Here’s something completely different. Inspired by yesterday’s independence referendum in Scotland, I couldn’t resist penning a short story about the whole thing. It’s something of a first, while I’ve written plenty of fiction I’ve never placed any on the blog before. If I get a good response, I may publish some more.
Alex Salmond sits behind a walnut-veneered desk in a windowless room at Gordon Lamb House, the SNP headquarters in Edinburgh. He is surrounded by the detritus of a sleepless night and a draining political campaign. Old newspapers, take away pizza boxes and empty cans of Irn Bru are on every flat surface and scattered across the floor.
A row of desks run across the centre of the room. Young, poorly paid party staff and interns are sat at them, studiously watching a bank of monitors. Some of them show news broadcasts, others show Facebook pages and twitter accounts responding to the latest independence referendum results. Inexplicably, one of the monitors is showing the Great British Bake Off.
All around the walls are portraits of various figures from history. Looking down from on high is; Nelson Mandela, Simon Bolivar, Yasser Arafat, Che Guevara; Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora MacDonald and John Barrowman.
Salmond looks down at a picture of his wife, Moira, on his desk. It is in a cheap plastic frame. The picture is surrounded by Post It notes that have had love hearts drawn on them in pink high lighter pen. He blows a kiss to the frame and mutters; “We’ve been apart too long, but we’ll be united again tonight my sweet. Ha’ no fear”
A clock strikes 7am. As it does so, a young man knocks on the door and walks nervously into the room. He is about 20 years of age, has bad skin and is wearing very cheap glasses.Below the waist he is wearing a kilt, sporran and Ghillie Brogue shoes with a dirk tucked into the right sock.
He holds out an envelope. This was his moment to impress the much revered leader of the Scottish National Party. In a soft, Orkney accent he tells Salmond it contains the final result in well rehearsed but grammatically poor Scots Gaelic.
The young party staff all look at one another nervously. They’ve seen this happen before and they know what’s coming.
Salmond takes the envelope and slaps the messenger across the back of the head. The young man looks confused.
“In English boy,” Salmond thunders, “Gaelic might be good for charming a wee lassie from the Western Isles but it’ll nea’r help us trade with the Chinese will it?”
“No, First Minister, it won’t,” the young man replies.
“Right, well away wi’ ya, and take off that kilt. It’s a symbol of the auld ways. Did you know the Scots stopped wearing kilts centuries ago? They only came back into fashion because of that fanny the Prince Regent”
The messenger leaves the room quickly. The party staff, none of them displaying any tartan or wearing kilts, snigger at his misfortune.
Salmond sits down at his desk, opens the envelope inspects its contents and nods. Giving nothing else away, he presses a button on the telephone in front of him.
“Send in Sturgeon,” he says to a secretary at the other end of the line, “Oh, and a bottle of Bells’ and two glasses. I cannae stand that expensive single malt shite that Swinney gaimme earlier.”
Salmond turns to his young, party staff. “Right, you lot, jog on. Me ‘n the Big Lass have got important stuff to talk aboot.”
They get up and leave without saying a word. A moment later Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, enters the room. The secretary moves some rubbish out of the way and places a tray on the desk. On it are two glasses, a bottle of Bells’ whisky and a jug of water. She leaves quickly before catching Salmond’s eye.
“Nicola, take a seat and pour us both a drink. It’s been a fantastic result.”
Sat down with a close member of his campaign team, Salmond changes completely. He has no need to impress younger staff so relaxes, takes out a packet of Dunhill cigarettes and lights two. He hands one to Sturgeon. She draws deeply on it.
“Bugger the smoking ban, hey?” she says, exhaling and sending a plume of smoke towards the ceiling.
“The ban counts for nothing in the First Minster’s office, Nicola.”
“How did we do?” asks Sturgeon.
“The strategy has worked perfectly, better than expected actually. We got 45 per cent of the vote.”
“Nae, we never.”
“Aye, the Sassanachs had better get their English Parliament up and running pretty soon. Next time we’ll win.”
The two politicians sup on their drinks. After a moment of contemplation Salmond breaks the silence.
“This was all part o’ the plan. Rome was nae’ built in a day. Mark my words, we’ll be free by 2033.”