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Mrs Connolly was serving a full English breakfast, shortly under threat

of being replaced with the gut-busting alternative: the full-on Scottish

All-day.  She was intoning a little ditty while she turned the fried eggs.

What’s that tune you are humming, Mrs C? asked Diana.

Och, it’s an adaptation of ‘Highland Laddie’, but the words I was taught

at school were ‘Were You Ever In Quebec?’

It sounds like a sea shanty, said Murgatroyd.  What brought it to mind?

I know we all may be on a sinking ship politically, but..

Precisely Mr Syylk.  I think I was subliminally thinking aboot the line:

there’s a king with a golden crown/ Riding on a donkey.

Wae Alex’s Messianic delusions, it’s a real possibility.  I say a wee prayer

that the old folk tune’s original title might percolate into these dunderheids’


Murgatroyd was about to pick up his Lallans dictionary, but he managed to

work out the general semantic content of the dialect word.  It seemed

synonymous with ‘bampots‘, which he had just assimilated into his linguistic

repertoire.  A kingdom divided by its languages…

Coat of Arms of Scotland (1603-1649).svg

Diana sighed:  There will probably be a new crest as well as a new flag.

Aye, mused Mrs C, it could incorporate another line from the song:

See the lion and the unicorn? Riding on a donkey.

Murgatroyd looked down on his groaning plate suspiciously.  His palate

was unsure about the Black Pudding. Trust the Scots to fortify themselves

with a sanguinary product!

He propped his Financial Times against the toast rack and turned his

attention to page 2.

Hah! he expostulated.

What is it, darling? asked Diana, spreading her toast with Baxter’s

marmalade. Gosh, she hoped they would still be able to get it in the

dystopic future.

This Robert Delaney journalist from Toronto is perfectly right, Murgatroyd

opined.  He’s talking about how money reacts to secession or even the

mere threat of it.  He says that in 1976 Quebec Separatists  beat the

Liberals and the very next day literally truckloads of money rolled

out of the province.

But didn’t they vote down independence in 1980? Diana racked her

political memory.

Yes, but the economy never recovered.  The money went to Toronto.

Aye, added Mrs C, and Montreal was no longer the most populous city. 

Its bank headquarters moved to Toronto, along with most of Canada’s

largest financial institutions.  There isnae ony financial sector there noo.

The breakfasting ones continued to be ‘gobstruck‘- was that the word?-

by the housekeeper’s shrewd acumen.

Professor Brenner of McGill would agree with you, Mrs C, said Murgatroyd,

trying not to get grease on the pink pages.  He has said that when critical

masses of talent move out, the affected places do not recover.  Quebec is

now the largest recipient of the federal government’s equalisation payment

system, which helps to spread revenues from the wealthier provinces to the

poorer ones.

Wasn’t there a second independence referendum? enquired Diana.

Yes, it was an even closer shave.  Professor Brennan warned that

countries can declare themselves ‘sovereign’, but should they have no

access to credit, sovereignty becomes a costly illusion.

Derren Victor Brown.jpg

Aye, agreed Mrs C, and I, for one, don’t want to see ony illusionists

running the country.  They a’ watch too much Derren Broon and they

are that gullible that they fa’ fur a’ they so-called miracles. Take that

Shard trick: even noo he’s been discredited as ony fool can see the

strings attached. Aye, and ony self-respectin’ body can see a’ the strings

that wee self-styled Houdini’s sleights of hand are pulling.  But he’s no’

the escape artist he thinks, and mebbe he’ll end up tyin’ us a’ in knots

afore he’s feenished.  And Ah’m no’ even’ goin’ tae suggest a straitjacket.

That’s fur others tae debate!

And she exited the kitchen humming Riding on a donkey even less