Today's addition to our 'Tell Us Your Story' campaign is from Alexander Hall: I felt at home in Scotland
I wanted to add a story to your excellent section about why the Union is important to me.
To start with, I have always described myself as British rather than English for the simple reason that my mother’s side of the family (although born and raised in England) is Welsh. My wife, although wholly English by heritage and almost exclusively by upbringing was actually born in Scotland.
For some years I had wanted to visit Scotland and see some of the fantastic scenery. But events from about 2013 onwards made me wary. All I could see of Scotland on the news was shouty and loud nationalists banging on like a stuck record about independence. The tone always seemed really aggressive and so unfriendly that I began to think that maybe it was best to give Scotland the swerve.
All that changed on the 9th June this year. Debating with my wife where to go on holiday and seeing the General Election results come in where the SNP were, to an extent, put back in their box I declared: ‘’You know, I am suddenly feeling a bit better about Scotland than I was before.’’ Maybe I am placing too much importance on this but seeing Scots of all political persuasions putting aside their differences and backing the supporters of the Union just screamed to me that Scotland might still be the friendly, welcoming and beautiful place I had longed to visit before Nicola, Alex and Angus had persuaded me otherwise.
So up we went and I felt a thrill as we crossed the border. On the long journey from Birmingham to Kirkcaldy we stopped just outside of Edinburgh. I still felt somewhat nervous that my English accent would cause a few people to give me abuse. It sounds daft now in hindsight but that is just how damaging the nationalist drive for independence at all costs really was; I was worried that Scots hated the English.
Luckily I was worrying about nothing. Everywhere we went we came across nothing but really friendly people. Not only that but some of the sights made me feel proud to be British. Walking round the stunning Stirling Castle, the ancient World War defences on an island in the Forth, the glorious City of Edinburgh or the great port of Dundee (where our very own Winston Churchill had been the MP for many years) I felt I was experiencing the history of MY country rather than of a foreign land.
Sadly the holiday had to end at some point. A quick stop at Gretna for some more shared history and I crossed the border again. But the funny thing is that other than a sign on the side of the road it barely felt like a border at all. I felt at home in Scotland as I did in Cornwall, Suffolk or Liverpool.
So in summary I feel a bit daft now for every thinking of Scotland as some distant and anti-English outpost. It is part of our shared country. Being born in England but with a wife born in Scotland and grandparents born in Wales I was wrong to ever doubt the strength of the Union. So my message to anyone in England is to look at the message the Scots sent us earlier in the summer when they rose up and said to Nicola, Alex and Angus ‘’We want OUR Scotland back.’’ Scotland is a beautiful and magnificent part of our Union and the Union is where is belongs, no matter what some tribal Nationalists say.
- Alexander Hall