In a parallel universe there’s a Scotland which is reaching for the aspirin, complaining about its collective sore heid as it gets over the national hangover from the first independence day party. That’s a Scotland which has opened a blank page in a new book, and which is about to start writing a story for itself. It will be a story of challenges to be overcome, of milestones to be passed, of achievements and attainments and progress along a path that the country chooses for itself. It’s a story of imagination and dreams. It’s a Scottish story written in Scotland.
In this universe that we live in there’s a Scotland reaching for the aspirin to complain about its sore heid after being battered and bruised by the exhultant nay sayers who lied their way to referendum victory. The crowers and howlers, the noers and vowers. Independence will be too hard they said. It will be hard work, fending for ourselves instead of passively complaining about how we’re paying for Westminster’s global pretensions while we work hard on a living wage that isn’t a living. So instead of opening a new chapter we’re left living in a story of poverty of hope and narrowness of vision, of night sweats and nightmares. And the ones who have no respect who ensured that we are left without hope, without the dream that things could ever be any better demand that they are respected. In the desperation that comes from knowing they are on the wrong side of history they insist that the referendum must not be revisited. Those are the people who think that the ballot paper said Should Scotland become an independent country and if not this question will not be asked again. The people who want your grandfather’s decision to determine your entire life.
So here we are, for now, living in the Scotland that is a story that someone else writes, only they’re writing a horror story, a tale of misery and deprivation, of emigration and doors that slam in our faces. This is the story of our country, and it’s being written by people who don’t live here, who know nothing about us, and who care even less. This is the story of a Scotland where jobs are lost and pensions dangle out of reach, where leaving is considered a benefit of Union, whose culture is ridiculed and ignorant arrogance something to aspire to. This is the story of a Scotland where loss of opportunity is something that is crowed about while the spider hands of Westminster write chapters of despair.
American inventor Thomas Edison once said that we often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work. There’s always going to be work, and Scotland was tricked by those who wanted Scotland to work for Westminster, not to work for itself. Scotland was tricked by those who write a story for us in which they are the winners and we are the fuel for their ambitions. We deserve more than this, being burned out in the motor of British ambition and spewed out spent exhausted in their exhaust. This is the story that’s being written for us, a story we have no say over. A horror story of hard work that’s an opportunity for someone else. This is a Scottish story that’s written in the corridors of Whitehall. This is a Scottish story that is full of Jocks who die for Queen and Country, obeying orders but never writing their own destiny. This is a Scottish story for the cringers, a Scottish story that’s not Scottish at all.
In that other universe there’s a Scotland that grasped hope with both hands and will rise to any challenges with all the powers and confidence of a self-governing nation, in this universe there’s a Scotland that sold hope for an empty box marked home rule because it was enmeshed in the lines on a graph. This is the Scotland that was told it has been impoverished, and so it has to remain with those who impoverished it. Look you bumping along the bottom of this graph that shows you’re poorer than Greece, only with worse weather and so bad that even refugees don’t want to come here to be miserable in the rain with the Scottish deficit. Oil is volatile and your hopes of ever standing on your own two feet have evaporated away.
It’s like being told by a mugger that because he’s ripped you off your only option is to keep coming back to the dark alley to give him all your money forever. Scotland’s muggers do it with pretty graphs that take us for mugs. Then they gloat about the poverty that their beloved Westminster has created and claim it’s the best that we can possibly aspire to. But Scotland isn’t poor, it has been impoverished. There’s a difference. When you’re impoverished you have resources, you have talents and skills, you have wealth and value, it’s just that someone else gets the benefit of it. We’re paying to be the roadkill on Labour’s Parliamentary road to socialism. We’re paying to be the punchbag in the Tories’ internal wars.
Opportunity knocked in 2014 and Scotland didn’t answer the door. Now we have a choice, we can greet that opportunity isn’t knocking again, or we can make another door. Last time we stumbled and fell, but you’re only down out and defeated when you fall and you stay on the floor. Scotland got up and it’s still walking, still dreaming, still aspiring to something better, something bigger, something whole.
I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to wail. I’m not going to bow. An opportunity lost is only a new challenge. Let’s make a new door, and this time we’ll walk through it. We’ll walk through that door and find a blank book whose pages we will fill with a story we write for ourselves, a library of stories in Scottish voices.
Opportunity is always knocking when you declare independence of the mind and heart. The future is ours and it’s there for the taking.
Many thanks to Macart for doing such a fantastic job of looking after the blog while I was away. I had a wonderful time in the USA visiting with my significant other, but now I’m depressed to be apart from him. Shakespeare might have been the superlative wordsmith, but when he said parting was such sweet sorrow he was talking bollocks. There’s nothing sweet about it. But on the plus side, Ginger the Dug was very happy to have his daddy back. Meanwhile I’ve got jetlag, which is why I’m publishing a blog article at 4.45am.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
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