This “common man” was never in the original chronicles of the Scottish Wars of Independence. History was written by the elite for the benefit of the elite, it never had the common man and woman in mind – they were always unimportant. The medieval chroniclers went into lurid detail when describing the deaths of knights on the battlefield, they seldom mentioned the village women who were raped and murdered or the peasant farmers conscripted as archer fodder.
A long time before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, before the abolition of slavery and serfdom, Scots were proud to say that We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns.
We can’t have a society where the state and the media construe this racialised pecking order – infused with the poisons of fear and ignorance – without expecting some clown somewhere to take it seriously.
We’ve only been kept in chains by our own consent; be that as working people under management and ownership or a nation under the heel of an empire.
Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League, is a man I have struggled to accept. His open racism and Islamophobia have turned my stomach. Yet he and I share much in common.
To me 'Sleekit' and 'Cow'rin' were terms of contempt, describing the very worst qualities in people. Sly and cowardly in a single person falls short of anything approximating a compliment. It struck me as odd that the ploughman would describe the wee mouse he had just made homeless before winter as Sleekit and Cow'rin, but he does.
Now I catch myself wondering about our little rituals of hope; those routine things that we do to invest in the future and safeguard us from the past or our nightmares.
Long Scots tradition had it, even in the midst of austere Calvinism, that oan the nicht o’ Samhain the de’il an’ aw his dubh yins wad be aboon. It was a night of bogles, carlins, and the odd lurking kelpie. Auld yarns and songs, in a time when even the adults swore by their encounters with the banshee, made sure the bairns were terrified.