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An Indyref Romance: Harmony and Dissonance – Chapter 6

Orazio Gentileschi and Giovanni Lanfranco, Saint Cecilia and an Angel, Italian, 1582 - 1647, c. 1617/1618 and c. 1621/1627, oil on canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection

That same evening Mark and Paul were in the Prince of Wales once again. Paul had just been at another ‘Yes” campaign meeting while Mark had been studying Chaucer.
“What will you have?” asked Mark.
“Let’s have a look. I think, I’ll try the porter. What about you?”
“I’ve not had that new IPA, so I’ll have that. But I’ll have sip of yours, too, if I may”
It wasn’t especially busy as it was a week night, and they found a quiet enough spot.
“What have you been doing this evening?” asked Paul.
“Just the usual study. I’ve been reading over some bits of the ‘Canterbury Tales’.”
“I’m amazed you bother with that stuff. There are easier options in English, aren’t there?”
“I rather like the language, besides must everything be easy? I don’t think your campaign is easy for instance.”
“You don’t fancy joining us?”
“I’m from Newcastle as you well know.”
“We have English people with us.”
“Those that live in Scotland. Seems odd, but I can just about understand it if they agree with your policies.”
“We have a few supporters who are English and have lived all their lives in England.”
“Don’t get that. I’m afraid, it looks awfully like self-hatred.”
“No, it’s people who see independence in Scotland as the best chance for the left, both in Scotland and in England.”
“More likely I’d have thought to leave us with a permanent Tory government.”
“There are quite a few people on the left in England who hope we’ll win.”
“I know. Most of them are from the old style left. Regretting the last thirty years. That’s not where I am.”
“You want to get rid of austerity though, you want to get rid of the bedroom tax, do something for the poor?”
“I think, we need economic recovery for all these things.”
“You sound like a Tory.”
“Oh, come on! I think, if Labour had got in last time, we’d have had some sort of austerity, too. Maybe a bit different, but not much.”
“I think, we need a bit more optimism about the future: an alternative to austerity.”
“I’m afraid, you’re not going to get rid of poverty by putting a tick in a box.”
“But our oil?”
“It’s volatile: the price goes up wildly and falls wildly, and, anyway, Scotland gets the revenue from it already. You can’t very well spend it twice.”
Paul was looking still more frustrated as the conversation went on.
“Always the negative from you, Mark!” he said.
“Well, let’s move on to other things. I’m just a neutral about independence.”
“I was feeling so positive after our meeting.”
“Why was that in particular?”
“Well, partly because I had a nice chat afterwards with Roisin.”
“I’d watch that one if I were you.”
“No, she was nice. She complimented me on what I’d said during the meeting about street campaigning. She had some good ideas, too. Maybe we’ll work together.”
“I thought it was awkward between you two.”
“It is. Her boyfriend used to get jealous, but it seems they’ve split up.”
“How many is that in the last couple of years?”
“I don’t know. I was away for one of them. Does it matter?”
“Does she know about Jenny?”
“Well, I’ve not said anything.”
“I guarantee she does know. Women always know these things.”
“You don’t think?”
“I do think. She probably still thinks she has a claim on you.”
“No. She was just being nice and, anyway, I’m not interested.”
“Be good to Jenny, Paul, she’s the real deal and worth a heck of a lot more than Roisin. That one’s really poisonous.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I don’t care for all the Celtic, Irish Republican nonsense. She hates Brits as if she were a Catholic in Northern Ireland in the seventies. She’s sectarian.”
“But so are the unionists: sectarian.”
“I have no time for them either. Silly men in bowler hats. But it’s only a Glasgow thing. I can’t abide that stuff. Very glad I came here where it doesn’t much exist.”
“Jenny’s great, Mark. I know what you’re saying, but it was easier going out with Roisin. I knew what to do. We went out, we went to bed.”
“Then when you went to France, she got bored and went to bed with someone else.”
“Still at least we went to bed.”
“I don’t think you should turn it into such a big deal,” said Mark.
Paul smiled and looked at his friend.
“That’s easy for you to say. Am I right?”
“Susie and I have been together for three years. For the first six months I didn’t even go into her room. For the next six months we only kissed.”
“So it’s a matter of time and patience?”
“No, it’s a matter of trust and commitment, and love.”
“How long did you have to wait?”
“It doesn’t really matter, does it?”
“No. I’m not prying, I hope?”
“It all happened very gradually and with no sense of hurry. In the end it was her suggestion. I was happy to wait forever.”
“But what a waste of time, Mark, if you’re going to get there in the end!”
“Who knows where you get in the end when you’re beginning. It’s not about that anyway. It’s a relationship between two people. You learn to love more and more and when you feel you’ll be together forever, it all happens quite naturally at the right moment.”
“You don’t believe, do you?”
“In what? In religion? In Christianity? No. I don’t think so. I believe in moderately left wing politics and I try to be a decent, kind person. But, no, I don’t believe what Susie does.”
“Do you discuss it?”
“Sometimes.”
“Do you try to persuade her?”
“But why? Who knows, maybe I’m the one who’s wrong?”
“But it’s all such nonsense, Mark.”
“Perhaps, but Susie and Jenny are still two of the best people I know.”
“There’s a sort of barrier between me and Jenny.”
“You’ve been together less than a month. Be patient.”
“I’m being more patient than I thought possible.”
“About sex? Good Lord, Paul! It’s not that big a deal surely? You need to stop thinking of yourself so much and also stop thinking of a woman as some sort of device that satisfies an urge. Long term, that sort of stuff isn’t the key. It’s the person that matters. It’s the person you’re with that counts. Nothing else.”
“I can get that, at least in theory, but it’s not just that kind of barrier. She clams up when we discuss things.”
“Like what things?”
“Well, when I argue about politics or religion she doesn’t even try to put up a fight. She just says something disarming.”
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Susie and Jenny, and I’ve heard Jenny a few times during a formal debate. I can assure you she knows how to argue.”
“Then why not with me?”
“Maybe she thinks it would cause you to fall out, if she gave you her best shot.”
“That’s a bit disrespectful, don’t you think? I can hold my own, too.”
“Paul, Jenny is one of the brightest people I’ve ever met. She’s on a different level to me. She just doesn’t want to argue with someone she’s going out with. You’re her first proper boyfriend. She really, really likes you and doesn’t want to make a wrong step. Just show her that you can discuss things without falling out and she’ll gradually discuss more. But there’s no future in looking for arguments with your girlfriend. I never argue with Susie. Or very rarely. What’s the point?”
“It’s just I want to persuade her.”
“About what, Paul? Independence or Christianity?”
“Both.”
“Because you want to get her into bed in an independent Scotland if not before?”
“That’s not entirely fair.”
“I don’t think what you’re trying is entirely fair either. Has she tried to persuade you of anything?”
“No.”
“She could, you know. She could put up one hell of an argument.”
“How do you know?”
“I was in the same position a couple of years back, trying to persuade Susie into bed, trying to undermine her beliefs. I feel pretty guilty about it now. You should have heard Jenny defend her friend and herself. They’re not stupid. They have good arguments, too.”
“I’ve never heard any.”
“You’re not open to them yet. Until you are, it’s easy to dismiss.”
“I don’t much like her politics either.”
“I imagine, she doesn’t much like yours. Jenny’s one of the few Scots I’ve met who’ll openly admit to being a Tory.”
“There’s something immoral about it.”
“I disagree with her politics, too, but Jenny is not immoral, nor is she selfish. She’s more moral than anyone I know. She’s much more moral than me or you for that matter. It’s the person that’s important, not the politics.”
“It’s just hard when we disagree on so much.”
“Then find something to agree on, and do it quick.”

This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog:
https://www.effiedeans.com/2018/06/an-indyref-romance-harmony-and.html

About Effie Deans

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Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger who works at the University of Aberdeen. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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