Of Chilled Water, Cider and The Scottish Referendum

Why is chilled water, particularly if it has ice cubes in it, suddenly so much nicer to drink than water straight from the tap? This summer I became addicted to ice cubes in glasses of water. Now I have revived my water filter jug and chilled water from the fridge is available all day.

But I have also found a new pleasure; bottled cider. It’s not really new. when I was a child we would often have cider with Sunday lunch, drinking it from my grandmother’s cut glass goblets that my sister now owns. It is a drink I sometimes enjoy if we stop at a pub when we go walking. But not a drink I buy to have at home.

That changed a few weeks back when I wanted a cold drink on a hot evening and decided to open the bottle of cider that had been resident in the fridge door since Christmas. The opening took a few days, as I realised I no longer had a bottle opener.

Eventually I noticed that the can opener had a hooked thing on the end, and correctly matched this to the bottle top. I can’t say I had high expectations, but it was delicious. More time passed, and then I saw there was an array of ciders in M&S, and they were on offer. Counties in the north and south of England trumpeted their claims as the land’s chief cider sources, though I admit I was checking closely that none said the word sweet. Sweet cider is an abomination; an alcoholic equivalent of Coca Cola. So Hereford cider and Somerset cider have found their ways onto my shopping list. It would be better for my waistline, liver and pocket if they hadn’t.

I strogly suspect they are more calorific than wines, so I am not reading the labels too carefully. Someone who had enrolled at WeightWatchers told me mournfully that a glass of wine is the calorific equivalent of a cream cake. I imagine a fact like that is supposed to make you stop drinking wine; seeing mille-feuilles and choclate eclairs in each glass. I rarely eat cream cakes, so somehow, I felt I was already being sufficiently restrained.

A friend joined Scottish Slimmers (WeightWatchers north of the border) several years ago. The pounds fell off, but hearing her quote from the manual reduced her social circle. There is something very depressing about conversations that all incude references to weight loss. We haven’t had much communication recently. Although the holder of a French passport, she’ll be able to vote in next week’s referendum, and I strongly suspect she’ll be voting Yes. She has taken to talking scathingly of ‘down south’, as if it is some lesser place of dubious culture and vision.

The news on Channel 4 keeps saying the world is watching to see which way the referendum will go, but I have been with a number of foreign visitors to these shores this week, and most have absolutely no idea that the Union is on the line. For myself, I hope it’s a no vote. I was at a talk when I was in Armagh this summer, and one of the speakers pointed out the problems for hauliers from NI if the Scots vote to secede from the Union. Also, unless they agree to take back David Cameron, whose name marks him as having Scots’ antecedents, I can’t see why we should be stuck with him here.

I like the talk of regional representation; the idea of a federal UK, but again I think here in London we could lose out. There seems to be a prevailing view that the parliament in Westminster represents London. It doesn’t. It represents those with money and influence no matter where they live. My home is about two miles from the Palace of Westminster, and believe me, I can feel as alienated and distant from what goes on there as anyone from Cornwall, Yorkshire or the Highlands. So I hope, if Scotland does leave the Union, this will mark the start of a new era in politics where people are more engaged, and those career polticians who tell the rest of us loftily how to live, serve a long apprenticeship in jobs outside politics.

What I fear is that it will mark a rise in nationalist sentiment; something that I find abhorrent. Nationalism in any shape or form worries me; just look at the example of Hitler. People like Margaret Thatcher muddled nationalism with patriotism, and accused anyone who didn’t agree with her policies of being unpatriotic. Tha’s confusing and manipulative. But patriotism is not about unquestioning acceptance of everything in your country and believing it to be better than anywhere else, it is about loving your country, wanting it to be a good place and striving to make it so, and being prepared to admit when it has got things wrong without looking to blame a third party.

There’s an inch of cider left in my glass, so I’ll take that as a hint to stop here and give you a break if you have read this far.



19 thoughts on “Of Chilled Water, Cider and The Scottish Referendum

  1. Good luck. My brother lived in Maui for 15 years. There is a group of people there who’d like to secede from the United States, but frankly, the state of Hawai’i receives so much money from the U.S., it’d probably be a bad decision. P.S. I love wine myself!

    • I can understand the desire for greater independence, but the raw nationalism repulses me, and I do not understand the animosity some Scots have towards England. One Scottish friend reckoned they’d be playing Braveheart on a continuous loop on the run up to 17th Sept!

  2. I have been following the referendum and would be sad if the separatists did win. We studied the issue when I was bringing students to England & Scotland. Back then there wasn’t much serious sentiment but since they found oil up there, more people probably feel that they could be financially able to maintain their infrastructure. Is the cider you drink alcoholic. We call that hard cider, which I like. We also look forward to autumn when we go the the cider mills to buy cider that has been freshly squeezed from apples. If it isn’t drank within a couple of weeks, it will start to get hard, developing a little bite. We can also buy pasteurized cider at the grocer that lasts longer but it isn’t as good.

    • It looks very close. Whatever the outcome, the relationship between the various countries of the UK should be different. I read more of yesterday’s paper after posting this when I went to bed, and am encouraged by how so many people seem to saying that south of the border we too want to look at how we are governed.
      Non-alcoholic cider? I haven’t come across that!
      Visiting cider mills sounds a very good way to spend the autumn! I read a novel by Maria McCann earlier this year where the character from whose viewpoint the narrative was written had a cider press. The novel was called The Wilding.

  3. I am another one that likes cider but it doesn’t like me. I was thinking I had seen that 5oz of wine was 150 calories. Missing wine time for about two weeks now because of med interactions. Might have to start having afternoon tea. Maybe a white chocolate mocha.. now that is some calories!

  4. Yes I like cider too, and enjoyed a draught half at lunchtime in the village pub in Firle in Sussex.
    We enjoyed the pressed apple cider that Pat writes about when we lived for a couple of years in Massachusetts. Would cross the state line and buy it in the Vermont orchards, and pick apples.
    Have also enjoyed the Brittany cider in France.
    I’m hoping for a yes vote, feeling that the Scots deserve independence, and, maybe somewhat irresponsibly, because it will make the outcome more interesting.
    I do hate the bullying tactics of our politicians and the smug assumption that they know best. I think the Scots could show us a fairer and more equal society. The great thing about the referendum debate there is how engaged in it so many people are.

    • Maybe if I were Scots I should vote yes too, but I disliked the bullying ‘day of reckoning’ statement from the former deputy leader of the SNP about what will happen to those advocating no.

    • Pressed send too soon that should be those businesses advocating no. Sounds like intimidation to me. There is a nasty anti-English strain to the yes campaign which does not bode well. I believe we are better together. Our sum is greater lthan our parts. And what chance of ever getting rid of the tories here? Other than that, I think the rest of us will be fine without Scotland

  5. I’ll admit, I’m one of the uneducated Americans. I had no idea about the upcoming vote. I assume the best outcome would be for the Union to stay together? I’ll be praying for your country this week. enjoy your cider!

    • That would be my preferred outcome with a moves towards federalism all round. If the Scots secede, the biggest problem here would be the Tories would have no effective opposition on the centre left. So our politics would be very skewed.
      However, that is to be gloomy. I think here, south of the border, we could get along perfectly well in other ways without Scotland. England is a very diverse country in its own right. Maybe that’s our problem; we are used to sharing with people from all around the world, and historically, outbreaks of nationalist sentiment have been fairly confined. The romantic view of nationalism some Scots have has, to my mind, a nasty underbelly of xenophobia. Although not large, England is the largest in the Union, and probably the most economically viable.

      • Thanks for the education! I like to know what’s going on and why. 🙂 My son told me the other day, “Mama, I just can’t stop reading! I think I’m addicted!” Aside from my slight concern about where he learned what addiction is (he’s only 8), I have to agree…I’m addicted to reading also, and this is why. There’s so much to learn!

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