So the statues in Glasgow’s George Square are to go, at least temporarily. No bad thing. Nearly all of them are monuments to Britain’s 19th century imperial power. Maybe they could all be consigned to one of those ‘You’re Not Famous Any More’ parks you find in former Soviet bloc countries where all the unwanted statues of Marx, Lenin and Stalin are dumped.
And while they’re at it, what about getting rid of the name as well? What did George III (or any of them, numbers I to VI) ever do for Glasgow?
Religion, said Marx, is the opium of the masses. But if we Scots have a mind-numbing drug of choice, it must be football.
Whatever our political views, when a Scotland match kicks off, it’s ‘Braveheart’ time and we’re all united behind the football equivalents of Bruce and Wallace and their men. Just like at Bannockburn, we’re ready to give it all for the nation. (Though, with the sorry state of our football these days, a Flodden is a more likely outcome.)
So how do I feel now after the very successful main London Games, on the eve of the Paralympics, and the accompanying tidal wave of Union Jacking? Well, exactly the same.
Actually, I’m surprised Unionists are betting so much on a Team GB after-glow from the Games. Are their political and economic cases that flimsy? A successful sporting event is not a cure-all.
I mean, the Beijing Games were a triumph but that didn’t excuse the Chinese government’s human rights abuses or its occupation of Tibet, did it?
We imagine the whole world knows about Scotland and its distinctive culture and history. Most of all, we’re quite sure foreigners understand what distinguishes us from the English.
We’re kidding ourselves. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, if you're Scottish, you’re from England.
There will be unforgettable moments for sure. The Rome Games stand out for me because they provided me with one of my earliest sporting memories: the dramatic emergence from the evening darkness of the marathon winner, the barefooted Ethiopian Abebe Bikila.