I like most English people a lot – especially northerners. To be perfectly honest, though, I can understand why many other nations might not. And I think it’s time Englishmen faced up to why this might be.
Quite simply, I think you bring it on yourselves.
Don’t get me wrong: I have English friends and family who I like very much and consider to be good people. They can be cold fish at times, but are usually ok once they’ve got a drink in them and caught up with the rest of humanity. They accept my patriotism and I accept theirs. They have their history, sports and culture, and we have ours. They like cricket, I prefer golf. Each to his or her own. Most are the salt of the earth and I respect the pride they have in their identity, just as I do for the Dutch, Irish or French.
The key is mutual respect.
I shall stay in contact with my friends and cousins after Scottish re-independence, and expect Scotland and England to remain close, when the hurly-burly’s done.
OK so far? Good.
So what prompted my question at the top of this post?
A couple of days ago I was waiting for friends in a quiet Scottish pub when I overheard three English students at a nearby table putting down Scotland. They didn’t see me and obviously thought the bar was otherwise empty.
Their main grievances were essentially that:
1. Scotland’s cheaper university degrees are subsidised by the English taxpayer. [much frowning and nodding agreement]
2. They shouldn’t have to listen to a heavy Scottish accent on TV – it’s completely unintelligible anyway and comes from ‘somewhere back in the throat.’ [laughter]
3. There is Gaelic content on TV here, and ‘how many people want to see that?’ [more laughter]
4. Scottish TV stations did not show an England football game recently. [incredulous outrage]
5. Why do immigrants in Scotland choose to speak Scottish? ‘As if they’re not at enough social disadvantage already.’ [wise shaking of the heads all round]
These students seemed well-presented and fairly intelligent, so this was not the idle alcoholic ranting of knuckle-dragging lager louts. If I were to categorise them, I would say they were they were the fortunate sons of comfortable, middle class Tory families from the English Midlands. I’d guess they were in first or second year, as they had not yet lost their regional accents (with all their English class associations), one of the principal reasons I believe many English people go to university.
Their opinions got me thinking though: how many English students in Scotland feel this way?
I should mention that there was a Scot in the group. At first he tried to counter these arguments diplomatically, but eventually he lapsed into silence, presumably because either he could not believe his ears or because he didn’t want to fall out with those he considered his friends.
It’s always fascinating to watch the painful transformation of Scottish Unionist into uncompromising patriot, the normal state of affairs in every other country in the world.
It’s like watching an epiphany.
As the time passed, he began to look increasingly uncomfortable. The look on his face became one of quiet, stony rage. Eventually he made his excuses and stood to go. At the doorway, he paused and looked back one last time, and then with an incredulous shake of the head pushed open the door and left.
Yesterday I related this little tale over the phone to my English cousin in Yorkshire, and his reaction was one of ‘you’re kidding’, mixed with cringing embarrassment for the behaviour of his countrymen. Another phrase that sticks in my mind: ‘it’s a bit rich.’
So together we compiled this message to all English students in Scotland who agree with the above sentiments:
1. You come to our country as guests to exploit our lower cost degrees, then complain that you are subsidising them anyway. In effect, you are complaining that you were forced to come all this way north to claim what is rightfully yours. The idea that maybe England should change its own higher education system back to what it was before New Labour fucked it up doesn’t enter your heads. The words ‘hypocrite’ and ‘ingrate’ spring to mind. And by the way, we're subsidising you. Scotland has not received one penny of oil revenue since the discovery of oil in our waters.
2. Why would immigrants to our country not try to fit in and sound like they’re from here? Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but the Scottish nation and its tongue are outside your medieval forelock-tugging English social hierarchy.
3. Let’s put this into perspective. Having moved to another country, you stick together like flies on shite, then try to change that place to be more like England. And then have the temerity to complain when immigrants from other countries come to England and try to do the same.
4. So the telly wasn’t showing an England football game? Boo fucking hoo. Sorry, but you’re in Scotland now, not England. If you want to watch English games on the box, maybe you should have chosen an English university and paid your self-imposed English university fees.
English students are more than welcome in Scotland, as you will be after Scottish re-independence. Perhaps by then students like you will have learned how to show a little more respect and gratitude, like our Dutch, French and Irish friends.
I’m not holding my breath though. Nor do I wish you to change your behaviour just yet. Because deep down I know that people like you are doing Scotland an invaluable service, converting as you are so many Unionists like your friend to the cause of nationalism and independence.