On Saturday I got my nails done by a cheery friendly man keen to tell all his customers that Chinese New Year was almost upon us so he was about to have two days off to party. Some remarked this meant that Clackmannanshire’s Chinese takeaways would also be shut but we hoped to cope for a few days.

I got to wondering how many days off in a year my nail technician has, and what life was like where he’d been born before he made his way to our wee county. Similar thoughts had previously crossed my mind about those who run Alloa’s fabulous Syrian restaurant, and for decades I’ve enjoyed friendships with generations of Asian Scots; their Mum fed me pakora when I was still at school and we’d blether a bit with relatives interpreting so I know a little about the family’s origins before they too became Scots.

I wondered also what it was about Scotland that attracted new Scots from far away. Perhaps it wasn’t purely chance, maybe they believed we were a welcoming tolerant place – Jock Tamson has much to answer for and his fame spreads far and wide.

Just as curiosity about Scotland’s welcome to new arrivals was in my mind, so were thoughts of those Scots encouraged or at times forced, deported, to leave this land for foreign shores. Some like Thomas Muir could have led Scotland to a different future; MacLean and Connolly similarly. The diaspora, those whose descendants retain fondness and hope for our country, the people who’d be here had ours been an independent thriving land willing and able to care for all; the world which should have been their oyster was the world which Scotland offers.

There’s the country and the people Scotland should have been – you can see it in your mind’s eye – with natural resources envied internationally; scenery, mountains, lochs and glens to raise the spirit, the hairs on the back of your neck when you envisage the events occurring on this land forever etched in its soul, poetry to invigorate and inspire that soul, music to kick the heels and punch the hair but with sparks of fury and tears about what should have been and hopes of what can still be.

All of my life Scotland’s Independence has been at the forefront of my mind; not for fortunes, or rewards, or titles, but for what will be achieved for Scots, old, new, adopted, born, arrived and welcomed. We can never create the Scotland we all deserve while we remain an outpost handing over tithes and holding out a hand for a meagre return. 

This weekend saw shameful distraction at an event in Glasgow where those elected to deliver our independence embarrassed themselves in naivete. This follows upon their puerile inability to reignite from the ashes of 2014 a driven strategised plan for the return of our self determination. My hope in the year of the rabbit which foretells longevity, peace and prosperity is that the people of Scotland who desire our country’s liberation, and they are the majority, can learn how to behave and unite for the sake of all. 

It is the year of the rabbit, not the squirrel or the snake. Think on, leaders of Scotland, act with in mind the memory you wish Scotland to have of you.