My relationship with Scotland, and my thoughts on Indpendence

This summer my eldest cousin got married, and I was sitting at a table with an assortment of cousins, family friends, and strangers. As we made polite conversation, my cousin’s boyfriend asked, ‘so what is it that you study?’ … ‘err politics’ I mumble knowing what this would lead to. The collection of wedding guests suddenly descended in to a 30 minute long heated debate about independence. Nothing says ‘family gathering’ like a dispute over North sea oil. The conversation then ended with ‘Well that’s the problem with you English…’

‘But I’m not even English!’ I said with my very much English accent.

I was born on the 31st of March 1994 in the town of Cambridge, England. I was ill as a baby, and my parents decided it would be easier to move back to their hometown of Coatbridge, Scotland to be nearer family.

But my gran told the story like this…

‘aye, so, me and your papa were in yer mammy and dad’s English flat, and it was horrible. It was offy cowl, and they didn’t even turn the heating on, even though it was snowing! And me and yer papa had to sit, with jumpers on and blankets, and I said to yer papa, this isn’t right. I said ‘no wonder this poor wain is sick, stuck in this English flat’. And so I said to yer mammy, ‘move back to back to Scotland. The Scottish Air will do her good’ and she did. And look at you now. You’re fit and healthy’

I lived in Coatbridge until I was 5 (my 5th birthday was held in the Time Capsule – obviously), until my mum and Dad decided it was time to move back to Cambridge.

I assume it was quite a big culture shock, to move from Coatbridge (probably google Coatbridge – if you’ve never heard of it) to a small village on the outskirts of Cambridge. I think adults must have been pretty bemused by mine and my sister’s accents, and would often ask ‘oooh, so are you Scottish or English now?’ I would fiercely reply that I was Scottish. And went to very extreme lengths to prove my ‘Scottishness’. For example, for the 2002 world cup, my primary school invited students to come in early and watch the England games on the big projector screen. Of course, Scotland didn’t qualify, which left me in a very tricky position. I still went to school early, with the rest of my classmates, but instead of being a good sportsman, I booed England. I went to school, an hour early, to boo the home team. That must have been a bizarre sight for the rest of the school. This small child booing David Beckham, and going out of her way to do so. When slightly cocky boys in my class reminded me that Scotland hadn’t even qualified, I just shrugged ‘I don’t even care. I’m supporting Sweden anyway.’ I was a huge Henrik Larsson fan at the time, I had a laminated poster of him on my wall, side by side with my Harry Potter Wall stickers.

After going through some sort of identity crisis at 8 years old, I’ve mellowed. For example, I no longer have Henrik Larsson on my wall, however, in July I went as ‘Sweden’ to a World Cup Party. I’ve always enjoyed being Scottish, and getting ‘in’ Scottish jokes. Me and my sister Katie loved watching Karen Dunbar, she had a character of a wee old Granny, and her catchphrase was ‘jeeeessooooooooo’. We loved it because it reminded us of our Gran and none of our friends would ever quite understand the joke. We always watched ‘Still Game’, ‘Chewing the Fat’ and ‘Burnistoun’, In my first year of university I couldn’t believe that my flatmates had never heard of Kevin Bridges. He is one of my favourite comedians, I showed my flatmate a clip on Youtube of his bit about ‘emptys’ and Chad Hogan’s house parties. I howled with laughter, my flatmate sat in silence: ‘I don’t get it’ she admitted, I re-enacted Kevin’s jokes…‘But…chip and dip man… chad Hogan! And then it’s funny because, at a Scottish House party someone Shat in a kettle… and it’s an empty… and…’ My flatmate took pity on me ‘I’m glad you find it funny Han! I just don’t get it.’

I’ve now lived in England for 15 years (our family moved to Carlisle when I was 9) , and although I would never define myself as ‘English’ I don’t state that I am ‘Scottish’ either, I would define myself as British – a mixture of the two. For example, I love quintessentially English things such as: Yorkshire puddings, chips and gravy and Made In Chelsea. I also enjoy the best of Scotland: Irn Bru, Frankie Boyle and phrases such as ‘pua chuffed to the gutty’. But together, I proper love British things; Great British Bake Off, The London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Harry Potter (Harry born in England, raised in Hogwarts, Scotland. Seamus Finnigan, Irish, and the final film was filmed in Wales. Therefore the best of British!)

The Referendum leaves me in a tricky position, what will I ‘be’ if Scotland votes ‘yes’ tomorrow? Basically, I want to be keep being British, I don’t want to be English on the week days, and Scottish on the weekends.

The referendum has left me feeling split in half, the term ‘heart and mind’ has been used a lot throughout the debate. Many Scots feel that their heart screams ‘FREEDOM’ and their mind says ‘ohh yeah, currency. Yeah we probably need a currency’

I’ve been asked countless times what I think about Scottish Independence. Honestly, I don’t know. It’s such a big decision. I can see both sides of the argument, I agree with points from both the Yes and No campaigns.

As a politics student, I have kept up with the debate reading countless articles, journals and even read (a bit) of the White Paper. However, as a Huge Harry Potter fan, J.K Rowling’s argument for the ‘No campaign’ was incredibly thought provoking. I have also always been a big fan of Frankie Boyle, and I thought what he had to say about voting ‘yes’ was different to any other Yes Campaigner I have ever heard ‘some people say they don’t want Alex Salmond in power… how long do you think he’s goanny live? He has the life expectancy of full fat milk.’ (This made my papa LOL, like proper lol, not just chuckle. ‘och, he’s no wrong that Frankie!’) An independent Scotland is so desirable, it would be fantastic to wake up on Friday, and suddenly Scotland is oil rich country with its own place in the EU and the UN, an army, a strong currency and a booming economy. But it doesn’t work like that, it will be a slow process with many hard decisions along the way.

We’re living in tough times. And I know that Scotland is hurting, the Bedroom tax has hit the most vulnerable in society, people are having to use food banks. But so are people south of the border, who also did not vote for David Cameron or his government. And without Scotland, the rest of Britain could be looking at another Conservative government or who knows, maybe even a coalition with UKIP (but that’s another blog…) , as Labour’s majority will suffer profusely, and Scotland has the power to stop that. Scotland also has free higher education. I have dreams about free higher education. I’m in my final year of university, by the end of this year I will be in approximately £30,000 worth of debt. As Cameron has just promised to up the spending per person In Scotland, A ‘No’ vote pretty much guarantees that Scottish graduates walk away with a degree and no university fees debt.

Ultimately I think we’re better together, I think England is better with Scotland, and I think Scotland is better with England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s a tough decision, one that should not be taken lightly. This is forever, it can’t be taken back. This referendum is like the drunk text you sent to your ex last night, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t delete that text, and you can’t take back your words. Don’t be the drunk ex, be the Ex that the rest of Great Britain wants to keep seeing; ‘hey, did you see Scotland last night? Yeah Scotland was looking fine, what with its free education, free prescriptions and Major new powers over tax, spending and welfare services.’




Image via Google


My day at the Commonwealth Games

‘What’s that orange drink?’ An Australian woman in front of me in the queue at the SECCC queried to the Glaswegian Cashier. The young Glaswegian looks perplexed, ‘Irn Bru?’ She nodded, ‘What does it taste of?’ The cashier faced the hard task of describing the taste of Orange carbonated sugar. ‘errrm it’s a bit like… a coca cola, aye, it’s a Glaswegian Coca cola.’ The Australian woman paid for her water and left.

After enjoying my second Irn Bru of the day, I returned to the Netball court to watch Malawi Vs Northern Ireland. My netball knowledge is limited. Limited to my school days, where I would try to feign an injury, or get picked to ‘umpire’ (otherwise known as getting shouted at by a sporty girl ‘that was definitely a fowl!!!!!! are you even watching Hannah?!’) A vivid memory of my schooldays was being picked as ‘centre’ by the P.E teacher. ‘The centre’ is quite a big deal, especially in Year 8. I feel she did this in good spirit; to get me involved in the game and actually take an interest in sport. I can’t quite remember what I did, but after a ‘dismal’ 4 minutes, the teacher called time out. In front of the class, she said ‘Hannah Birt, you are the worst Centre I have ever had the displeasure of coaching in my twenty year teaching career!’ I was demoted to Wing Defence and no one ever asked me to be Centre again.

So netball brings back a lot of happy memories for me, and I was super excited to watch the sport being played by real life pros. The crowd was jovial, and excited for the first day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to begin. While waiting, the crowd was kept entertained by ‘bongo cam’. Bongo Cam is possibly the best thing ever. Bongo drum music would fill the court, and a cameraman would search the crowd for unsuspecting bongo players, their image would fill the big screens as would the cartoon image of bongo drums, the unsuspecting bongo player is encourage to play ‘air bongos’. There is nothing funnier than someone’s granddad playing ‘air bongos’. Fact.

I wondered if the netball could be as good as ‘Bongo Cam’ and debated only staying for one game. But suddenly, the athletes appeared and the game began. I was surprised at how amazing the game was. Which sounds stupid, but it was incredible. I’ve never watched competitive netball before and it was awesome. Malawi were crazy good, the way the players jumped for the ball was a thing of beauty. At one point, the lady behind me gasped, ‘wow. Where on Earth did they get these players from?’ A Scottish voice behind her replied simply; ‘Malawi’.

After the final quarter the score was 71 – 50. The Malawi team were beyond amazing; I was very much blown away by their performance and will be keeping an eye on their upcoming fixtures.

After the first game, I was hooked. I love netball. The next game was between Wales and Australia. I was fully behind the Welsh team. Not only because I love Wales, but because the Welsh netball Kit was incredible. It was a red one piece, accompanied by a white dragon and completed by sparkling Diamantes spelling out CYMRU. The Ozzies wore yellow and green, it was fine, but no diamantes.

The game was fierce, Wales fought a good game, but the Australian team were on form. Their Goal shooter was also a foot taller than everyone else on the court, and never missed a shot. The final score was 63-36 to Australia.

After the game we wondered down the Clyde and up to George’s square. I don’t think the phrase ‘Taps aff’ has ever been used so greatly in Argyle Street. As we sat in George’s square, a swarm of tourists suddenly appeared from nowhere. ‘Oh my god!’ My sister exclaimed, ‘Is that Billy Connolly?!’ A lookalike had appeared and was happily posing for selfies. He even made it to The Evening Standard
In good jest, my dad even took us to the Commonwealth Games Superstore ‘£17 for a fucking Tshirt?!’ We left swiftly.
As we boarded the train to the Whifflet, Glasgow bathed in sunlight; and it was a perfect example of pathetic fallacy.