Poor wee blog withering away on the vine, lonely and forgotten. But still loved, at least by me.
And thanks to friends, about to get a wee burst of life at year end. The last time, Sara Sheridan posted on this blog, it created an unedifying storm of comment. Women has views, shock horror.
It’s fair to say that since then, Sara has been – using the X factor parlance – on a bit of a journey. From dubious to interested to full on Yes. She was one of the stars of Edinburgh Women for Indy, going wherever asked to speak and engage with women voters. Often at a moment’s notice, despite her busy schedule.
Because in between all the politicking, Sara is still a writer and cultural commentator. And very good at both. She is on twitter @sarasheridan and on FB: sarasheridanwriter
Enjoy her New Life Resolutions.
It’s that time of year – the time when you can’t help reviewing what you’ve been up to and thinking about where you might be going next.
2014 was a seminal year for so many people in Scotland. For me, it was revolutionary! I’ve never been interested in politics before. When the Referendum came along it set me alight – suddenly I was up late reading statistics, trawling articles for information and engaging with friends in debate. Some people I know stayed in either a Yes or No bubble but my family and friends came from both sides and I really enjoyed talking to the people around me about the issues.
2014 changed my life. It’s as simple as that.
On 19th September I was gutted. I cried every day for nine days about the No. I still find myself tearing up sometimes. That’s the risk you take when you fall in love with a dream. So that first horrible day, around me, as everyone struggled to rally I was moved by the way we pulled together. A No campaigning friend arrived with a bottle of whisky and we Yessers laid into it! Quite apart from the dreadful disappointment (and let’s face it, one side was always going to be disappointed) I found myself floundering. My life had changed. I had changed. I couldn’t imagine a way forward and I certainly wasn’t going to go back. I have a lovely life, a job I enjoy and a fabulous family but that wasn’t enough any more. In a way politics had made me greedy!
During the referendum I had written articles, appeared on TV and radio and occasionally spoken to meetings. Afterwards, the calls kept coming but somehow, it felt odd, almost purposeless, to pitch up to a morning radio show and air my opinions, when the possibility of real change had been removed. Within the Yes movement people rallied at different paces (some with astonishing speed) but I found myself going slowly. I’m not a party political person, never have been – I am driven by issues. While my husband and several of our friends joined the SNP, I knew that wasn’t for me. They had my vote but not my membership.
In a way I think I was heartbroken. The Referendum had been for me, a love affair with my country and it had given me passion for possibility of changing it for the better. It had set me alight. Like a teenager at the end of her first affair, I struggled to come back down to earth, to align what I had felt so passionately with the day to day reality I came back to when the party was over.
Gradually, I realised I had to find things I could do. Maybe not huge things, but things that were worthwhile. I discussed it with my husband and we made a vow (one that didn’t appear on the front page of the Daily Record) to boycott the organisations and businesses that we felt had behaved dishonourably during the campaign. I’m not talking about people that came out for No. People were entitled to do that. But supermarkets that claimed prices would go up, shops that said they’d fire people and relocate. We made a list and we’ve stuck to it – our shopping habits have changed.
The biggest shock of the Referendum for me, though, was the role the mass market media played and particularly the BBC. I had always trusted the BBC and from time to time I’d worked there. The ongoing bias infuriated me (it still does). We considered cancelling our TV licence. At first I thought this was a big ask – after all, I was now fascinated by politics, how would I do without the News (twice a night) and the rest of UK broadcast political programming? We switched off the telly though and tried it for a week and lo and behold we found we LOVED it. It was strange and very unexpected but not having advertising in the background and being able to pick and choose what to watch (because like many people we had had a lazy, if it’s on we’ll give it a go attitude). We also found we could pick up news stories online easily and in the end, we felt more informed, not less informed by boycotting the television. If you’d like to try it, there is a guide to the ins and outs of cancelling your licence (scroll down) on Wings: http://wingsoverscotland.com/enough-is-enough/
Boycotts are positive consumer action but I also wanted to find ways of boosting the causes I agreed with as well as moving away from businesses and organisations with whom I did not. When the National came out I had a policy of buying 2 copies and leaving one in a local coffee shop or restaurant with the rest of the papers. I made donations to a few crowdfunders and also to the Common Weal. I became a joiner (not political parties) but other organisations, including Women for Independence, which I find completely inspiring.
I still don’t know the way forward. Not really. But I know how I want to vote (which is something I haven’t always known 6 months before the polling date) and I feel good about where my money is going and how it is being used. I suppose the Referendum has given me a sense of responsibility that I never had before.
All of this is not enough. I’m looking at other ways of making a contribution, of shifting my day to day life to let me take part and express myself politically. But it is a start. A step in a different direction and into a different life. I might not have the governance I had hoped for coming into 2015 but I have prospects and I have hope – a hope that change will come, more slowly than we might have liked, but come nonetheless.
And I’m sticking with it – in for the long run.