The Stranger, The Queen and the Glasgow Garden Festival

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This is a slightly different style of tale for me.

It is far removed from the style and content of Fabulous Harry Maguire and his exploits, and it has a completely different mood.

Hopefully, those who read it will enjoy it and won’t find it too sentimental in tone.

All the characters mentioned in it are ……….. well judge for yourself!

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Caroline stared at her coffee cup and felt a tear roll down her face. She wiped it away and sniffed only to find that she now had tears silently flowing down each cheek.

She tried to shake off the sadness that brought the tears and found that all her attempts were in vain, and despite her best attempts at concentrating on something else she found herself drawn back to that late summer night 12 years ago. It was a night she had almost forgotten about at one time, maybe deliberately forgotten about or put out of her head, but now it loomed large and just would not go away.

Her mind was in Nice, on the Cote D’Azur and the date was Tuesday 31st of August 1982.

There had been seven of them, sitting in a café in a somewhat shabby section of the city, and they were steadily getting drunker as the evening went on. As the alcohol took ever greater effect, so the laughter and the antics had become more and more spontaneous, silly and stupid. She could see that now, but at the time it had all seemed so much of an adventure; a vital part of their rebelliousness and their journey, whereas in reality they had just been seven daft students on holiday getting pissed and no doubt being a pain in the arse as far as everyone else in the vicinity was concerned.

They were just into their second week in France but this was to be their one and only night in Nice, before moving on through Monte Carlo to a brief sojourn into Italy where they would spend two nights in San Remo before starting to head north again to catch the ferry back to Dover.

Of the seven, Simon and Julie were loved up like Romeo and Juliette – everywhere they walked they held hands, constantly kissed and let everyone know they were in love. Of course it hadn’t lasted. He was now working in the city somewhere and Julie was a successful Advocate in Edinburgh, happily married with two small children. There were three other boys, Danny, Joe and Michael who, together with Caroline and Maria, made up the seven.

Maria was her pal, all long dark hair and brown eyes. She had always turned a head. She even turned heads first thing in the morning, when she walked into a lecture when everyone else was half asleep and looking as if they had just fallen out of bed in the clothes they had slept in. While Caroline would accept that she herself was pretty with a good figure, everyone knew that Maria was supermodel stunning – and knew it, sometimes playing on her good looks.

Of the boys, she knew Danny best as he was in some of her classes and generally hung about in the same company. Joe and Michael she knew less well though, as they sort of hung about the edge of her crowd. Throughout the previous week, all three had shown that they could be very funny albeit in a daft immature way at times.

As the week had gone on, Danny and Maria had been flirting with one another more and more until one night they disappeared together leaving Caroline with the ever entwined lovers and the other two boys. For some reason, this made her feel a bit awkward though looking back she did not really know why.

On that Tuesday night, they were all staying in a cheap hostel with the boys in one room and the girls in another according to the rules of the house, and so at the café Caroline had somewhat drunkenly warned the others that there would be no mysterious copping off together for some “hanky panky” that night – or so she thought.

They had been in the café since about 4pm after a day of wandering around Nice, taking in the sites and enjoying the occasional drink as they wandered. Prior to that night, they had spent a few days staying in Frejus just along the coast where they had spent lazy days on the beach, eaten fabulous food and been to an open air Roxy Music concert on the Friday night topping what had been a fabulous few days in the town. Now they were sitting at two tables outside the café door watching the world go by and getting steadily drunker.

Caroline hadn’t taken much notice of the others sitting at the adjacent tables. If she had, she would have seen two elderly men drinking wine and playing chess, a young man sitting on his own reading a book, a middle aged husband and wife sharing coffees in silence, and two men who were in heated debate about……. about something or other. There were others sitting inside the café but they barely registered, if at all, but she was conscious of music coming from a juke box or radio.

The street was not so much a street but a wide alley with old sandstone apartments on the opposite side from the café. Further up, there was a small supermarket, a dry cleaners and a pharmacy, before the alley took a curving bend to the left and disappeared out of sight.

This was the scene that she now looked back on from 1994.

Through her tears, she recalled that they had been playing charades. Maria was standing on the pavement attempting to mime the name of some book or other when there was the sound of glass smashing somewhere behind her.

Caroline was slow to react but the next thing she knew was that the game had stopped and Michael was out of his seat like a flash sprinting across the alley where an old woman had fallen whilst apparently attempting to enter the door of her apartment. It looked as if the old lady had tripped on the step leading to the apartment door and in so doing she had dropped her shopping bag with the result that a bottle of wine and a bottle of water had smashed to the ground.

The woman was half lying in the alley, muttering to herself in French, and struggling to get back to her feet.

Caroline could remember seeing Michael bent over the fallen woman and speaking to her in French, and then with the help of the young man with a book in his hand, who had made his way over just behind Michael, he was trying to get the old lady back to her feet. Whilst the book reader held the old lady’s hand, Michael rather awkwardly and rather forwardly wrapped his arms round the prone woman’s waist and physically lifted her off the ground and set her back up on somewhat unsteady feet.

“Is that what you call picking up a bird, Mick?” Shouted Simon rather boorishly, though the comment did get a laugh “Bet she gives you a knock back!” continued Simon encouraged by his earlier jibe.

As far as she could remember, Caroline and the rest simply carried on drinking while Michael and the book reader helped the old woman into her flat and the entire incident was literally just dismissed and forgotten about ……… until Michael came back and resumed his seat some several minutes later.

“ Poor old dear” he said as he sat back down “ she is a bit wandered. She lives on the top floor and must have real difficulty with the stairs!”.

“ And are you help the aged?” jibed Simon.

“ Naw, he’s grab a granny!” replied Joe which caused a burst of laughter “ I have never seen you move out of your seat that fast in my life “ said Joe grinning “did you think she had money or something? Were you looking for a tip? Did she take her dentures out and give you a snog?”

“Ah Shut it” replied Michael “ She is just a poor old soul. You lot are heartless!”

And with that the group simply continued to slag one another off and resumed their drinking and laughing. The game of charades forgotten, Joe ordered another two bottles of wine and the night continued.

However, about fifteen or twenty minutes later, unobserved by the group, the door of the apartment building opened once again and the young man with the book stepped out into the alley.

The next thing Caroline knew this swarthy good looking man was standing at their table clearly intent on interrupting their merriment.

“ Good Evening.” He said, addressing Michael in particular, “The old lady has asked me to thankyou for your kindness and has asked me to buy you and your friends a drink to show her gratitude.”

“ Oh, there is no need, honestly” said Michael “ is she ok?”

“ Yes, she is fine. A bit shaken, but it is her pride that is hurt more than anything else. She feels she has made a fool of herself in public, and that angers her.”

“Ha, being picked up by Michael would bring shame on any woman!” quipped Simon in his usual mode.

This remark drew a strange look from the young man who continued none the less:

“ She has given me the money to buy a couple of bottles of wine…. It would be…. impolite to refuse.” He said with a little purpose.

“ Oh we will never refuse wine from a handsome stranger, will we Caroline?” said Maria flirting somewhat outrageously which brought a disapproving look from a so far silent Danny.

“ The wine, is not from me, Cheri” said the young man in an accented voice “ It is from, Madam.”

He was somewhat matter of fact in his statement, and without further consultation he walked into the café and returned a few moments later with a carafe of the house red and another carafe of white which he put on the table without saying a further word. From his pocket he drew a solitary glass which he made plain was for himself

When he had put the wine on the table, he stood back, poured some red wine into his glass, turned to Michael and said “On behalf of my friend, Thankyou for your kindness. Merci à tous” and with that, he drank the wine and turned to leave.

“ Thanks” shouted Michael

“ Ha Michael, there is your holiday story” said Simon “ the best you could manage was being bought a drink by some old French bird!”.

There was some laughter at this, but it quickly stopped when the young man with the book turned on his heel and came back to the table fixing Simon, whom he had not addressed before, with a stare for the second time.

Caroline, now looked at this man altogether differently, as he was no longer a passing stranger. He was someone who was clearly annoyed and was intent on making a point. She feared there would be trouble as he had a very intense look on his face. At that moment she would have described him as intriguing, but tense. Very tense.

However, the stranger in their midst then did the most unexpected of things. He simply drew up a chair, picked up his glass, filled it with red wine again, and began to talk. Initially he addressed Simon, but one by one he would stare each of them straight in the eye.

“ Listen, my friends. Your wine does not come from some “old woman”. No, I tell you that this is an act of gratitude from someone I consider to be one of the greatest women on the planet.”

“ Sorry – I didn’t mean to offend your….. mother?” said Simon realising he had gaffed.

“ Oh she is not my mother, nor is she related to me in any way – in fact, I only met her for the first time when I went to help her with your friend here.” Said the stranger nodding towards Michael.

“ What?” exclaimed Julie somewhat drunkenly

“ I only met her for the first time a few moments ago” he repeated “ and I will probably never meet her again.”

The Group looked puzzled.

Caroline was just glad that the trouble she thought was coming appeared to have disappeared, as whatever this guy was about he was not looking for a fight although he still made her uneasy.

“ Sorry Mate, but you have lost me!” said Joe filling his glass.

“ Let me explain then” said the young man tucking his book into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.

“ That “old woman” as you call her was once a famous Parisian dancer, a famous international celebrity who had the world fall at her feet. More importantly she was at one time the fastest and bravest woman in the world. She should be a French national treasure—instead she is living in this cheap and run down area of Nice, living off charity and in the attic apartment of this building.” He said pointing across the alley.

Caroline and her friends looked at the doorway across the road as the young man continued.

“ With no disrespect intended to anyone here, “The Old Woman” was and always will be out of your league guys, I predict that none of you will ever have a woman like her…. Ever!”

This remark drew a narrowing of the eyes from Maria, a drunken shirk from Simon and a giggle from Julie, the rest simply stayed silent.

Caroline, looked at the newcomer again. There was something about him. He was dark haired, dark eyed, clearly foreign, probably French she thought, and very intense but in a sort of charming way.

She estimated that he was about 5’ 9”, slim and looked pretty fit underneath the faded jeans and T shirt housed underneath the leather jacket. On his feet he wore a pair of fashionably scuffed cowboy boots with a pointed toe.

She heard herself saying:

“ Go on. Tell us who she is then, maybe we have heard of her?”

This set the young man off again. He turned and fixed Caroline with the dark eyes.

“ I do not think you will have heard of her, but I will tell you her story. She was born Mariette Hélène Delangle on 15th December 1900 in a small village about 50 miles south west of Paris where her father was the village postman. However she left the village at the age of sixteen and came to Paris where she got a job dancing in cabaret in the music halls. By 18 she was causing a sensation in Paris as she danced naked, not as a cheap stripper you understand, but with feather boas and live birds to accompany her. She posed naked for photographs and generally caused a scandal. At one point she openly shared a house with two men who were both her friends and her lovers. Eventually she was topping the bill in The Casino de Paris dancing naked  before the glitterati of Paris and causing a sensation. The Parisian press loved her.”

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By this time, the group of Scottish students were captivated by the book reader’s tale of the old woman. All their laughter had stopped and they sat quietly, drinking the wine and listening to his tale as he continued.

“ She changed her name to  Hélène Nice although eventually she would further shorten it to Hellé  Nice and it was by this name that she became famous – for her dancing, her devil may care attitude, her fast, racy and scandalous lifestyle and eventually for………. Well we will come to that in a minute.

By the age of 25 she had had enough of being a naked solo act and so she decided to partner a man called Robert Lisset and together they formed a dance partnership which toured Europe. She had her own house, her own yacht and was so famous, so beautiful and so daring that she had an endless procession of rich lovers and suitors, including members of the European nobility and other personalities such as Henri de Courcelles and Count Bruno d’Harcourt.

However, even this fast lifestyle of frivolous fame and fortune did not satisfy her as throughout her life she only really had one true love……. and that was….. speed.

She was a fantastic downhill skier, but even more than skiing she loved to drive very very fast cars. After being injured in a skiing accident, she entered and won a Paris showbiz motor race, and so in 1929 she entered and won her first professional race — an all-female Grand Prix  at Autodrome de Montlhéry and  in the process  she set a new world land speed record for women driving at 197 Kilometres per hour. She was La Femme Rapide!

She won the race in an Omega Six car and more or less immediately gave up dancing to drive professionally. She toured America as the world’s fastest woman, racing on dirt tracks and hard tracks, driving a Miller car but then, on her return to France, she was introduced to Philippe De Rothschild who was to become yet another lover and who was known for racing a certain type of car.

De Rothschild eventually introduced Hellé Nice to the car’s designer –  Ettore Bugatti who immediately wanted her as part of his team of professional drivers. Rumours say she became Bugatti’s lover, and that she also seduced his son Jean Bugatti. From 1931 she was the only female driver who was allowed to compete on equal terms against all the male drivers of the time. She raced Bugatti’s and Alfas, but was mostly famous for her bright blue Bugatti which she personally owned and in which she was photographed often, bringing her huge commercial spin offs and rewards. She raced in the Italian and French grand prix and set many records. Whilst she did not win the races, she beat many of the leading men and had a reputation for being absolutely fearless. The crowds loved her, and it was at this point that her fame and fortune were at their very height. She still loved the fast lifestyle. She partied, drank champagne and had a host of rich and famous lovers yet could often be found sleeping just as easily with mechanics or people who worked at the race tracks because she liked them as people. She loved people and could see inside their skin which is a great talent.

She won the woman’s cup at the Monte Carlo Rally, entered competitive hill climbs and broke records at Le Mans.

She was, ladies and gentlemen, the undoubted Queen of Speed. The Bugatti Queen!

Then, in 1936 she was invited to South America for a series of Races. She was driving in a Grand Prix in Sao Paulo Brazil and was competing for a place in the top three of the race when her car hit a bale of hay which had strayed on to the track. The result was that her car left the track at over 130 miles per hour and launched into the crowd. The car killed 4 people and seriously injured 30 others. Hellé, herself, was thrown clear of the car but was fired into the crowd like a human bullet with her head landing square in the chest of a spectating soldier. The impact of her helmet on the soldier’s chest killed him, but saved her, although she was in a coma for two days and in hospital for three months. When news of her recovery was announced there was great cheering in Brazil as no one believed that she was responsible for the crash. The race organisers even paid her a large sum in compensation for her injuries and the loss of her car which was an Alfa.

 

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Remarkably, once back in France she decided to get back behind the wheel to race when no one thought she would even drive again. The following year she set 10 world speed records for women. She was all set to rejoin the Bugatti team when Jean Bugatti was killed during practice, and by the time the team recovered from this tragedy the war had started and racing was suspended.

However, it was after the war when real tragedy and hypocrisy struck. Hellé was due to take part in the 1949 Monte Carlo rally but on the eve of the race, right in the grand ballroom in Monaco, she was unfairly denounced as a collaborator during the war. Her accuser was a French driver called Louis Chiron, and despite having no evidence to support his claims, he stated that Hellé Nice had been a Gestapo Agent throughout the war – something that subsequent enquiry proved completely false although that would be many years later.

As a result of these allegations however, all her sponsors and friends deserted her and she never raced again. Her fortune was squandered by a lover who then left her, and for the past 35 years or so she has lived in the attic of the old apartment there, relying on hand outs from a charity called “La Roue Tourne” which means “Things never stay the same” or “ The wheel always turns”.

So that is your old lady – and as I say, with all due respect, you boys will never lay your hands on a woman like that! You are simply not in her league and never will be!”

With that, the stranger drained his glass and made to take his leave.

“ So how do you know her?” asked Maria “ Do you work for La Roue Tourne?”

The man paused and simply stood there: “ No…. I do not work for the charity. I just know her story, and know that she lives here. I decided to come and sit opposite her house for a couple of hours and perhaps catch a glimpse of her. Now, I have actually met her, albeit in slightly unfortunate circumstances. I have helped her up to her shabby apartment, drank her wine and I am delighted simply to be able to say that I made her acquaintance. I have a great story to tell—as have you.”

“ Remember her name, Hellé Nice, the fastest and bravest woman of her day!”

Once again, the young man with the book turned to take his leave.

He wished the somewhat inebriated students farewell and began to walk away. He had gone about 30 yards when Caroline suddenly jumped up from her seat, looked at her friends and said out of the blue “ I am going after him – if I am not back in a minute I will see you tomorrow!” and with that she was off with shouts from Maria, in particular, ringing in her ears.

She had no idea what she was doing or why, she felt she just had to go after this strange young man who had told them the story of Hellé Nice, the dancer and racing driver. She caught up with him just as he turned a corner, and disappeared from the sight of her astonished and alarmed friends.

When she did catch him, the young man was surprised and immediately thought he must have left something at the table, but Caroline was very quick to let him know that was not the case.

“Eh, excuse me but could we go for a drink somewhere… just you and I…. away from the others?” she asked somewhat brazenly.

He looked slightly puzzled at first but eventually smiled and said “ Well it would be impolite to refuse such a charming invitation!” and with that they turned another corner and entered into a small dark bar full of locals drinking strong coffee and various liqueurs.

For the next hour they sat and drank. She told him her name, how she was a student from Glasgow studying accountancy and business studies. In turn he said that his name was “Beco”, that he was only in Nice for the night and that he would be leaving for Paris the following morning. At 22 he was two years older than she was, but he seemed years older and so much more worldly wise than Danny, Simon, Joe and Michael. She asked more about Hellé Nice and her fabulous lifestyle, and how he had come to know her story.

“ It is just something I read” he replied “ Perhaps I am just fascinated by beautiful fast women?” he said looking directly into her eyes with more than a little devilment.

Looking back all these years later, Caroline realised that it was foolish to go back to the small hotel he was staying in. He was a stranger she had never seen or met before. She knew nothing whatsoever about him, yet she was absolutely pulled towards him on that night as if by some magnetic force of nature. She had never done anything so foolish or reckless in her life… and after this night she swore that she never would again.

Once in the room, they had climbed into a creaky bed and made love – awkwardly at first, then with greater familiarity and more confidence before eventually falling asleep in one another’s arms.

The following morning, they made love again before Beco announced that he had to go.

Caroline had known that this moment would come, she had not been that drunk, but all the same she felt awkward when the time came to part. She looked at him and said “ Well, thanks for last night. It was nice to meet you- I’ll just go back to my boring friends”.

As soon as the words left her mouth she felt guilty. Her friends weren’t boring; they just weren’t an exotic stranger with a great tale to tell.

Without any hesitation Beco turned to her and chided her slightly; “ You have good friends, nice friends, count yourself lucky. Think of Hellé Nice- she has no friends.”

“ Apart from you” said Caroline

He stood at the door and turned to her, drawing her close:

“ I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me” he replied “ And if I am a friend of Hellé Nice then your friend Michael is an even greater friend. It was he who was first by her side, helped her to her feet, and helped her up the stairs without even knowing who she was. I had a motive. I knew who she was and wanted to meet her, see inside her apartment, I wanted the story of helping Hellé Nice all for my own purposes. Whereas, your friend Michael just reacted. Just did what seemed right. He didn’t see the once famous racing driver who interested me, he just saw an old woman who fell and who he chose to help. I would think about that if I were you. By the way, Simon is a pain in the ass, tell your friend Julie she can do much better!” and with that he laughed, kissed her on the cheek, and left.

She never saw him again.

When Caroline returned to the hostel she was met with a very mixed reaction.

Maria was furious with her for running off with someone she did not know.

“ What were you thinking about?” she shouted “ He could have been anyone? A rapist or a murderer! You are a selfish cow- I was worried sick. I chased after you with Joe but we couldn’t find you anywhere. Fuck sake – of all the stupid things……… “ she slammed the door of the room and left.

Julie just wanted to know that she was ok, and then wickedly asked “ Well – come on spill the beans—what was he like?” and started laughing.

Later Simon couldn’t resist teasing her and calling her “ The Frenchman’s tart” which Caroline laughed at but inwardly didn’t like. Simon went further and said she had stolen Hellé Nice’s title as the fastest woman on earth which again Caroline didn’t like.

She now regretted the entire episode and wished she had just stayed with her friends rather than face this ridicule.

Maria and Simon later began to discuss whether or not the whole Hellé Nice story was a pile of cobblers designed just to be a good story which the guy told to get one of the girls into bed…. And it had worked!

Eventually Maria calmed down and appeared to forgive her though she was still furious and repeatedly said that she would not have fallen for such a load of baloney.

Caroline inwardly agreed with Beco, Simon was an asshole and Julie could do much better.

She was sort of saved by Joe and Michael who really said nothing and who just got on with the day and started the usual round of jokes between themselves. They were funny those two, but Caroline still thought the jokes and the chat immature and so looked upon them as wee boys in comparison to the mysterious Beco.

As they travelled along the coast through Monte Carlo and on to San Remo, she couldn’t help but think of the night before, the spontaneousness of her actions, the story of Hellé Nice and the dark book reading stranger. She wondered if she had just been caught up in the story? Did she just want to live one night like Hellé Nice—taking a mysterious lover in a devil may care moment?

She would ask herself that question for months afterwards.

The seven finished their holiday, returned to university and the months rolled into years and the next thing Caroline knew she was working for a PLC wearing a smart suit and being every inch the young business woman.

The others all went their separate ways and she lost touch with them all, even Maria – although she did send a card every Christmas.

In the following years, she changed jobs a couple of times, had  a few different boyfriends but never settled down with a steady partner and by 1990 she found herself as a single professional woman with her own apartment and several rungs up the ladder in the world of business. She had a growing reputation in her field and the night in Nice some 8 years before was completely forgotten. She was wrapped up in the corporate world, was successful, financially independent, enjoyed good holidays with professional friends and was as happy as the proverbial pig in shit.

Or so she thought.

Glasgow was in the middle of the year of culture celebrations with the specially built Garden Festival site proving a huge attraction.

She had worked late on into the Friday night on a project she was managing and on Saturday she had gone to visit her parents whom she had not seen in a few weeks. Her dad was forever asking if she had a boyfriend, and he always looked disappointed when she replied “No one special”.

On Sunday 3rd June she had arranged to meet some friends and colleagues at the Garden Festival site for lunch. It was going to be a big day – literally—as it had been dubbed “ The Big Day” Music concert with lots of famous bands and acts performing throughout the day.

She had left the car at home, and so was free to enjoy a few drinks with her meal, and after a couple of hours with her friends she felt a bit like a student again – they had had more than a few drinks and nothing to eat.

They had just sat down to order at one of the open air restaurants, when there was a commotion about thirty feet away. Caroline hadn’t seen what happened, she just heard chairs being knocked over, some glass breaking and some shouts. Someone had fainted, falling on top of a table and knocking over plastic chairs.

As Caroline belatedly looked over at the scene, she saw that someone was now cradling the head of the woman who had fainted—she immediately presumed that it was the woman’s husband or boyfriend. But then another man arrived and he seemed to be the woman’s partner.

As Caroline looked on, she suddenly felt there was something familiar about the guy on the ground holding the distressed woman’s head gently in his hands whilst at the same time speaking to her in a soothing voice. He had asked someone to bring her some water, and now he was putting the glass to the woman’s lips and telling her to drink slowly.

Caroline felt herself rise from her seat and involuntarily walk towards the scene, becoming more and more certain the closer she came to the man on the ground holding the woman’s head.

Now, the man was helping the injured woman to her feet and Caroline knew for sure— it was definitely him.

He had his back to her now, looking down at the woman who had fainted who was now sitting in a chair.

Caroline placed a hand on his shoulder causing him to turn round at exactly the same time as she said his name;

“Michael? Is that you?”

Michael turned to look at who had touched his shoulder and saw a good looking woman in jeans and a fashionable sweat shirt, wearing flat shoes. She had short dark hair, and looked pretty elegant in the sun light. Then he caught her eyes and her face;

“ Caroline! Good God! How are you doing, It’s great to see you!”

Caroline gave him a hug and looked at someone she had not seen in at least 6 years. Yet at the same time she was immediately aware that she was in fact seeing someone for the very first time. Here was goofy Michael, the guy with the immature jokes, but at that moment she knew he was not Michael with the immature jokes at all – this was a different Michael altogether – or later she would reflect that maybe it was a different Caroline.

He explained that he had only been back in Glasgow for a few weeks after spending four years working abroad and had only come down to the Garden Festival site for the music. He was on his own and was just wandering by when he saw the woman faint and obviously just did what he could to help.

He accepted Caroline’s invitation to join her and her friends for lunch and in the course of the afternoon they talked and laughed about days gone by.

Eventually, as the afternoon wore on, they got round to talking about their trip to France.

“ Remember Frejus?” Asked Michael “ Roxy Music in the Ampitheatre?” he went on without waiting for a reply. “ That was brilliant!” he concluded.

She said she did and they talked a little more.

“ And remember the night in Nice?” said Michael “ And the incident with the old woman falling and the handsome stranger coming to tell us all about who she was?” he added and gave Caroline a wicked wink.

She felt herself blushing and defensively added “ Yes, well that was when I was young and foolish. It was a most stupid and uncharacteristic thing to do—I must have been drunk!”

“ Oh give yourself peace, woman,” said Michael sensing her embarrassment and gently teasing her “ If a young woman didn’t fall for a handsome foreigner, personally telling a fantastic tale like that then there must be something wrong with her. Besides you were a grown woman and were capable of looking after yourself- you were just having some fun!”

Caroline was slightly taken aback at even talking about this as the incident had long faded from her mind. However, she felt pleasantly surprised at Michael’s opinion on what had happened that night.

“ Do you think his story was true?” she found herself asking.

“ What?” asked Michael “ You mean you don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“ You don’t know if the story was true? And who your mysterious stranger was?”

“ What do you mean?” asked Caroline now somewhat concerned that somehow she had missed something or had been the butt of some long running joke which only she had not understood.

Michael turned to her and said “ let’s go for a walk – I have something to tell you – though I can’t believe you don’t know!”

They made their excuses and started to walk through the Garden festival site.

As they walked Michael began to talk and as he did so he held her hand as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It was a gesture that Caroline had not resisted.

“ The fantastic woman known as Hellé Nice died in October 1984. She was 83 years old and until a few months before her death she was still living in that attic apartment.”

“ So the story WAS true?”

“ Oh Yes! She was exactly who we were told she was. But her story does not end there. When she was denounced as a collaborator, her family abandoned her. She was cut out of her parents will and the family house was left to her sister. Apparently, her sister was very jealous of her fame and her fortune and was openly delighted when Hellé was brought down by the false accusations of collaborating with the Germans. When we saw her, she literally did not have a friend in the world, bar the young fella you ran off with for the night.”

Caroline recalled the conversation she had had with Beco about being a friend to Hellé Nice and what he had said about Michael. However before she could say anything Michael continued talking.

“When Hellé died, she was penniless and asked that she be buried in the village where she was born along side her parents. However, the sister, despite promising to fulfil Helle’s last wish, simply buried her in an unmarked grave depriving her of that wish. The sister was a really miserable cow!”

“ How do you know all this?” asked Caroline

“ Because, I was intrigued with the story. We saw an old woman, but that old woman had once been the most fabulous woman on earth and I wanted to know what became of her, and so a couple of years ago I took some time out and went back to Nice on my own to find out what had happened to her. That is when I learned that she had passed away and what had happened with her sister.”

“And how did you find that out?”

“ Simple!” said Michael “ I contacted the charity that had looked after her—La Roué Tourne –and they gave me all the facts. I even went to her burial place in her wee village just to pay my respects.”

Once again Caroline found herself looking at the man talking to her and felt she was seeing him for the first time. He wasn’t interested in the tittle tattle of her night with her mysterious lover, he wasn’t making fun of her, he was just interested in the old woman and her story.

Again she remembered Beco saying to her that Michael had ran to help the old woman for no reason other than…….. other than that is what he did automatically. He had done the same thing just a few hours before with the woman who fainted. How odd was that?

They had reached the bandstand area and a huge crowd had gathered to hear a group performing. Caroline didn’t recognise the musicians on the stage at all but Michael did. They were in the middle of some song or other.

“ Let’s sit down here for a minute” he said.

As she went to sit, Michael suddenly added “ Wait here, I will be back in a minute!”

“ Where are you going?” she asked quizzically- in truth she didn’t want to stop talking, she didn’t want to break the spell that seemed to have been woven in the last couple of hours.

“ I am going to get a couple of drinks—and I am going to ask them to play a song for us—and Hellé Nice!”

And with that he disappeared down the steps.

She watched as he went to the bar and then approached the stage. Amazingly he was able to speak to the girl who was on the stage from the side. He seemed to have some sort of security pass which enabled him to get passed what she presumed were bouncers.

The girl on stage was wearing a black coat and a sort of pill box tri corn hat. Michael, pointed to the others on the stage, said something to her and in return she nodded.

Michael left the stage area and headed back up the stairs.

Caroline watched as the girl on the stage spoke to the other musicians making up the group. They had a quick confab and started playing just as Michael returned.

“ So what are they playing, and who are they?” asked Caroline

“ Ever heard of a guy called John Prine?” asked Michael

“ Never.”

“ Well he wrote this song in 1971, and when I heard it for the very first time, it made me think of Hellé Nice. It’s called Hello in There”

Caroline sat and listened. She was taken by the words and found herself resting her head on Michael’s shoulder while he sang along.

When the number finished the crowd cheered, the group left the stage.

Michael and Caroline got up to leave.

“ How did you manage that?” asked Caroline

“ Oh, I just asked the girl singer if she knew the song and asked her to sing it—and she did!”

Caroline wasn’t too sure about this but let it pass.

“ So “ said Michael “ did you ever here from the mysterious boy with the book again?”

“ Oh no!” said Caroline “ I knew I never would” she added. “ As I said it was just one of those stupid things that happened and should never have happened.”

“ Do you regret it?” he asked earnestly

“ No… but it never happened again and I wouldn’t dare disappear with someone I don’t know—anyway would you mind if we change the subject? It was years ago and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then”

“ Ok” said Michael “ But you do know who he was?”

“ Oh I know his name was Beco… but that was it”

“ You don’t know who he really was?” asked Michael with a tone in his voice which was unbelieving.

“ Yes! He was called Beco!” she said forcefully

“Caroline!” exclaimed Michael “ Do you really not know who he was?” said Michael smiling like the Cheshire cat.

He registered the confusion on her face, took both her hands in his and said

“ Look, I am not judging here at all and you have nothing to feel defensive about with me, but the story of that night in Nice does not end with the story of Hellé Nice …. You have your own fantastic story to tell.”

When she continued to look confused, Michael told her that “Beco” was a nickname and went on to reveal the true identity of the man she had chased after and shared a hotel room with for one night only —- and as he did so he had a great big warm reassuring smile on his face.

She was astonished at his news. She wasn’t sure how she felt but she had to admit it was a good story although at the same time she felt stupid for not knowing the boy with the book’s real name.

At the same time, she felt something else. Something weird. Again she felt she saw Michael for the first time and started to remember things.

He had always been kind, always had spare tickets for things so that someone could go along at the last minute. He was always generous with his time and anything else he had. He hadn’t seemed to run with a particular crowd, had never been judgemental and always did his own thing. Yes, his jokes were immature, but he had made her laugh—and she remembered again that he had ran to help Hellé Nice with no motive in mind.

By Christmas 1990 Michael and Caroline were living in the one house.

He made her feel special and she loved him more than anyone else and anything. He always knew just what to say and just what to do – and as she sat with tears strolling down her face on that May afternoon in 1994 she wished that he was here now.

But he wasn’t—he was at his parents house where he had spent the night because his father was ill – and he would not be back till morning so she was on her own.

She gave herself a shake and went to make some fresh coffee and thought about making something for her dinner. She knew it was stupid to feel sad and tearful but she just couldn’t help it. She started to cry again.

She didn’t hear the front door open and Michael walk in.  She turned around and saw him at the precise moment the television screen  changed to show a picture of a young handsome man with dark eyes – the same eyes that had been reading  a book in a Nice café all those years before, and the same eyes she had looked into on a creaky bed in a Nice hotel some 12 years before..

“ I knew you would be upset, so I came home early” said Michael.

Caroline burst into a flood of tears for reasons she really could not explain or understand. She clung to her husband for dear life and sobbed uncontrollably.

The caption on the television simply read.

“ Ayrton Senna pronounced dead.”

 

 

 

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THE DATE WAS 1ST MAY 1994.

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For anyone interested in the fantastic story of Mariette Hélène Delangle; 15 December 1900 – 1 October 1984 otherwise known as Hellé Nice can I recommend a book entitled The Bugatti Queen: In Search of a French Racing Legend by Miranda Seymour which was published in 2004.

 

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The Roxy Music Concert performed in Frejus France on August 27th  1982 was recorded on video for posterity:

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John Prine wrote the words and music to Hello in there in 1971

 

“Hello In There”

 

We had an apartment in the city,

Me and Loretta liked living there.

Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown,

A life of their own left us alone.

John and Linda live in Omaha,

And Joe is somewhere on the road.

We lost Davy in the Korean war,

And I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore.

 

[Chorus:]

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,

And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.

Old people just grow lonesome

Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

 

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more,

She sits and stares through the back door screen.

And all the news just repeats itself

Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.

Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy,

We worked together at the factory.

But what could I say if asks “What’s new?”

“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do.”

 

[Chorus]

 

So if you’re walking down the street sometime

And spot some hollow ancient eyes,

Please don’t just pass ‘em by and stare

As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello.”

 

 

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The impromptu performance of the song for Michael, Caroline and Hellé Nice by Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe and Billy Bragg took place on the bandstand on the Glasgow Garden Festival site on the afternoon of 3rd June 1990.

 

It too was recorded for posterity – the trio performed the song again three days later in Prague on 6th June. After that they never performed the song again.

 

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Ayrton Senna da Silva ; 21 March 1960 – 1 May 1994 died while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. In 1982, having dropped the da Silva part of his name, he won the British and European Formula Ford 2000 championships  and would go on to be a three time world champion in the Formula One Category.

Senna had been a virtually unknown spectator at the 1982 Swiss Grand Prix which took place in Dijon-Prenois in France on August 29th. This was the only win of the season for eventual World Champion Keke Rosberg. The following year, Senna would complete a test drive for Williams at the Donnington race Track in Rosberg’s formula one car. He drove faster than any other driver including Rosberg.

He commenced his Formula One career on 25th March 1984 when he competed in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Senna was given the nickname “ Beco” as a child by his family in Brazil.

He remains the last racing driver to have been fatally injured during a Grand Prix.

 

 

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SCOTLAND – INTO THURSDAY AND BEYOND WHY THIS BOZO WILL BE VOTING – YES

17 Sep

A judge of my acquaintance once made a passing remark to me.

“ It’s amazing what you can see when you stop thinking like a lawyer!” he said, and went on to explain that when a committee of ten people, nine of whom were lawyers, came to consider a situation the nine lawyers all came to the same conclusion instantly and were unanimous on a course of action.

The one non lawyer was not the least intimidated by this and simply said that he saw things differently and went on to explain what he saw, why he saw it and what he thought should be done as a consequence. Needless to say it was a different course of action to that suggested by the nine lawyers.

The reaction to this dissenting voice was extra ordinary. One by one, all nine legal minds looked at the situation again, and one by one all of them came to the conclusion that their initial decision was wrong.

My friend was one of the nine, and what troubled him was that until the dissenter spoke he was convinced his initial decision was right. He was someone who regularly weighed up evidence and argument, cut the wheat from the chaff, and reached a decision.

However, in this case what bothered him was that it had become clear to him that he, as an individual, and his fellow lawyers as a group, had become almost institutionally bound to think a certain way….. and they did. All believing they were right, yet eventually coming to a conclusion that their automatic and natural response was in fact inappropriate and incorrect.

And that, he said, was scary.

That story is where I start my journey when it comes to the referendum on Scotland’s future which is set for 18th September. Have a look, consider the options, reach a decision … and then have another look and come at things differently and challenge your instinctive stance, and only once you have done that, make a final decision.

I have waited until now to write about this issue so that I can look at the entire picture, having listened to all the arguments and viewed the whole idea from a micro, macro and, dare I say it, a pub perspective.

And I have reached a conclusion. It is a conclusion that once reached I then challenged, argued against in my head and tried to talk myself out of. I have had others try to point me on a different path as well. However, I have finally reached my decision, having argued, read, researched, considered, and now at long last, I finally record my thoughts and ideas in written form below —- for all to shoot at if they so wish.

First a few statements of fact or opinion – it is not for me to judge which is the more appropriate term.

1. I am not a Nationalist per se and am more an Internationalist. I am not keen on borders, border regulations, barriers, obstacles, inward looking declarations of “ I am”, “ We are”, “ They are” or “ They will”. I am not at all sure I am keen on anything that approaches “Us” and “them”!

2. I am not anti English, anti British, anti Welsh, Irish or anti any “sh” you care to mention.

3. I am not a jingoist. I am not keen on Edward Elgar, pomp and circumstance, the beating of the great British drum, or the Scottish drum, The Empire Drum, Commonwealth Drum or any other kind of drum that is associated with a set of borders or the power to control or govern those within or outwith those borders.

4. I am not a member of the SNP. I have never joined a political party ( though in my youth I was a member of various societies that were associated to, if not affiliated with, The Labour Party.) My reluctance to join anything ( political party, trades union, gardening association, chess club or any other kind of organised plutocracy ) is based upon the fact that as sure as eggs are eggs I will eventually be expelled from the movement if I have not already resigned.
Traditionally, I am not a very good team player at anything, and I am not the best at listening to, or suffering, those who want to advance their “prospects” within any political party or movement. I am a curmudgeon when it comes to those who aspire to a career in politics.
Anyone who wants to be a politician should automatically be barred from being one!
5. I am, however, an optimist. I believe far more in the word “can” than “can’t” and when someone says “You can’t” I see that as merely an opinion that should be independently challenged before being meekly accepted. I am drawn to positive people far more than those who are perennial doubters and naysayers.

6. I cannot help being a lawyer – even although I no longer earn my living within that profession. I will read and read, stop and consider, argue and counter argue, and eventually reach a conclusion. Sometimes that is an infuriating practice however 30 plus years ago in my legal training I was told that the worst thing any lawyer can do for a client was to hedge your bets and fail to advise on a course of action. In other words, there comes a time to give an opinion: “Right, here is what we should do!” and then outline a plan and a process. Good lawyers don’t get skelves on the arse!

I have spent many years involved in the running of companies where at boardroom level you have to argue your corner, advance a strategy, be prepared to have your plan criticised, point out errors without making enemies, heal rifts, look at the short, medium and long terms and generally negotiate internally and externally.

Compromise is not a dirty word and more than one person can be right when two or more people are saying different things.

Business is business; it should be personable but not necessarily personal and stubborn intransigence will get no one anywhere. Business and politics in my opinion boil down to the art of the possible.

7. I believe I am passionate about certain things, but rarely angry, hopefully never ill-tempered, speak with a degree of confidence in support of what I believe, but never just dismiss the opinion of others. God gave us two ears and one mouth – those proportions were not an accident.

8. I believe that in approaching things you should not always put your own personal interests first. That is just the road to greedy decision-making. We are not allowed to steal, commit murder, or whatever for our own personal gain and in making any decision we should also consider others and what is right as opposed to what suits us personally.
I will not pretend for a moment that this is easy to do, and I know that such an attitude can be looked upon as sanctimonious and even twee. People will always consider what is best for them and their families, but that should never be the only consideration when thinking about Government, social justice and what is best for the country as a whole. And by country, I mean Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.
That is what I believe, and to be frank, if you have a problem with that please feel perfectly free to go and commit an act that should be physically impossible, requires being well endowed, double jointed and extremely supple but which should give you lots of pleasure. Good luck to you in your efforts!

9. Wealth is not solely measured in pounds shillings and pence ( or any other currency you care to mention ). Banks, Big Business, PLC’s, and Companies in general look after the interests of their shareholders. They require to balance the books and pay a dividend as opposed to looking at social welfare, or have any concerns about the civic community as a corporate goal. Of course many companies try to do both and succeed to a greater or lesser extent. Government, is, or at least should be, different. It is not just about money, balance sheets, share prices and figures.

10. Government is about people, systems, rights, powers, checks, balances, representation, accountability and the common good. Banks, Corporations, Companies, Political Parties, Politicians, Statisticians, Clergymen, Fitba Teams, pantomime Dames and every other bugger then operates within that system of Government and then, and only then, can they bring their talents ( or lack of them ) to the fore for the benefit of the people – who in turn give them money – or votes – or abuse – in return for their services and actions.

It is the system of Government and the accountability of Government that comes first and foremost. Abraham Lincoln called it correct at Gettysburg and no one has ever improved upon his “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” philosophy – not in a democracy anyway.

11. Lastly, and most importantly, I am not always right and many people, good people, will have a view that is different to mine and they will be entitled to it. My view carries no more weight than the next man’s ( or woman’s ) and I do not write these words with a view to persuading anyone to my way of thinking, but more towards recording how I came to my own conclusions.

So, with a thousand or so words out of the way, why will I vote YES?

Quite simply because I believe that the system of Government in the UK does not work, and I think that becoming Independent provides the people and the businesses of Scotland with a real opportunity to live and work in a better system.

Further, I think the entire campaign to persuade us to vote no in this debate absolutely highlights all that is wrong in our political system and why our current system of Government does not work.

It does not work for Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland. In fact it doesn’t work for anywhere on the planet – even the city of London itself ( which is to blame for many a thing ) and so it must be changed as staying still and preserving the status quo is a non starter for all of us.

And before anyone shouts “ Devo Max” or any such thing – hey—that is a nonstarter. It has not been offered and in the last days of the campaign the leaders of the Westminster parties have realised that they have made a cod of it and are now offering something, somewhere sometime – they just don’t know what. They offer anything to retain power in Westminster – typical pathetic UK politics.

Back across the border, there are already those among their party rank and file who might just have something to say about what has been offered by the three party leaders and it is pretty plain to me that what the three amigos have allegedly offered will probably not be delivered by their parties in session, or by the Westminster Parliament.

Anyway, to other things.

INDEPENDENCE is no more than a word.

Different people can use the same word and mean many different things.

In this instance I believe that what we are talking about is a degree of political independence that is not at this time available to the Scottish electorate. Although it was previously available to the Scottish Parliament AND within the United Kingdom.

There is no such thing as complete political Independence, nor is there any possibility of complete monetary independence, in the modern world. So if Scotland votes YES what I think we will see and should strive for is greater and fairer INTERDEPENDENCE with our neighbours, with Europe and with the rest of the world.

Independence is an idea and an ideal, and how you make that idea and ideal a practical reality is what really counts.

So, what are we voting for on 18th September?

My answer is that we are voting for the idea of Independence and the RIGHT OF INDEPENDENCE (not the practicalities and the detail – they are to come and to evolve if we vote yes) and to change the existing system of Government.

Most importantly we are voting to completely change the substance and style of Government – not just in Scotland but in the UK as a whole.

We are not voting for any political party or any particular politician, and to vote NO because you don’t like Alex Salmond, The SNP, Wee Nicola, Paddy Harvey, Brian Cox, Tommy Sheridan or whoever is just plain daft.

You don’t decide to not buy a car or a house because you didn’t like the salesman. You might go to another garage, but you buy the model you want.

Equally, it is also daft to vote NO because of the style, tactics, dress sense, singing voice or because of the ugliness of any of these people.

None of that affects the system of Government under consideration.

It would be equally daft to vote yes because you don’t like George Galloway’s hat, David Cameron’s voice or, Alastair Darling’s eyebrows or whatever.

They themselves are an irrelevance as it is the issues and the opportunity which counts.

There are many who argue that you cannot vote YES without knowing the detail, the facts and figures, and a clear note of what we will and will not do, can and cannot do in an Independent Scotland? As a consequence they chose to vote NO with a view to preserving stability as they see it.

I understand the dilemma; appreciate the concerns and the worries when there is no immediate definite answer to fundamental questions. People are afraid of “into infinity and beyond” but I question that approach.

In so doing I have come to examine the evidence and consider the arguments proffered by both the yes and the no camps, and maybe some others that have been mooted by no one.

Since 1945, 142 countries have come into being as Independent states. Not one has sought to reverse the process. Not all of them started out with a definitive idea or road map for getting to where they are now. They evolved, went back to the polls, elected Governments after independence, voted on policies, kicked Governments out and selected new ones.

30 of those countries became Independent following upon referendums, others as a result of internal armed conflict, or war, or some other route.

In the course of history it has quite often been the case that the guys that lead a country to Independence were more or less immediately booted out of power as soon as Independence had been gained as they had served their purpose. Hang on to that notion!

However, all these new nations changed after independence. All eventually morphed into the representative countries we have today. The latest European countries arrived in 2006 when Serbia and Montenegro separated. In 2011 South Sudan was created.

So why shouldn’t Scotland want the “Idea” of Independence and could it work practically?

Well, again I would argue that Scotland has always been a nation. It has a distinct ancient physical geography. A distinct people. A distinct History. A distinct political and social make up when compared to the rest of the UK.

Scotland has a GDP that is greater than that of many Independent countries ( Ireland is an example ). It has an educated and skilful population, a tier of Government that could be extended without too much difficulty, a distinct International and Cultural Identity and a set of resources and assets like no other country of its size which combine in a unique formation making it undoubtedly viable as a stand alone independent country if left to its own devices.

Now, if you are in any doubt about whether Scotland could go it alone in terms of finance there is a whole welter of opinion that says that this is so. Nobel prize winning economists, world bankers, analysts from the Financial Times and other publications, University Professors and leading academics and many industry chiefs all say that Scotland can be, and has the tools to be, a successful financial country.

Then of course there is the McCrone report which, having been prepared for the Westminster Government in 1974, stated that if Scotland were to control all of its oil income and become independent ( politically ) it would be a haven for international investors and would be embarrassingly rich.

Of course the McCrone report was shamelessly hidden away on the orders of Harold Wilson so that no one in the UK could read it and was only released into the public domain after a period of thirty years.

Not that it received the national or international attention that it might have deserved when it was released.

I will come back to that report later.

So, new Independent countries are nothing new. They have emerged pretty regularly over the last 60-70 years and the world has kept spinning on its access and the sky hasn’t fallen in. Further it would appear that Scotland is pretty well equipped to become Independent if it wants to – so what’s the big deal?

Given that it has happened before, and will no doubt happen again elsewhere, surely the question we should be asking surrounding Independence is why not?

I mean in pure democratic terms it must be obvious that a single vote in 5 Million or so is more valuable than a single vote in 70 Million?

Who would not want their vote to be worth more than yesterday on a purely democratic numbers basis?

So, if it can be done, has been done elsewhere, and some pretty clever people say that it could be done successfully, then why not?

For me, the only sensible answer to that question would have to be “ Because you are better not to!” – so off I went to see if it would be better not to become Independent as a point of principle and to look at the pragmatics of implementing the principle should we vote YES.

But before I went too far, the old legal head kicked in and asked a straight forward legal question which every retired and practising court practitioner has faced a thousand times.

On whom does the balance of proof lie? Or in other words is there an onus on someone to persuade me to opt for Independence or is the onus on someone to persuade me to keep the current system and so vote NO to Independence?

After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that my starting point had to be the current system of Government and whether or not it was worth preserving. As I looked into Government in the UK in 2014, I concluded that it does not work, is a busted flush and has no prospect of recovering from a terminal position without radical surgery. At the bottom of this essay I list the sources I have looked at and relied upon to reach my conclusions. Yes, I know that there are other sources and that some point to an alternative view, but on balance this is the argument I favour and why.

The more I looked into things the more I became convinced that this system of Government is objectionable and simply does not work in principle or in practice and therefore has to be changed and yes is a vote for change. And by the way that change has to come for the benefit of the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland not just Scotland.

Here is why:

Westminster itself has the lowest council tax in the whole of the UK and is one of the richest areas in Northern Europe. Yet 9 of the 10 poorest areas in Northern Europe are governed by Westminster. 21st century Britain is glaringly unjust and getting worse.

Does that seem like good Government?
Is it Government of the people, for the people, by the people?

The gap between rich and poor in the UK is amongst the greatest in the developed world and it is getting bigger.

Is this acceptable?

Many people in England, Wales and elsewhere all think that the City of London is dangerously over cooked in terms of its economy and that for a long time Westminster Government has meant Government for London, by London, and in the interests of London – and to hell with everyone else.

The other large cities all around England and Wales have all called for an end to London centric Government and are seeking new devolved powers themselves so that they can gain a degree of autonomy for their cities.

Further, some areas of England feel completely overlooked by Westminster Government altogether. Cornwall has its own Independence movement and the areas and cities in the north of England have expressed a desire to forge closer links to an Independent Scotland should we vote yes. They propose a borderlands pact to improve trade and commerce.

Does this smack of good Government? Representative Government from Westminster?

Government from Westminster appears to have become more and more London centric with many areas of England becoming increasingly disenchanted with Westminster Government. Yet the “institutions” do nothing to support social justice and a fair crack of the whip outside London. There have been at least three BBC news pieces over the last few years which have suggested that London itself is so strong financially that it should perhaps become Independent of the rest of the UK.

Increasingly the Westminster Government appears to be a Government from London for London aided and abetted by the role of the Mayor of London – currently Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson has already revealed plans to have Westminster spend £1.3 Trillion ( the same amount as the entire UK Debt ) on improving the infrastructure for London. This sum is to be spent between now and 2050.

He is also famous for saying that £1 spent in Croydon is worth more to the UK than £1 spent in Strathclyde and that if you want to create jobs in Scotland then invest in Croydon.

Increasingly the politics of Westminster reflects the need to protect the structure and infrastructure of London and the financial interests of the city of London. It is remote from almost everywhere else in the UK and that feeling is very strong in Scotland in my opinion.

The proposed West Cost High Speed Train Line between London and Birmingham will cost £46 Billion approximately and Scotland under the current formula will contribute £4.6 Billion of that cost for absolutely no benefit.

Why? To be part of a union where you feel ignored?

That entire project is designed to get people from Birmingham into London quicker and easier — to go to work. The Government will not spend £46 Billion in and around Birmingham to create jobs, but will spend it to help service the jobs market in London.

London does not create enough graduates and so there is an ever-increasing brain drain of graduates and talented individuals who have to go to London from elsewhere in the UK to find employment and it is not in the interests of the City of London to have the Westminster Government invest in the regions ( including Scotland ) and so stem that flow.

In other words when it comes to Job creation, investment initiatives, and overall Government spend. London is our competitor and not our ally – yet it controls OUR purse strings! Everybody’s purse strings.

Not only that, but the City of London is the only city in the UK who has its own official Westminster officer – The Remembrancer – who sits behind the Speaker in the House of Commons and whose job is to remind the Westminster Parliament and all its officials and members of the interests of the City of London when it comes to any policy or enactment. In other words, in every single piece of legislation, great or small, the interests of the city have to be considered!

No other part of the UK enjoys such Parliamentary privilege.

The City of London is all about profit and loss, gain and financial advantage and it is only superficially interested in Scotland if there is a profit to be made — or not as the case may be.

The City of London is all about the big commercial interests much of which is represented by many household names — Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC, Nat West, The Financial Times, BP, Shell, RBOS, and all the other big BIG companies you can think of – they are all part of, and play a role in, The City of London and its infrastructure and interests.

Traditional industries in Scotland, such as shipbuilding, have diminished or disappeared over the last 30 years. Scotland makes not a single motor car. We have no steel plant, no heavy industry to speak of – when we used to have these skills.

That is a consequence of LONDON Government.

London Government is about the best price for everything and the maximum profit – that is why the latest Navy Tankers are being built in Korea and not on the Clyde or in Belfast or on Tyneside.

London would build it themselves but they don’t have a shipyard! So the Government goes to the cheapest one they can find. No thought is given to the social infrastructure of the rest of the UK it is all about the best price.

That is not Government: That is consumerism: and I don’t vote to elect the winning contestant on the price is right or bargain hunt. I want a Government!

And preferably one that does not regularly, if not constantly, lie through its teeth!

By now everyone has heard it said that Scotland receives a great deal under the Barnett formula and that “England” or Westminster subsidise the standard of living in Scotland.

But when looked at closely, it would appear that this is not the case at all and that the formula itself is skewed and gives a skewed result as a consequence.

Further, Scotland has some really poor standard of living statistics and of course in recent years we have seen the rise and rise of food banks and real poverty. Child poverty, poor life expectancy, and areas of real deprivation are very much in existence in 2014

Is this really the best that wealthy Westminster can do for us?

Yet we are constantly told by wee Eck and others that Scotland could be a seriously rich country, so I had a look at that and found considerable support for that contention.

Not only that, the notion that we were subsidised by England appeared to be the exact opposite of what some economists and commentators were saying.

For the last 32 years, it would appear that the Westminster Government has failed to balance its book and ran at a loss. However, to keep the show on the road, it would appear that the Westminster Government came up with the plan of borrowing against future revenues – especially the oil and gas revenues from the natural resources which were located in Scottish waters.

Now, this may have been a fair enough accounting and fiscal policy if we were all in the UK together on an equal basis, or even a fair basis so to speak, but somehow or other the Westminster parties have allowed the myth to grow that the Scots are subsidised by the other countries in the UK and in calculating our contribution to the whole we are given no credit for any oil and gas taxes. While Westminster practices policies which make London and the South East appear to get ever richer in monetary terms, the further north you come from London the greater the obvious poverty in other areas.

This gap is now so great, so wanton, so obvious that it simply cannot be an accident and simply cannot be allowed to continue.

Now in the course of the debate I read constantly that Oil and Gas is a diminishing resource and that it will eventually run out and so produce no income. In which case the UK as a whole had better balance its books really quickly on a current term basis and reduce its borrowing rapidly thus forcing ever greater austerity on the populace.

Yet others say that there is still oil aplenty, in which case its value should not be squandered by a system which has allowed any previous wealth to result in some getting extremely rich whilst leaving others in obvious abject poverty.

I can either choose to believe there is going to be no oil or believe that there is every chance that there are increased oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and more likely in the Atlantic waters off Shetland.

Fortunately or unfortunately I know some people in the oil industry and they have told me that there is real excitement about the oil and gas discovered near Shetland and BP have indicated that the Clare ridge field is expected to produce 49 Million barrels of oil more than expected. Further, the investment in new exploration over the last few years means that in the coming year there will be an extra 750,000 barrels of oil coming on stream this year.

However, of even greater importance is the advancement in technology which makes the recovery of oil and gas from deeper areas much easier and more viable than before.

But let’s assume for a moment the oil is running out and that there is to be no income from oil and gas.

I am old enough to remember the previous referendum on the question of devolution when the people of Scotland were told by Westminster that the oil would run out within ten years.

Yet that same parliament, the same UK parties, were sitting all the time on the McCrone report which I remind you again said that Scotland would be an embarrassingly rich country if given access to its oil revenues.

Not only were those facts not given to us, the public, but they were also kept from all the potential investors who could have and probably would have chosen to invest in Scotland over the last 40 years!

Scotland lost out on that investment because politicians of all parties in London, together with civil servants who we all pay for, sat on that report and deliberately kept it secret!

Instead, what de facto happened was that Scotland did not get a devolved assembly or Parliament for 20 years or so and in the interim the UK Parliament spent away merrily and mortgaged the very income they chose to keep secret at the time of the last referendum.

To be honest that is just blatant fraud. It is fraudulent representation and fraudulent Government. That kind of Government I can do without.

Now one might argue that this was long ago and that it no longer really matters, but I am left begging the question do I want to be governed by a system which allows and perhaps encourages the decision makers of the day to simply lie to me or at the worst simply decide to withhold all the information from me which would allow me to reach a fully informed decision about anything?

However, a closer examination of current policies and the current campaign shows that this type of fraudulent and dishonest Government is far from untypical and in fact I believe that Westminster is now so self-obsessed, so self-serving, that it has ceased to be a Parliament of the union and instead has become a Parliament for Westminster and the City of London alone.

A couple of years ago, the 30 year rule revealed papers which showed that the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had gone to the nation, the public, and even Parliament, and stated that the budget for Scotland was £x. The papers then showed that behind the scenes she was secretly writing to the Scottish Secretary, George Younger, asking that he pass back £60 Million of that money to the UK treasury in secret.

Amazingly, Younger advised that he could not do that without it being noticed, but stated that he could send back £30 Million under the counter and get away with it!

That again is complete and utter fraud. There is no other word for it.

Forget about reneging on election promises, u turns on policy and all the usual things we get in politics, these letters show a crime being committed. If the same thing had happened in private industry whereby people were encouraged to invest on the basis of a major stakeholder saying they will invest £x but secretly having no such intention and then cooking the books to show that it looked like they had, then that is a matter for the police and the procurator fiscal’s office.

However, let’s come forward to the modern day:

According to one former UK Ambassador, Westminster buried the fact that they categorically knew that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction under the control of Saddam Hussein and the entire decision to embark on the gulf war was based on a race to gain control of ……. Oil!

In a different way this is history repeating itself. It is all about the control of an energy resource and if Westminster has to lie, deceive and even take up arms to get its share of the loot then history shows it will do so. Make no mistake we still have major energy resources in our back yard and there is no prospect of Westminster playing with a straight bat.

However perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that Westminster and the City of London are responsible, unquestionably responsible, for the 2008 banking crisis and the Euro crisis.

Don’t just take my word for it, take the word of someone who is regarded as the most respected EURO MP on financial matters – Sharon Bowles. By the way she is a Lib Dem and has made it clear that London is to blame for the financial crisis and that the Bank of England and the Government has accepted this when dealing with the rest of Europe and their banks. They just don’t want to admit the fact within the earshot of the UK electorate.

London and the City of London is in many respects looked upon and referred to as FRAUD CITY in financial terms.

The City of London hopelessly failed to regulate banks, insurance companies, stockbrokers and any number of other financial institutions and services. Years later, these same institutions are still being fined record sums for mis selling that, misrepresenting this, and generally deceiving customers and shareholders. Yet these are the same institutions who lobby parliament, donate to parliamentary parties and who influence the parties who regularly provide members to that parliament and who regularly form Governments.

MP’s themselves are caught up in the Westminster moneygoround. I could go on and on about the expenses scandals, monetary irregularities, party donors and their connections and so on as they have all been regularly mentioned in the news.

However, if I bring things right up to date, a few weeks ago it was revealed that over 200 MP’s or members of the Lords ( an outdated and relatively useless institution ) had direct contracts with companies who had been awarded contracts related to the NHS as effectively managed through Westminster.

If this is not having your nose in the trough then I don’t know what is?

When you consider all the other areas where contracts may be awarded – defence, utilities, education ( by the way did you know that the company which produces the financial times also produces education books, and operates an education authority which recommends its own books ) etc then the mind boggles about the notion of conflict of interest.

There are any number of examples of where Westminster completely fails in my opinion and so I ask:

Is this the best we can do? Is this the kind of policy and structure that I want my children and grandchildren to live under? Is this a good system of Government? Is this what we should expect from the Mother of all Parliaments?

The answer to all of those questions is no.

And don’t tell me that I can vote at the next election and get rid of Cameron or all the other Westminster MP’s. By this time the main political parties are so closely aligned, so attuned to the Westminster psyche and system, and so beholden to the financial institutions of the City of London that it makes little difference who is elected to Westminster especially if you come from Scotland.

At the start of the current Government’s term we had the farcical situation where 16 members of the cabinet went to the one school!

That is not representation of the people by the people for the people that is a tuck shop reunion! It is farcical.

From the selection process to the election process our Governmental system needs a swift kick in the arse – big style and this referendum is that opportunity.

Westminster is currently bent over like Bishop Brennan with its arse exposed and you are invited to swing your representational leg and give it an almighty boot!

Not only will that make you feel good, you will be better for it and actually Westminster will ultimately be better for it too!

Now lest I am accused of being too facetious about such a serious subject, one of the the best arguments for maintaining the status quo would be the effect of disruption and the consequences of change especially after a global recession.

On that front, I find the No campaign deeply disingenuous and absolutely lacking in any positive argument or thinking which can reasonably expected to persuade the Scottish electorate that the United Kingdom is good for them.

Instead, what we have been fed is a whole series of arguments which proclaim one thing but which when examined more closely really show another.

For example, the point about banks moving office is a complete red herring as it is in potential compliance with an EU regulation which has been around since 1995!

Further many American banks are making similar provisions in respect of the UK potentially leaving the UK – they are going to Dublin!

In any change of system there is going to be a need for change, and when there is change then the so-called “markets” start to get twitchy.

Well guess who controls the markets in this country? I know you will fall down in apoplexy when I say – Westminster and the City of London!

I too would be shitting a brick if I could see the oil & gas revenue I have been using to balance my books disappearing into the ballot box.

Just when would be a good time to talk about the consequences of Independence? At what point in the economic cycle? Top of a boom? Bottom of a bust? When we are recovering? When we are sliding into recession?

In all honesty, there is no right time or wrong time or even easy time to set out the arrangements for a new country but that should not be a reason for voting NO.

Further, the uncertainty is at least aggravated by a Westminster regime which is playing hardball and being obstructive in its own interest.

Now I don’t blame them for that but lets not pretend that market uncertainty is all caused by the right of an electorate to choose to change the system of Government and let’s not pretend that the existing system of Government is a guarantee of stability and promises an easy economic ride.

When you stop and look at Westminster over the last 50 years ( I am 52 ) there have been as many booms as you get from the dearly departed Concorde’s arse and as many busts as you could spot in a Miss World contest.

I was in the head offices of the Bank of Scotland in London in April 2008 when a bank official announced that the Bank could not borrow a penny in the city of London and was a busted flush.

I was a schoolboy who lived through the three-day week when schools closed due to lack of oil and the electricity went off at home at 8pm. I studied by candlelight and recall the streets filled with uncollected garbage and all of that.

I have lived through the Miner’s strikes, Toxteth riots, London riots, Falkland’s War, Gulf war times two, Afghanistan, various recessions and can recount various politicians of various parties all promising to end boom and bust.

As I have said before, the City of London was largely responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 and they have sent their officials around the other financial centres of the world to acknowledge that.

And now we have Boris wanting to buy a few water cannon for some reason? Maybe they are included in his £1.3 Trillion for London — by the way Scotland’s share is a mere £130 Billion.

If Scotland had £130 Billion to spend do you think it would want to spend it in London so that Scotland could be a better place with a more vibrant economy?

London Government does not work – and I haven’t even started on things like the Poll Tax, The Bedroom tax, Hundreds of food banks, Trident ( a weapon which prevented none of the conflicts listed above ) and so on and so forth.

Government from London is out of touch and is particularly out of touch with Scotland. It is rotten and unrepresentative. So why keep it? Why not ditch it altogether?

Well some people say that to change things will cause a destabilising of the whole economy.

Again I ask, what happened with all these other new countries? Are they all on their backside struggling? It doesn’t seem so.

In any event, I believe that Scotland has a unique case to argue.

If Scotland votes Yes, economic stability in any transition period could be, and in fact must be, far smoother in the interests of all of the people in the UK as it makes for common sense. Here is why it should be so at least.

In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when James VI, King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separate political, legal, and religious institutions.

The term Britain is often used as synonym for the United Kingdom. The term Great Britain, by contrast, refers conventionally to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England, Scotland and Wales in combination.

The 1707 Acts of Union declared that the Kingdoms of England and Scotland were “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain” though the new state is also referred to in the Acts as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The name “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” was adopted by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927. It reflected the independence of the Irish Free State, and the partition of Ireland, in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the UK.

So, if I pause there and stop to consider all the loose worded bullshit we have been inaccurately fed by both politicians and the press, the fact of the matter is that:

A – no matter what way Scotland votes it is not ceasing to be part of Great Britain and:

B – following upon the Union of the Crowns there was a United Kingdom, under one monarch, in which Scotland had its own Parliament, legal system and so forth and was politically Independent. That is the History of the British Isles.

Therefore these Islands existed in that fashion and with that political make up for over 100 years.

If it happened before, why should it not happen now?

Oh that is all ancient history I hear someone say and has no relevance at all to modern day Scotland and the current situation.

With respect, I would beg to differ as there are important principles here for all to consider.

For a start, The Bank of England was founded in 1694 although it had been proposed three years before by a Scotsman by the name of William Patterson. Its initial purpose was to raise a loan of £1.2 Million for the English Parliament so that they could completely build a new English Navy following the battle of Beachy Head where the French sank the entire English fleet.

Two important factors come from this history lesson.

The first is that the Bank of England existed prior to the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 and so existed while Scotland enjoyed complete political autonomy.

The second is that The Bank of England remained a completely private concern until it was nationalised by the Atlee Government in 1946. It was only at that time that it became a central bank to the whole of the UK.

The Bank is custodian to the official gold reserves of the United Kingdom and many other countries. Since 1998 it has been the function of the bank to set, look after and advise on the monetary policy of the whole of the UK independent from Government – any Government.

The Bank performs all the functions of a central bank. The most important of these is supposed to be maintaining price stability and supporting the economic policies of the Government ( of the UK ), thus promoting economic growth. There are two main areas which are tackled by the Bank to ensure it carries out these functions efficiently

1. Monetary stability

Stable prices and confidence in the currency are the two main criteria for monetary stability. Stable prices are maintained by making sure price increases meet the Government’s inflation target. The Bank aims to meet this target by adjusting the base interest rate, which is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee, and through its communications strategy, such as publishing yield curves.

Ensuring Financial stability

Maintaining financial stability involves protecting against threats to the whole financial system. Threats are detected by the Bank’s surveillance and market intelligence functions. The threats are then dealt with through financial and other operations, both at home and abroad. In exceptional circumstances, the Bank may act as the lender of last resort by extending credit when no other institution will.

The Bank works together with other institutions to secure both monetary and financial stability, including:

HM Treasury, the Government department responsible for financial and economic policy and other central banks and international organisations, ( including Governments where necessary ) with the aim of improving the international financial system.

The 1997 Memorandum of Understanding describes the terms under which the Bank, the Treasury and the FSA work toward the common aim of increased financial stability. In 2010 the incoming Chancellor announced his intention to merge the FSA back into the Bank.

So, if I pause there, to my mind, The Bank of England has a duty to ensure financial stability in respect of the whole of the UK, independent from Government, and works towards that aim sometimes with other banks, international bodies and occasionally Governments.

Further, as it was nationalised as recently as 1946 by a UK Government, it is a truly UK asset in which we all have a vested interest and share.

Whilst it might be officially named “ Bank of England” it is not England’s bank – it is the UK’s bank.

So far so good.

Except that part of the greatest problem with the whole public debate is that there are those who take the view that the Bank of England would have nothing to do with an Independent Scotland and is in essence a “foreign body”.

I do not believe that to be true as it is a national asset, and so has to have regard to the interests of Scotland, at least certainly during the transition period and any negotiations following a Yes vote.

There is also a perfectly good argument to say that an Independent Scotland would be entitled to a share in the Bank of England or at least to its reserves – reserves which could be moved to set up a new Central Bank for Scotland or which could be held separately by the Bank of England for the benefit of Scotland.

However, of even greater importance is the fact that its stated aim is to preserve and maintain fiscal stability – throughout the UK, not just in London – and again that is meant to be Independent of Government – any Government.

Accordingly, it seems to me that one of the big red herrings in this whole debate is about financial stability and the role to be played by the Bank of England in ensuring financial stability in the event of Scotland choosing to return to political independency.

Has there ever been an emergent country which, if independent, starts on day one with either a share in a central bank or which starts out with a situation where a world leading central bank has a duty to bring about financial stability while that nation becomes established?

How many other potentially emergent nations would sign up for that?

However, let’s leave the Bank of England behind and look at Government and the decision to keep it or change it again.

When the Parliaments “merged” to form this union, Scotland was meant to join as a partner. However, it strikes me that it has long been the case that the Westminster Government has ceased to be anything other than a Parliament that looks after the interests of the City of London, and it would appear that I am far from being alone in reaching that conclusion.

Westminster has devolved power to Edinburgh, but only after a prolonged political campaign to re- establish any kind of Scottish Parliament. In the interim, London, Westminster and the City of London has forged ever closer and ever more interdependent links.

In particular London has become spectacularly rich, an ever bigger financial centre, and a metropolitan beast where house prices bear no relation to comparative properties in other areas of the UK. To stay in London companies have to offer greater salaries, bigger bonuses, charge higher rents and so on and so forth and on and on it goes. This has now gotten so crazy that London cannot afford to lose influence, and both the city and the parliament have become fat, arrogant and lazy – so much so that they have, in my opinion, made a fundamental political and economic error.

Much of that fat has been the result of Scottish Economic activity and the issue of potential Scottish Independence has been a real live issue for many years.

Any sensible manager should have seen that if Independence arrived, the desk jockeys in London would lose control over vast money-making assets and money-making potential that is Scottish. The same should have been seen by the Westminster politicians.

In short, if the money men and the politicians in Westminster had been in any way clever at all, they would have bent over backwards to deliver far better Government for the people of Scotland – noticeably better Government—to such an extent that the notion of Independence would be of no interest to the average Scot.

The very fact that we are having a referendum at all shows that Westminster is or was failing and the fact that anything close to 50% of the available electorate would consider ditching Westminster altogether shows that this system has de facto failed – past tense!

Further, when it comes to banking and finance, it appears to me that whenever a new nation emerges the banks and the finance houses are keen to get in the door so as to be part of any opportunity that exists.

Who has ever heard of a country with oil and gas reserves, large hydroelectric capability, and various other resources where the banks and the money men have all stayed away and kept out of the road?

I go back to the McCrone report again which predicted that foreign investors would pile into Scotland with investment. If McCrone was wrong and that the world financiers would not pile into a Scotland with spectacular resources, why hide the report away?

No, for me, Westminster in all its forms has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to Scotland and its potential, and when it woke up all it could do was cry Boo and attempt to scare the living daylights out of anyone contemplating voting YES.

Westminster doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in any shape or form and it should be booted into touch by the Scottish Voters and if it wants it can reinvent itself – Parliament, city, institution in the reality that up the road there is a wee nation that at any given time will say “ Maybe’s Aye, Maybe’s Naw” in response to any situation rather than just sit there and be told what gives by the chaps in the South.

However, let me be very clear about something:

There is no point in voting yes and getting rid of the wastrels at Westminster if all you are going to do is replace it with a similar, smaller, just as useless model in Edinburgh.

That won’t do and if Scotland does become Independent then I am all for booting any YES politician in the arse who is not on their metal and who does not come up to scratch. The same goes when it comes to setting up any new or reformed institutions. Having empowered the people of Scotland, don’t think for a minute that we should go back into our boxes and return to political slumberland. Ordinary folk will want a say in a lot more things from now on and rightly so.

Further, in the event of YES I want to hear how the Labour party, The Conservative Party, The Lib Dems and anyone else would see the way forward for an Independent Scotland.

I would want to see and hear all parties do their utmost to implement the spirit of the Scotland Act which says that not only will the result be accepted but that all parties will do their best to maintain stability in the markets, in Government and in society – all with the view to making the transition to independence work.

A very different debate starts immediately the result is known no matter what the outcome of the vote. That is a discussion which will be every bit as intense as the referendum debate, but which should be geared towards creating a stable, economically stable, socially just and successful Scotland.

A very prosperous Scotland is very possible according to very many experts and commentators and my gut instinct based on listening, reading and researching says that it is achievable. Not only is it achievable and desirable for all the reasons I have set out above, but when I stop thinking like the lawyer, when I stop analysing, arguing and counter arguing and look at things a different way, it just feels right.

Do we have the ability to forge excellent individual, business and cultural relationships with the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond?

Yes we do!

Can we run our own business and forge partnerships with international traders and our fellow inhabitants of the British Isles?

Yes we can.

Do we have the resources, the knowledge, the guile, the savvy, the charm and the common sense to be able to attract investment, manage our business, create jobs, housing, capital projects, better infrastructure, research and development, greater creativity in the arts and so on?

Yes I believe we can.

Can we create a better society where wealth and opportunity here in Scotland is more readily abundant and available to all ages, classes, colours, creeds, backgrounds, areas, sexes and right throughout society? And can we be an inspiration and show that a different and more socially just system of Government is possible in the UK?

Yes we can!

Do I believe that the banks and the financiers will come into an Independent Scotland in droves?

Yes I do because that is what the capitalist marketeers have always done since time immemorial. They more than anyone else will rush to create and be involved in a stable financially successful Scotland because that is how they make money. They would have to be properly regulated of course.

A man from Kuwait said recently that oil exploitation had started in his country in 1951. Before that the country had been poor and the standard of living low. Once the oil was discovered, Kuwait was inundated with Americans, Russians, fellow Arabs, Europeans and most noticeably The British.

All these people brought their banks, diplomats, insurance companies, engineers, road builders, construction companies, hotels, airlines, telecommunications, news reporters and so on.

The man from Kuwait asked a question; “Do you think all these bastards came for the sand?”

Scotland has far more than just oil to attract the very same bastards into doing business directly with us as a nation while maintaining an excellent cultural, social and fiscal relationship with the remainder of the UK. And by the way a proper relationship with the rest of the UK and its people is a must. The Scottish electorate by voting yes can improve the governmental system of the rest of the UK.

So that is my view, my take, on why I will vote YES.

In my head I am a capitalist. I like business things. I enjoy business and it is essential that everything is done to ensure that Scotland is open for business right away.

In my heart, I am a socialist. I want a fairer society, a better society where money is not everything and regard for your fellow-man is paramount. Robert Burns’ a man’s a man is a basic mantra.

In my soul, I am an anarchist. If the system does not work – change the system. Boot it unceremoniously in the arse. Boot the politicos – all of them – who have let us down right in the gonads. Get rid of the system and don’t be afraid to change it and the people who run it for a new system and new people. Don’t accept the perceived wisdom of the establishment because their greatest interest is self-preservation. Challenge the norm and question the existing.

I see those three ideals as living in perfect harmony.

If the proper running of the business of the day ( capitalism ) does not result in the greater creation and sharing of wealth ( socialism ) then tear up the business plan and the system and start again ( anarchy ).

Feck me – sometimes I am deep and profound – other times I am just an arse!

And by the way the press needs a boot in the nuts too! The BBC should look at their licence fee take from Scotland and reassess the allocation of funds to Scottish Broadcasting.

If the licence fee were properly distributed and BBC Scotland were to receive its fair proportion of national income, then there is a great opportunity in the creative industries across Scotland who are completely ignored and underfunded by one and all.

Oh, and if you are wee Eck, Nicola or any other Yesser – if you win then you had better go out and get some of those padded cycle pants because eventually my cowboy boots will connect with your arses too!

Lastly – whoever wins, whoever loses – this is politics. It’s not personal and it’s not worth losing close friendships over nor being rude to anyone about.

Mind you, if you hold any position of power and influence after this referendum is over then I have a message for you:

If you don’t get off your arse and do something for the people of Clydebank, Dalmuir, Old Kilpatrick, Bowling and Dumbarton really quickly ….….. then I hope your legs fall off in the middle of the night and that your arse falls into a puddle of acid!

I leave you with my list of references below but first of all the fantastic and inspiring words of Mr David Hayman who stirs the soul with fiery speech — and i love a good fiery speech!

I have never joined a political party — I have always been —- Of Independent Mind!

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/9527-21st-century-britain-is-glaringly-unjust-and-getting-worse

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/scotland-blog/2013/aug/21/scotland-northernengland-cooperation

http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/big-english-cities-seek-closer-ties-with-scots.24166491

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/35199/BERWICK-ROW-SPILLS-INTO-SEA

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/10/scotland-land-rights

http://www.maxkeiser.com/2013/04/how-the-legacy-of-thatcher-and-reagan-made-the-2008-financial-crisis-inevitable/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9577166/Europe-blames-UK-for-the-eurozone-debt-crisis-says-MEP-Sharon-Bowles.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/westminster-steals-wandsworths-crown-for-lowest-council-tax-in-uk-8523048.html

http://yes2014.net/2014/05/12/welfare-powers-will-not-be-devolved-if-scotland-votes-no/

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/westminster-steals-wandsworths-crown-for-lowest-council-tax-in-uk-8523048.html

http://www.ingeniousbritain.biz/money/mid-sized-cities-looking-to-take-advantage-of-londons-high-prices/

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/iain-martin-this-referendum-will-change-the-union-for-ever-9355949.html

http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/5-reasons-why-an-independent-scotland-will-be-one-of-the-worlds-wealthiest-nations/

http://betteroffday1.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/13/scottish-independence-change-england-more-jk-rowling

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gordon-macintyrekemp/scottish-independence-bank-bailout_b_4895234.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/The-Independence-Referendum-Is-a-Test-of-Scotlands-Confidence.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

http://nationalcollective.com/2014/08/04/11-common-sense-reasons-to-vote-yes/

http://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/labours-six-unanswered-questions/

http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/westminster-takes-absurd-position-on-scotlands-oil/

http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/5-reasons-why-an-independent-scotland-will-be-one-of-the-worlds-wealthiest-nations/

http://www.cityam.com/1406740920/how-13-trillion-needs-be-spent-infrastructure-by-2050-stay-competitive

http://www.businesspost.ie/#

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/11/scotland-12288-union-public?fb_action_ids=10204643547154501&fb_action_types=og.likes

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/scottish-independence-uk-dependency

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/publications/tabs/unit-publications/148.pdf

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/9713-former-ambassador-reveals-labour-role-in-annexation-of-scottish-waters

http://www.yesscotland.net/news/financial-times-analysis-underlines-independent-scotlands-got-what-it-takes

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/are-the-scots-really-sucking-up-a-massive-subsidy-9723797.html

http://www.rbs.com/news/2014/09/statement-in-response-to-press-speculation-on-re-domicile.html

https://theconversation.com/scotland-will-not-be-offered-devo-max-after-a-no-vote-heres-why-31500

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/14/kevin-mckenna-why-i-am-voting-yes-for-scottish-independence?CMP=twt_gu

http://m.canberratimes.com.au/comment/scotland-must-brave-independence-20140911-10fbir.html

http://www.scotsman.com/business/senior-bankers-dismiss-deutsch-bank-chief-s-claim-1-3540854

http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettarends/2014/09/12/scottish-independence-englands-shameful-secret/

http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/09/12/balance-failure-bbc-scottish-independence-referendum-coverage-wrong-and-not?desktop=1

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-10/deutsche-bank-bubble-must-go-sustain-current-global-financial-system

http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/referendum/9736-we-will-block-more-powers-warns-tory-mp

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http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/scottish-independence-ireland-since-1919-is-a-lesson-for-scotland-in-what-a-yes-vote-means-9727596.html

http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/27/uk-is-the-most-financially-unequal-country-in-northern-europe-new-research-reveals-4847533/

http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/uk-to-get-veto-on-gordon-browns-devo-proposals/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101994242

http://www.oilandgaspeople.com/news/1057/onshore-oil-and-gas-exploration-boom-predicted/

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/boris-johnson-vows-to-resist-scots-tax-devolution-1-3505113

http://burdzeyeview.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/andy-myles-claiming-my-right-to-reply-to-shock-and-awe/

http://burdzeyeview.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/what-a-panics-in-their-breastie/

http://www.scotlandnow.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/independence-referendum-backing-no-would-4193182

http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/press/speeches/the-technical-edge-how-science-and-technology-will-transform.html

http://www.scotsman.com/news/andrew-wilson-no-voters-reflect-on-project-fear-1-3541040#.VBVvMXPyVM0.twitter

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/16/media-shafted-people-scotland-journalists

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