Friends I Hadn't Met
Posted on June 2nd, 2019
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
I had thought my chances of attending the All Under One Banner march at Galashiels were not good as I was unable to find a family member who was free to act as my sighted guide for the day. Fortunately, a few folk responded very kindly to a Twitter appeal, and thanks to my Twitter pal, Confidence Over Fear @OorDayHasCame, I was able to get there and participate in the march. It also provided us with a chance to have a great blether on the way there and back.
As for the march, the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, with plenty of chanting, music and a lot of other noise varying from foghorns and whistles to motorbike engines being revved by the Yes Bikers.
The other great thing was the response from the locals. Saltires were held up, and many stood to applaud the march. Considering this was in the Borders, the response really was terrific.
The only negative side was the traditional presence of a small group of British Nationalists who, as usual, shouted insults, especially targeting English Scots for yes. A moment’s consideration might have led them to reflect on who holds the racist views, but self-reflection probably isn’t their strong point.
I did hear another local shout about "The blind leading the blind" as my guide and I walked past. It didn’t particularly bother me as it’s not exactly original, but again the fact that someone thinks it is perfectly acceptable to shout in an insulting tone when witnessing an act of kindness is rather revealing. It was in stark contrast to the reaction of several individuals to whom I must apologise for whacking with my long cane when the procession bunched up at several points on the route. All of them laughed it off, and this helped me feel very much a part of the occasion. It was, as Confidence Over fear said, a march not of strangers but of friends we hadn’t met yet.
The post-march music and speeches were very good, although I confess I didn’t stay right to the end as I’m still recuperating from a strained Achilles, and I was getting pretty sore, but what I did hear was full of positivity and togetherness.
It was great to meet up with some people I had only previously known from Twitter, but one other meeting was, for me, very significant. A photographer spotted my guide and I, decked out in Saltire hats and Saltire sunglasses, and asked if he could take some pictures for Irish newspapers. We had a great chat about the mutual feelings of support and respect between Ireland and Scotland, and about the changing demographics which will, we all fervently hoped, lead to a united Ireland and an independent Scotland. Those things will not solve every problem for either country, but they will at least enable both to begin the long walk on the road to normality. And that, for me, is what the march was all about. There were thousands of people who may disagree with each other on some aspects of policy, but who all agree that the only way to reach a position where we can debate such differences sensibly and implement the majority view, is for Scotland to become a normal country.
There are several other All Under One Banner marches scheduled this year. I won’t be able to get to all of them, but I certainly hope to get to one or two, and I’m looking forward to meeting yet more friends.