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Friday, June 14, 2024
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Laterally SpeakingHumphrey Walwyn 02/12

Humphrey Walwyn 02/12

With the growing debate about an independent Scotland, I am starting to feel seriously left out. It seems you can only take part in this discussion if you live North of the Border or are a genuine Scot. My mother was one quarter Scots (which I suppose makes me 1/8th) but that is not really enough to qualify me as a genuine Scottish person. I also had a Welsh Godmother (now alas departed) and she lived in Edinburgh for a couple of years, but I don’t think this will help me either. Anyway, I digress…
This morning on the radio I briefly listened to Arlene from Arbroath who was in favour of devolution. So apparently was Penny from Perth. Then someone or other who had a very strong Scots accent rattled on and on but as I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, I have no idea where he lived and if he was for or against it.
But what about the rest of us? Don’t the good residents of England and the Marshwood Vale in particular have valid opinions too? Devolution is a two way street you know. It’s a split between two partners after 300 years of marriage and both parties need be consulted. Personally, if anyone was to bother to ask me, I would welcome Scottish devolution just as long as they pay for their share of their independent means (i.e. defence, their share of our collective national debt plus an export tax on haggis.)
It’s the current fashion for many Europeans to want to form a new country and forge a new national identity. It gives them a new start in life and makes them feel better about themselves. Did you realise that since 1990, there have been a total of 34 new countries in the world? Names such as Moldova, Georgia, Serbia and Ukraine now grace the Eurovision song contest—another newbie, Azerbaijan even won it last year. European sporting competitions have become more and more complicated with so many new countries taking part. It’s rumoured that football’s Euro 2016 might last all summer. Perish the thought…
This spirit of independence has all happened because their inhabitants wanted it to happen and they voted to make it so. Why don’t we do the same for the South West? I’m sure the rest of England wouldn’t be that bothered. They might even welcome it since they could then go abroad for their summer holidays while staying in the UK (if you see what I mean). Cornwall is nearly independent anyway and has its own Cornish road signs, language and pasties. The whole of Wessex or even just the Marshwood Vale could go the same way.
We would all have lots of fun designing the new Marshwoodian flag and composing our new national anthem. In keeping with our reputation as the food centre of the UK, our flag might feature crossed prawns on a bed of edible nettles or perhaps a West Bay crab with rampant claws. Our anthem would have to be composed by a good local band (hundreds to choose from) and written in praise of the noble Scallop. It would be sung at morning assembly in every Marshwoodian school. Economically we’d be fine as we would join the EEC as a separate nation and receive copious European grants. Just like the rest of England, we wouldn’t join the Euro but we would peg the English Pound to our new currency—the Golden Cap. ‘Want to stay with our Monarchy? No problem, we can join the Commonwealth as an independent country and keep Her Majesty as our Head of State just like Scotland is proposing to do.
Think of the advantages: we would be able to halve VAT to 10% and add our own tax—SWAT (South West Access Tax) to all foreign paying tourists from the rest of Britain who drive along the A35 and the A303 on their way to Devon and Cornwall. And we could have our own postage stamps (with nice little pictures of ammonites or Ottery St Mary) and our own language (every letter ‘s’ becomes a ‘z’). Schools could have their own Vale exam papers, Marshwoodian police cars be painted in forest green for better camouflage and we would all listen to MBC (Marshwood Broadcasting Corp) as well as Wessex FM. We could even enter ourselves for the Eurovision song contest and Euro 2016 if we had a whole summer available and if we deemed such events worthy of our many collective talents. Most important of all, if we organised the whole thing really quickly, we might be able to still send a team to the 2012 London Olympics. OK, maybe not representing every category, but certainly we could make a contribution to gig rowing and swimming. I reckon we could also put a great Olympic Skittle team together. Our gold medal winning team (from our local pub of course) would be paraded through Seaton, Crewkerne and Dorchester on an open-topped bus and the Mayors of Bridport and Lyme Regis would declare a public holiday. Well, it doesn’t do any harm to be an independent dreamer, does it?

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