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