herald

Monday 23 October 2017

I've seen the passion of the Scots, but will hearts rule heads?

When I arrived in Edinburgh 22 years ago, I noticed several things in my first week.

Firstly, they didn't have Club Lemon. I learned this the very first night, when after travelling for 10 hours on a train, a boat, and another train, the barman in The Malt House pub gave me a funny look when I asked for the drink.

I also noticed that they were incredibly friendly people. And thirdly I noticed that it took them no time at all the slag off the English.

Coming from Ireland, you would think that hearing someone putting down the Queen would not have been such a shock.

But the Scots had a way of tearing the monarchy - and England in general - to pieces that would make any hardened Irish soccer fan blush.

abuse

The Scottish have never been shy about expressing their allegiance to either the Queen or to independence.

I remember my sister going to a Celtic-Rangers match. The Catholics and the Protestants - a war without guns.

She said some of the fans would just hurl abuse at each other for the whole game rather than actually watching the match.

They seemed to be more interested in aggressive chanting.

Scotland is filled with passionate political people and so it is no surprise that 97pc of the voters have registered for the referendum on Thursday.

I spoke to two pals about which way they will vote. One has said she will vote 'no'.

Her reasons are practical. She thinks the country will suffer economically if they pull away from the United Kingdom. She believes that Scotland does not have the resources to be an independent state.

My other pal is 100pc 'yes'. She told me it was about pride but she also believes the country will withstand the separation from the mother ship and will thrive.

braveheart

Now this is a girl who has watched Braveheart fifty times, and cries each time when she hears the words: "And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom."

I actually get a lump in my throat when I write those words and remember that scene.

And it is a scene that symbolizes how many people in Scotland feel about their land, their country.

I don't know what way the vote will go.

It's the heart against the head. But it will make for an extremely exciting battle.

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