Thursday, September 11, 2014
Today is a special day.
It began ordinarily enough, with a little orange juice and emailing, then some meetings and coffee, then lunch and a few drinks in The French. This is September 11, what appears to be the last day of Britain's Indian Summer, and, um, oh that's right. it's 9/11.
I regard 9/11 as the most important turning point in my life. I've written about it here before on another anniversary and am never really distanced from it. I texted the people who matter. They texted me too.
I missed out Tony Blair, because I don't know him, but I remember he went straight to the US as soon as he could after 9/11 (not as soon as me) and stated unequivocally that this was an attack on all of us. It was.
I wish more British people remembered 9/11.
But today's even more special. As well as being British, I'm Scottish too. It's impossible to be Scottish without being British (not vica versa, you can be English or Welsh or whatever) and I've been British/Scottish since the day I was born. Every Scot is a Brit.
But a week today, the Independence vote takes place (I've written about that too). It's become a loud, headline grabbing argy bargy. I've nearly reached peak indyref.. It is a voluble, cantankerous argument of such noise and shoutyness that I have virtually had enough. The problem is I care. I care because I'm Scottish. I've never been anything else and I'm not sure I ever want to be. I enjoy being Scottish. I like being Scottish. Just as much as I enjoy and like being British too.
In the last few days an avalanche of information has spewed forth. There's panic among the journalists, reflecting what they see as panic among the politicians. For those of us who've been here for a very, very long time, there's no political panic discernable. There's just a few days to go.
Banks are explaining why they would have to move after a Yes vote. Corporations too. Supermarkets are having to explain why prices will go up in Scotland. The oil companies have accused Alex Salmond and the SNP of lying about the oil figures, the wealth on which an independent Scotland would be founded.
Gordon Brown, the former PM, put it slightly more succinctly this evening in a speech.
"The SNP lie"
It's a cacophony, a deafening riotous assembly of flag waving, foaming at the mouth fanatics. It's a debate that is driving people mad, both within Scotland and without.
Thing is, it's important.
I can barely bring myself to speak to another person who wants to vote "Yes" because I've heard it all before, I've heard the arguments time and time and time again and not once have I ever heard anyone tell me exactly how secure a future independent Scotland might be, never mind the damage such a change would wreak on the rest of the UK.
So let me not draw you into the vicious, violent, unpalatable debate that is taking place right now. Let me point you in the direction of two civilised, persuasive pieces of writing which explain the situation.
Irvine Welsh, Chicago resident, but more importantly the creator of Trainspotting and a variety of other excellent novels, is a passionate supporter of the Yes campaign and talks about it day in day out on social media. He penned this piece for Bella Caledonia, a persuasive description of what independence means to him (and his peer group of which I am one). It's a strong, emotional argument that will win hearts and minds. It's worth the read. Here it is.
The other article is by a woman called Carol Craig whom I don't know. She wrote it for the Scottish Review, a forum for quality writing run by one of Scotland's top tier commentators, Kenneth Roy, whose academic medals shine as brightly as his journalistic awards. This is it.
I should agree with Irvine Welsh, but I don't. I agree with Carol's view that the unfettered optimism of the nationalists is a dangerous thing. We all want to be optimistic, but by ignoring the litany of cautions and questions being thrown at him, Alex Salmond is out there, flying high, just like Icarus.
Both articles make sense. Such unanimity begs the question why this stupid thing is taking place at all, but it's too late for that now. Here we are.
Oh yes, and it's Catalunya Day too. Happy Catalunya Day.