2014 Referendum, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Cybernats, Loneliness, Lunar, Man-in-the-moon., Melancholy., Moon, Reverend Stuart Campbell, Scotland, Scottish Daily Mail, Scottish Independence, Scottish Nationalism, The Moon, Twitter, Wings Over Scotland
My dear, good friend Tycienski.
Even though there is rarely any news to report from up here on the moon, I must apologise for the lengthy period which has elapsed since my last letter. The following may not excuse my tardiness but I hope that it will suffice as an explanation.
Over the last two years, my time has been increasingly consumed by a remarkable new hobby. You have frequently written about the great cause of Scottish independence, and as a devoted reader of your website, Tychy, I soon began to take a renewed interest in this subject. I suppose that some of the hullabaloo about Scotland’s future which is presently rocking the planet would have eventually reached me up here on the moon. To educate myself further, I subscribed to the website Wings Over Scotland and I followed its founder, the Reverend Stuart Campbell, on Twitter. This acquainted me with all of the controversies raging within the referendum debate.
You should have seen the astonishment and anger with which I read about the brave Scottish nation being suppressed by the bias of BBC Question Time. The huddled Scottish masses yearning to breathe free, but cruelly chained down by Alan Cochrane’s disagreeable articles in the Telegraph! I crammed my brain with every detail of every news story from Wings Over Scotland, until I was trembling and flickering in a sort of thin, perpetual epileptic fit. For over a year I also dutifully read Bella Caledonia and National Collective every day, which is strange since I now cannot remember a single thing from either of these websites. I profited greatly, however, from reading Lallands Peat Worrier. Whilst Wings usually induces the watery muddle of Tennent’s lager, the Peat Worrier provides the rich, lovely clarity of Drambuie.
I soon wanted to strike a blow for Scottish independence rather than merely read about it. I registered with Twitter, assuming the name Luna-Nat, and I began to tweet along to the debate. I tweeted that Alistair Carmichael was “outrageous” and Alistair Darling “abominable.” Every time that Project Fear reared its head, I was there to fire a tweet at it. Indeed, I was soon issuing tweets with the rapidity of a machine-gun spraying bullets.
Immediately upon awakening, I would spring from my bed and rush stark-naked to my computer to begin tweeting. Eighteen hours later, I would sink exhausted from the screen, perhaps gobbling at a biscuit before crawling back under the covers again to sleep dreamlessly.
The paradox of hell is that you never know when you are finally there. You slip imperceptibly from normality into something dark and damnable.
Yesterday morning, I was suddenly startled, and then my heart was thumping thickly with panic. The telephone was ringing.
I rarely receive phone calls up here on the moon and the last one had been several years ago (this had been a wrong number). I had even forgotten that I still retained the applicable equipment. I followed the ringing until I had located the device under a stack of old newspapers in the hallway.
“Good morning,” an unnervingly clear voice said. “Do I have the honour of addressing the Man in the Moon?”
For all of the speaker’s politeness, there was a horrible, almost glistening quality to his voice. It sounded at once jolly and menacing.
“Yes, this is the Man in the Moon. How may I help you?”
“I’m a journalist from the Scottish Daily Mail. We’re presently running a feature which unmasks Cybernats and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions?”
“Certainly – I’d be delighted. Will my picture be in the paper?”
The journalist agreed that this was a possibility.
“Very well, what would you like to know?”
“I see that you spend a lot of time tweeting about Scottish independence…”
“I do!” I laughed with surprise.
“Over 30,000 tweets in the last… err… day?”
For a moment, the note of diabolical assurance in the journalist’s voice was suspended and there was an impromptu familiarity between us. He sounded disappointed or even upset. “Everybody should take an interest in politics,” I hastened to explain.
“But you can’t even vote in the referendum. You live on the fucking moon!”
I gasped in shock. “I am not accustomed to being insulted,” I spluttered at the journalist. “And since you insist on taking that tone with me, I shall bid you good morning!”
On putting down the receiver – where it would most likely remain undisturbed for years – I found that my whole world had been within a matter of minutes completely deflated. I traipsed around the rooms of my home, surveying them afresh and with raw bewilderment. I looked at my computer and shivered with a cold, grimy disgust.
Perhaps I had been spending too much time on the internet. It had been once a new world to explore, a place for amusing outings and expeditions, but it had recently become as unremarkable as the dreary rhythm of my own breathing.
One sometimes forgets that there is far more to life than Twitter. Operas, nineteenth century Russian novels, jigsaws of impressionist paintings – they are all waiting for the adventurous soul. Shouting to my dog and lighting my lantern for the first time in months, I was at once determined to go for a good walk.
Although I still let my dog out to relieve himself, the lack of regular walking has lately made him fat and downcast. Whereas previously he had bounded ahead of me, he now waddled along glumly and I had to keep calling to him in encouragement.
We set out across the surface of the moon. I collected a few stray sticks for the fire, arranging them in a bundle which rattled under my arm.
Passing the crater where the moon landings were supposedly filmed (I still haven’t come across that flag yet), I looked up to behold the Earth shining high in the heavens with all of its might, unutterably glorious and perfect. It suddenly struck me that even though I knew what Scotland looked like, I had no idea where it could be found on the surface of the Earth. For several minutes, I studied the streaky, multi-coloured blotches which were spread all over the planet. Was Scotland above or below the equator?
My dog had settled in the path ahead and he was now waiting for me restlessly.
I scoured the Earth’s surface with vexation, wishing that I had brought along my telescope. Once, some slight, familiar shape twinkled and my eyes shot back to where I thought that I had seen it, but it had faded away into nothing.
Please keep thinking of me my old friend.
The warmest of wishes,
The Man in the Moon.