Thursday, 18 September 2014

One last thought.

In the quiet dark, people are still voting at my polling place.

I go to the shop, to buy coffee to get me through the long hours of decision. I am pretending that I shall go to sleep like a usual person, and set my alarm for six and hear the results on the Today programme. I know myself stupidly well. I shall whack on Radio 4 and find some rolling referendum news, and there will be a point where I shall find bed impossible, on this most momentous of days. I shall almost certainly revert to my student self, my essay crisis incarnation, and stay up all night, watching history unfold.

In the shop, the evening shift is coming off duty, men in heavy boots and bright visibility vests, tiredly buying pizza. I don’t know what they have been doing – building houses or fixing roads, perhaps. One of them, translucent with exhaustion, stands like a classical statue, his face grained with dirt.

I feel my heart lift. I have an odd bias towards people who work with their hands. It is an idiot generalisation. There must be manual workers who are mean or selfish or rude. But in my mind, they have a shimmering authenticity. Perhaps it is because I was raised on a farm and in a stable. The singing memory I have of my dear departed dad is the scent of dung, the feeling of the earth. He was the man who rose in the dark, put on his muddy old trousers, and went out to see to the dozing horses. I remember following him, tottering behind on my infant legs, as he gently woke the mighty creatures, those fine thoroughbreds, those great athletes, those horses he loved as if they were his sons and daughters. I remember the low breath, the rustle of straw, the sleepy shift of a great half ton body.

The man in the shop is a complete stranger to me. But he is my people. He is good people. He, I think, a little fanciful, is what this is all about. Not the fancy pants commentators, the mistresses of the fine phrase, the psephological mavens. He is real people.

I let out my breath. Whichever way this goes, I think, this is what matters: real humans in a small shop in a little village, getting something to eat after their day of work. Whatever way it goes, those ordinary lives are what matters. It is not win or lose, triumph or tragedy. What matters is that people cared, and people voted, and demos was served.

I love that they are still voting, out there in the dark. I love that my family gathered this evening, and spoke of dear Scotland, and raised a glass to her. I love that despite the odd outbreak of incivility, the quiet untold story of this strange episode is of humans minding. Whichever way it goes, Scotland shall survive. She has her blue hills, her silver lochs, her ancient glens and her bright uplands. She has her shining sea. She has been here long before I was ever thought of, and she shall exist long after I have gone. It does not matter to her, but for all that, she has my love.

18 Sept 22


  1. I will be waiting also. Your post brought a tear to my eye. Unwarranted sentimentality from someone who has never stepped foot in Scotland. Then again, my great, great, etc. grandfather, James Wilson, arrived from Scotland and signed both America's Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

  2. I am so pleased - I read this the morning after and know the result. Thank goodness, I would have been so sad to see Scotland go. Beautiful writing Tania - that last post was sublime. L x


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