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The Moment When You Know

February 13, 2014

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.” (Burns)


There are moments in your life when you see something through someone else’s eyes, and it feels as though you are seeing it for the first time. In a way you are. Your own life, especially when you are relatively young, just seems normal to you. How could it be otherwise? You need an alternate point of view in order to get perspective. Most of us will experience moments like this in our lives, perhaps many. I want to talk about one that happened to me. The moment I knew I was a member of an oppressed minority.

Since I have become involved in the debate over Scottish independence I have encountered a bit of resistance. I’m not talking about the resistance from the ‘No’ side. That is well known, and I have, and will continue, to discuss it in other posts and other places. No, I’m talking about resistance to me personally, by people on the ‘Yes’ side, my own side. Not many people, just a few. And the reason is because I left. I got out of what was, at the time, a seemingly hopeless situation. Some seem to feel I should have stayed, and suffered with them. I sympathise with them, I really do. But would it be uncharitable of me to wonder if the real reason is simply that I got lucky. They didn’t. If they’d had the chance to do what I did, how many of them would have taken it?

Yesterday I saw the following post in a pro-independence facebook group, “Vote YES to Scottish independence and end the union.”

“Why do 800,000 Scots live and work in England?
Why have so many Scots migrated the world over?
It is certainly not because they don’t love Scotland. The reason is lack of opportunities.
Westminster has been keeping all the decent jobs and big investment for the south (mainly London). This causes much of our Scottish home grown talent to either move to England or move abroad.” (Iain Brown)

It made me think again about my own reasons for leaving. I wanted to give him a proper answer, and I didn’t think a quick post on a facebook thread was going to be adequate.

You see, I left school in the depths of the greatest recession (at that time) since the 1930s. The Thatcher recession. No, she didn’t start it, but she deliberately exacerbated it. For ideological reasons. It was always somewhat personal between Maggie and I. I was part of the generation who lost our free school milk, which she took away when she was education minister in the Heath government of 1970-1974. I didn’t come along after it was gone. No, my classmates and I came to school one day, expecting our little bottle at play time, only to find it wasn’t there, and it wasn’t coming back. It may sound like a small thing, but everyone my age remembers it only too well.

By the time I left school, she had destroyed the manufacturing economy of my country. I’m from a working class town, a shipbuilding town, called Clydebank. As the name suggests, it is situated on the banks of the River Clyde, the shining river, my river, where it is joined by the River Cart, making it a spot where large ships could be launched using the junction of the two rivers to execute a three-point turn. The shipyard there, John Brown’s, gained the reputation of the world’s greatest, building such famous ships as the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the HMS Hood and the QE2. But by the time I left school all that was dying. The yard was still there, building oil rigs, but with a fraction of its former workforce. The other major employer in town, Singer Sewing Machines, had closed up shop a few years earlier. There were no jobs. None. The boards at the local Job Centre were completely empty. There was a rumour that somebody once got a job in the Job Centre, but that may well have been an urban myth.

This single Titan crane is all that remains of that once great shipyard today:


So I went to college and tried to increase my skills, in the hope that might help. But it didn’t because there were still no jobs. So I dabbled in student politics for a little while. Still no jobs. So eventually, in desperation, I went down to London. I’d heard there was still work to be had there. Which, after a fashion, there was. It was casual, unregulated and badly-paid. And when I say badly, I mean completely unliveable. I was far from the only one in this position. There were many of us, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Northerners, and we found ways to survive, but it was hard. The only realistic way was to be on the dole, because you could get your rent paid on top of the basic rate of £25. Given that the standard wage was £32, and the average rent to share a room in a cramped flat was £100, it was the only way.

The thing is, they wouldn’t pay for a room in a flat. They would however pay for a cheap hotel or youth hostel, even though they were usually even more expensive. So we stayed in youth hostels. This meant we were meeting travellers, backpackers from other countries. When I’d been there about six months I met Gayle.

8-5-2010 5-36-38_257crop3

She was from Australia, Ballarat in fact. We fell in love. It happens sometimes when you’re young. We lived together in London for just over a year, and even managed to take a few trips, on a very tight budget, to the cheaper countries of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. But there was a limit to how long we could live like that. We loved travelling and wanted to do more of it. Much more. Gayle had told me that there was work to be had in Australia, and work which was well enough remunerated that you could actually save money.

So in the end, the decision was a no-brainer. We were married in London in July of 1984, and we made plans to go to Australia at the end of the year. So this was serious. I’m not sure exactly when, but I organised to take Gayle to Clydebank to meet my mother. As everyone in these situations is, I was nervous. Would they get on? Well, they did as it turned out. I shouldn’t have worried. The reason Gayle was such an ideal travelling companion was her extraordinary empathy. She could find a way to connect with just about anyone. And of course they had me in common. My Mum was as protective of her son as any mother, but Gayle charmed her and they got on famously.

Now at this time my mother was living in a dismal council flat. It wasn’t that old, late 60s I suppose, but it was badly designed. Flat roofs don’t really work in a Scottish climate, and they were riddled with damp. The council was doing its best, despite reduced resources and restrictive rules, courtesy of Westminster, and they had started to move people out in order to rebuild them, with sloping roofs. My mother was one of the few remaining tenants in her block. As we left I decided to take a picture of the place, so I asked Gayle to hang on while I did so. This is the picture:

8-5-2010 5-20-31_246

My mother’s was the top floor flat, on the right of the picture. When I had taken it I turned to Gayle, only to find that she was crying. Quietly sobbing, tears rolling down her cheeks. Initially I was confused. I didn’t understand. I asked if she was alright, what was wrong? With a gesture she drew my eyes back to the building in front of us.

“It’s so awful! You’re poor mother, she has to live like this! And you, this is where you were brought up! I had no idea it was so deprived!”

And she pulled me to her, put her arms around me, and sobbed her heart out on my shoulder. And that was the moment it happened. The moment I truly understood what had been done to me, my family, my friends, my people, my country. I was already political, I had been an activist, I already hated Thatcher and the Tories with a passion. But I’d never seen it from someone else’s point of view before. And I saw that this had been done not only by Thatcher and the Tories, but by 300 years of foreign rule, rule from a remote, imperial metropolis, by people and institutions who knew and understood nothing of this, nothing of us!

Douglas Adams once wrote that, “It can be very dangerous to see things from somebody else’s point of view without the proper training.” But it can also be very enlightening, especially when what you are seeing is yourself and your world. In some respects it’s the only way you’ll ever see it objectively. Gayle helped me, with her empathy, to do that in regard to Scotland, and I will always be grateful to her for that. I lost her (to breast cancer) twenty years ago now, but I know that she of all people would understand why I have to be in this debate. Why I have to campaign. Why I have to fight. No, not to fight, why I have to prevail.

So to respond to Iain’s post – “Why have so many Scots migrated the world over?
It is certainly not because they don’t love Scotland.” No, it is not! I am, and have always been, a patriot. I love my country. I was brought up on stories of her history, and the history of the Clan MacPherson. We MacPhersons made our choice long ago, when we chose to ally ourselves with Robert the Bruce and the cause of freedom and independence. We have never wavered or departed from it. We fought beside him at Bannockburn, we fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie in the ’45. And even though times have changed, and this time our battle is a democratic one, I will honour my ancestors! I will be there, and I will take my place on the side of freedom, the side of independence, the side of Scotland!

Saor Alba!



This is an excellent piece of contextual history about Clydebank.

  1. aye permalink



  2. What a lovely, well written, piece, thank you.


  3. R. Sole permalink

    What a complete pile of shite. Blaming Thatcher for your mother’s house that was built years earlier??? And I had school milk too. Nobody missed it because it was disgusting …. and to blame Thatcher for removing it shows your lack of knowledge.


    • And what an appropriate name you’ve chosen for yourself. Even the spelling, because a ‘soul’ is clearly something you lack. I have had literally hundreds of responses to this article already, across all media, and yours is the only negative one. You can’t discourage me. You understand nothing, that is why you are going to lose in September, and I hope it fucking hurts!

      By the way, I liked the milk. 🙂


    • Elaine permalink

      R Sole – I lived in Clydebank around the same time – Unless you lived through it you have no idea what it is like – the Clydebank Blitz did less damage than Thatcher did and you can call what I am saying all you like – I know it to be true.


  4. Thanks guys, sorry to be slow replying, I’ve been struggling to keep up with all the facebook responses. Seems I’m not the only one who feels that way, and that is good to know. All of your responses have meant a lot to me. ❤


  5. Wonderfully written. This actually brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for this.


  6. keyser soze permalink

    Superb !!!


  7. Weegiewarbler permalink

    Straight from your heart … and right into mine. I was brought up in Clydebank to the sound of shipyards which were right across the road from our primary school. I was 8 when the QE2 was launched, and even then was confused as to why we had to wave a union flag instead of a Scottish flag when our primary school was turned out to “welcome” her maj.
    We lived in post war housing, nothing as dank and dismal as you and your family had to deal with, we had gardens and indoor plumbing – which was more than my dad’s aunt and uncle had in Greenock at the time.

    A beautifully written piece that obviously stabbed the heart of the troll who posted the nasty reply above.
    Yes, I loved the school milk too, but was lucky enough to have it throughout my schooling.

    Keep on keeping on.


    • Thanks very much. I was at that launch too, my parents took me, although I was only two at the time. It’s one of my earliest memories. Can’t remember what flag I had, but I remember it got broken, and I was devastated.

      If you go to my music player, top right of the page, and hit the little ‘next’ arrow you’ll find a song called ‘Can’t Weld A Body.’ Written by Karine Polwart, it’s a beautiful song about shipbuilding. This version by me and a friend (Anni). Brought up as you were in the shadow of the yard, you might relate to it the way I did when I heard it. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Katieee permalink

    Blaming Thatcher and the Tories for being brought up in poverty? You really don’t have a clue and there is nothing in your story explaining why things will be better in an independent Scotland. Its a nicely written piece of nonsense you have put together. I suggest you take off your rose tinted spectacles and actually go and do some research on the subject. You are just another idiot who is going to vote Yes without understanding the full implications of it all.


    • No, there’s nothing in this story explaining why things will be better. It’s not about that. I’ve spent 30 years studying the subject though, I certainly do understand the full implications, better than you can probably imagine, and if you follow future posts over the coming months, I’ll be explaining, in painstaking detail, exactly what it all means and why everyone, including you if you are in Scotland, should be voting ‘Yes.’


    • Katieee, I help run one of the largest facebook groups discussing Scottish independence and I’m very pleased to have Derek as both an admin and part of the “Editorial Group”. You are correct that there’s nothing in this story explaining why Scotland will be better if independent, Derek never wrote it from that viewpoint, however, he did point out quite clearly that the gift of clarity is to see ourselves as others see us.

      As to research on the subject, I have been researching Scottish independence from an economic, democratic and international trade point of view now for 15 years in total and Dereks understanding of it easily rivals mine. So I think your “rose tinted spectacles” comment was uncalled for and unkind.

      I would hazzard a guess a guess that you’ll be voting no. No is the default stance of most people until they find out the facts and the truth regarding Westminster’s treatment of the people that live in Scotland. Then most of them decide to vote yes. We have witnessed that happening for some time now and the pace is getting greater as more people find out the facts and the truth which you wont find on the broadcast or paper media (except the Sunday Herald). Those people have considered the implications and as such cannot be described as “idiots”. It would be unkind of me to call anyone who hasn’t gone through that process an idiot and so I wont. But neither should you.

      I recommend that you suspend your judgement of who is and is not an “idiot” until you have properly researched everything that you can and not just that being produced by Westminster, the British Establishment and the No Campaign. There are many large and powerful vested interests in and around Westminster who wish that the referendum would disappear in a puff of smoke. That alone should have you running to the computer to find out why. Understanding the implications has many facets. Derek and I are only too aware of all sides. A no vote puts us in danger because as Andrew Neil, the BBC political correspondent and is a self-declared unionist puts it “Free Tuition, free prescriptions, free care of the elderly, all these things you have because Westminster is scared of a Scotland that is going to vote for independence. If you remove that threat by voting no then Westminster will systematically remove these things”. Look it up please. A no vote doesn’t mean that nothing will change, indeed it could mean the greatest and most pernicious change we have seen yet.

      Have a nice day.

      Kindest regards,

      David Milligan Lvss


  9. Very well written Derek. I hope your dreams come to fruition.

    Are you going back? The last line sounds as if you are….


    • Thanks Robyn, yes I intend to be there for the vote, wouldn’t miss it for the world. And if we win, WHEN we win, I would like to stay and help to build the new Scotland. It’s an extremely exciting opportunity. 🙂


      • We will miss you. But I understand. Australians often overlook migrants’ passion for their homeland.

        My husband would be like you if the situation changed in Nigeria, so I understand.


      • I’ll only be a click away Robyn. And I’ll probably continue to get stuck into Australian politics too. 😉


  10. Did you go to Clydebank High School?
    I lived about 2 minutes from Second Avenue, if that!


    • Braidfield boy actually. Went back to visit in 2010, and it was gone! 😦


      • I taught at Braidfield for one term when I was doing my Cert. Ed postgrad. in 1977.There was a Mr William Barr and a Mr C. Barr…
        I announced to the exam hall that pupils should put the names of their English teacher at the top of their paper and someone wrote Mr Sea Bar!
        Aye, I bet it wisnae you-you write too well.


      • Haha, 1977 was the year I started there. Perhaps we met. I recall the Messrs. Barr, but I didn’t have them myself. What did you teach?


  11. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Gayle sounds amazing. Im sorry you had difficult time in Yes campaign. I suppose at the end of the day it is the other side of the coin of being frightened and blinded into inactivity sometimes. I used to campaign against the council tax and I always dreaded the question ” but what about me? I cant afford to pay anymore” and the realisation on someones face that despite all their hard work they were considered to be so low income they would be exempt in the plans. It broke my heart. The realisation of so much with so little power and control. Thank you again.


    • Thank you for your comment and kind words. Gayle taught me a great deal in the decade for which she was in my life, and if I’m honest, of the two of us, she was the real writer. I haven’t really had such a hard time amongst the Yessers, a couple of people had a go (one liked to refer to me as ‘that Australian’), but I’m more than capable of handling myself in an argument and I soon shut them up. I was more concerned for others. I thought my story might help to illustrate that most of us who did leave did not do so because we didn’t care. It has resonated with a lot of people, and I’ve been much moved by some of the responses. So many people suffered through the neglect, and the viciousness, of the Tories. Those who remained may well have suffered most in concrete terms, but those of us who left also lost something very dear to us – our home. That is no small thing. There is a great deal of support for independence in the Scottish diaspora, and that should not be allowed to go to waste.


  12. I left Scotland at 17 and came to Canada from Hamilton, I remember the milk also the wee bottles of orange juice. Our teachers also sold those wee biscuits with currants, 3 for for a penny or something. I can relate to your story very much. I have tried to explain to Scots that when you leave and return you see things differently. Some want to know but most don’t. Don’t mind the wankers giving you shite on the posts, keep it up.


  13. Endofdaze permalink

    I am having to explain the Independence referendum thing to so many people in England and all over Europe. I am reduced to saying “Our country is broken, more and more people are realising that Westminster won’t fix it”.


    • R. Sole permalink

      But the point, surely, is that neither will an independent Scotland. The Yes campaign is totally about disliking what is there now, as your piece says. That is not good enough.


      • Well no, it would not be good enough, if it were true. Disliking what has happened to Scotland is the only rational reaction, but that certainly is not what the campaign for independence is ‘totally about.’ I am completely convinced that an independent Scotland can and will fix what is wrong, economically at any rate, and I will be writing in detail of how this can be done, and why it must be done, in future articles.

        That, however, was not the purpose of this article. I write mainly about politics and economics, but I wrote this piece to make one very specific point, that being that many of those who moved away over the last few decades, myself included, did not do so because we particularly wanted to, but because we felt obliged to by circumstances. Some of the reactions above, as well as the many hundreds of responses I have received on Facebook and elsewhere, demonstrate that many expats feel the way I do on the matter.

        The levels of poverty and deprivation on display in Scotland are simply not justified by our actual circumstances, the economic fundamentals which would underpin an independent Scottish economy. I suppose the clue should have been in my title – what has happened in the past explains my reason for leaving, my vision for Scotland’s future explains why I wish to return and help to build a new and better society. I will have a great deal more to say about this in future posts, however for the moment this article may help to explain some of the many reasons for optimism:


  14. Reblogged this on bmdphotography and commented:
    This is one of the best things I have read in years and if it stirs no emotion in you, then you have no emotions and there is no more poverty than feeling nothing.


  15. george897 permalink

    Awesome post. Sad Gayle never got to see this sleeping lion awaken. To your arm 🙂


  16. Was so touched by your story and had to show it to my husband who is a Bankie and his dad was one of the Bowler hat brigade who worked in J B shipyard. I look forward to reading more of your articles.With our canvassing and leafleting it is more YES than No ‘s for independence .ignore the wankers as some one said and I look forward to reading more from you in an independent Scotland .Good luck


    • Thanks Isobel, looking forward to coming home, and I’ll keep writing about it in the meantime. I’ve never built a ship in my life, but my dad served his time in Harland’s and I grew up in Whitecrook, less than half a mile from the yard with a surreal skyline full of cranes, so I write about it, I sing about it, it’s always been there. Last time I was over, a few years ago, I went down past the new college, down to the river. I knew I’d come home. The photograph at the top of this blog was taken from there, looking towards the mouth of the Cart. For me it is the most peaceful view on Earth. Other cities have rivers, some bland, some beautiful, and I’ve seen plenty of them in my time. The Danube in Budapest stands out, as does the Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania. But none of them are MY river, and she’s as beautiful as any of them.


  17. Hi,
    That is a very well written piece,
    My view on the Independence debate is that very much governed by the fact that government from Westminster simply does not work. It does not work for Scotland, it does not work for the north of England , or Wales or anywhere else.
    We already have an Independent state in the UK — it is called London.
    I spent over a decade working in and around London — always travelling from Glasgow and effectively living there three week out of four at times.
    London has an economy and a culture which is unchecked and out of kilter with the rest of the UK. No major UK political party seeks to change this or seeks to redistribute wealth and opportunity out from London.
    The technicalities of the debate– currency exchange, trident and oh so many others are but secondary to the otherwise inevitable road to damnation we will all suffer if the “London” trend is not halted and reversed.
    I say that whilst in the fortunate position of always having work and never having to seek work.
    However, I see the migration of talent and hope you describe, and it is accelerating leaving behind generations who do not know anything else other than the need to head to London out of either necessity or indeed ambition.
    This is not the place to detail the Independence debate, but it is a suitable place for me to comment on the main thrust of what you say in regard to the need to go to London and the unaccountable nature of Westminster Government.
    Finally, i should add that I am a Bankie though I too have not lived in the town for many years.
    The town is at long last improving, but has an awful long way to go.
    It has a history which should never be forgotten; A history which is not always pleasant to read about or see, as I see it as one of the greatest scandals of the modern political age.
    Politicians in this country did as much if not more damage to the town of Clydebank leaving local counsellors and MP’s to fight an impossible fight after the war and well into the 80′s and 90′s.
    It is a scandal which should never be forgotten,


    • Thank you very much for your comment Brogan. I completely agree with you about London. My time there was in the early/mid 80s and I quickly realised that socially, politically and especially economically, it was a black hole. The sheer economic gravity of the place was sucking the lifeblood out of every other part of the country/countries of the UK. Since I left I have heard nothing to indicate that the trend has done anything other than accelerate.

      Now this is arguably just as much of a problem in Liverpool or Newcastle as it is in Glasgow, I accept that. However I have been compelled to reach the conclusion that there is not a great deal we, as Scots, can do about that. Retaining the Union is now synonymous with retaining the status quo, and that is not doing anything for any of us. The English regions will, as Billy Bragg was saying recently, have to distance themselves, in the end, from the city-state of London. I am convinced the best thing we can do to advance that process is to lead by example and demonstrate that there is an alternative to hanging around waiting to be sucked into the black hole.

      Now I’ve read your piece (linked to in your comment) and I have to say, both as a Bankie and as a big fan of well-written history, it is an excellent article. I’m about to head back there and leave a comment, as I have a story to tell about the blitz which I think will interest you. After that I’ll try to figure out the ‘pingback’ feature, or find some other way of making your link more prominent here, as it’s a perfect background primer on Clydebank for my readers. Thanks again for your input, it is much appreciated.


  18. Amongst the best social media writing I have read.


  19. Thanks brother true blue Scot………… we are close now …


  20. wee e permalink

    Beautifully written. I was an economic emigrant to southern England at that time too, to a nice country town. My epiphany was quicker, because visually, socially and economically it was totally another world. And one comfortably oblivious of its effect on Scotland. Lived in other countries too, and eventually came back. Though I often wish I hadn’t, I’m glad to be here at this time. It’s a privilege to play a small part, any part.


  21. That’s a very moving story Derek. I hope you get to see the great change that’s about to happen to both Clydebank and Scotland. I already consider you a friend, a kindred spirit and a fellow traveller in this journey to independence.
    I wish you well in your long journey home.
    Your pal,
    David Milligan Lvss


    • Thank you my friend, I appreciate those sentiments. It is my fervent hope to be in Clydebank for that historic day, and to live to see it become ‘the risingist burgh’ once more, but this time in a free Scotland. The greatest privilege of participating in this campaign, even from a distance, is to have come to know fine comrades and patriots like yourself. I look forward to raising a celebratory glass with you in September.


  22. brian ferguson permalink

    I’ve lived in Clydebank all my life. I’m in my mid 40s now. I was 12 when Thatcher came to power. And for the last 35 years this has been her country – the ideology she espoused has
    been unchallenged, and it’s been a social disaster. Scotland has never accepted it and never will. Indpendence for me is our chance to escape, to get away from the inequality and the me, me, me
    culture that Westminster has done nothing to reverse. I’d always voted Labour and when they got in, in 1997, I thought good – now the restrctive union policies, the unfair tax system and decimation of industry will be reversed. I waited for the change – nothing. New Labour was not the Labour my parents knew. Needless to say I have not voted Labour since. We have to vote Yes for independence, we’ve just got to.
    I refuse to live in such a rich country, with such a high level of economic and social inequality,
    and no means to redress it. Westminster will not do this – no matter what party is in power. We have to do it on our own.
    Brian Ferguson, Clydebank.


  23. A fantastic and heartfelt read. I defy anyone not to read that and realise how much we need that Yes! Thank you.


  24. Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    I got a lump in my throat reading this one.

    My own family, several generations past, emigrated to the furthest corners of the Empire in search of a better life. They found it there in Canada, the USA and New Zealand. Maybe it was simply the adventurous nature of my ancestors pursuing the uncertainty of a future in a foreign land (because in those days there was No Going Back – once you emigrated that was generally you for life) or perhaps it was the economic necessity of not quite having enough and not seeing any realistic possibility of every getting enough that drove them to leave their homeland. I am the result of one of those descendent of emigrants coming back to Scotland and I, myself, have emigrated to NZ and then back again because this is home. But there have been many times when I have considered following my ancestor’s footsteps and taking my chances in Canada, France, Norway or returning to NZ. Should we all vote No in September I fear that I will be forced to emigrate for good because this Great British Union of ours serves many of us so very badly.


  25. Derek, I came on this blog by accident, and was curious to see your argument, despite my being a YES voter all my Life, just for more background I guess for my own arguments. I didnt realise at first that you were another kindred spirit, Brought up on the free milk, and losing it! Seeing the QE2 sail from John Browns ( I watched at Erskine Hospital)….I never saw her again till 95 in Invergordon. AS a kid I could hear the hammers from Houston when the wind blew in the right direction, would cycle to Port Glasgow to look at the river and ships and dream of a job/ career on those ships. But that never happened, because my folks determined for many reasons to migrate…to the Highlands, north of Inverness, where I touched my roots ( also as a MacPherson, even if only a sept, it is, has, always will be my Clan, with it’s history that I never tire of boring folk with, also…from Bruce to Culloden!). In my working life I watched my old home area, which to me was anywhere on the south banks of the Clyde, being destroyed, even as the same things were happening in the Highlands with the closure of the Invergordon Aluminium Smelter and the down turn of the Oil Yards, where so many from Clydebank found employment….following the running down of the shipbuilding. At times the accents in Alness, Invergordon and surrounding villages were more often Weegie than Highland..So though I never left, I often though about it, but have managed to continue by moving and adapting to different jobs, long long hours, poor pay often, but even after my faither passed back in the early 70′s, we survived, not easy…but my Mother and I never gave up the hope that one day our Land would be independent….she still hopes to see it….at 94…And I hope she sees it…as I said to her when we got devolution, its just the first step….but we are on the road she has travelled since the War ( not the Great War, just the War, there wisnae any others that counted, she was bombed at Clydebank). So there it is, we are knocking on the door of independence, and though I ken I’m possibly talking to lots of the already converted here on this site, this blog, may I just say how eloquently you put your case, and how much it touches me, and how much so many of those that are on the Better Together No Thanks side will never truly understand that this is so much more than a simple financial argument, although it is also very valid, this is a Heart and Soul of Scotland that wishes to rise above the inequality controlled and propagated by Westminster for centuries….and that we can, and are finally nearly there, must scare the living ……out of them! Heartfelt and Beautiful,…..Alba Gu Brath.


  26. tuathanameilan permalink

    I was born in Paisley in the Spring of 1971, My Grandfather had been in the Shipping industry and been retrenched, my Father a qualified fitter and turner, and my Mum a Nurse couldn’t find work. So they left, they left our dear beautiful Scotland with all its problems and went to South Africa, the land of opportunity. Now I am back, in Scotland, I think I am one of the few who have returned and can see the possibility of what Scotland can become again.
    Let us rebuild this place all of us, the ones that have been here since birth the ones returning, and those Scots that have just arrived from some other place not realising that their heart actually always was here.
    Let us rebuild this beautiful place on the back of hard work and honesty. If you have travelled around the world you will know that we all aren’t very different.
    Let us do something a bit different though. How about we govern ourselves and manage the resources we have to suit those of us who haven’t been getting their FAIR SHARE, because that is what it is about isn’t it?


    • Yes, yes it is. I truly appreciate your words, and my daughter, who was born in Australia, was also moved and reminded that for her, Scotland will always be home too. She says “Thank you.”


  27. Janice Preston permalink

    Beautifully emotive piece, a pleasure to read, after all the online bitter exchanges and negativity we are exposed to on a daily basis, this gets right to the heart of the matter. Thank you for reminding us that this is so much more than whether we get to share the pound, or stay in Europe or get rid of Trident…..


  28. Thanks for this piece. I’m another wean who was in school when they stopped the milk. Those little 1/3 of a pint cartons were something we all looked forward to, unless it was a warm day or the janny had left them beside the boiler when they’d be unpleasantly warm with a hint of heating oil…

    Being one of the older kids I got to do my turn as milk monitor so, to me, Thatcher took my very first job too 😉

    Thanks also for sharing your memories of Gayle. Respect to both of you.


  29. Al Ross permalink

    Derek, great read. Did your mum live in Crown Ave ? I’m looking at the picture and it looks like our old building we were in 61/8.


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    • Humble apologies for the delay in posting your comment, wordpress decided to put it in the spam folder for some reason and I didn’t spot it. Thanks for your kind words. Your first question, as they say, I’ll take that as a comment. 🙂 To answer your second question, you should now be able to see links to my twitter feed and facebook page at the top right of the page.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Scottish Independence – What It’s Not About | The Babel Fish
  2. Death on the Clyde — The Politicians Poppycock! | The Babel Fish
  3. Ex Manus Capere | The Babel Fish

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