Tuesday, September 16, 2014
She stands resolutely in front of her home in the "mucky wee port" of Port Glasgow, Scotland. My Aunt Madge, helmet and gas mask at the ready, standing against the Nazi threat.
The threat was real. Bombs rained down on the nearby shipyards, and on British, American, and Free French bases. My mother and aunt spent each night in an Anderson shelter; in the morning they climbed over fire hoses to get to work.
This week, Scotland is confronting its own sovereignty. Mercifully, this time the confrontation is somewhat peaceful.
Feelings Run Deep
My mother had a friend from childhood. A kind, gentle person, she once declared "I hate the English."
My mother suspected this visceral reaction could more be attributed to her friend being jilted by an English lover, than a reaction to the toffs ruling from Westminster.
Feelings run deep in Scotland. I was backpacking through northern Scotland when I was accosted by a slightly demented Highlander. He immediately declared his hatred for Lowlanders (people from southern Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow). He then asked "are ye a Lowlander." He relaxed when I insisted, for my own safety, I was English.
For many Highlanders, being ruled from Edinburgh is worse than Westminster.
The Nitty Gritty of Independence
My Scottish aunt was mildly eccentric. The first time I recall Scottish independence being mentioned in our household, the discussion centered on her underwear.
She was visiting our northern England home from Scotland. The entire clothes line was filled with her old-lady underwear: breeks, as they are called in Scotland.
Our neighbor, Mr. Hunter, stepped out, only to be confronted both by my aunt's vast pastel collection, and my aunt.
Much to Mr. Hunter's discomfort, she delivered a monologue about her unmentionables, declaring it would be a real problem for her if Scotland got independence. She was not looking forward to customs officials at the border rifling through her suitcase.
Whichever way the independence vote goes on Thursday, the majority will probably be tiny. I fear the swing votes will be based on emotion or irrelevance.
We live in different realities. For Scotland's sake, I hope the new national reality is based upon a cool understanding of the facts.