'IN THE BEGINNING'
'Grimm! get yer fuckin arse doon here', my Da roars upstairs to my 14 year old self.
'I'm going tae Saltcoats Dad, wi a lassie, the day', I shout back down, knowing full well what the eventual outcome would be.
It's June 26th and we're off to Stirling for my first Bannockburn Rally. My Dad headed off an hour earlier as he was meeting his pals and ma Uncle J in a pub. We've to meet him at the Cross in my hometown.
As we head off, my Maw leading the way, with my wee Brother and me following 10 paces behind, I glance up at the window and see my smirking big brother giving me the universal sign language for wanker. I return the gesture, comfortable in the knowledge I'm wearing his Sambas and stay press trousers and content that Barney oor dug, was lying on his newly ironed jeans and shirt eating his bone. Fuckin tosser!
My Da is always good for a few quid when he's had a few beers, today was no exception. He was in fine form at the back of the bus, with only an occasional glare from my Maw.
Had never been to Stirling before or on a political march. After a few "pit stops" on the way from Ayrshire we arrived in the coach park in Stirling in good spirits.
The sheer volume of noise, with the pipes playing, drums, the colours, smells, and roars of the crowd as we prepared to begin the march.
Standing there soaking all this in, on a glorious summer day, I glanced at my beaming father, who gave me a nod and a wink, auld bastard knew from that moment he had me.
The politics went over ma head, I remember talks over a Scottish Assembly, a guy called Wolff, a wummin called Winnie and falling head over heels for a lassie called Morag. She was beautiful with glossy black hair, rosy cheeks and deep blue eyes.
We met in the park at Bannockburn beside the statue of the Bruce, much to the hilarity of ma Da and his mates. We spent the rest of the day together, parting with a kiss and a promise to write, I'm sure she shed a tear as she departed on her coach with a wave.
When we reached our drop off point, it was down to me to half-carry ma Da as my Maw guided my half sleeping brother on the short journey home.
Lying in bed later that night listening to my Maw telling my Da to 'fuck off doon the stairs' and leave her alone, I was determined to learn more about Scotland and Independence, the bond I felt with my Da over the shared determination to see our country independent would remain till he passed a decade later.
I never did see Morag again.