In Glasgow: hope and fear


I’ve been in Glasgow with my older brother.  He was born there and he wanted, as he said, to close the circle. So we visited the house where he was born, the church where he was baptised.  Moving stuff, really. The taxi-driver keeps it light by telling us he’d like to apologise for the weather, it’s not usually like this in Glasgow, he hopes we’re not disappointed. (The city is drenched in sunshine – the Glaswegians do irony well.) What about this referendum, we ask him. Will it be Yes or No? “No” he says firmly. “It’s different with Ireland, you’re all one piece there. But we’re connected tae England”.   Later I talk to a man with a Yes button on his lapel, who’s been deeply involved in trade union work and voted Labour all his life.  Until recently. “I’ve never seen anything like the commitment and canvassing that’s going on all over the country” he says. “Never. We’re focusing on the big group of people who don’t normally vote”.  Will it be enough to get a Yes victory? He waggles his hand. “Touch and go. If the vote is No, we could land up with Boris Johnston as prime minister and Charles as king. That’d be good”. Glaswegians do irony very well.

Mind you this doesn’t look like a country gathering itself for a leap into independence. We see an occasional Scottish flag, an occasional taxi painted blue with the white cross;  but generally people seem to talk about everyday things, they’re not shaking fingers or fists in each other’s faces, we hear no political debate. It’s as if these are momentous days but they’d rather pretend they’re not.

The Scots seem more like people in an Irish city than any English city I’ve visited or lived in. Maybe it’s a Celtic thing: there’s a liveliness, a humour, an edge to people’s speech and movements. When we’re served by an English waitress, a perfectly normal young woman, she seems by comparison… cool. A little detached. The Scottish waiter is quick,  jokey, accommodating. Maybe we’re getting their best side but you can see why many young Irish people go to university here. (Yes, Virginia, I know about the fee thing; but this place also has a distinct air of home-away-from-home.)

And so, in less than a month’s time these people will make a huge decision. They’ll either make fools of all the pollsters and pundits by taking charge of their own affairs, or they’ll  opt  for holding onto the hand of nurse for fear of something worse. Funny, that.  The last thing I would think of these people is that they are fearful.

6 Responses to In Glasgow: hope and fear

  1. ANOTHER JUDE August 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    I would love Scotland to vote a resounding yes, just to see the expressions on the faces of the Unionist politicians, not to mention the horror on the large face of David Cameron. I don`t understand how (why?) Scotland would hold onto the English crown and the pound sterling, if I was looking for independence it would mean bye bye Liz and all her sassenach family, it would mean all the castles and property being returned to the Scottish people. George Galloway is opposed to it, his political judgments are usually spot on,but I will be a bit deflated if they decide to cling onto the English coat tails. Funny, we were never given such a clear option, wonder why?

  2. Am Ghobsmacht August 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Dr C

    “We see an occasional Scottish flag, an occasional taxi painted blue with the white cross;”

    Would it not be fair to say that St Andrew’s Cross belongs to both groups whether they support yes or no?

    I know a few ‘no’ supporters who would be insulted at the thought of being regarded less ‘Scottish’ for wanting what they think is best for their country.
    Actually, one of them (sadly recently deceased) would have been one of the Glasgow taxi drivers with a wee saltire or such like stashed away somewhere in his taxi.

    • Virginia August 26, 2014 at 2:26 am #

      Nice, well said. Unionists of all locations want what they believe is best for their country as a whole.

  3. Perkin Warbeck August 24, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Sunday morning coming down, and one finds oneself not only confronted with the usual dominican dilemma of differentiating one’s cleanest dirty shirt in the closet, but with two other choices of a Kristoffersonian magnitude as well.

    To choose the winners in two contests, both of which involve a Kingdom with a Jamesian echo. One cannot help pondering ruefully even as one stirs one’s first cup of tea that the advent of the tea bag and the concomitant departure of tea leaves has not made the task of foresighting any easier.

    1. Who will win the Scottish referendum? Will more tick the ‘Och, aye’ box or the ‘Noo, nay niver’ one?

    At this moment in t., it looks as if the gap is narrowing and that the margin will be as slim as the most prominent Celeb from South of the Border to poke his nuanced nose into the referendum. One refers to that beacon of political nous, that Spiderman of Sophistication, Bruce Forsyth.

    It must be a great source of deep pride for Belfast folk that BF’s truly great-grandfather, Joseph Forsyth Johnson, was once the Curator of the Botanic Gardens on Laganside.

    Finishing Schools are normally associated with applying the f. touches of urbanity to their graduates and this is certainly true of Brucie and his savoir-faire. In fact, the only facet of the Forsyth frame, as angular as it is Anglo, which has escaped the Finishing School factor is his chin. That great work in progress, that legendary chin which just seems to go and on and on. (Never say forever).

    Hard-headed Jocks and other Oor Wullies will note the BF intervention and PW suspects enough of them will opt for his call to remain BFF’s forever. Call it the Official Chin Fein factor, if you will.

    Thus, be not surprised in one opens one’s Financial Times the morning after the Big F Ref to read the following headline: ‘Nice to see U, to see UK’.

    2. From bagpipes to bogball. The other choice involving a Kingdom and a James is this afternoon’s game between Kerry and Mayo.

    Most analysts stress the importance of James O’Donoghue, the young Kerry forward. Unless Mayo can hold him, it is opined, they will be doomed to their eternal Sisyphusian task of rolling their rocks up the slopes of Croagh Patrick only to see them roll back down again, with the summit (one almost wrote, Sammit) in sight.

    Some have already declared JOD as the new BOD, but one is not as blasphemous as that.

    Whatever the outcome, PW is praying for two things: (a) that the Greatest Eyesore in World Stadia, the Unfinished Railway End of Croke Park, does not have its unique symmetry tampered with by the indecorous flaunting of Palestinian flags on that end, such as happened disgracefully during the recent Dublin game. Violence has no role to play on Hill 16, never had.

    And (b) that Ger Canning, affectionately known to his countless fans, as El Gerbillo, does not get to do the commentary. El Gerbillo, of course, is to sports commentating as the Railway End is to Stadium Architecture. Alas, a forlorn wish. One is not put on this earth for a cakewalk.

    The reason, incidentally, why one will be watching the game on TV is because of the, erm, Railway Strike. (A recurring theme, in this morning’s homily). Hmm. Is this a coincidence or is it that the GMO (the Genetically Modified Orangemen, aka, the ‘residents’ of the Croke Park hinterland) have an aversion to the old Iron Horse? If it’s not a white, h-flesh and blood, spavined nag called Sorel, 14 to 18 red hands high horse, they just don’t want to know?.

    Perish the v. thought.

    Anyway, no way that pernickety PW who likes his creature comforts would be seen moribund and Croke Park Paddock-bound, with no luxury Pullman Carriage to transport his fastidious bones.

    The proprieties must be observed. At all times.

  4. paddykool August 24, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Ah Jude …astray in the land of Rab C. …….I would imagine that the leap in the dark that is Scottish Independance might make the Scots a little jittery. The devil you know and all that.. I dare say we’ll be confronted by the same fear here in Ireland sometime in the future. You can imagine . People do fear change generally. I’m sure you remember way back in 1971…Was it 1971? ..When we we all went DECIMAL…..Remember that one .? As if we hadn’t enough to deal with in that year, they introduced a new way to steal money out of our pockets. Of course within a fortnight we were all paying too much for everything and Pounds , Shillings and Pence , which we’d spent our childhoods getting our heads around,were long -forgotten.Of course , everyone who wasn’t already On the Run or crossing the border , fleeing their burning houses or being locked up in prison ships ..was getting used to spending their bright new ten pence pieces.Within a fortnight, you were buying your fags and your pint as if the earthquake had never happened at all.
    Remember too the Millenium computer scare of 1999. The inverted year of the wee timorous beastie ,when all the computers on the planet were going to shake their last tail-feather , heave a finale sigh and all be consumed by some weird virus that lay in wait for the 21st century…? Civilisation teetering on the brink of oblivion just after the shiny -hatted New Year celebrations and ticker tape.
    Well …nothing happened..anyway ..the world spun on and everyone woke up on the morning of the new millenium dawn and put the same trousers on.Life went on and no one noticed that the new century was all as buff and sweet as the old one. We jumped that broomstick alright.
    So what are they afraid about in Scotland ? for most people it’ll be a new dawn ..just the same as the old dawn . The cat will still get lost in the washing machine. The tea will still have that early morning sting. The sun will still shine. The Sassenachs will still think that Scotland is a foreign country.

  5. Argenta August 24, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    “We see an occasional Scottish flag——–but generally people seem to talk about everyday things”Can’t see that happening if there was a similar referendum here,especially the flags part!