This is going to be horrible! The whole world is sliding towards that moment on Friday morning which cannot be avoided and which we are all trapped into experiencing. Friday is not a national holiday (perhaps Thursday and/or Friday should have been) and so most people will be preparing to go to work as normal. Telephones crouch, getting ready to ring in locked-up offices, and all the uncaring, intricate rented world begins to rouse. But before this day can dawn, the moment that has been for so long a blur on the edge of vision will have to be faced and lived through. It is waiting with all of its absolute ruthlessness. Peeling back the bed sheets you will sit up in bed, grit your teeth, stare about wildly for a stunned few minutes, before finally resolving that there can be no further delay. You slam on the bedside radio and…
I don’t wish to trivialise this moment. When the newsreader announces that there has been a ___ vote in Scotland’s independence referendum, never for you will so much history have been crunched into such a colossal second. Nonetheless, I’ve realised quite what is so horrible about this. That sense of being forced to confront a fateful result is the same as when children are conveyed tottering off to school to receive their exam results. Never in life has anything been so desperate. The results might be a humiliation. The future that you had thought would be yours might pop merrily into nothing like a party balloon. Still, you can’t turn your face away – your whole body and your unblinking eyes must become trembling concrete, as you scurry up to face your destiny.
For many people, of course, the referendum result will be only mildly interesting. Yet whatever the result, there will be – and I don’t think that this is an exaggeration – mass disappointment. You are bracing yourself on Friday morning to hear the news of whether a nation has lived or fallen stillborn from the ballot. Millions of people, possibly a majority, will be consigned to a country which they either did not vote for or which they have actively rejected. #Indyref has been always predicated on this horrible, unavoidable injustice. To find a comparable deficit of popular support for a democratic system, you have to go back to a time when our country did not yet have universal suffrage.
And then the signs will begin to come down. It will be like half of Christmas didn’t get any presents and so they are taking down the decorations. Posters are battling to the death: the Yeses and Noes which are now displayed in practically in every window will be replaced by just Yeses or just Noes. Or at least, I hope that half the posters come down – it will be rather ominous if they remain out of defiance. When Scottish nationalists quote Philip Larkin, they usually relish the lines, “On me your voice falls as they say love should, Like an enormous yes.” But after the result recycling bins everywhere will be filled with discarded campaign signs and binmen like doctors will go from house to house.