David Banks: Weather so nice in north Northumberland it could almost be Scotland

Journal columnist David Banks reports from North Northumberland on the run-up to the Scottish referendum - though the debate left him cold

The Scottish border with Northumberland
The Scottish border with Northumberland

Jings ’n’ Crivens, I’m a Jock! A mongrel no longer, ye ken, I’m a kilted Celt…

For years I was a wire-haired Borderer, half-Scotty from my mother’s side and English tabloid terrier from my dad’s.

Now I’m no longer plain Banksy; just call me Braveheart!

I feel like the former boxing promoter, Kellie (for 60 years he was Frank) Maloney, who ended Round One as Arthur and came out for Round Two as Martha. Actually, I’ve had my suspicions I should have been wearing a Tammy instead of a trilby ever since the Home Office refused me a vote in the 2012 ballot to elect Northumbria’s Police Commissioner.

“You live in a TD postcode area,” said “homo officious”, the jobsworth on the complaints desk. “According to my list, TD stands for Tweed and that’s in Scotland.” Such ignorance was quickly corrected thanks to my Journal column: the whole of Berwick was put back on the electoral roll overnight.

But now I’m fancying struggling into an outsize tartan frock and nae knickers for the Coldstream 1513 Club’s annual Flodden memorial meal, thanks to a BBC weatherman’s early morning forecast on Referendum Debate Day.

“Heavy rain and high winds across the whole of Ireland, Wales and England,” he told the Radio Four Today show listeners. “But Scotland will be fine and dry, sunshine all day.” Well, apart from the occasional hurricane, those Men at the Met Office are rarely wrong, so I watched the sky. And waited.

All morning it looked as though Mother Nature was having 10 bob each way: dark clouds, light breeze, it might have rained any minute. But it didn’t.

Down in London, they were having it rough: the lunchtime news brought live pictures from a reporter under an umbrella outside the Commons (why must they be filmed outside?) and talked of flash floods in Cornwall.

Back in Godzone, Mrs Banks was pegging washing on the line before popping along to the village hall to hang out bunting and posters for the weekend arts and crafts festival.

Along the street at the church, a stream of visitors was getting a guided tour of the Flodden Peace Garden, sunhats a-plenty and not a raincoat in sight.

Come the evening and the late day sun was setting on Glasgow as Alex Salmond, leader of the Och-Aye-SIS (Scottish Independent State) went five rounds with Alistair Darling, one of those Scots more English than the English who looked as though he would have been Better Together with the rest of his Wetter Together Westminster cronies.

Did I watch the second referendum debate? Nae fear, Jimmy. Convinced by now that I was a true north o’ the Border-er, I was on the other channel watching heavy drizzle drowning my early Premiership hopes as Liverpool took a bath at Manchester City.

But hang on a mo, Jimmy! As my tartan-bonneted buddy Klondike, the ex-Coldstreamer, warned me: “Being a Jock is no’ jist a matter o’ parking yer arse on a pail like Oor Wullie and watching the North Sea oil dollars rolling into Och-Aye-SIS... ye’ll have to abandon following your lifelong Scouse superstars and start watching ‘Queen o’ the Sooth’ or – worse still – Berwick Rangers!

Help ma’ Bob . . . sorry, Alex, but I’m praying for a change in the weather!

:: Good Farmer Morebottle’s fondness for cheap flights to southern Spain to indulge his passion for the local cuisine (and maybe the local women) has been blunted by the gourmet rustic’s most recent mishap.

Having persuaded the chef at his favourite Marbella restaurant to procure the nether regions of the bravest beast to die in the local bullring and prepare the sweetbreads Andalusian style, the unfortunate sharecropper felt forced to complain that the delicacies, far from the sort of whoppers he had seen in the bullring, were very much on the small side.

“Si, señor,” said the chef with a wicked grin. “But it is not always the bull that loses...”



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