Now Scotland has spoken, let's look to a brighter future for all of us
I'm writing this the day before the Scottish referendum. You're reading it the day after. That's a discombobulating notion to begin a column with. At least for the writer. As the reader, you have a distinct advantage.
You can feel smug about the degree of your knowledge and understanding compared to mine. And how I envy you that, your ability to view years of frenzied hypothesising, campaigning, see-sawing hysteria from the safe, calm position of hindsight, the wisest and clearest of all views.
You will know if the last ditch promise of Dave's devomax convinced enough undecideds to swing No. Or if the UK is to say goodbye to that big hunk of green up top and wish the new, free Scotland all the best in its solo endeavours.
Of course, this might not be a big deal to you. Perhaps you haven't been dreaming about the referendum and waking up with another argument brewing in your foggy head. I've tried to escape the speculation, the slogans, the hyperbolic tales of terror and utopia.
First, I curled up with Jane Austen's Emma, my usual apolitical comfort read in stressful times. But a voice in my head kept reminding me the novel might never have seen the light of day if it hadn't been for Edinburgh publisher John Murray (a visionary, he also published Byron, Darwin and fellow Scot Conan Doyle). And that for centuries Scots have shone like blinding stars in world-renowned British enterprises as diverse as publishing, economics, academia, medicine, law, politics, philosophy and the arts. Bugger.
I purchased noise-cancelling headphones and burrowed into my pillow to listen to Radio Four Extra – repeats of Anthony Trollope dramatisations and Samuel Pepys' Diary. Then it began to nag; Four Extra is a small, digital BBC station – if Scotland goes it alone and the BBC loses the £350m a year Scots contribute to the license fee, could it be cut completely?
Whether, like me, you're part of a family made up of Scots, Northern Irish and half 'n' halfs, or you have no Scots blood at all, you've woken up to a different Britain today, one which is likely to take a diversion regardless of the result. The impact of an independent Scotland, especially on the 95-year-old debate in Northern Ireland, is fairly obvious. But even if the vote is for the devomax Scotland the Westminster parties have now signed up for, the ripples could be fast and long-reaching.
Some reckon the almost fully devolved Scotland will be the first step to a federalised UK. Especially if Scotland begins to thrive under its own, extra-powered steam, or if it starts to look like a fairer, more equal society than that enjoyed by fellow working class citizens on the other side of Hadrian's Wall.
On the eve of the vote, I still to and fro on what would be best for Scotland. Beyond the bluster, the sexy street parties, the pleas to stay from JK Rowling and Bob Geldof(?!), a number of intelligent, compassionate, romantic thinkers continue to make me consider, and re-consider.
The Scots have punched so far above their weight on the world stage they make tiny Rocky knocking out man-mountain Dolph Lundgren by blowing really hard on him look a reasonable turn of events. Is that because they thrive as the perceived underdogs, boldly kicking against the pricks of the establishment? Or would they have gone even faster, higher, stronger, if they'd never been tethered to The Man, against their will, all those years ago?
Whatever Scots decide, I hope it marks the beginning of a better Britain for all 65 million of us.
Martin’s touching farewell to pal Ian
The argument about the legacy of Ian Paisley will rage for decades. A hero, a snake.
For me, though, the outstanding contribution to the debate was Martin McGuinness' simple, heartfelt, hand-written memorial, written directly to his “friend”: “We pointed the way to a better, peaceful future.”
Somehow, among the loud, public conversation McGuinness found a tone which sounded genuine and intimate; from one man in an almost unique position to the only other man who properly understood it.
It was a stark reminder of how while the rest of us soapbox, the real life-changing stuff gets done quietly, behind closed doors, between a handful of human beings.
You couldn’t put a Price on this fun
How lovely to be reminded this week that Katie Price is still out there, having babies and posting pictures of them on social media, alongside some of herself in a g-string (to give hope to other new mums trying to lose weight for their Christmas calendar).
Hope reigns eternal as we know that, despite his affair when Katie was seven months pregnant, husband, builder (bricks)/stripper (not wallpaper) Kieran Hayler has now decided to stick loyally by his wife.
They've called their new daughter Bunny, I'm guessing after the cheeky chappie star of Katie's favourite's novel, Donna Tartt's The Secret History.
It's never dull with this crazy couple!