The pinnacle of excitement in Scottish politics has usually involved mackerel quotas. But that’s all changed now, as the referendum had me glued to news, debate and social media.
My opinion was irrelevant because you had to live in Scotland to vote, and in any case, I couldn’t make my mind up – I was marooned on the fence. Being English, but having lived most of my life in Scotland (and having a serious crush on the place), my head said no and my heart said yes.
The power of Scotland
The fence was an uncomfortable place to be, but one thing was for sure, I was not going to spend the evening of September 18 crying into my beer alone. So I rallied the only two Scots I know here – Gordon and Jock – and bunged a referendum night party invitation up on Facebook to see what would happen.
It promised to be a good night at the pub. Gordon brought some mates, no-one else was Scottish, but it didn’t matter. He also brought his guitar and some song sheets.
I brought two massive flags, which we stretched over the tables. Settling down to sing ‘Flower of Scotland’ and have a drink, the mood was nothing short of McFiesta.
Scot-light in the media
But then a large outside broadcast van pulled up and a lady from TV2 Lorry charged in.
“So, are you Scottish?” she asked me. “British,” I replied. “English then?” “I prefer British.” “So you would vote ‘No’ then?” “I might do if I could make my mind up”.
She moved on to Gordon who gave an erudite account, in Danish, of why he’s a ‘Yes’ voter.
Jock had disappeared and everyone else she tried to talk to was from Lithuania or Australia, so off she skipped into the night as we heaved a sigh of relief and settled down once more.
And then some 30 minutes later, another outside broadcast van drew up and another TV2 journalist, desperate for a Danish angle on the potential disintegration of the UK, burst in.
“Is this the Scottish event?” he asked me. I looked at the flags and the song sheets and considered my options. I tried saying “Maybe”, finding myself once again on the fence. Jock got up, pulled his hood up and skulked off to the back of the bar muttering “Ich bin ein Deutschlander”. And Gordon stepped in once more.
Exacerbating the hangover
The cameraman and journalist slunk off into the night and we sang ‘Flower of Scotland’ so many times the Lithuanians knew the words. And Jock had come out of hiding and much beer had been consumed. And it was then that Gordon rounded on me, looked me in the eye and said: “Get off the bloody fence Stephanie!”
Suddenly it all flashed in front of my eyes: Bonnie Prince Charlie on shortbread tins, baronial architecture, poetry, song, punk, hating Mrs Thatcher, the chance to create a more socially just state within the safety of the EU – and in a ‘When Harry met Sally’ moment I said the words: “Yes … yes … yes!”
And we all know how brilliantly that worked out.