United or not, our kingdom is changing and I have mixed feelings about it.
Ignoring for a moment the various facts and figures being bandied about by both sides, let’s take a moment to consider what the UK is and what it means to you, me and everyone else.
When people ask where I’m from I tell them “England” in a heartbeat.
I’m not British.
I mean, obviously I am legally, but I don’t call myself British.
I don’t watch the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games and I don’t follow rugby, and apart from having the word printed on my passport, it never crosses my mind.
I actually consider myself English first, then European and then French, much to le chagrin of some of my friends who would rather be anything than French (my mother’s parents were from France, in case you were wondering).
When I think about the constituent nations I only have warm feelings for the Scots and Irish, while the Welsh I find a bit rude in all honesty. Actually, that’s a bit unfair: all the ones I’ve met this side of the Severn have been fine and my latent animosity actually dates back to a college field trip to Swansea when I was 18 and a trip to the pub. I asked for a pint with my English accent and suddenly everyone stopped talking … before quietly resuming in Welsh. So much for the welcome in the hillside, eh ?
Having said all that, if there was a war and we all got called up, I’d happily fight alongside Taffs, Paddies and Jocks. Hell, I’d even line up alongside people from Manchester: we’re all Brits at the end of the day, right ?
There … I said it.
I am a Brit. I just choose not to bang on about it.
Damn it all, so are all the others though, so all this talk about splitting the union and going it alone is strangely upsetting.
I don’t really know why, but I find the thought of having to show my passport at Hadrian’s Wall quite disconcerting.
What about all those pub jokes ?
Are we really gonna have to go back to using the Jews as the tight ones ? Will we soon need to adopt the American custom of making the Poles the thickoes ?
Think of all those classic 70s comedies that simply won’t make sense. `
What about Eurovision ?
Will the whole of Europe now needlessly have to endure a bagpipe entry every year ?
I heard the Scots were considering asking Scandinavia if they could join them ?
Well, given everything is about to become very expensive north of the border it might not be a bad shout, but I don’t consider myself aligned with the Vikings.
I prefer to think of iconic Scots like James Bond, Groundskeeper Willie, Scottie from Star Trek and, of course, Billy Bremner … they’re what Scotland means to me. That and a bloody good night out.
I went to watch Celtic play in Milan a few years ago. 15,000 Scots fans out on the lash in the midday sun and still going strong twelve hours later as we holed up in the Milan Hilton. Not all fifteen thousand, you understand, but a good sixty or seventy.
We were so pished we missed the plane and had to pay extra to get on a later one, but by William Wallace’s make-up bag, it was worth every penny. Not a bit of trouble anywhere. You try going to Italy for a boozy night out with 15 Englishmen and I guarantee you at least two will be arrested for fighting, probably amongst themselves.
The Scots are a first class race and I want them as part of our union, our glorious nation, standing alongside us, gently taking the mickey and playing the banjo, sporting ridiculous facial hair and conjuring up culinary delights.
They’re the only nation on earth to buy deep-fried pies at a football match in December and not actually eat any of them, preferring instead to use them to keep their hands warm. Now, that’s my kind of logic.
These are the people who invented the TV, the telephone, the steam engine, the bicycle and tarmacadam (the clue’s in the title).
They gave us so much and continue to do so across the UK – mainly in London, of course – and have often run the whole country on their own from their natural habitat of Westminster.
Everywhere you go across this green and pleasant land you’ll hear that familiar twang and be on your toes for a wee spot of joshing from our flamed-haired brothers and sisters.
It’s all good.
Without you, it’ll never be the same.
In the words of Annie Lennox: Why ?
These are the tears… the tears we shed
This is the fear. This is the dread
These are the contents of my head.
And these are the years that we have spent.
And this is what they represent.
And this is how I feel.
Do you know how I feel ?
I don’t know why I’m even quoting her … she’s all for it.
Eurythmics ? More like Euthanasia of a nation if you ask me …