My father was a member of The Orange Lodge and as a child I witnessed many parades and celebrated our Union.
I spent my childhood surrounded by a like-minded community.
I remember hearing The Sash, and being proud of my father for wearing it. I remember summer holidays going to the Rangers Supporters' Club and heading off in the bus for a day out. I remember my Dad's King Billy Tattoo and I remember being a proud little girl, singing "Hello Hello" on a Saturday morning.
The men around me were either in a trade union, Orange Lodge or Army and the women worked in factories or stayed at home raising children. Bathgate had lost Leyland, lost Menzies, and lost any scrap of the mining industry. Silicon Glen was taking off, but everyone knew Motorola and Shin Etsu weren't "proper" jobs. Not a trade nor a career. I chose to leave school and join the Army. I swore my allegiance to the Queen with my mum and dad watching.
After a short-lived career, I came home to Bathgate, got married and had a child. I had another a few years later. I got on with my life, head down. I took them to watch "the walks" as my parents had taken me.
A few years passed and I became aware that Alex Salmond and his "separatist nationalist party" wanted to dismantle my beloved union. The union I was raised with, the union I would have fought for.
I was fraught with anger. I spent months listening to the people around me, saying how ridiculous it was and how we could never afford it. I'd spend evenings on the phone to my brother in England, talking about how it was never going to happen.
When a friend, told me he was voting Yes, I argued the case as I knew it. I found myself with a vastly inferior knowledge of the debate. He spoke of things I'd never heard of. The McCrone report, the fact Scotland had already won a devolution referendum and been cheated out of it. He even said Scotland subsidised the rest of the UK. I headed straight for the Better Together Facebook page to gather a rebuttal to his preposterous claims.
I spent weeks on the site. In March, there was a post about the Weirs' donation. For a split second a name appeared on the comments: Ian Taylor. It was gone as soon as I'd read it. The person then complained of censorship, this time I didn't laugh, I had seen it. I slowly typed the name and watched as they removed my comment almost instantaneously.
I typed the name and Better Together into my web browser and the first result that popped up was National Collective with "Dirty Money?" The Tory Millionaire Bankrolling Better Together.
I read the article. I started looking at many sites. The more I read, the more frustrated I became. I found myself mentioning articles to my brother. I put down the phone one night after yet another conversation, being told I was speaking rubbish and being mocked exactly as I had mocked before. I heard myself saying, ''well you've not got a vote anyway''. I realised I was going to vote Yes because all the reasons I'd had for voting No were just not good enough. We were keeping our Queen, we were going to have a stable economy, we could do it without another drop of oil in the North Sea and we could get a Labour government again. Independence was normal and just.
I started speaking to everyone and explaining all that I'd seen and read. I printed articles and handed them each what I thought was relevant to their situations. I started campaigning on social media, and I joined my local active Yes group. I erected a 6ft by 6ft Yes sign in my garden because I knew it would shock the people who knew me. Knew my background. They'd question why I was voting Yes.
We can't change any of what has happened so far, but we can change what the future holds for us. I believe the best way to predict that future is to build it ourselves.
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