The first time I realised the rest of the world viewed Scots as being tight with their money was during a trip to Vancouver some seven years ago. Gearing up for an afternoon of white-water rafting with a friend of mine, I was ambushed by the "hilarious" Australian tour guide as we were about to set out.
"Want to know how copper wire was invented?" he asked, a mad glint in his eye. Well, as it turns out, no, I didn't. Barely had my brow creased in confusion at the seemingly random question before he very kindly told me the answer. "Two Scotsmen fighting over a one pence piece! Funny, huh?"
Oh. Yes. Very funny.
Still, as I pondered this new bit of information, it never occurred to me how much this revelation would affect my future self. Making a pledge there and then never again to let anyone think such ill thoughts of my fellow countrymen and I (I think I may have shouted "Freedom" at a couple of unwary tourists standing close by, but I can't recall - the memories are hazy), I began to adopt a more profligate lifestyle.
Did I want to upgrade my McDonald's order from large to supersize? Did I ever. Likewise, trips to the supermarket changed irrevocably. Would madam be interested in our new range of organic quails eggs? Two for the price of one this week only? Well, you didn't need to tell me twice. Do I like quails eggs? Not really. But that's not the point. My friends and family also reaped the benefits of my newly acquired lifestyle. Never again would I buy someone a birthday present that would also serve as their Christmas gift, should their birthday fall in that last week of December. Never again would I order the cheapest thing on the menu at a restaurant when out with a group of friends for dinner. The same group of friends who constantly remind me about the time I begged the waiter to give me a child-sized portion of pasta, thanks to the state of my bank account at the time, and then create a drama when asked to split the bill evenly.
Which makes it all that much worse that after having adopted my new regime for so long, I saw it all go to pot on a recent short trip to Jordan. Aghast at the price of basically everything, I doubt my poor companion has ever heard someone moan so much about money - and in such a short window of time to boot.
Could it be that I am headed back to my Scrooge-like ways? Ask me for a coffee and we'll find out. Actually, on second thought, don't. Have you seen what a skinny latte costs nowadays?