Monday, September 15, 2014

Alex Salmond v Hebburn on Tyne. No contest.

As  someone who was Scottish 130 years ago, Irish 30 years before that, English most recently and by preference British, I am confused.

This Thursday, Alex Salmond intends to declare one of my ancestries legitimate and the rest of them bastards. 

When the potatoes ran out and the last chip shop closed back in the 1850’s my Irish family decided foreign travel was called for. It will never be known what sort of tickets they got, but when they woke up in the new world it was still the old one.

Not for them the bright lights of Broadway but the gas lamps of Sauchiehall Street - and try saying that after a drink. There, the McHugh’s spent the next 30 years not prospering but adding to the general population of what they had discovered was Scotland.

Then somebody asked them if they would like to spend the rest of their lives in heaven - or at least that’s what they though he said. What he actually said - in an Irish/Scottish/Geordie accent - was how would they like to spend the rest of their lives in Hebburn.

Unlike the ultimate destination of the good, Hebburn could only at best be described as a stopping off point on the journey. A hamlet so undistinguished that the words “on-Tyne” had to be added to its name to aid Victorian sat-navs. More workers were needed in a new shipyard and whilst Hebburn wasn’t heaven, it wasn’t Glasgow. 

In the years that followed the town maintained its anonymity although its position next door to Jarrow - poster boy for the dole - meant famous visitors sometimes got lost there.

None more so than J.B.Priestley who visited Jarrow on his “English Journey” in the 1930’s to get a sense of what it was like to have 80% unemployment. He then popped into Hebburn, home to the family for 40 odd years, and declared: "nothing in it worth a fiver”. (You will be impressed to know that Hebburn did then become an Urban District Council - briefly.)

But I digress. 

What the f*** has this got to do with Alex, I hear you yawn. 

Well, until this week,  I was happy to claim a connection to every part of the United Kingdom apart from Wales - You can go too far.

But, come Thursday, unless I'm a card carrier, I apparently have to give up my Scottishness. 

Well sod you Alex. 

It took the Union 300 years to get here and the McHugh's 150 of them. 

You don't want to take Hebburn on!