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The Scotsmen Interview: Part 1

‘Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,

Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,

Welcome tae yer gory bed,

Or tæ Victory.

The familiar Scottish burr assailed my ears as I entered the apartment I’d come to know so well over the last several months. After so many weeks straining to interpret English through accent, alcohol, and overloud music, it was no trouble for me to understand the excited comments on a football (never soccer) game. Indeed I’d often taken on the role of unofficial translator for those who, having learned English as a second language, couldn’t always understand the Glaswegian speech.

But the effort to comprehend what Jamie Denniston and Fraser Carlin are talking about is well worth it as I’ve learned since I first met them both in my second week in Munich. After months of misadventures, improbably shenanigans, and more intoxicating beverages than I really want to think about, I decided it was time to really find out what makes them tick, what led to their close, nearly telepathic rapport with each other, and how they look back on and interpret their current life in Munich. So, picking a convenient Wednesday evening, I made my way to Fraser’s apartment to sit down for an in-depth interview with the two Scotsmen, the annotated version of which follows.

We settled in Fraser’s room, me on a chair and the two of them on Fraser’s bed, Jamie laying down with his legs across Fraser’s lap, his enormous mop of curly hair pushed aside so he could see. I put down my recorder on a table between me and the bed, hoping that it would pick up enough audio and testing it with their full names and birthdays (interspersed with comments from them about whether to say they were bisexual and other irrelevant amusements). Satisfied, I started the recorder once again, and began my interview with the Scotsmen. Here is Part 1:

ES: Eric Schwartz

JD: Jamie Denniston

FC: Fraser Carlin

ES: The official beginning of the Scotsmen interview

JD: Take 1

ES: Yes Take 1

JD: I don’t want to hear my voice at any point; I hope it’s not going to go into a recording

ES: No

JD: I don’t like my voice

ES: I’m sure other people like your voice.

JD: Are you flirting with me?

ES: No I’m not flirting with…

FC: It’s not that kind of interview (laughter).

ES: Okay, so Jamie and Fraser, you guys are from Glasgow yes?

FC: Yes, I can confirm that

ES: And what do you guys do for a living? I remember hearing your job titles and they made me laugh. Fraser what’s your job?

FC: That’s a good question. Okay, I’m a flight control trainee for part of the International Space Station but my training hasn’t started yet, so at the moment I’m helping Jamie working with him on a simulator that will be used to train people on how to be a flight control trainee for the job that I will be doing

ES: And Jamie, what’s your official job?

JD: My official job is just kind of being cool. No I’m just kidding

FC: I think he’s being deadly serious.

JD: Well I’m basically Fraser’s boss (laughter)

FC: (laughter) I fucking knew that was coming

JD: Basically whatever Fraser says, just add a little bit more responsibility. At the moment I’m assistant project lead on the simulator, which we’re kind of working on that’s going to train flight control people. Just what he said basically. I do more of the kind of creation and he does more of the testing.

ES: So your jobs are pretty serious big deals, which seems kind of at odds with your noted personalities.


JD: Are you trying to say we’re insignificant during weekends?

ES: So you guys have known each other since what? Birth? High school?

FC: First year in high school about 12. We were in the same class.

JD: He used to do Cartman [of South Park] impressions for me to entertain me.

FC: Yeah, I’d forgotten about all that. I had the same parting in my hair for about three years like that.

ES: And you Jamie? Was your hairstyle as…

JD: I remember I used to get bullied for it

ES: Wait you had a bully cut?

[20 seconds of confusion as I realize my understanding of the accent isn’t perfect. I keep hearing the word bouillon instead of bullying]

FC: No, no, bullying B-U-L-L-Y

ES: Wait Fraser you were a bully?

FC: No I was too be busy being bullied


JD: He was saying that he was getting bullied because of his haircut and that I was in parallel getting bullied because of my haircut. I had a shaved head. I looked hard if anything.

ES: Did you?

JD: Well I had a shaved head so people were scared of me you know. And people would say things that would quite upset me.

ES: I notice you’re playing with your hair as though to remind yourself that you still have it now.

JD: I always do that.

ES: So was there an immediate friendship? Was there a defining moment or did you just realize you were seeing each other every day for years?

JD: I think it came about when both of us realized we didn’t have any other friends (laughter). We kind of lost our school friends and, there’s safety in numbers.

FC: We had some horrible friends, they really weren’t good.

ES: So would you say it was just you two against the world or did you actually have any other friends at school.

FC: We had some other friends but they kind of got sifted out, failing out…

JD: And the law (laughter). No we had other friends but it was a really hostile group. Everyone was really hostile to everyone else.

FC: For example, before me and Jamie were better friends, we would go to like the shops to buy our lunch, and whoever was last in the shop, everyone else would just leave them. If you were last you didn’t buy lunch.

JD: If you knew you were going to be last you didn’t bother buying lunch. Actually in those days I was always eating sweets for lunch.

FC: Yeah in those days Jamie was always bullied about his lunch.

JD: Not like bullied but like by our friends. Every morning…I can’t believe my mom would make me a sandwich, I would pay someone to do that for me now. She would make the sandwich and on the way to the bus every morning I would put it in the bin. Every day. Because I got bullied, and these were our friends (laughter).

ES: When I think of bullying I think of something physical, this sounds like teasing.

FC: Yeah teasing until he had to put his sandwich in the bin.

ES: So you just ate candy every day for lunch?

JD: Yeah

FC: Or sometimes not candy if he didn’t get in the shop fast enough.

JD: It was kind of strange…I don’t like to dwell on those days. But luckily karma came back to get these guys by…they just have shit lives because they’re not clever and they’re getting caught breaking the law, and one’s fat.

FC: Yeah one’s fat and one’s a drug dealer.

JD: And his family doesn’t love him.

FC: Well that was just the early years of high school, then we had a better group form. And we’re still friends with those friends from school. I’ve known one of them since pre-school and then we sort of reformed maybe fourth year.

ES: And then at the end of high school did you guys plan on going to University together?

FC: I remember it

JD I don’t really remember it. I couldn’t even tell you why I chose that school.

ES: You both went where?

FC: University of Glasgow.

JD: I don’t know why I chose it, it was like fourth on my list.

FC: It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t like we sat down and said we’ll all do this.


JD: It wasn’t a group decision.

FC: I remember the day I phoned you, and you asked what I picked and I said this, this and space engineering at Glasgow and you said “I’ve chose that as well” and you made a joke that you just wanted to be in the same course as me. (laughter)

JD: Yeah I never did get through that course, I dropped out, I couldn’t hack it.

ES: And you’re both done with University now?

FC: Yeah we’re both done now.

ES: So you finished University and you graduated in…

JD: I graduated last year, he graduated the year before.

FC: Yeah I did my Bachelor’s; he did a Master’s. Well I say I did a Bachelor’s, I didn’t have a choice of doing a Master’s (laughter).

ES: So after that, did you guys plan on coming to Munich together?

FC: No, Jamie missed me too much.

ES: So who came first?

FC: Jamie was here first.

JD: The way it happened was, not last summer but the summer before I came here for an internship for a few weeks. I just by chance found them, and anyway they offered me a job and wanted me to come back but I kind of wasn’t really keen on it at the time, and then I did my next year at University, and then started applying to some jobs and I didn’t really think of it but they e-mailed me a couple of times saying come along. And I applied for a couple of jobs, didn’t get one of them, got the other one, which was going to be in England, I was about to…I kind of had already said yes to that company. Not only that but the guy that interviewed me for this job that I said yes to and then said no at the last minute and he was pretty angry with me. I saw that guy that would’ve been my boss basically at the canteen where we work, because some things are based around here, it was really awkward…

Anyway, Then my first company finally made me a proper solid offer, and the wages were like, I don’t know, 80 percent more than they were going to be, and also they gave me a backrub and it was really weird. So then I got that job and at the same time…

ES: And that was all in 2008?

JD: No, no they offered me it just when I was graduating, so last May or June or something. And then I moved here in September. And then at the same time, Fraser was just leaving his old job.

ES: So Fraser you graduated and got a job in Glasgow?

FC: No, I did two weeks at a satellite company.

JD: Was it two weeks?

FC: Ah, maybe more. Maybe three weeks.

JD: Doesn’t really matter.

FC: Yeah (laughter). And then I just spent my time trying to get jobs, and then eventually I got one in Edinburgh, which is like, an hour and a bit’s drive outside Glasgow, building robotic parts. And it was quite fun, quite a bit of good banter. It was engineering based, and with a small company, and it was building robots so I couldn’t say no.

ES: Then you heard about this job?

FC: No, Jamie just woke me up one day and while we’re on the phone he said there’s a job here, want me to pass in your CV and see if there’s anything. And, I don’t know, two or three weeks later they said they’d be interested in giving me an interview for such and such job. I came out for an interview and it was the most laid back interview I’ve ever had, like they just kinda…

JD: They just sort of chatted with you.

FC: Yeah, the first question was like how much space stuff did you do? And I said not much, mainly helicopters and planes and went ahhh, that’s fine, you know helicopters. And you know just would you be fine moving out. It wasn’t a question like tell me a time when you’ve done this, and then they took me out for lunch. It was more kind of seeing if I was an all right person.


JD: Yeah, because last year I was in an internship up in Darmstadt and I knew Fraser was kind of leaving that job, and saw a path, so I put his CV about a bit where I was and also down here because at this point I had decided I was coming.

ES: So you both moved Munich around the same time?

FC: Same flight

ES: So did you decide on purpose not to live together because you thought it would be difficult?

JD: Actually Fraser was desperate to live with me.

FC: I wanted to…

JD: He was in a really bad mood with me because I said I couldn’t

FC: I wouldn’t say a really bad mood.

JD: You were in America at one point. I asked Alex, “why is Fraser in a bad mood with me?” and he said, “because you said you didn’t want to live with him.”

ES: Just a quick reference, that trip to America, that was a pre- we both got jobs trip?

FC: Yeah.

JD: The reason I said I didn’t want to live together was because I felt we would… it would be a good way to meet new people, and if we were flat mates we wouldn’t. We were already spending a lot of time together.

FC: Yeah it would’ve been a nightmare. It just seemed to work out. After spending two weeks in a hotel room together, it definitely seemed a good idea. We didn’t have rooms, it was one bedroom, a normal room but it was just a sofa bed and the bed so, the living room, bedroom, dining room, was in that room. Yeah and we bought some really horrible smelling oil.

JD: You couldn’t get rid of the smell.

To be continued… Next time: Munich!

Categories: Germany, Personal
  1. Barbara
    June 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Hahaha nice cliffhanger:P

  1. June 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm
  2. October 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

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