When Scotland play England in any sporting event, especially rugby, I feel a familiar sinking in my stomach, dreading yet another loss and aching for another of the – fewer – glorious victories. My Dad was Scots and, after living abroad, around Army bases, we arrived in Scotland when I was eight years old and stayed until I was 18.
8-18 is the making of a man, culturally at least. I laugh at cartoons and jokes that my English family and friends just don’t get, and so much else is foreign to them
‘Oor Wullie’, The Broons, Jimmy Shand and his band (terrible), the pipes, ‘Y’a’ right?’, short, short winter days, snow every year, a pint and a chaser, the feel of a woollen kilt on the legs, lamb pies, pinched white faces in thin clothes hunched against the bitter, wet East winds off the sea, moors and heather, Hogmanay..
When I came South at 18, to college in Durham, I couldn’t believe the English didn’t have the same history as I did. They didn’t know or remember the terrible massacres, exploitation and destruction of traditional ways of living by successive English invasions that are at the centre of Scottish history. It’s a story recognised more in other ‘Celtic’ nations – Ireland and Wales. English people don’t get it – how the Welsh, Irish and Scots supporters instantly support each other – and France – agains the common enemy, England. And the English go to bed on 31st January, before the parties have properly started!
But I don’t even sound Scots, I have my English mother’s accent. I’ve lived outside Scotland for fifty years, travelled a lot and worked in different parts of the world, and now live in Oxford. My nationality, says my passport, is United Kingdom, people call us British. But I don’t feel British. My son and daughter who were born here identify as English, but even after all these years I don’t.
Scots people these days know and identify proudly as Scottish – you can feel it as you go North and meet people, hear the bands.
I couldn’t vote in the Referendum on Scottish independence and didn’t want them to leave us in England. But with Brexit on the horizon, suddenly there is talk of another referendum. 70% of Scots voted ‘Remain’. If it happens, and they leave the ‘Union’, well I have my father’s birth certificate ready.