The date for our move to Scotland is set for the last week of August. I’m spending time looking for removal companies and a house in Dundee. I’ve also been reflecting on ‘Homecoming Scotland’ and realised why it makes me so uneasy. The photos used to promote the campaign represent old buildings, old statues, stained glass windows, golf courses, old men in tartan, old books and empty landscapes. That Scotland is old, dull and (apart from the old men) deserted. Who’d want to go home to that?
So what should have been included? Here’s my list as a start:
Alexander McColl Smith (the Number One Ladies Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street) – and all the other great Scottish writers in paticular John Buchan, Ian Rankin, Robert Louis Stevenson and Muriel Spark: what talent, what diversity!
Scottish bands from the Proclaimers (just starting another tour) to Franz Ferdinand. Listen to Letter from America if you want to feel like going home: I’ve looked at the ocean tried hard to imagine how you felt the day you sailed from Wester Ross to Nova Scotia...
The land itself – mountains, rivers, lochs, sea, beaches. Not a deserted landscape for looking at from a car window but a wonderful space for walking and climbing and mountain biking with friends; for sailing and swimming; for campfires and beach games and weekends away. And (particularly appreciated after years in England) Scotland’s enlightend approach to access: there is no law of trespass in Scotland.
The Elephant House and all Edinburgh’s coffee shops – with which no other city can compare.
Scottish schools – not all great, but part of a great tradition based on breadth of knowledge and opportunity for all that I don’t think England’s complex educational system was ever truly committed to.
The Scottish men and women making their mark on the wide world: Andy Murray, Ewan McGregor, James McIlvoy, Gordon Brown, Kirsty Wark …
The Scottish rugby team – so often beaten, never bowed, always ready to rise again.