Oh Scotland, don’t leave me! All I want is for us to stay friends

I grew up on the border of Scotland, permanently aware that they were an integral part of Great Britain

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The Independent Online

“I hate England,” Vivienne Westwood announced this weekend, after sending each of her London Fashion Week show models down the catwalk wearing a Yes to Scottish independence badge. Westwood’s hatred of England was certainly news – and dismaying news at that – to me.

Until now, I have coveted and worn her clothes with an undercurrent of British pride. Vivienne is a true national treasure, crackling since the 1970s with Brit-style eccentricity, her clothes zinging with nods towards crowns, ermine, monarchy, punk rock, her gorgeous tartan jackets designed to accommodate a generous pair of British knockers. I’m a big fan – both of Westwood and of my second home, my beloved Scotland. And I shall continue to be.

I’ll simply place Westwood’s divisive and rather offensive comment with all the others I’ve heard from both the Yes and No camps of late, as a sign of the sad state we’re in right now. The referendum, it will be said, was an important move in history, but it has not brought out the best in people.

I laughed the first time I heard my fellow Radio 4 panel show guests – the Scottish ones – refusing to discuss their ideas on independence, not even as a joke, for fear of reprisal. “You’re kidding, right?” I said, but their apprehension was real. Things got nasty, quickly, and have remained so. I’ll file Westwood branding No voters as “frightened and stupid” in the same category as the “no-surrender” chanting No voters, and in the same category as the Yes supporters on the “British Biased Corporation” protest. A jolly afternoon was spent lost in rage about reporter Nick Robinson, who must be fired, apparently, for being a lackey of the metropolitan elite.

Whatever Thursday brings, I cannot help feel that the English and the Scottish will have a huge, some might say impossible, amount of making up with each other to do. Like, in fact, hungover guests waking up after a dinner party where some berk brought out after-dinner absinthe, another berk brought up politics, and it all went very awry.

Perhaps Paperchase could bring out apology notelets saying helpful things like, “I’m sorry I tweeted you at 2am shouting that Isis beheading aid workers was all Westminster’s, ergo, England, ergo YOUR fault. Got carried away. My bad.” Or perhaps, “On reflection, shouting FINE, jock, sort your own NHS out, you’re a nation of roaring alcoholics” was both wide of the mark and uncalled for. Soz.”

 

Still, I would have no need for apology cards, as instead of harbouring ill-will towards Scotland for making plans to file for divorce, it’s simply made me value them more. In the event of a Yes I shall continue to love-bomb Scotland, wrapping my arms around its ankles, screaming for one more chance, until – and indeed well after – the country has packed all its socks and CDs and walked out of the metaphorical door.

I grew up on the border of Scotland, aware permanently that our neighbours six miles away were a slightly different breed from us English – the accent changes the moment you reach Gretna Gateway Outlet Village – but a shining, fascinating, integral part of Great Britain and what we are. As a child I would regularly – to the fury of my father – retune our television to receive BBC Scotland so I could watch The Untied Shoelaces Show with “Tiger” Tim Stevens rather than that tepid stage-school littered pap, “Why Don’t You?”

Glasgow is miles better. I knew this by the age of six. Yet the average English citizen is wholly guilty of ignoring, undervaluing and neglecting the brilliance and beauty of Scotland. The deadpan humour, the gritty, anarchic history, the dramatic weather, the fish-suppers, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the tendency to produce rare musicals, theatrical and intellectual talent, the Duke of Wellington on George Square with a traffic cone on his head, the fact that I have wild fantasies to retire there and age disgracefully in Alloa, or Tillicoultry or Creetown or the Bridge of Allan.

Holidays in the UK, for Brits, are cold and expensive, so for decades the English have flown away to Malaga, leaving Montrose, Stranraer, Largs or Aberdour forever unmapped. Possibly everyone in England should have been sent on a long “Appreciating Scotland” coach trip to stare at the Trossachs National Park – far prettier and quieter than the Lake District – or at least one afternoon in a bar by the Forth Road Bridge, reading Espedair Street, drinking a Macallan.

Much of England’s non-familiarity with Scotland is sad but understandable. The “metropolitan elite” add to the woe by reaching Edinburgh once a year typically at festival time, falling off the shuttle from London City, bemoaning the lack of 3G coverage, having all sorts of intentions to see more of Scotland and then never setting foot again until next year.

Perhaps if more had been done by the media and Westminster to acknowledge Scotland’s exit plans, say, over the past 36 months, rather than the past 14 days, we wouldn’t be in this state of blind panic – a “Bloody hell, they really mean it!” panic – and the tension would not be so elevated. I didn’t join the Better Together campaign, but I know I will always feel sad if the time comes that we part.

 

Bunny? What on earth was Katie Price thinking of?

Katie Price has called her new baby “Bunny”. That’s Bunny, as in Bugs, as in Bunny Girl, as in lop-eared simpleton back-garden hutch-dweller of the animal kingdom most likely to end up as a delicious smorgasbord for an urban fox.

There was a time when it was unusual to allot children infantile nicknames or simply whichever words crossed one’s mind while in the full grip of gas and air. Now, not so much. All babies, to my mind, should be given names that they can say loudly in a dental surgery without the receptionist scrunching her face and other patients laughing into their vintage Pick Me Up! magazine. Bunny is not this name. Neither is Romeo (Beckham), Jermajesty (Jackson) or Apple (Martin).

A character on The Archers has recently called her baby Mowgli, as in “him off The Jungle Book”. If we cannot now trust the residents of Ambridge to award their children solidly dull names, we have reached a crisis. The last frontier of boring is of course Will and Kate’s next arrival, who will no doubt be called something solid such as Philip or Victoria. In this instance, the name HRH Dweezil Fudgetrumpet would be ruddy marvellous.

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