Over the last year or two I’ve become overly fond of the odd occasion where my work takes me to some of the smaller towns or villages. The places where it seems that time has slightly stood still, and if you stand and look in certain spots you could be looking at exactly the same scenery as someone 200 years ago could see. The shops have hand painted, sometimes faded signs, featuring the names of the people who own them and what their business is. Cobblestoned streets, green all over the place and marks of heritage and history still left in one piece. Markets happen on the same day every week, odd fetes and fairs throughout the summer, signs for events that happen at the schools or town halls. I was always so adamant that I loved being born in a city and would never leave. Those older than me would give a knowing grin and tell me that I was wrong and with age, comes a need for ‘a breath of fresh air’ and space away from the chaos.
They are right. I think that is definitely part of it. I’ve never felt more interested in the world and the universe as I am now. I’m currently cramming my brain with books on rewilding or the cosmos with a thirst for knowledge about nature and the sad disappearance of it like I’ve not had before. But this need isn’t just age or a want to escape urbanity. I feel it’s because the more I travel the more I realise the world is becoming so very similar. Over the last two years comedy has taken me to quite a lot of European cities and with few exceptions, many have started to look the same. Several international chain coffee shops, more international chain fast food restaurants. The same phone shops, banks, supermarkets. So many seem to have lost their identity to this vast corporate swarm of consumption.
The idea of globalisation was, for many years, something I thought the world should adhere to. All of us, all humans, together, as one. United in being our species and working together because of it. What a lovely idealistic dream. I lauded the European Union, respecting that it was founded to stop wars between European nations, an idea that rightfully won the Nobel Peace Prize many years later. We have a global consciousness to defeat prejudice and knock down barriers between us, and what better way than to realise globalisation worldwide? Except it doesn’t mean that any more. It seems to now mean that the same companies can take over the same places. Corporations can draw people in around the world to buy things they don’t need and get into debt they can’t afford, all the while passing the blame onto the working people. It means bigger, more powerful countries can swoop into smaller ones and demand they conform to their standards, and give up their resources, causing more conflict and rebellion than before. It means history is destroyed and identities are blurred into faint memory of what was.
I should add that I’m not a nationalist. What I find even more upsetting than the discarding of history is the misusing of that faint memory to pretend times were something they weren’t. To accuse a specific people of ruining it all or to demand we retain values that never existed. It’s people with these sorts of views that now speak out against international unions, for all the wrong reasons. It’s never TTIP or removing power even further from the people.
I have no say in the Scottish Independence debate and nor do I want one. I’ve seen very intelligent people speak their views on both the Yes and No campaigns, and similarly I’ve seen some very ignorant people do the same. It’s sad to see the most engaging political event in the UK in some years become so vitriolic. But I’m really intrigued by an independent Scotland. I have read a lot of arguments for and against and I feel sorry for any Scottish people trying to really find a clear, well thought through argument about it that gives a definitive correct answer one way or the other. I guess that’s probably because there isn’t one. A Yes could mean all sorts of financial repercussions. But then a No vote means staying in the constitutional ideas that many aren’t happy with in any country in the UK right now anyway. It means breaking from a government that isn’t their government anyway. It’s a government from London for well, London really. A government who doesn’t seem to understand that the way to woo over people who are dissatisfied with you isn’t to patronise them with false heartache. A Yes vote would be saying there is another way and I can’t help but find that a bit exciting. Reverse globalisation of sorts.
Do you remember the vote for AV in the UK a few years ago? AV was a flawed system of voting but the vote was the first change in years to change how the voting system worked. But the UK voted no, so once again, nothing changes, and therefore nothing further can change. If Scotland vote No, it does feel like the same might happen.
97% of eligible voters in Scotland have registered to vote on Thursday which is incredible. As long as people vote with their instinct rather than how they feel they’ve been pushed to do so by propaganda, fear mongering, or desperate pleas, then that’s a very good thing. And maybe realising that if that many people turn out to vote for anything it can actually change things, maybe that will encourage others that things can be different. Or the same. Or more importantly, how we, as people, would like them to be. Not how coffee chains want them, or phone shops, or banks, or governments more interested in their image and short term gains. If Scotland stays in the UK, it’s still a nation of people as it has been for years. But now one who might be empowered with more political interest. If Scotland leaves we’re still the same people. Just people who’ve seen what changes can happen. Either way, there’ll be change and that is the breath of fresh air I think many have been needing for some time.