Invisible Nation

“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

This is one of my favourite Burns quotes. I try to apply it to my own life and often feel I let myself down. Then I started to apply it to Scotland and got rather annoyed.

Travel the world and talk to the vast majority of people and you don’t need them to explain their countries’ place in the world, they don’t have to explain that they are not just a region of a larger neighbour, they don’t have to get bogged down on “we are British and we live in the United Kingdom, but we are also Scottish.”. We don’t have the recognition that comes with true nationhood.

How often do we have to listen as television news, entertainment or sport, use “England” and “Britain” interchangeably, blissfully unaware that A.) they are wrong B.) There is a whole nation seething every time we are slighted by this.

hitlerwe all know the next line- and that was the “British” Broadcasting Corporation. 

Even Adolf Hitler thought he was fighting just England: “England, unlike in 1914, will not allow herself to blunder into a war lasting for years…. Such is the fate of rich countries.. .Not even England has the money nowadays to fight a world war. What should England fight for? You don’t get yourself killed over an ally.” We went to war and helped defeat a guy who didn’t even recognise we were there.

Everytime, I try to register something on-line I search in hope for “Scotland” in the drop down box, I invariably have to keep going until I get to U.

Every house in the country must have had the tea-towel listing what the Scots have given the world (I won’t do the list, it’s ingrained in us all.) We sent Explorers, Pioneers and Founding Fathers the length and breadth of the globe as Winston Churchill famously said “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.” Yet we left so little for ourselves when we joined a political union that has kept us sidelined on the world stage. We control 25% of Europe’s potential tide and wind energy, yet sit behind the UK representative in EU Energy Meetings, similar with fishing and defence (despite holding 100% of the UK’s nuclear stockpile.) We have no voice.

tea towel

So back to the Burns quote. The honest truth is that the other nations don’t see us, we are an Invisible Nation. Some may have a vague notion of who we are, but it most certainly does not match the vision we have of ourselves.

It’s time to take back what is already ours and claim our rightful place in the world.

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UK (not) OK! Part 1

Imagine if you will, slaving over Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings 3, 4 or even 5 courses. At the end of the meal your guests turn around and tell you it was “OK!” How would you feel? Disappointed? Angry? Like you’d just wasted your time? Frankly Ok! means mediocre, it means plodding along. There is nothing special with Ok! (even with an exclamation mark.)

scale

But, OK! is not good enough. Nobody wants OK! They want Great, they want Excellent. OK! is blah, OK! is “It’ll do!” The No! Campaign could have used the “Great” in Britain and built upon that, but you have to imagine that even they know they couldn’t have got away with using the word Great to describe this country today.  So they choose OK! hoping that they could force that word through, with the added bonus that it rhymed (Genius!)

But, OK! is not good enough, nobody wants OK! They want Great, they want Excellent. OK! is blah, OK! is “It’ll do!”

We want better than just OK! We deserve better than OK!

I would argue however, that this union is not even OK! It’s not even close to OK! In fact I don’t think UK OK! would pass the scrutiny of the Advertising Standards Agency.

Exhibit A

My local primary school is collecting food to distribute to people who can’t afford to feed their families. This is not OK!

Exhibit B

The Red Cross has put in place procedures to feed the hungry in this country for the first time since WWII. Who in their right minds would describe this as OK!?

Exhibit C

Experts writing in the British Medical Journal have stated that Hunger in this country has reached the level of Public Health Emergency. Most certainly not OK!

Naw

So when it comes time to cast your vote, by all means vote No! if you want, but don’t lie to yourself that you’re doing it because everything is OK! as it is, because it’s far from OK!

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Craft Fairs have got me sold.

How often do we get the opportunity to buy something from the person who produced it? Recently I have been getting a big kick out of doing just this. I get so frustrated with the many soulless ways I have to spend my money.

There is something truly beautiful about a Craft Fair. People create something and then they put it on a table in front of them and hope it catches someone’s eye. They all seem prepared to chat and to tell you what inspired them and go into the details of their work.

Despite the fear this is going to come across as just a big advert, I’m going to give a few examples, with the intention of inspiring future gift ideas (or even for yourself.)

I buy over 500 comics a year and one of the ones that struck me most was by a Glasgow guy called Neil Slorance who wrote his own, had the courage to sit behind it and sold it to me himself. I bumped into him at another Fair and ended up buying Christmas cards from him, because they were just so cool.

cards

I recently bought a lovely boy pirate painting from Audrey Allan, for my one year old nephew’s bedroom wall. Audrey also does wall hangings and tree decorations.

I bought myself a Braveheart Lego sketch from Garry Robertson, he takes all sorts of commissions and has a cracking catalogue of work to look through.

Lego

I discovered just the other day that fellow blogger Louise Mills does the most fantastic linen pieces, purses, table mats and Christmas tree decorations.

Literally endless amounts of local people selling their art, taking commissions and making whatever you want. Guaranteed, locally there will be someone selling their wares on Facebook or through Etsy  which is another newish discovery of mine, a place on the web where people can sell their unique goods, it’s amazing.

I’m fed up spending all my hard earned money in big impersonal husks, giving it to people who have no more desire than me to actually be there. I live in the real world and understand that the practicalities of modern life dictate that, these are places I have to go.

However, when it comes to gifts and some of the nicer things in life, John Lewis and M&S have enough money and dead artists don’t need to eat. Instead find someone who created something special and thank them for it. It will be some of the best transactions you ever make.

It’s not a new way, it’s a rediscovery of an old way, a better way.

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3 Photos that make me think I am on the wrong planet.

Sometimes I see a picture and think, “I have no words” or “I’m not sure what words mean any more” or just “Really? Folk do that?”

The Prime Minister

david-cameron-austerity

 

This is David Cameron standing in front of a golden chair, reading a speech from a golden lectern, with a lady sitting beside him on a golden throne wearing a golden necklace, the table in front of him has a golden goblet and a golden statue of The Queen, the topic of his speech, tightening our belts and a reduction of the welfare state. Everything in the room is golden, except perhaps Dave’s neck, that’s Brass.

Miley Cyrus

Miley

 

I don’t know what this photo is meant to be, I’m assuming it’s a sexy thing. If my better half walked into the living room right now wearing a vest and licking my claw hammer, I’d assume she’d went mental. The other thing that strikes me, I used to use a sledge hammer a fair bit at work and my nails never looked that good, I don’t think she knows how to use it properly. I feel old.

Big Brave Hunters

elephant

 

This really freaked me out, I didn’t know people still did this kind of thing, I imagined that only bad poachers did. I thought the “Let’s go and kill endangered species, before they run out of them” style family holiday was confined to the history books. A throw back to Victorian Colonialism and only available to view in old sepia photos. I don’t think I know the world as well as I think I do. 

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Scottish Independence in 5 points

I have to admit, I grew up thinking that Scottish Independence would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then I started to realise, it’s a bit like separating conjoined twins, it’s not as simple as putting Rabbie Burns head on the £ and getting on with it. I’ve watched the debate so far, and although I was naturally leaning towards Yes! I still had to be persuaded and here is why (so far)  I have been.

Rabbie

Rabbie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OIL

Both sides have been endlessly bickering about how much North Sea oil is left and how much it is worth and while I agree this is important, it’s not the be all and end all. The No campaign would have you believe that there is enough oil to last until 2015 and it’s worth twa bob. The Yes fellas have it at endless and worth a trillion per person. The one fact remains, this planet does not have 40 years worth of oil usage left in it. If we are still producing oil in 2050, this planet will have more to worry about than us like, where did Holland go? Remember we used to be able to see the sun? The future is sustainable energy, solar, tidal and wind. That’s the ace up Scotland’s sleeve and in the words of Meat Loaf  “2 out of 3 ain’t bad.”

Alex Salmond

This is a total non-debate. I’m refusing to make a decision about the long term future of our nation based on the personality of a 58 year old man.  In the event of a Yes vote, he does not become President or King, his position doesn’t change. If you refuse to vote Yes because you don’t like Salmond are you voting No because you like David Cameron? Because that is the logical conclusion of that argument.

No Camapaign

This is one of the most horrid and downright nasty campaigns I’ve ever seen. It’s just scare tactic after scare tactic. It’s an awful, negative debate based on lies and fiddled statistics paid for by corrupt oil money, backed up by Scottish Labour MPs towing the Westminster party line fearful for their own political futures. Guys that are burning their bridges and running down their own nation for their own political advancement. Then there is George Galloway. He wants freedom for everyone, except his own people. That’s because George is a joke in his own country and in the event of Independence worries there will be no place in London for his loud mouth shock Jock shtick.

george

Honestly, if you want to win people over, do it by selling why the Union works not why Scotland doesn’t. Which takes me to my next point.

Why Do They Want Us? 

Now, we have had to watch on for three years as the Tories with their lickspittle Liberal Lapdogs destroy Britain, strip it bare like vultures draining the last profit from the every last available source. The poor are now scroungers, there is a new thing called Working Poor, the NHS is being privatised in all but name, Royal Mail has been sold on the cheap.

They tell us, that Scotland can’t survive alone, they tell us that we take more than we give in this Union. So why would the party of the rich, the party of profit, the party that puts £’s before people, why would they want to continue to subsidise a whole nation, when they won’t even subsidise a disabled person’s spare bedroom?

For me this is the light that shines upon the lie, Scotland is not a drain, if it was they would have cut us loose, they would be leading the Yes campaign. Ask yourself, Why do the Tories want Scotland?

Fairer Society.

This takes me to the crux of the issue. I want, and I know many of my fellow Scots do as well, our children to grow up in a fairer society. A society that cares about the poor, a society that does not send it’s young to all corners of the globe fighting illegal wars, a society that places human dignity higher on the balance sheets than Royal Weddings.

I want English people to have that, I want Welsh people to have that, I want all people in all countries to have that. If it means Scotland separating itself from a broken and corrupt system in order to build this new fairer society, a society that can act as a template for a new way of doing things, a new way of treating each other, well I’m going to vote Yes!

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5 new things I do, since becoming a parent.

Pretend to be a Pirate.

Cover of "Swiss Family Robinson (Vault Di...

Cover via Amazon

My life at the moment seems to be a whirlwind of Hoover attachment swords, shouts of “Ahoy there!” and being forced to walk the plank. I’m frequently called an “Old Codfish” (Peter Pan uses this one on Captain Hook.) I am also forced to sit through a seemingly endless run of Swiss Family Robinson, Hook or the recently unearthed Davy Crocket and the River Pirates. I swear If we offered the boy a cruise to Somalia next summer holidays he’d jump at the chance.

Hide (Badly) and Seek (Even Worse.)

“Count to ten Daddy!” is usually the cry as he runs away from me. Of Course, I can’t just  find him, I have to continue the charade for a good few minutes. “Wherever can he be?” continual commentary “Is he behind the door? No! mmmmmm! Is he under the bed?” Is it so wrong that sometimes I have a wee sit and every now and then shout “Where is he, I can’t find him.” whilst eating a secret chocolate biscuit?

hiding

When it comes to Scott’s turn to count, at the moment, it goes. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 61. If he’d only stop at 11 I’m sure by-passers in the park would think him a genius. Then I’m so good at hiding that I have to let out a wee cough every now and then. Although sometimes I’m sure he has seen me and still gives it “Where is Daddy? Wherever can he be?” If I ever catch him sitting down and eating a biscuit, I’m not playing any more.

Think about my own mortality.

Most teenagers you speak to would tell you, “Just shoot me when I’m 60, it’s soooooo old!” I was one of them, then you have something to live for and your outlook becomes very different. When I get to that age my boy will only be 25, I’m not leaving him then, I want to see him married and play with his kids and see them married and meet their kids. Bottom line as a teenager, I’d have taken a million pounds even if it meant dying at 60, now they will have to drag me kicking and screaming, like Aerosmith said “I don’t want to miss a thing.”

Remind myself of my Mum.

“Next meal is breakfast” this is how I encourage the lad to eat his tea, this is also how my mum encouraged me to eat my tea. I’m also “Not running a cafe.” My mum didn’t run a cafe either. I’m now fully aware that “Maybe.” “Perhaps” and “We’ll see.” are all just a non-confrontational ways of saying NO! I wasn’t when I was wee and the boy still hasn’t figured this out.

Make it all up.

I have no idea how to raise a child, I try to keep him fed and watered. Try to teach him the appropriate things at the appropriate time, big bed, toilet, bike, swimming. But I have to admit most of this is guess work, “they don’t come with manuals you know” is something you hear a fair bit. Then the penny drops, if I’m bluffing and the guys I talk to all admit they are bluffing, then it would be logical to conclude that our parents were bluffing and so were their parents. Most folk I know have turned out OK, so it can’t be all that hard, this takes the pressure off. I think as long as we keep him warm, fed and loved we’ll be doing well.

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Russell Brand I like you, but you’re wrong!

Russell Brand is fantastic on television, he speaks with a level of wordsmithery (curiously enough, not a word!)which is unrivalled in it’s sheer entertainment value, his verbosity and use of language has me reaching for my Collins Concise Dictionary whilst at the same time nodding, laughing and muttering “There you go!” “Exactly” or “You tell ’em!”

However, a few weeks ago he was interviewed by Paxman on Newsnight and whilst he was at his eloquent free-ranging best he told Paxman that he did not vote, had never done so and would encourage others not to. This albeit well argued point riled me, because despite his reasoning being sound I believe he comes to the wrong conclusion.

It has taken me almost 2 weeks to solidify my response:

I was trying my best to word it then came across this.

politics

Pericles said this 500 years before Christ and it is still as true today as it was then.

Brand does a disservice to his 7.2 million twitter followers and to the many millions who watched his Newsnight appearance and  facilitated in it going viral, by encouraging them not to vote. He should have went the other way, he should have used it as his call to arms. Young people in this country (of which Brand garners most of his fans) have been massively let down, the 2 generations that preceded them have through a combination of greed, mismanagement and wilful neglect have managed to destroy their futures.

They were handed a dream for an National Health Service which they have all but destroyed. They sold the family silver (oil, gas, electric, trains, post the list goes on) to fund their cheap mortgages, their retiring at 55 and their seemingly perpetual wars.

The generation that are in their teens and 20’s today are facing student debt like never before, no real industry to employ them and when they eventual do find work, working until they are 68. They have been subdued by a cocktail of drugs, drink, television and a worsening education system.

Brand should have used his appearance as a rallying call. White Middle-aged men have failed, the country is broken, the world is broken. Don’t wait until you can no longer think outside of the box and are in fact trapped in a box before getting involved in politics. It’s up to young people in this country to oust the leaders who care so little about them, it’s time to install young people into those positions.

Don’t patronise people in their 20’s they are not the future, they are the now. They are Now enough when it comes to fighting wars, they sure as hell are now enough to start leading the country, they couldn’t do a worse job.

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