And it's not just on the tele (with its ever increasing range of bewildered but aggressive looking presenters) - did you catch Julie Etchingham last night trying (and note the word trying) to interview Nicola Sturgeon. Her face was a picture as she failed to compute that Scotland is DIFFERENT yes, fundamentally DIFFERENT from England. Weel done Nicola 'cutty sark' Sturgeon is all I can say. At one point she said exactly what I have been thinking for years now - we are fed up of being told 'Shut up Scotland' - your views don't matter.
Etchingham had this look on her face which I have to confess I saw many a time on my decade long exile south of the (soon to not be hard, soft or any other kind of) border. It was incredulity at the very concept that 'Scotland' could 'be' anything. (apart, of course, from a holiday destination). Never mind 'shut up' (too rude for the amc) but 'get back in your box' did seem to flicker across the wide tundra of her beautifully made up facade. [For more about the quantum nature of boxes you'll need to hold this thought - or scroll down quickly] The quantum world of writing doesn't always allow for a linear thought progression folks. Ah, we're sooo...ooo post-post modern here at McRenegades.
But it's not just in Englandshire where they fail to 'get' that Scotland IS something different. Recently I was party to witnessing an academic** (who should know better?) in a public forum in the heart of the Capital (and that's the Capital of Scotland, also known as Edinburgh for those who are struggling) suggesting that J.M.Barrie was not a Scots writer (as part of an argument suggesting that no such thing as a Scottish writer really exists, I think – I don’t know – that seems so ludicrous an idea that I’m wondering if I slipped into a worm hole and was living in a parallel universe at the time.)
I have written a long-winded and intemperate diatribic response, which will only serve to aggravate and these days I feel that it’s better to go along with Barrie’s own dictum (as stated in the ‘mission statement’ of the JMB Lit Soc) which is ‘shall we make a new rule of life: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary.’
[or as Doric loon - should such a thing exist - fellow McRenegade Pat Hutchison might say - 'end wi' bosies']
And so, instead of the harangue (or ‘fine piece of literature’ depending on your viewpoint) I had determined to publish and be damned by, I am instead, accompanied by a number of other McRenegades, beginning an adventure (cf James Leatham ‘publishing is an adventure’) titled ‘In Search of the Scots Particle.’ Watch this space. Watch any space. We quantum writers are faster than the speed of light and incredibly hard to pin down. Like the Zamyatin Society, you never know where we will pop up. Our first meeting is this coming Saturday at a place we know of as the Palace of Sedition, but it known to the ‘real’ world as a much more staid and ‘traditional’ venue. Our second meeting will be on Tuesday 20th May in a land known only to the Great Gisby. We may (or may not) keep you informed because this is the work of #itsourworldtoo #wearemrenegades. (I shall state at this point, though it’s probably quite clear, I have no idea what the point or function of the # [defined by wikipedia as follows: The symbol # is most commonly known as the number sign, hash,] actually is in the modern world. I am no twitface. Have at you diacrictic marks!
I have a wee quote from 'early' (self publishing author) Barrie which suggests that he has some notion that there is a difference between Scotland and England (he's not referring to the drink by the way, it's that Scotch used to be how many referred to fowk fae our wee bit hill and glen). And as late as his 1932 work 'Julie Logan' he was still using Good Scots Humour (which I recently explained to a bemused English Austenite as 'a lot like irony') in his exploration of the difference (or should I say 'diversity') between the Scots and English (or as we like to say for our amusement 'Englishy') ways. Here goes.
This juvenile effort is a field of prickles into which none may be advised to penetrate — I made the attempt lately in cold blood and came back shuddering, but I had read enough to have the profoundest reason for declining to tell what the book is about. And yet I have a sentimental interest in Better Dead, for it was my first — published when I had small hope of getting any one to accept the Scotch — and there was a week when I loved to carry it in my pocket and did not think it dead weight. Once I almost saw it find a purchaser. She was a pretty girl and it lay on a bookstall, and she read some pages and smiled, and then retired, and came back and began another chapter. Several times she did this, and I stood in the background trembling with hope and fear. At last she went away without the book, but I am still of opinion that, had it been just a little bit better, she would have bought it.
And you can read the whole story for free right here:
McStorytellers still 'existed' when last I looked, but watch out, it may be too extremist to survive in a 'strong and stable' UK.
And while we're talking about borders and direction of travel (u- turn anyone) Nicola made a good point (which Etchingham couldn't fathom) regarding how on the one hand Team Theresa was telling Ireland (that's the Republic) that there would be no hard-border or adverse conditions of trade post Brexit between Ireland (that's a European Member State) and the UK. So couldn't the same rules apply to an Independent Scotland?
If not, why not? The devil, my friends, is always in the detail and you do well to think long and hard before you buy into the new, improved 'too wee, too poor, too stupid' fairy story we are being sold. The SNP are not the big bad wolf. Independence is not just right for any country but it is a country's right. Unless, that is, you are a slug desperate for salt. To be fair? Jeremy Corbyn also seems to struggle with this concept - he accepts the right of any other 'nation' to be an independent country APART from Scotland. Hey, Jezza, no one ever tell you that self-determination, like charity, begins at home?
And in case you came here in search of the Higgs Boson – it may, or may not have been found but in 2004 Wittgenstein and Schrodinger were debating the issue right here. What’s a bit of product placement between friends? The playwright and author Cally Phillips would like to state unequivocally that despite being born at a very early age in Englandshire, she escaped as soon as she learned to walk, and has lived most of her (increasingly long) life in Scotland, self-defines as Scottish, writes – and more importantly THINKS in Scots – and therefore would like it to be known that she considers herself a Scottish writer as well as a Scottish citizen. #gallusquine.
* asm means Aspirational Middle Class by the way. It's not a thing, I just made it up. Well, I made up the acronym. Should I patent it? Or give it a hashtag? Are these ways to improve visibility and therfore sales? Or isn't that what the world is all about? These and many other questions are in the McRenegade backpack as we set out on our 'adventure' in search of the elusive Scots Particle - in case you'd forgotten the point of this post.
** oh, and it turned out the 'academic' was an 'Ulsterman' - at least on his website entry. Which begs the question what is an Ulsterman and how come they are allowed to exist but Scots writers aren't?