The in­de­pen­dence ques­tion? Been there ... got the T-shirt

The Herald - Arts - - HIGHLIGHTS - KEITH BRUCE

Iwatched, once again, Dick Lester’s un­beat­able 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night on tele­vi­sion last weekend but I missed the lat­est Bea­tles juke­box mu­si­cal Let It Be when it rolled through Glas­gow a cou­ple of months back. I do, how­ever, have the T-shirt, sent to me as part of a pro­mo­tional pack­age for the show and an ir­ri­tant to purists with its mar­ry­ing of the ze­bra cross­ing im­age from the Abbey Road al­bum with the ti­tle of the show, and a quite dif­fer­ent al­bum.

Sim­ply for my own amuse­ment, I took it to a T-shirt print­ing shop and had them add the words “Over Soon” be­low, in the same font. Did I have in mind a com­ment on Bea­tles nos­tal­gia, or the end­less re­cy­cling of a peer­less cat­a­logue for commercial gain? I don’t rightly re­call but when­ever I have worn the shirt, folk have as­sumed that “Let it be over soon” is a heart­felt plea for an end to the ref­er­en­dum de­bate.

That was es­pe­cially true at a party in Lon­don last weekend, where I had teamed it with a Bruce tar­tan kilt for the oc­ca­sion, so per­haps that is less cu­ri­ous than it might at first seem.

That ev­ery­one I spoke to was gen­uinely in­ter­ested in my views on in­de­pen­dence was grat­i­fy­ing and most of the res­i­dents of the UK cap­i­tal whose opin­ions I sought in re­turn seemed con­vinced that West­min­ster, and the coali­tion Govern­ment in par­tic­u­lar, had failed, and was con­tin­u­ing to fail, to take the mat­ter as se­ri­ously as it de­served.

This level of en­gage­ment rather con­tra­dicted the pop­u­lar in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the T-shirt, as well as my own con­sid­ered opin­ion that the cur­rent jour­nal­is­tic com­pul­sion to in­clude an en­quiry into the in­ter­vie­wee’s ref­er­en­dum voting in­ten­tions in ev­ery fea­ture ar­ti­cle was be­com­ing a mite tire­some – the me­dia’s at­tempt to fill the vac­uum left by vac­u­ous politi­cians.

It is not dif­fi­cult to work out, how­ever, why some high-pro­file Scot­tish mu­si­cians and ac­tors have de­clined to be drawn on the ques­tion, when the ef­fect will as­suredly be to ob­scure their real rea­son for giv­ing the in­ter­view be­hind a head­line that de­fines them merely as a Yea or a Nay. Though you would look in vain through my in­ter­view with Ni­cola Benedetti at the start of this week in search of an in­ti­ma­tion of her sup­port for ei­ther camp, that does not mean I didn’t ask her.

Mon­day’s fea­ture was all about the clas­si­cal violinist ex­plain­ing why she had de­cided to dab­ble in tra­di­tional mu­sic on her new al­bum, team­ing Max Bruch with Robert Burns, James Scott Skin­ner and Phil Cunningham. To have in­cluded pol­i­tics in the avail­able space would have been to ex­clude some of the dis­cus­sion of the mu­sic, but de­pite what you may have read else­where, Benedetti was adamant that she has not made any dec­la­ra­tion, and as a non-res­i­dent will have no vote any­way.

Her al­bum is en­ti­tled Home­com­ing: A Scot­tish Fan­tasy, and was clearly con­ceived in the light of the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s des­ig­na­tion of 2014 as a sec­ond Year of Home­com­ing and also timed to co­in­cide with the host­ing of the 20th Com­mon­wealth Games by the City of Glas­gow.

How­ever – and read into this what you will – the violinist was em­phatic that the project pre-dated the set­ting of the ref­er­en­dum date, and that she would not wish it to be seen as any sort of com­ment on the bal­lot, no mat­ter how fine she looks in a Vivi­enne West­wood tar­tan frock. Those last dozen words have been added by a man in a kilt and wordy T-shirt.

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