÉS Bartos.

Huge thanks to the brilliant John English. You can see just how good a storyteller he is by visiting That’s o-t-o-x-o productions. It’s a film school here in Barcelona, so if you fancy landing all of the skills John English obviously possesses, hit them up. Come and hang out with us and make a film in Barcelona. We’ll put a link in the show notes.

Music on this episode was willed into existence by Nick Turner with additional stuff by fittingly Fish and Chips, Eric M. Amour, and Shake that little foot.

The show is mixed and mastered by Julian Kwasneski.

Stacey Book, Dominique Ferrari and Avi Glijansky are all born unicorns. They also executive produced the show, which is hosted by myself and a man who would almost certainly wear nothing under a kilt given the chance, ANDRÉS Bartos. We’ll see you in the next place.


Episode 38: Australia – Part 2: Asteroids and the Outback

For every Celestial Emu there’s a planet-killing space rock on an inevitable path towards earth. In our season 1 finale, Passport producers Jennifer Carr and Andrés Bartos head back Down Under to talk about asteroids, the scars they leave, and the stories they’ve created.

read more

Episode 32: India: Love on the Rails

This week, Passport is taking a journey on the Indian Railway. These train cars are a moving microcosm of India, and the inspiration behind some of the country’s greatest love stories – on the Bollywood screen and in real life.

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Episode 29: Passport Goes to the Polls

As the US goes to the polls, Passport goes there too. But not to America. Take a break from the anxiety and divisiveness of the US election with two stories that show the true, positive, power of democracy across the globe.

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  1. From the Travel Journal: They Will Never Take Our... Irn-Bru? » Frequency Machine - […] This week on Passport, we sat down with a Scotsman ironically named John English, to bust some myths people…

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© 2018, Frequency Machine Studios.
© 2018, Frequency Machine Studios.