Gie it laldy, he says. So I do. Dae? I will. Scrieve in Scots, the mannie says. But how can I? A? Naw, A soons daft, like A’m yawning. Oh. But A’m’s awricht? Man. A dunno. It’s no as if it’s ma mither tongue, no in a hoose where yi got skelpit roon the lug if yi cried fir a glassa watter. We don’t have watter in this house. We have waw-ter.
Whit is it any road, this ‘Scots’? How d’yi ken if its richt or no? Is it just the sounds o the wirds, how they birl on yir tung that wee bit unco fae normal. Syne, yi need a normal, don’t you? Canny break the rules if yi dinny ken whit they are. Is it the skirling poetry o Burns? Well, that’s awright then. It’s classic, so it’s allowed. Or is it the singsong Doricy speak o the Mearns or the Ettrick Lallans or a muckle Trainspotting radge? Ma Glaswegian isny Scots; it’s slang, ma mither said. Slang or dialect, leid or tung? Strangulated or singin? A’m forcin it and forcin it like thon new paira training shoes A bocht efter aw the excess a Yuil Day and Hogmanay (aye, a guilt purchase), an then, suddent, there’s a push and somethin glides intae place and A mind that, fir ma Highers at the schule, A’d a wheen o poetry tae choose fae, modern stuff and Romantics stuff, an A went and chose Dunbar. Done is a battle on the Dragon black. Sweet rois of vertue and of gentilness. Cos it spake tae me; it kindy went inside ma banes intae a rhythm o a hairtbeat. An then A mind aw they argy-bargies A had wi ma editor, when A startit at the book scrievin and she’d be aw: ‘say dismal insteada dreich’ or ‘whit’s a close?’ and ‘how can yi no jist ca it a foyer?’, and me bein sae riled aboot how thon specific, bane-deep words, the heft and the lilt that A had ca’d up and chosen, were the only yins that wid dae, bein gey bolshie aboot it, when A didny even think A cared, but turns oot A did, because they, and only they, were the richt yins, so A’m thinking aw that, and how, actually when A reach fir Scots it’s no a contrivance, its no me being thrawn or a ProudScot ™, it’s me allouin masel tae articulate the in-yir-gut things that maitter tae me the maist, then –woosh, A’m awa, an noo A’m fleeing (though dis that mean pished or takin tae the air or running awa? But it disny really maitter, it’s like ony kinda screivin, when yi get intae the zone), an A stoap bein self-conscious aboot thon awkward shoes I’m hirplin in an just let the wurds mak their ain meanin, let them gang tae they quaet places whaur yir mind can wauk itsel tae whit it really wants tae say.
A’ve a hail blank page in frontae me and a hail blank year tae come. A’ve ma new trainers oan and A’m needin a detox. There’s sumthin aboot the stairt o onything, the promise o it, sae redolent wi possibilities as yet unthwarted, that it feels as fragile an vital as a braith held. Sae. A breathe oot, wi ma squeaky new-auld Scots shoes, an A find A dinny want tae talk aboot the leid, A want the leid tae talk aboot me. Whit A want fir tae fill the untrod path o this comin year. Thon bane-deep things.
And whit A want tae say is this: A want tae be proud o ma country. Properly proud. For a wee while there, A wis. A was livin on adrenalin an the promise o that better nation, and then it aw went soor. A didny want tae live here aifter the referendum, no in a country that, tae me, had denied the very fact o itsel. How could A be proud o that? But we aw ken that this is a very auld sang we’re singin, an sure, things hae picked up. (Robin McAlpine, that Bella blog you wrote on 19/9/14, they were the finest wirds yiv ever written. Thank you). Tae a point they’ve picked up, tae a plateau mibbe? But we canny be on pause firever, nor firever electioneering, nor bumpin wir gums aboot Tunnocks teacakes. We’re tired and crabbit. We talk aboot aw this engagement, we rant and rumble, but A’m feart it’s gaun back tae echoes, tae gazing at wir navels and shouting at the backs o ither fowk’s heids.
We need they fowk tae turn and listen. A want tae be proud o my country again, properly proud, so we cin point they fowk tae the beacons we licht, and mak them proud tae. We, they, this place, aw these disparate tungs. A want a Scottish government that’s gonny be bold, because A need something bold tae believe in again. No be telt tae ca’ canny and wait ma turn. Fir whit it’s wirth, here’s ma wee list:
Aye tae radical land reform. Naw tae TTIP. Aye tae renewables – how no gie every roof solar panels, so we cin aw shine like bricht sperks and generate fir generations?
Naw tae the TU Bill. Aye tae fair taxation – we crowd fund aw the time noo, so will thaim that cin pey mair put their money whaur their mooth is tae pey fir Scotland, and which o oor pairties will be brave enough tae moot it?
Aye tae takin faith ootta scules, so weans are jeyned by their common humanity, no divided by their parents’ choices. Naw tae fracking. Aye tae keeping wir public services public, but naw tae the cooncil tax freeze.
Mibbe ma ideas are daft, mibbe you’ve better wans ae yir ain. But can we bring them aw the same? Mind that cusp we were aw on, when wir ideas brimmed like bubbles in a glaiss? It wis because we really believed it, that whit we thoucht and wantit could shape oor wurld. The pouer o feelin we wir being listened tae, whitever tung we spake. I want tae be proud o that again. Sae, ony politicans oot there wha want ma vote? Gies channels tae consult, proper formal consultation, whaur you, the politicans, hae tae convince us, the people, o the richts and wrangs o whit yi propose. Mak fairmers and nurses and fowk wi disabeilities, and checkoot lassies and refugees Holyrood’s Saicont Chamber, and watch us soar. We can dae it wi jury service, so how no mak this a truly National Service, fir they thaim that want tae dae their bit?
A want a comin thigither agin o aw they fine voices, a civic convention o aw the Ayes and the Naws, cause we’re aw bubblin ower, still. It’s how fowk kick aff on Facebook and torment on Twitter, A think. It’s nae flyting fir the maist pairt, it’s corrosive and it taints us.
A want the mainstream media tae dae its joab, and gies journalism and scrutiny fae every angle. A want a campaign tae educate the folk o Scotland whit they new pouers, thon new fiscal settlement will be, so we can debate and discuss – and gie oor consent tae it. For its no just a stick tae bash the SNP wi. It’s for aw o Scotland tae thrive wi, or fa’.
Gies guid news tae. Please. Gies carrots as weel as sticks. Wir Bard asked fir the gift tae see irsels as ithers see us, an we need tae dae mair o that tae, step oot o wirsels an luik at how the wurld sees us. Wir media is key. George Monbiot wrote a piece recently on thon Land Reform legislation we think isny tough enough. When A read that, it made me think we wir daein somethin richt. It made me proud.
Sae. There’s thrie estaitis richt awa: Politicians, Press an People. Scotland, we said we didny believe in yi afore. But we dae, we dae, or we widny be here. Whitever leid we choose tae say it, let this be the year o the practical poets, o bold makars wha will be aw the brave things we want fur this dear place – and let us leave the biscuit bemoaners ahint us.
Noo, A must attend tae ma blisters. A’m still runnin they new shoes in.
Tae finnd oot mair aboot Karen an her wark, veisit: www.karencampbell.co.uk