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Scotland: Pedalling over the horizon… Photograph © John Spooner on Flickr

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Miles On Monday

The weekly thoughts of York writer Miles Salter


Miles talks to Hamish, a Scotsman who thinks it’s time for his country to become independent, ahead of this Thursday’s referendum

Miles: Hello, Hamish?

Hamish: Aye, hellooo.

Miles: How’s it going?

Hamish: Alright, aye. I’ve just put on my kilt, read some Robbie Burns, and now I’m ready to eat ma haggis. Just a wee one, mind. I don’t want to spend too much.

Miles: Well, I’m glad you’re smashing all the Scottish stereotypes.

Hamish: What’s that?

Miles: Nothing. How do you feel about the referendum on Thursday?

Hamish: It’ll be great. I’m looking forward to being independent. We hate the English.

Miles: Well, yes. Some would say you have good reason.

Hamish: Culloden!

Miles: What?

Hamish: Culloden, 1746. You slaughtered us.

Miles: What was the final score? Did you win on penalties?

Hamish: Not football, you idiot. It was a battle. A famous military encounter. Except you slaughtered us. Nearly 2,000 brave Scots, dead. Your lot did that. Vicious, brutal and merciless.

Miles: Sounds like Asda on a Saturday afternoon. Anyway, 1746 is a long time ago.

Hamish: Yes, and some of us still remember it clearly. You showed no mercy. And then there was the oil.

Miles: Ah yes. Well, the North Sea Oil has been of mutual benefit to England and Scotland.

Hamish: Aye. But it’s ours! You should give it back!

Miles: That might be tricky. How about Trident?

Hamish: No thanks, laddie. I don’t like chewing gum. And what about Mrs Thatcher? She tried that bloody poll tax out on us, didn’t she? Like we were some sort of Northern experiment before she took it to the rest of the UK. Is it any wonder we’ve had enough of being pushed around by you lot? Let us govern our own affairs.

Miles: Do you think you’ll win?

Hamish: Oh, aye. Nae problem, laddie.

What about the rule that says it’s perfectly legal for somebody in York to shoot a Scotsman dead, inside the city walls?

Miles: Really? I thought some voters were feeling jittery, what with all this business about banks having to move.

Hamish: Well, some of us are undecided, apparently.

Miles: Yes. There are some good singers in the X Factor this year.

Hamish: You’re not taking this seriously, are you? Anyway, as long as we keep the pound, it’ll be fine.

Miles: That’s a bit hypocritical, though, isn’t it? You want independence but you want the benefits of the British currency.

Hamish: Not at all. Alex Salmond’s covered all that. He’s a good man.

Miles: Yes. Even his name refers to a Scottish fish.

Hamish: Yes. I like Alex and chips.

Miles: Um… but some people are saying he’s misled people over the whole thing. He’s sold a positive picture but he hasn’t been realistic about the problems. If Scotland votes ‘Yes’ to devolution on Thursday it will be an economic and political nightmare. I mean take the Union Jack, for starters. Do we have to throw away a classic design that has lasted for centuries? And did you see David Cameron last week? He said he’d be ‘heartbroken’ if Scotland left.

Hamish: Aye.

Miles: Well, good luck. When do you think your Scottish passport will arrive?

Hamish: I won’t be needing one of those. I’m happy in the Highlands. No need to go south of Inverness.

Miles: Not coming to York, then?

Hamish: York is the worst place for the Scottish! What about that arcane rule you have?

Miles: Which one?

Hamish: The one that says it’s perfectly legal for somebody in York to shoot a Scotsman dead, inside the city walls, provided the Scotsman had a bow and arrow. It was only changed two years ago! What century are you lot in?

Miles: Erm, in fact, we’re very forward thinking in YO1. We’ve got running water, these days. And colour television.

Hamish: Aye, well you can keep your Yorkshire bitter. I prefer a wee dram of whisky, if it’s all the same to you.

Miles: Well, thanks for chatting, Hamish. Be seeing you.

Hamish: I doubt it.

Miles: So long, and thanks for all the haggis.

Hamish: Good riddance.

Miles: Charming.