Monday, September 08, 2014

Yes and No and thoughts of bitter-sweetness

When I told you of my journey from No to Yes, I wanted to add that I am still a Nervous, Hopeful Yes, and nowhere near being a Triumphal, Tribal Yes.

Already, I am feeling for the losers. If this is as close as the polls suggest, then somebody's going to walk off the pitch, feeling like they just lost the World Cup on a penalty shoot out; times a million, for the rest of their life.
 
An old  friend got in touch on Facebook and told me she'd be so sad at 'breaking up with England' that her family would move away from Scotland, 'eventually.' It's sad to think that either side can feel so bereft.
 
I know Yes-ers who would react with self-righteous mockery to that, but I can really imagine the No's will indeed feel such isolated, lonely frustration if Yes wins; ironically, just the feeling that led Yes to fight for independence in the first place.
 
Ah, well, life is a series of see-saws and roundabouts; snakes and ladders and whatever other clichés you wish to dig out. The best we can do is to keep true to wer'sels and civil to each other. Golly, it's hotting up.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Yes, then.


Yes, I have been coy; lurking without mentioning the big debate, the huge debate. Our wee country working itself into a frenzy. In a good way.
 
The reasons for my silence on the topic were many. I did not want to tell others what they should vote. I was unsure myself. I did not want to offend the English or England. (I love the BBC!) I did not want to get into spats and fights.
 
Two years ago, I started out as a  NO. I thought Scottish independence would be claustrophobic and parochial, like watching wall-to-wall Reporting Scotland (sorry Jackie Bird). I didn't want to 'divorce' England. I was afraid of making a mistake.
 
But the YES campaign have buoyed me, swept me along, made me feel like maybe I could go white-water rafting after all.
 
This is not about 'divorce.' It's about localising government and making it more accountable. It's about the Scots rejecting a UK economy where big business has started to rule everything and profit is the only measure of success. All-out capitalism is so uncaring.
 
We want a different kind of society that is more community-led. We don't want Trident or more eco-vandalism. We want renewables and thinking differently. Free education. We want to define ourselves. Even if we make mistakes, even if it costs us in the short term, even if you don't like Alex Salmond, we'll find a way in the long term. Our way.
 
If you are swithering, read this blog from the Guardian from George Monbiot. It's a belter.
 
"Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice."

People of Scotland, may the force be with us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Actually not cooked sand

Years ago, I was a food critic for The List magazine and we were told to 'avoid clichés like the plague' (really). We had to shun common, dull words like 'tasty' and 'delicious.'

Yesterday, I was eating Ryvita crackers and Tess came in to have a bite. 'Mama?', she asked (for she has taken to calling me 'Mama', like a posh child); 'Are these crackers actually cooked sand?'
 
I loved that: she captured the texture in a nutshell. Oops, I'm mixing up the foodie metaphors, all over the shop.

Friday, July 25, 2014

'The Man' and why he should apologise to children more often

Parents everywhere, I'm sure you too have used The Man as leverage. Don't play on the escalators, or 'the man' will give you a row.  Say, 'Thank you,' to The Man. Sometimes The Lady but mostly, The Man.
 
Today, The Man got himself involved; dove right in, you could say, and managed to set off a classic parent-child Stress-Fest. Only later at home, when I got a minute's head space,  did I think, wait a minute....where is my true loyalty?
 
I was  returning, with Hugh and Tess, from a heat-soaked day at Troon beach. We were all stuffed on to a mobbed (Commonwealth-Games) platform at Central Station. The Man, a Games spectator from England, started making small talk with me, which was fine, until, he noticed, before I did, that wee Hugh had found a half empty can of some souped-up energy drink and was bringing his nose to the ring pull.
 
OI, OI, OI !  shouted The Man, in a tone, useful only for thugs snatching a pensioner's handbag. Poor Hugh nearly cacked himself, stunned to be yelled at, by a stranger.
 
'The man was only trying to stop you getting germs', I started in  soothing tones, hoping that the man would rush in with similar apology, but the man showed manly restraint. I even think Hugh muttered something, near tears,  about, 'only trying to sniff it.' (Forgive a 5 year old for showing our oldest evolutionary instinct in the relentless 'temptation' marketing from fizzy soft drinks).
 
Anyway, The Man just kept on with the small talk - something about driving his wife to Milngavie and getting lost - and I could see poor Hugh was not going to recover his composure and started to act out and pinch me. The man tried to make amends by carrying my awkward beach bags (wet towels, toy monkey, crusts of warm egg sandwich) on to the train, and by this stage, Hugh could hardly bear it.
 
His mother was running away with the berk who'd wronged him and shamed him. He started to really misbehave - arching his back like a toddler, hissing, scowling, with the odd suppressed punch to my arm. And still, I didn't get it. I was more concerned with politeness to The Man. Trying to make The Man feel better. Duh, he was just The  FRIGGIN Man, not my wee boy who needed someone, ideally me, to defend him.
 
So, here's what I will do differently, if I'm braver next time. I'm paraphrasing, but the proper version is something like this:
 
Man, oh Man.., I know you're trying to help, but my child didn't mean any harm, and he's hungry and spent after a happy day, and you scared the bejesus out of him, so if you could possibly find a wee apology for him, it would go a long way.
 
 Don't try and continue the chat with him regardless. When adults feel wrongly accused, they can't bear small talk from the perpetrator, as if nothing has happened!? Kids have an even keener and more desperate sense of justice. Throw him a bone. Say, 'Sorry I frightened you. I didn't mean to'. And, thanks, but there's no need to give them sweets. A toothy smile will do.
 
Now that harmony has been restored, and my journey home made less of an all-round discomfort, I'll tolerate your boring saga about losing your way and your wife on the way to Milngavie. Or was it Bearsden?
 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Talent and Teeth

 
 
I have just started Donna Tartt's massive Goldfinch and, already I must gasp at her talent. Having never been in an explosion, her searing and vivid description of a bomb's aftermath (early in the book), made me feel able to imagine the visceral horror, more than even TV news has ever done. How does she do it? Darkly compelling.
 
Lightly compelling (see what I did?) was my amusement earlier, when driving with Tess (4). Harden my Heart, from 1982 came on the radio and the woman sang in her gorgeous, sexy voice about how she was going to harden her heart and swallow her tears. 'Why is she singing about swallowing her teeth?' Tess asked.
 
Nothing I love better, than driving with my wee girl, to a nostalgic 80's beat, and just starting to hint to her about the delicious mysteries of love and life ahead.