Years ago we were as a family watching the film Braveheart in which Mel Gibson as Sir William Wallace thwarted his foes left, right, and centre in the bloodiest ways possible. I mentioned at the time that I was part of that clan.
“You’re related to Mel Gibson?” questioned my stepdaughter, all agog.
I explained that, according to family lore, I was descended from that same Wallace of the film via clan name. She was a bit disappointed. But yes indeed my second name is Wallace, taken from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. As in “Scots wha hae wi Wallace bled.“
We had a whole slew o’ Scots around when I was growing up and the Scottish burr was a familiar accent, especially at the home of my grandmother, when her sister and brothers were around.
My problem with the matter is that the other three-quarters of me is occupied by the genes of the English and I confess I gravitate a bit more to the land south of Hadrian’s Wall. In other words, and in the view of my Edinburgh-born Auntie Nan, my main composition was that of the dreaded Sassenach, much as was my grandfather who married her sister and started the English blood flowing in our veins.
And I, frankly, have no problem with that. I deeply value my English heritage but nod respectfully to the Scots bit, too. But, sorry Auntie Nan, I do not ‘feel’ Scottish. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I have huge respect for the accomplishments of assorted people from a country with a relatively minuscule population and a bad climate.
I have traveled in Scotland and find some parts immensely beautiful. I have even stood on the gory battlefield of Culloden Moor, and have walked the parapets of Edinburgh Castle and seen the room in which Rizzio was murdered in Holyrood.
And the Scots have contributed a lot to the world in the fields of science and technology especially and, in Canada’s case, exploration and the opening of the west. Meanwhile Scottish natives have also given us some wonderful literature and not just Robbie Burns, but also Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and more.
And in single malt they virtually invented the ‘wee dram’, not to mention the ‘wee deoch and dorius’ and Auld Lang Syne and haggis and much much more. Bloody dynamic people and not to be trifled with, especially as warriors. The Germans in North Africa in World War Two used to refer to the Highland pipers who strode into battle, unarmed, kilted and droning on their pipes as the “Ladies from Hell” mainly because they scared the crap out of Rommel’s boys.
Yep. Pretty amazing people and much to be respected.
Yet, next week the Scots are to hold a national plebiscite in which the question is whether they should secede from the age-old union that ties them to England. Right now the signs are not looking good and members of the Cameron government stand in jeopardy of soiling their Eton-pedigree silk knickers in anticipation of a possible severing of all that they hold holy.
Well, about Scotland’s drive for autonomy, I hope the vote fails. To separate would be so much damned foolishness. Scotland’s population is too small – about 5 1/2 million, much like that of the Irish Republic – their economy, despite North Sea Oil, isn’t brilliant.
I’ll harken to the words of London Mayor Boris Johnson (one of those old Eton sorts), who wrote in his newspaper column what such a ‘decapitation’ (his word) would mean.
“We are told that if Scotland votes to cut its ties with England, that will be a disaster on a par with the loss of the American colonies in 1776; but it is far worse than that. Scotland isn’t a colony, for heaven’s sake. It’s part of our being, of what makes us ‘us’.”
Truly, I do hope cooler heads prevail. Well, at least three-quarters of me does.