As a mark of respect for those who lost their lives during the horrific events in Manchester, and for those they leave behind to grieve for them, today’s blog isn’t the usual satirical rant about politics. It’s not appropriate today. We’ll get back to that once the General Election campaigning gets underway once more.
Instead, a short tale of hope…….
The proffered bundle of books seemed nothing less than comprehensive. Dusty leather-bound heavy tomes,some of them, well-thumbed-through paperbacks with paragraphs and sentences highlighted and underlined, once glossy, now faded, magazines, thin pamphlets with titles like ‘The Common Weal’ that carried the musty smell of age, of years piled up in the dark in someone’s back press.
Drew took the pile of books from the older man and put them down on the table, and smiled at his grandfather who winked mischievously back at him. “Aye son, auld Mick kens his stuff, and when you read these, you’ll know it tae. You’ll be aw the wiser for a better knowledge of Scotland’s history and challenges.”
Settling down in the well-worn and comfortably upholstered chair by the fire, peering out the window at the bleak wintery twilight settling in over the nearby hills Drew picked up one of the paperbacks. They really were old, some of them, from a different time.
‘Independence or Union: Scotland’s past and Scotland’s present’ was the lofty title, by someone called Tom Devine.
“I’ll take these back to Uni with me Papa, and in between assignments I’ll make sure they get my full attention.”
Drew Binnie, a student at Glasgow University, was visiting his grandparents on the west coast of Scotland, as his grandmother recuperated from heart surgery at the world renowned Coronary Care Centre of the Edinburgh Medical Campus.
His parents, both medical doctors, were overseas working as part of the massive Humanity Project, a worldwide movement, born of crisis and necessity, which had over the last ten years tackled growing refugee and humanitarian crises from war-torn and drought ridden areas in the Middle East and Africa head on, and with remarkable success. Much was being done to help bring peace and a semblance of normality to these regions, without the need for military intervention, smart guided missiles or drone strikes.
Whilst gran rested upstairs Drew was trading banter with his Papa, known affectionately to all in the family simply as ‘Mick’.
“I never knew that you had a tattoo Mick? ” said Drew, as he flicked through the pages of the paperback. “Oh aye son, we all got them, back then, at the time. Even your gran got one, one sunny Saturday after a wee gathering in George Square and a few glasses of wine.”
“It must have been really something” said Drew.
Looking out into the falling darkness again Drew could just make out in the distance the massive blades of the wind turbines, which along with the offshore wave complex a few miles up the coast, had been proving enough energy to power the entire area for several years now, as well as feeding any excess capacity into the European grid network.
This system was producing funds, along with the dozens of other similar schemes for reinvestment into energy technology research and development, and helped to fund, with other tax revenues, the comprehensive cradle to grave system of health and welfare public services that the citizens of Scotland enjoyed.
It was hard to imagine that some of the things Mick was telling him about the past were actually true.
How could a country rated amongst the top ten in the world for standards of living, with one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in Europe, which had all but obliterated inner city and rural poverty via support provided through a vast network of public services, legislated as part of the much vaunted ‘Citizens Constitution’ (which many other small countries in Europe seemed to now be introducing and adapting to meet their own needs) have been anything like he had described it?
He must be making some of it up, thought Drew, he’s prone to a wee bit of exaggeration is Papa.
Looking again through the books he noted some of the titles ‘We Made It’ by Paul Kavanagh, ‘Scotland, -Investing in Ourselves’ by Robin McAlpine,, ‘The Light in the North’ by Lesley Riddoch. These three seemed to be written around 2023, after the dust had begun to settle on the sovereignty defining events of ExitUK were over.
The display screen above the simulated log fire sprang into life and a 3D life sized image, slightly out of focus. of a girl in her early twenties, stood before Drew in the sitting area.
“Hiya babes. How are you?’ How’s your gran?” said the image of the girl. “How’s you and your Papa getting on?”
“Fine, fine” Drew responded. Kirsty his girlfriend had been winding him up at university for weeks beforehand about his trip to the remote west coast cottage of his grandparents.
“Gran is on the mend, thankfully, and Mick. well he’s been regaling me with stories of the old days, haven’t ye auld yin, spinning a few yarns”
He said, gazing over to the seat at the kitchen table where the older man sat.
“He’s been telling me that at one time folk didnae want Scotland to have its own government, can you believe that?”
” I already knew that. If you werenae so wrapped up in that mathematical skull of yours, you’d know that too ya numpty.” said Kirsty, laughing now. Drew was studying advanced chemical engineering and was already appearing on the radar of some of the big players in biofuel research and development as a potential up-and-comer.
“Aye, aye, but wait till I tell you this one, Mick’s got a tattoo, and apparently so has Gran, the same one.”
“Show her your tattoo Mick.” At this the older man slipped the neck of his teeshirt down over his right shoulder to reveal a small blue coloured tattoo, with three letters, making one simple word……YES.