Torry Quine’s Knickers

Standard

Fun shot of woman with knickers around her ankles.

It’s the uncertainty of knowing where your head will be each day – you assume above your shoulders on top of your neck – but some days it goes off on its own leaving you to fend for yourself. I’m sure I had it when I went to bed last night but today I seem to have woken to a visit from the brain fairy who has removed the thinking organ and replaced with an IOU worth only the paper that it is written on.

Some Bi-polarists (no, me neither) go for two or three months at one level – hyper or depressed – but I enjoy the fairly rapid jump between the states and today I find myself in a low that I wasn’t expecting. This is a really good reason why I needed to get out of teaching, because going in on a Monday morning to teach all day when you feel as raw and vulnerable as I do it’s a tough one to tough out. Having to be “on” for a whole day is tough when you just want to crawl into bed and disappear until the lights come back on. It’s why I really struggled in the last two or three years because the changes were becoming more abrupt and it made day-to-day work quite a challenge for both me and my poor long-suffering students. Now with my new positions I have the flexibility to step back and only worry about using up energy to be “up” or “on” in short bursts without falling to pieces.

And I’d point out this is me on medication – imagine what it was like before I got the diagnosis and meds last November to help me with it all. Memory seems to be affected because there are chunks of time gone from my little grey cells of those more difficult periods. The other issue is there is so much ignorance around depression and bi-polar that even random comments made without any malice can cut right into you. The use of the words “nutter” or “mental case”, those who make all-knowing proclamations about mental illness – even a couple of dafties on Gogglebox – can set you on edge and annoy you. When you’re feeling okay these things are like water off a duck’s back – and even I’ll use them jokingly. I think workplaces need to stop announcing they’ve “gone on a course” to understand mental illness and actually just speak to us about it; while a professional understands the theory only a sufferer can describe the feelings and impact.

The ups and downs and the swing between them is still something you can feel despite the meds doing their jobs. You can sense when the hyper devil is ready to poke and prod the big red “do not touch” buttons of life but it’s so much fun to go off on flight of fancy you let it happen. The downs are a pain in the arse and you find yourself tearing up at the slightest thing in books or music or films. Even now after five years of having the depression diagnosed and treated there is still a newness to the feeling each time it appears because you block out the emotional memories because they weigh you down. The highs I have always forgotten anyway because they are my mouth working with my brain sitting back in horror listening to the noises I’m making and wondering who sanctioned it to speak on our behalf. So you depart each “episode” with blanks ready for the next one.

Shame you can’t programme them or select them.

JD

One Scotland

Standard

one-scotland

 

I’ve been avoiding writing anything about Thursday’s result because if you say anything at all people are still raw and disappointed or vitriolic and relieved. How do I feel? I’m glad the vote went the way it did obviously. I made it clear I wanted to maintain the Union we share with the other countries in the UK – but for me it may have been Westminster’s last chance. Next time, and there will be a next time, I may not vote the same way.

Before we go any further I’ve had several things on social media I wanted to comment on and rather than do it a hundred odd times I’ll say them here:

1. The so-called vote fixing and piles of votes in the wrong piles etc. Here, from someone who is involved in such counts are the facts about the conspiracy theories:

  • Point 1-the guy who is accused of filling in votes is filling in a slip of how many in that bundle & then elastic bands it!(standard counting procedure)
  • Point 2 – the Yes votes on the No table, it was confirmed on live TV (cleverly cuts out before this) that these bundles were yet to be split – therefore they were still mixed bundles & the table was only used for space until it was used for its real purpose!!
  • Point 3 – the woman who is accused moving Yes votes to No – looks to me like she realised she’d put them in the wrong pile then corrected them.
  • Point 4 – bundles being emptied out of boxes with elastic bands – Postal Votes!! They are closely monitored & counted then re counted along with normal votes (less margin for error don’t you think)!

So all the “Recount” and “Rerun the Referendum” petitions need to grow up accept the decision of the Scottish people. There are so many observers at the counts there is little to no chance of 400,000 votes being hidden, changed, lost etc.

2. Alex Salmond’s stepping down. I did ask the question during the counts if he would step down if he lost by around 10 points, because I believed he’d done all he could. I’m not going to make a big thing about it but I’m not a fan of the man or most of his politics. But you have to respect what he has achieved in his political life. In 1992 he was ridiculed and laughed at by the establishment – today that same establishment has been rocked to the core by his achievements and his legacy could well be the federal UK.

3. The “45” gang. Grow up. Seriously, we are all one Scotland who need to accept the decision. Now this doesn’t mean I expect you to stop wanting or campaigning for Independence but the line is now drawn under Thursday’s vote so can we move on to the more important issues facing us, the UK and the wider world.

4. George Square last night. No I don’t approve, condone or like that group of idiot last night who were setting off flares, shouting abuse and using Nazi salutes. These people are idiots who don’t deserve our attention or the air time they have been given. I’m glad the Police have already rounded up a lot of them and through CCTV and other surveillance they will find a lot more. I would say that both sides need to stop these kinds of “public protests” and move on.

5. All those who have said that they are embarrassed to be Scottish need to get a grip of themselves. I am hugely impressed, proud and amazed by the Scottish people and what we have done with grassroots groups springing up everywhere – bringing people together to discuss the most important issues facing our society. We need that passion and interest to continue through into next year’s General Election and the following year’s Scottish Elections. Both Yes and No should be proud of what we achieved – true democracy.

6. Finally the Future. “They’ve already broken their promises” etc. No they haven’t. Yesterday a paper was published by Gordon Brown and once Parliament returns it will be seen. That’s part of the promised agenda.

So what does the future hold? Well that’s up to us as a nation. We have been offered further powers which Westminster must deliver or else there will be retribution at next year’s elections. We have also heard that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are to get further or new devolved powers. This is the start of a possible federal state – the best outcome in my personal view. Each individual country should make its own decisions and then come together to debate and vote on issues that effect us all. The West Lothian question is simple – vote on your own affairs. I know the Labour Party won’t like it because they need Scottish MPs to help them with English votes but this is too important to play party politics with. It means more co-operation and less of the “Punch & Judy” bollocks we’re all fed up with. Suck it up Ed and do the right thing.

I want all those new powers delivered to the Scottish Parliament as promised because for me and many others we voted on Thursday on Trust – misplaced many in the Yes camp have argued. This is their last chance to get it right, because next time – and it’ll come very soon if they renege on their promises – will be a very different outcome. Yes would romp home. But there is another Referendum that could decide things before that. In 2017, if the Tories get in again next year, we’ll have an In/Out vote on the EU. Scotland needs to be part of the EU, so if that goes against us then you might find there’s another Home Rule vote.

Lots of “ifs” at this stage but it shows that the next three years are hugely important ones in the history of these isles. If we spend all our time distracted by Thursday’s vote we may well miss the other important decisions on the horizon. We need to stand now as one Scotland and ensure the powers are delivered then we need to stand together on the issue of Europe because the Tories and UKIP will do everything they can to get us to vote No.

So let’s put our differences aside, stand and work together for the good of our country. Hold your views freely but don’t let them divide what is a strong and brilliant country.

JD

JD’s Last Stand

Standard

scotland

My final thoughts before tomorrow’s voting opens – not about policy but about my heart & head response to everything I’ve seen and read.

It’s easy to pick holes in the opposition’s ideas and proposals – we all know politicians lie and we also know that that is true of most, if not all, who have been involved in this referendum debate – but I want to focus on the positives of why we should stay as part of the UK.

Firstly I want to state clearly I am a proud Scot and I’m annoyed that the Yes side hijacked the Saltire as their emblem because it doesn’t belong to either side – it belong to the whole country. Being fiercely behind Scotland as a nation but still wanting to be British is not a paradox in any way and to suggest so shows a real lack of intelligence. This is an inventive, creative, joyous, beautiful and honest land. The people are amazing and sadly we’ve lost the togetherness we have enjoyed over the last three hundred years in the space of two because of this divisive vote. My No vote is protect that country so it exists for my own children to enjoy.

What we have achieved as the UK should not be undervalued by anyone. All my grandparents lived through wars that had them standing side by side with allies and friends from our sister countries again the Nazis and fascism; fighting on the frontline to ensure votes like tomorrow could happen. Their dedication to the UK as a whole is celebrated every November and should not be thrown away lightly – especially when this generations armed forces could be decimated in an independent Scotland. Working as one we made the NHS – possibly the greatest thing politics has ever achieved in the UK. A free at source healthcare system that treats us all equally and will even support those who come from abroad if we can help them. I wouldn’t be alive were it not for the amazing work they do and I know many others that would not be here either. We did that together – why break it up? My No vote is to protect and ensure a real future for the generations who saved us and the NHS that continues to do so.

We share a culture – despite what we joke about there are many shared values in the arts, music, customs and traditions. SHakespeare and Burns are both our bards, Sherlock Holmes is the quintessential Englishman created by a Scot, James Bond played best by a Scot in many people’s opinion and three of our thirteen Doctor Whos have come from North of the Border. It’s that melting pot of ideas and creativity that makes us great. The BBC is another fantastic example of how joined up thinking can make world class programming. They have taken a beating (unfairly I would add) from the Yes campaign but look at the coming together of BBC regions to make some of the greatest Dramas, funniest comedies and fascinating documentaries – if we leave we won’t have a right to that any more as we will only be paying in 8% of the overall licence fee. My No Vote is to protect the creative spark we share.

We share a conscience too. While there are always political disagreements our togetherness is an enviable thing. Remember that moment at the start of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics? We were all poised on Facebook and Twitter to rip it to pieces and then we saw it hold up a mirror to our achievements from the Industrial age, to the NHS to music and we sat back in amazement at the joy and pride we had in the UK. Even the most hardened nationalist must have been impressed as we watched the words “This is for everyone” appear around the stadium from Tim Berners-Lee and recognised how we have invented and gifted things like the internet to the world.We keep each other in check – we are a largely liberal country and have taken leaps in social justice – even during times of Tory governments with right to buy and the legalisation of Gay Marriage. We don’t stand for unfair things, we challenge those who challenge us, we rally like no other nation when it comes to charity. My No vote is keep that shared mindset.

I’m proud that my country has the West End of London, the beauty of Snowdonia, the mystic Giant’s Causeway, Nessie, Blackpool, Tiger Bay, Iona, Sherwood Forest and Edinburgh Festival. We have all those things and can count them as ours in the shared wealth that is the UK – not financial wealth but an embarrassment of riches in unique places to visit and enjoy. We have so much more in common that things that divide us – our towns and cities up and down these isles are welcoming. From Robin Hood to King Arthur, Scottish Ghost stories to Stonehenge our myths and history combine to make this a huge map of possibilities for us right on our doorsteps. My No vote is to keep that geography together.

This is my country, these are my friends. Being made to choose between the ones here and the ones across each border is not something I want to do – what is a border anyway but an invisible line that means nothing to friends either side of it. I will vote no because I honestly believe that we are Better Together – not in twee way as many have depicted the No campaign to be – but as a way to combine and bring out the best in each other. Science, education, healthcare, literature, the arts, music, justice, morality, brotherhood & sisterhood; We can put a wall between us and our friends to the south but nothing will be positive about losing all this. Yes it allows those who question the power of Westminster to remove themselves from it but the issues will still be the same and instead of London we’ll blame Edinburgh – we’ll be worse off for it. I support devolution for all the areas of the UK with Westminster pulling us all together when we need it.

It doesn’t come down to Political parties or slogans or posters, it’s about how you feel in your heart and your head. I understand the draw of Independence for the romantic reasons, but I still think we gain so much from our neighbours that we’d lose an important part of ourselves by leaving.

Vote No to protect Scotland and continue to make it a great nation within the UK

JD

The Storm

Standard

calm-before-storm-1

It lies there on the horizon watching and anticipating our next move. As the clouds creep towards us the inevitable cooling of the air is matched by an increasing electricity that lies in those dark monsters above. We’ve known about its arrival for years yet here we are still unprepared for the downfall; the deluge of decisions upon which a future must be staked. Neighbours and friends now stand either side of the road looking up and expecting the sun to shine on them by the time the tempest passes. Neither will escape the rain and heavy winds, yet both expect the warmth of the aftermath to be theirs alone. All that lies behind the cloudburst is more darkness. The lightning that illuminates the air and cracks in the air cries of offensive words across the cyberspace divide with former friends eyeing each other with disdain.

The air has turned. There is a closeness about it. A feeling of claustrophobia surrounding five million souls. The way out or to shelter is unclear for many. A stillness falls. The proverbial calm before the storm.

Our suitors have tried to show us their wares to protect us and guide us through, but it won’t be enough. The storm that’s coming will leave damage and erosion to our land and we will be unable to sort in the short-term. The naive blame the mythical from the big bad wolf to karma, the educated throw percentages and facts around but neither offers a solution or any real hope. Standing on the echoes and shadows of those who fought the storms previously we think we’re more knowledgeable, more understanding of the problem, but the truth is we are the same frail humans that have faced rounds of dark clouds for centuries.

Do we hold on when the moment comes or let go and see where the rainwater takes us – shelter or embrace the elements? We sit watching, listening, disagreeing, supporting but only the elements have certainty. The storm will hit hard. The vandalism in some places irreversible. And for what? Our own human version of climate change forced upon a country ill-prepared and misled by those in charge. To deny it is dangerous as the outcomes are our shadow in the future. An “Us” that lives with hindsight and regrets is the only guarantee and an “Us” who claim survival despite the loss of half their kith and kin.

Will we survive the storm? Yes, but we will not be unchanged by it. Words cannot be taken back; lies cannot be made true; celebrations will anger and ruin friendships.

We knew it was coming, but we chose to argue amongst ourselves rather than have an open and honest dialogue about how we should all work together for the best outcome. Winning will be bittersweet, losing will be heartbreaking as we look back at he decimation left behind by a storm forecast years ago.

The rain is starting. Shelter.

JD

Dear Undecideds

Standard

Yes and no campaigners in scottish referendum

Sorry guys but you have the deciding votes. With there being only 6% between the sides in the latest polls the “Undecideds” hold the real power in Thursday’s Referendum. So the famous line goes, “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”- No pressure then.

It would be easy for me to say you should vote No with my side of the argument, but instead I’m going to pose a few questions that you need to consider before you enter that polling booth on Thursday – and please do vote, even if you only make up your mind at that last second as it’s too big an opportunity to lose. You need to make up your own mind.

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Politicians lie. We know that his is a fact and everyone across the spectrum of opinion on the Referendum will be saying things only to get your vote. So you have to look at it this way: Go with the liar we know and hate from Westminster and the Devolved Scottish Parliament on the No side, or the Liars on the Yes side of the campaign. Which has a better track record and where is your voice and vote really heard?

2. Is the timing right? Look at the way things are. Neither side has a strong lead and we’re split 50/50. Would it not be better to let this Referendum go and then have a real open conversation and have another referendum in a few years time when there is a consensus?

3. Can we afford it? With the UK, EU and world economy just recovering is it the right time to unsettle things again for ourselves? Do you put the recent growth at risk for a gamble that might not pay off?

4. What are we actually getting? We don’t know what lies ahead after a yes vote, but we do have a fair idea if it’s No. Again should we take the time to negotiate and discuss the future without timetables putting false deadlines on massive decisions?

5. If you are truly undecided isn’t there only one sensible option for you? Yes is not an impulse vote – the complete change of course, a new uncharted one, should not be like an impulse buy at the checkout of a supermarket when you throw a Mars Bar on the conveyor belt. If you are at all unsure isn’t the sensible and decent thing to do is Vote No? Yes shouldn’t be a whim or the result of a toss of a coin – it’s too important for that.

The power you have to swing the result in either direction scares both sides. So here’s some unimpartial advice:

  • Look at your own circumstances because you know and understand them – could you afford an unsettled period of between twenty or thirty years in your life?
  • Listen to your head – while your heart will be filled with the best of Scotland, your head knows the reality. It’s not a gut reaction you need but a sensible considered approach.
  • Don’t be swayed by the bullying tactics and scaremongering on either side. Think about yourself – be selfish, how would you be better off personally and as a family?
  • In the legal system we have a thing called doubt that plays an important part in making a decision. If you have doubts then No is the sensible option.

I would ask you to vote No if you are at all unconvinced by the policies of the Yes side – this is something that cannot be undone. The rest of the UK would not take us back, it’ll be a messy break up with bitterness on both sides. There is however the vote no now, vote yes next time option. We can hold a referendum whenever we want in the future; a second chance to discuss the ideas and policies properly – voting yes will not give you any other options than starting down an unknown road. While it might seem like fun or a laugh to see where we end up think about your mortgage, your kids’ education. your parents’ and grandparents’ welfare, pensions and care, taxes, the money in your pocket and all the jobs involved – possibly even your own.

Good Luck

JD

 

Dear Yes Voters

Standard

yes

I get it. I understand your aims and objectives. I see that you want that Independence from everyone and want to thrive on your own. To be ruled from within and make your own decisions, successes and mistakes. In the romantic sense of Independence I’m with you. Where we have to go our own ways is the day-to-day reality of living and working in Scotland if it were to become independent.

Please stop calling it scaremongering is someone point out there might be an issue with Independence because if we lie to ourselves about what this country could and should be we start on the wrong foot straight away. It’s not going to be easy; negotiations where one party has 5 million behind them and the other has over 60 million people there is a real chance that we won’t walk away with the deal we need. It’s not about oil or politicians or financial institutions, it’s about us as a people.

I hate the fact we have food banks in this country too, but independence won’t solve that. I hate that the minimum wage isn’t a true minimum wage, but independence won’t solve that. I hate the Tories too, but just because you have your own independent parliament doesn’t mean you will always get the government you vote for – only 25% of people voted for an SNP government at the last Scottish Parliament elections but the way the vote worked they became the majority party – so was that what Scotland “wanted”?

Independence is not a magic wand that will solve all of societies ills – in fact according to most independent sources and experts it will be a difficult journey that will take a long time to sort – if it ever does. I like the idea of this utopia painted by Alex Salmond and can see the appeal of it, but I am too long in the truth to think that one vote changes the world – see Blair 1997 and Obama 2008 as prime examples. Do you remember waking on that May morning in 1997 with the first Labour Government for 18 years and the expectations we all had. Now with hindsight it was terrible at times. It started well with good intentions but…

It’s not wrong to want the best for your country and I would never argue that it wasn’t – but think about this: 97% of eligible voters in Scotland ave registered to vote on Thursday, what if they all voted all of the time for all of the elections? What if that was echoed across our neighbouring countries of Northern Ireland, Wales and England – wouldn’t we have the parties and politicians we wanted then instead of a 0 – 50% turnout. The vote for real change has been on offer every time the polls have opened – how many of you the Yes voters have taken that opportunity? Have you not bothered because you didn’t like what the main four parties offered?

You could have voted for other parties, for independent candidates – hell, you could have stood yourself. This is not the ONLY chance we have of making Scotland better and the kind of country it has the capacity to be – don’t believe those who tell you this is the chance of a lifetime because we could have another referendum whenever we wanted – preferably one where the nation was united in its aims rather than the divided and unhappy state it is currently in.

While you have every right to vote Yes, I would ask you this: It is genuinely the best option for Scotland right now at this moment in time with economies still recovering from the international fallout of the toxic debt and sub prime mortgage issues? Is it a positive step when half your countrymen & women disagree with you? When the uncertainties outweigh the knowns of tomorrow and the next three decades? I love Scotland and its history, culture and people – my No vote makes me no different from you, I want the best for us all.

Think on this – we’ve got to this point without a single shot being fired. In terms of getting the possibility of independence this has been a triumph for the UK and Scotland. In my opinion the timing is wrong and we are too divided in opinion to go ahead with it now. Let’s start a real conversation that means we can start agreeing on more that we disagree on and have this referendum again in the future when Scotland is actually ready for it.

Voting yes will not solve all the problems, it will cause many more in the short to medium term – this time I’d suggest you vote No to ensure that next time it’s a resounding Yes instead of the whisper we have now.

JD

Dear No Voters

Standard

no thanks

It’s time to stand up and be counted – don’t worry about the bully boy tactics of Alex Salmond and his cronies, you have every right to express your opinion. We are proud to be Scottish but also proud to be British – they do not own the Saltire in this referendum, nor do they have a monopoly over everything that is great about this Country.

And that’s an important point: we are a country already with a devolved parliament. We already have powers to change this country and with a No vote you will get more; safer, faster and stronger powers whilst still having the family of the UK together as one. We have to stop listening to those who say that every piece of news against independence is “scaremongering” because most of it isn’t at all – if giant companies like Shell, BP, John Lewis, Asda, and Lloyds are warning us there will be a negative impact on us, then maybe we should listen – they have nothing to gain from getting involved otherwise.

To be constantly shouted down by the Yes camp because we’re pointing out the issues that independence will bring is wrong. Pointing out that we could be worse off financially is such an important consideration in this vote. Consider your mortgage, your kids ability to go into further education, your parents and grandparents pensions and care, the price of your weekly shop, the pound in your pocket – these aren’t “scare” stories, they are the reality you and I will have to face every day after independence. For how long? Well we don’t know. Most analysts are saying it could be between twenty and thirty years until things sort themselves out and for me that would take me up potentially until I’m 66 years old – I don’t want to spend the three decades struggling to make ends meet in a volatile country.

We also know that Scotland has a bias towards the Central Belt in policy and budgets, do you really believe that will change in an Independent Scotland? Look at the difference in time scale or the New Forth Road Bridge compared to the length of time we’ve waited in Aberdeen for the mythical bypass to be built. We know that with the majority of the population being in Edinburgh, Glasgow and everything in between that they will get the most attention – so how is this any better for those who live north of there compared to being governed from Westminster?

I was chatting with a Better Together campaigner yesterday and he said many No voters were scared to put up posters or speak out about their voting intentions because of the attacks both verbal and physical that an idiot minority of the Yes camp decided were necessary. By the same token there have been those on the No side who have over stepped the mark and I’m not advocating that either; but be heard, be seen and be strong. This is our country and our voices and opinions count just the same as any others in this week of the vote.

We are realistic about oil, industry, currency, finance and everything else – it’s not about patriotism, it’s about wanting a country we love to continue to be strong as part of a bigger picture. So stay strong, put up your no posters and help Scotland continue to be a strong and important place to live and work in.

JD