Experienced my first anti-Scottish racism on Wednesday. I've lived in Scotland for fourteen years now and have experienced plenty of anti-English racism; usually from people in bars who were on my side while England were playing Germany but then, ninety seconds after the final whistle blows, decide to call me an English cunt. Oh how we laughed. Feels odd to be on the other side of it, but not entirely unexpected.
On the train down to That London, through That London, and out the other side Dorset-bound. I am pretty much a London expert now. The first time I went down there as an adult I spent the first day simply riding around the integrated transport system in awe. I thought that having a Lobster card would be creepy, RFID and all that, but it turns out to be fantastically useful—look at me, ma! I can go anywhere! They even have boats!
By now I just huff and glare at the other passengers and catch the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square and then transfer onto the Northern Line to Waterloo without a care. I still find London itself a little creepy. There are no old people in London. There are no disabled people in London—although I did once see someone on crutches. Everyone is just slightly too well turned-out and glamorous. It's as if the entire place, all seven million of them, are one giant Potemkin village. But the integrated transport system: that's nifty, and I can commute with the best of them.
Through London, then, and out the other side. Found myself on the train out of Waterloo sitting at a table with three young urban professionals, all wearing amusing cufflinks on shirts that would cost a week's worth of my salary. From the conversation I judged that they were in the business of buying and selling yachts to other, wealthier, young urban professionals. I was becoming increasingly aware that I was in England and that these were not my people, never were. At this point I was listening to Capercaillie on the ipod and eating a deliberately, relentlessly, nay dare I say it vindictively pan-European sandwich that I'd prepared earlier (sopocka and Leerdammer on ciabatta, trivia-fans) in an attempt to stave off homesickness. It was partially successful and that is because, where sandwiches are concerned, I roll twenties. I had crossed the border five hours previously.
Of the ticket inspector I asked a question which, I thought, would be a perfectly reasonable example of the genre:
Is there wifi?
There was a Silence, the kind of silence you only get when the saloon doors flap and the honky-tonk piano player stops mid-arpeggio. Said silence continued for about two and a half seconds longer than was comfortable, although it felt a lot longer while the Inspector looked at me—inspected me, no less— with narrowed eyes, as if I'd asked him for a happy ending. Eons passed, the civilization of man rose and fell, the civilization of cockroaches rose and fell, the civilization of squid rose and fell. Galaxies collided, then crashed and flew off. Then spake the Inspector thus:
No. The company's owned by a Scotsman.
Funny, that, said I. I've just had free wifi all the way down on East Coast Rail. That one's owned by five million Scotsmen.
Okay, no I didn't, but I was thinking it pretty loud.
The training in Dorset was all about time management, so mostly consisted of
To-do lists are good and
Get a to-do-list. Then there was a section on assertiveness, because the fundamental yet unspoken rule of time management is
always postpone meetings with time-wasting morons. That evening, after the CULINARY CHALLENGE and an indeterminate number of beers,
$FINANCE_DIRECTOR asked of me my opinion on the possibilities of Scottish Independence. I am a good manager who pays attention to his training, and I seize opportunities as they arise. This was a chance to test my newfound assertiveness, so I told him.
scotm, you would have been proud of me, although I suspect some of my figures were off. And I don't think
$FINANCE_DIRECTOR was convinced.
Currently entrained at 113mph, somewhere between Newark-on-Trent and Worksop, on my way back to a civilized nation, where we have free wifi. And healthcare.