Two big ideas stopped in their tracks this week. Firstly, PipsDish has closed its doors. The no-menu, social dining experience which was intended as a three-month long culinary showcase for my book Cooking without Recipes, ran in three London venues for 4 years. Like many good ideas, it ran its course.
Secondly, of far greater significance it can hardly have escaped anyone’s attention that a vast number of people in Scotland voted to determine their own future as a nation state. But this is a new idea and has only just begun.
If you know anything about Scottish history, you might expect a Dundas to be a natural unionist. Indeed, until a few weeks ago, I was. Existing in the outer zones of London for the last few years, immured the unreconstructed debates of the 1980s and muffled from new perspectives by media hegemony, I confess to an unexamined confusion of thinking, mostly based on snobbishness.
Like many anglicised Scots, posh in my background but socialist in my leanings, I accepted the path of least resistance. I distrusted all factions: the angry libertarian ‘nats’, the Clydeside proletariat and the Balmoralised nouveau riche. Under any of these orders, Scotland would either return to a predestinarian, separatist gloom or a become a haven for the right-wing bourgeoisie, reading detective novels in their comfortable, tweedy, suburban bungalows.
So I came late to the serious conversation about democracy and independence in Scotland. But when it happened I was stunned, not just by the passion and volume of the debate but by its brightness, breadth and ambition. This was not a conversation reduced to the polarised rantings of left-right politics or a raging desire to wilfully destroy the status quo, but a realisation that through independence Scotland could lead this island in articulating a generous, optimistic and hopeful model of new democratic governance.
As a Scot abroad, one of the many disaffected left-wing in the UK and a republican to boot, the chance to vote for anything I can believe in wholeheartedly, has been much diminished. Until now. The conversation about independence has given a great many people the motivation to force the agenda on the ways we are governed, informed and educated and by doing that to find ways to distribute wealth, health and opportunity more fairly.
It is time to set aside the asinine allegiance to laissez-faire economic theory and the politics of self-interest and to carve out a new model of society afforded by this incredible victory for democracy.
And who knows, just maybe I’ll bring my cooking north?