DUNCAN BARKES Inventors have been the flower of Scotland...

The fabulous Six Nations rugby continues and the battle lines will be drawn in a few Sundays’ time as England takes on Scotland.

Having Scottish ancestors I always find myself torn between these two great nations, especially as Scotland has long been the butt of jokes and clichéd comments from the English.

This goes beyond rugby.

The bigotry goes back centuries, yet I would wager that most people have no idea how grateful they should be to Scotland for its vast contribution to modern life.

The next time you get behind the wheel of your car and enjoy a smooth journey to your destination, thank a Scotsman. John Boyd Dunlop and Robert William Thomson are responsible for the first pneumatic tyre. One billion of them are produced globally every year.

Trying to save the planet and prefer two-wheeled, pedal-powered transport? Thanks to Scots Kirkpatrick Macmillan and Thomas McCall you have the pedal bicycle.

Still doubting Scotland’s contributions to the world? Then try and imagine your life without Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and John Logie Baird’s television, two more Scottish inventions.

Compared to other countries, and particularly England, Scotland’s list of inventions and discoveries puts larger nations’ efforts somewhat in the shade.

Arguably one of the greatest living Scotsmen, and one of the most important people of the 20th century, Alexander Fleming was the biologist and pharmacologist who discovered penicillin.

Even the other day I heard someone refer to the Scottish as ‘sweaty socks’ (jocks). Make remarks like this about any other nation and you would be accused of racism, but for many bashing the Scots seems acceptable.

So the next time you are tempted to raise a cheap laugh at Scotland’s expense, pause and remember how much its countrymen have given the world.