Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Last Post

Pride is a thing I've often railed against. Anyone with the wit to type "Roddy Macdonald" "Gay" and "Pride" into Google will see that for themselves. Why the hell should one be proud of being gay? One just is. Just like how the hell should one be proud of being Scots? It is an accident of birth.

That said, I was proud on 17 July 1983 when I Passed Out as a soldier in the Intelligence Corps, thankful that we had the band of the Royal Irish Rangers - I don't care which part of these islands you're from, Killaloe is a magical tune to pass out to! I was proud to play General Jim (to us Jocks), General Sir Michael Gow, the last soldier serving in the British Army to have served in the Second World War (and a great grand nephew of Niel Gow, the fiddle maestro) out of the Army with a tune he had commissioned from Pipe Major Gavin Stoddart for a friend of his and mine, Colonel Charlie Workman.*  I was proud in 1985 when I passed out at Sandhurst, but not as proud as when my Grampa gave me an actual Malt afterwards, and not a wee snifter of one of his many bottles of  White Horse. I was always a bookish kind of chap and the serious shit infantry stuff had been a sair fecht, but I got through it, with more than a little help from my friends.

After that, being commissioned 4 years later into the RAF was fairly routine. That insidious bit of pride never hit again till after that most Scottish of things, the Fuck-it Factor, kicked in. Faced with a less than tolerable present spending my life having to lie about who or what I was and the relatively scary prospect of chucking away a very promising Military career, I said, Fuck it. At the last minute I decided to pick a fight. 12 years later I won it. This is the only puss I have to shave in the morning and I discovered that being Scots is not an ethnicity, it is an attitude of mind. 

The pride didn't kick in till a few months later in Sandy Bell's bar when I met the man from whom this Blog's work takes it name. On being introduced,  I told him I was honoured to meet him. Being Hamish, he knew what I was going through and he immediately said, "No, I'm honoured to meet you." 

This man had spent much of the Second World War serving with my teachers at Queen Victoria School (people I had grown up respecting utterly) in the 8th Army and he said that.  While the British Establishment worked out what the hell to do with me, I spent a whole year on "Uphill Gardening" leave on full salary and Hamish and I spent many a Wednesday afternoon with an obscenity of Lagavulin, me listening intently to his reminiscences and the pair of us setting the World to rights.

I never felt proud of being a Scot until the laughable entity that is the Naw Campaign came up with the ProudScotBut®™ nonsense. If you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror on Friday morning, there are nae buts about it, voting Yes on Thursday is the only way it's possible. I'm now a Proud Scot.

Prosaically, I've got a shedload of work to do tomorrow in my day job and I'm up at 5 am on Thursday to help another friend of Hamish's to put out Yes Scotland boards outside Polling Stations. Jings! I hope I have her energy and commitment when I'm her age! So this is The Last Post. Vote Yes, you know it's the right thing to do. I'll leave you with a video of Doli and Hamish singing and a footnote.

Click the link, listen and think.

* I've read some tosh about a Yes Vote being 'Anti-English'. General Jim was the oldest officer in the British Army when I was a young soldier. The oldest soldier was WO1 Jan Hol, also of the Intelligence Corps, and a languages Don at Canterbury University. The two were great friends and both had served in WW2. The only slight difference was that Jan was pressed into service in the Belgian SS at age 16 by the Nazis. Think about that kind of friendship when you read horseshit like this from an arse-kissing Politician purporting to have been a Soldier, which must rank as the most shameful article of the whole indyref.