If I’m honest, the thrill of having a Scottish boyfriend has never quite worn off.
Without, naturally, wanting to regard him as a cultural novelty (I even let him take the tam o’shanter off for special occasions), I’ve an odd sort of pride in having a beau from north of the border.
Growing up as a simple Sussex gal, lacking in accent, cuisine or any other distinguishing features to set me apart from Surrey and Hampshire, I never dared hope I might one day have legitimate reason to throw a Burns Night party. I thought the closest I’d get to regional glamour was a thumping crush on David Tennant and a taste for Irn Bru on a hangover. At best I might manage a nice boy from the Midlands, but a fully-fledged dour Scotsman was a dream as distant as Gretna Green itself.
But, thanks to the internet and internal migration, I bagged one! And now we’re into our fourth year of rich cultural exchange and hilarious linguistic misunderstandings. “Swede? You mean turnip! HAHAHAHA” is usually how it goes. “You ‘amn’t’ hungry? AMN’T? That’s a MUCH better phrase than ‘I’m not’, I shall use it all the time!” I say ‘orange squash’; he says ‘diluting juice’ - let’s not call the whole thing off. Etc.
So it’s in this spirit of British unity that I’ve begun feeling queasy about the referendum. It feels odd to care so much about something you have no say in. It’s a bit like pleading with someone who hasn’t quite decided whether or not to dump you yet. My own partnership might be going strong, but writing this on Monday, with only 100 days to go until Scotland makes its decision, the threat of a national break-up is looming larger than ever.
He can’t vote either, having long ago chosen the bright lights of the capital over the blanket shops of the Royal Mile. And though independence might not have an instant effect, no waking up to find all the oil and shortbread and boyfriends have been taken away in the night, it would be foolish to think our two countries wouldn’t pine for each other in ways we can’t quite yet predict.
“People living in London may not have a vote, but they do have a voice,” says Alistair Darling in tonight’s Evening Standard. I don’t know how my voice is going to make much difference – particularly as I’m most likely to use it to sing an off-key rendition of Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now, directed vaguely northwards – but I’ll say it anyway. Ooh-oo-ooh, Scotland, please don’t go.