Owe reet – Lake Windermere
Those who care about these things may have noticed No Thanks! has been silent for a while. I’ve been in another part of the country for a break – Cumbria. As always even a slightly different place can give a different perspective on all sorts of things. So herewith some different perspectives, mainly related to politics, from a week in Cumbria.
First, and perhaps obviously, I went south with a wallet full of Scottish notes. I used them to pay for a coffee and cake here, some groceries there. Not once were they challenged, queried or commented on. How different from our own dear nationalists who claim to attract hostility and rejection as soon as they hit ‘Eng-er-land.’ They say you get what you look for and maybe they’re a case in point.
We were staying South of the Lake District. If I looked across Morecombe Bay I could see the outline of Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire (population more than Glasgow and Edinburgh combined). Tucked around the coast from us was Sellafield. I stood on a railway bridge one day to see a short train (two engines, one wagon in between with a sealed nuclear container on it) heading away from Sellafield. I keep reading nationalist complaints that Scotland is the UK’s nuclear dumping ground, ‘They wouldn’t put up with Faslane/Dounreay if it was down there!’ they shout in outrage. Well, the good or bad news depending on your point of view is that in matters nuclear Scotland is not unique. The pain, if such it be, but also the employment are shared.
The weather had one thing in common with Scotland – it was, shall we say, mixed. But we managed to get a few walks in, including one up a modest hill with great views over Lake Windermere to the snow-capped Old Man of Coniston. Half way up we passed another walker and exchanged greetings. ‘Y’owe reet?’ (You all right?) he asked companionably. I’m not sure if he was speaking Lancastrian or Yorkshire and a bit like The National with their faux Scots I don’t know if my spelling’s right. He just said what he said naturally and didn’t shout after me ‘It’s a language you ken, not just a variety of English. I’m entitled. I want a government subsidy to promote it. They should teach it to the kids in school.’ But then perhaps he didn’t feel insecure in his identity.
One of the advantages of being away is that you can switch off from the daily minutiae of politics. I did notice there was something called a referendum going to happen soon and I thought back to our own exercise of sovereign will in 2014 when we made the right collective decision. ‘Euroref’ is already shaping up eerily similar to the Scottish separation referendum. Those similarities will be the subject of my next post.
As for those daily minutiae of politics, I’ve only been back a day or two and I notice SNP MP Angus MacNeil complaining about the £150 parliamentary limit on an overnight hotel in London. You see he can’t find anywhere decent for less than £250 a night. He does own a flat near the Commons but unfortunately he can’t stay there, even though the mortgage seems to have been paid by the rest of us under the previous parliamentary expenses regime. He can’t stay there because he’s let it to tenants. Someone who knows about these things tells me that in that area of London it’ll probably cost his tenants about £2,000 a month. Sometimes you wonder if they’re just taking the mickey.
Anyhow, to my return north. We crossed back into Scotland on the A1 just past Berwick on Tweed. Night was falling and as we drove towards the large ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign (complete with saltire and mandatory Gaelic translation) the car in front flashed his lights three or four times, lighting up the sign in the dusk. Perhaps he felt it was good to be back home. Poor soul must have been bereft in the foreign land that lies south of the Tweed.
By the way, I know the circumstances are different, but I’d say the range and average standard of food in and around the Lake District national park was better than in or around either of the Scottish national parks. And when we reached Edinburgh the road surface on some of the side streets was dreadful. Along with most of what’s wrong with Scotland, some would doubtless blame Westminster for the state of the roads. But as for the food, well there I go again, talking the country down. I must hate Scotland, although I keep coming back.