Nigel’s Notes - Games reflected our national well

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The last couple of weeks have been unusual and busy.

It’s not very often that the Commonwealth Games comes to Scotland and I do not recall anyone previously describing Glasgow as pure dead brilliant. Clearly somebody got a lot of things right and I for one am very glad that it was so well organised and reflected well on our nation.

The annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival has also come our way and I was delighted to attend concerts in both Stonehaven and Brechin.

The event in Stonehaven town hall featured a big band from England, a choir from America and Scottish traditional musicians, emphasising to me the genuinely international nature of music and the importance of ensuring our children have every opportunity to learn musical skills.

Singing and playing together is not just good for the individual, but also for the group and the audience, and the educational value of collective music-making is enormous. Sadly music tuition and extra-curricula activities in our schools are easy targets for budget savings so we will have to work hard to ensure these are protected.

Events commemorating the opening of the First World War have also taken place across the country. Sadly it is probably now easier for us to imagine what it might have felt like as the horrors of wars across the globe, and particularly in the Middle East, are broadcast daily into our living rooms.

But there is still room for particular memorials and the Montrose Air Museum is a place you simply should visit as I did once again on Sunday. A flying display demonstrated just how slowly the planes flew and how little progress they might make into a strong wind. Replica aircraft show us just how fragile they were.

For me by far the most poignant part was the performance of a play about the airbase during war times; Falls the Shadow by local author Elizabeth Doe.

Built around the lives of real aviators and performed quite literally where it was set the sense of history was palpable.

But the most interesting point was that the play had been rewritten for the day – a revision from its first performance last year, not because it was in any sense deficient but because this weekend had a different perspective. How refreshing to see a work of art revised rather than left as it was just because that was the way it had been up to now.

And how good it is that we have the opportunity to change the way decisions are made about our national interest; and in a peaceful referendum at that.

How many different decisions would an independent Scotland have made?

Would we have joined the First World War against Germany? Almost certainly. And WW2? Aye, I’m sure we would. How about invading Iraq?

No I don’t think we would have done. Next time? Well unless we take the opportunity of getting that power into our own hands then once again we won’t have the choice.