We have been glued to the TV this week watching the swimming at the Commonwealth Games and feeling so proud of how they have all done. Swimming is probably one of the few sports where there is not the same sporting rivalry between the nations as it is such an individual sport. I was a swimmer as is one of my children so I understand only too well the hours of training and discipline that the athletes have put in and to see all the swimmers not only qualifying for the events but reaching the finals is incredible. Hearing the roar of Flower of Scotland being belted out around the arena was an emotional moment and witnessing the passion and belief that we have in our anthem is incredible.
8 years ago we were there – not at the swimming as you could only apply for 4 tickets per event and as a family of 5 that simply didn’t work – but we planned our summer holiday around the events we could get to and had an amazing week watching sports we otherwise would never have done. One of the kids now follows what is going on in squash because of seeing it in Glasgow and another still talks about the time that they watched netball now that they play themselves. The Scottish weather was at its usual and although the athletics was beautiful sunshine all day, the hockey was a complete washout. I mind being pulled out of the queue and getting taken to the front because we had small children and feeling guilty but relieved as we bypassed a couple of hundred people as the torrential rain continued; that was also the day that we discovered that the waterproof guarantee on the tent had obviously never taken Scottish rain into consideration!
We were stopped by New Zealand athletes who gave the kids one of their official badges. We encountered smiles and help everywhere from the volunteers and the spectators and I think Glasgow really did do Scotland proud. We all enjoyed the gymnastics and were gobsmacked when we got home to find a lovely letter and photos from an English gymnast because artwork from one of the kids was displayed in his bedroom in the village. We had watched him get his gold medal and had no idea. It was wee things like that where the whole of Scotland had been offered opportunities to be involved in the Games that just made it so special. So many memories were made that week and it looks as though Birmingham is experiencing the same positivity. It is lovely when you see each country competing on its own merits instead of being under the Team GB umbrella.
Of course Glasgow had one other thing going for it. The Referendum bestowed hope and optimism everywhere. Spirits were high, people were coming together to share the message of what an independent Scotland could be like and it never occured to me that there would be anything other than a yes vote in the end. To have the two events in the same year was genius, our Yes paraphernalia went everywhere with us and many conversations were had. For the euphoria to be over so soon afterwards was devastating but I think these games, back on “home” soil, will reignite some of the vigour that people felt and the desire to get out there and do something.
There is no Team GB this time, there is Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey, England etc etc all competing on their own, showcasing their own strengths, basking in their own glories but supporting each other and celebrating each other’s successes and acknowledging the fact that it can be done independently. This will hopefully kick-start the movement that we experienced back in 2014 as we look forward to the next opportunity to take our future into our own hands. Because I had been so convinced back then that the result would be for yes and, although I’m still convinced it will be next time, it is now tempered with some trepidation and I feel sad that the innocence that I had then is gone.
Boris is going, still cocooned in his own bubble of madness where he is convinced he is the new Messiah and I wonder what position he might find himself in in the coming months. There is no doubt that he will not disappear like his predecessors and I suspect we will see him as the new face of the No campaign. He may well be a welcome addition but not for the side that you would expect and yet he will still be capable of causing serious damage. His heirs apparent are showing that they too are cut from the same cloth – Scotland get back in your box – still pontificating to their core support because they know full well that it doesn’t matter they say or do, Scotland has no veto or voice the way things stand. Why should they try to appease us? We don’t count, we never have done and as long as we are tied to Westminster, we never will. And still the threat is held over us, to do what we are told or they will take away our toys by shutting down Holyrood on the pretext of Benefitting Britain. To call the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland an attention seeker who should be ignored when discussing independence is crass even for her party and you wonder just what it is going to take for her party members north of the border to stand up for their country instead of being put down at every opportunity.
As we look at the shambles of Brexit, of immigration, of finance, of energy, it is terrifying to contemplate what still might be to come and to be powerless to change it. We need to grasp this chance, to believe in ourselves and to put in the work and the dedication to get out there and prove what we are capable of ourselves. All on our own, reaping the rewards of setting out a new vision for how we see our society and leading by example, bringing the other member states with us when the time’s right. If our athletes can achieve their dreams and make this country better then so can we.