Tuesday, September 16, 2014

And I would walk 500 miles...

A very very important thing is happening to our country this week. Or if you like to our kingdom. Though it feels old fashioned to call it that. So maybe better to say the islands we live on.

Whatever side of the Yes/No Scottish debate you're on, and whether you're north or south of the border, after Thursday I suspect nothing will ever be the same, even if the status quo remains unchanged.

As it happens I have shamefully never been to Scotland, though my maiden name of Moffatt is Scottish through and through,  but such a long way back I have no family there, to my knowledge. A bunch of them went out to Ireland in the 19th century and settled there for a bit, before finding there way here. Therefore like the majority of the people in the British Isles, though I consider myself English, I also boast Irish/Scottish and probably some Welsh heritage. I think it's what makes us so great that we all come from such a ragbag of different ethnicities. Throughout our long history new peoples have come and conquered and usually moved west, and so most of us can claim a reasonable diversity of culture.

Which is why, though none of us in England have a say in the matter (though quite why ex pats can't vote I don't know, they can in normal elections, so why not in this, extraordinary one?),we all feel inextricably linked to what is going on up in Scotland. Until relatively recently, though I feel very strongly that actually the union is better together (sorry crap phrase, the No campaign has been woefully inadequate),I don't feel it was my place to voice those feelings, as it was up to the Scots to decide. Except, if they decide yes, it will impact on all of us south of the border, and nothing will ever be the same again. I really really don't want to think of a nation that I consider kin to become foreigners overnight.

Now I don't want to get into the politics of this, because it is by all accounts quite rough and ready on both sides (one aspect of the campaign that I have found deeply depressing is how far both Yes and No campaigners will go to bribe the electorate to vote their way), but what I do want to do is send Scotland a love letter. And say this...

We don't always see eye to eye, but we've been united as a kingdom since 1603 when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. That's a very very long time. Ok, it took us till 1707 to become politically united, but that still means we've had a joint parliament for over three hundred years. Three hundred years in which we've really benefitted from having you on side.

In literature you've given us Robbie Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. We would have neither the television,( John Logie Baird)or penicillin (Alexander Fleming) without you. Scotsmen and women have gone out in the world and made their name in engineering, politics, business. For a small country you've always punched well above your weight.

More recently in sporting events Andy Murray has made up for years of personal disappointment by winning Wimbledon, both as a Scot and a Briton (unlike our dumb media, to me  he's Scottish/British whether he wins or loses), and Chris Hoy is just inspirational. I'd have been sad to lose him from the British team in the Olympics in 2012.

On top of all that my favourite TV show has had not one but two Scottish actors playing the Doctor, but also it's head writer shares my surname. I like to think we must be somehow related in the distant past.

There is something about Scotland and the Scottish that is part of our national identity, and we will all be the poorer if you go.

Scotland the Brave, it's your decision, but I'd walk 500 miles to stay by your side and really really hope on Thursday you say no.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Well, THAT didn't go according to plan...

Oh dear. I have now been back at work for over five months, and haven't blogged at all.

There are a lot of reasons for this.

Firstly the complications I referred to in my life in April were that my beloved mother was dying. She was diagnosed with terminal brain tumours in February, and though we thought she might get to the summer, she went downhill very fast, and died at the beginning of May. Subsequently, my first few weeks at work involved trekking back and forth to Shropshire on my days off, pretty much abandoning my family for weeks (although actually they all seemed to cope pretty well without me). Then we went straight into exams. I'm very very proud of my daughters who both did extremely well in incredibly difficult circumstances.

So it's been a funny old time. And I also had to do the rewrites on my new book, Coming Home for Christmas, the last in my Hope Christmas stories. This was particularly poignant for me, as I had written the whole series with motherhood very much in mind, and the first two books were affected  by my lovely mother in law being ill and subsequently dying, and this time it was my mother's turn. Hope Christmas is based on the town of Church Stretton where she lived, so this last book I have invested with love, and put in tiny little details about places we walked as a family as my tribute to her.

I will be writing about my mum at some time, but still assimilating my thoughts, and need to check that my family don't mind.

But in the meantime, here's the cover of the new book. I hope as life starts to calm down a little, I'll be able to blog again sooner.

And if you're interested, the book is out on November 6th.