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Letter from Texas

Brian Taylor | 16:53 UK time, Sunday, 24 May 2009

briansblogpic.jpgDistractions everywhere as I write this in Dallas Fort Worth airport.

Firstly, the racket from the coffee shop next door: trad jazz music mingling with a genteel customer/server dispute over prices.

Then there is the utterly depressing news from home that United have, once more, failed to secure a European place.

To lose out is bad. To lose out on goal difference is doubly grim. No excuses, though. It's hard to thrive when you get thumped 3-0 in successive weeks.

But why Dallas? Why was I not suffering at Tannadice along with my fellow Arabs?

All part of the prolonged preparation of a documentary to mark 10 years of devolution.

It's due to go out on Sunday June 28 - which leaves me many more plugging days.

'National identity'

We were keen to exemplify the constitutional choice that confronts Scotland: which is to continue expressing our national identity within a wider state or to conclude that that identity can only be properly secured by independence.

Norway offered our example of the latter: a nation which took the independence route after being governed, to varying degrees, from Denmark and then Sweden.

I have alluded to that already on these pages.

Texas provided the alternative scenario. Herewith a quotation: "Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word."

That's John Steinbeck, writing in Travels with Charley, Charley being his large, enthusiastic dog.

But the nation that is Texas has chosen since 1845 to share sovereignty with the United States of America.

Everyone I met stressed, ever so politely, the element of choice.

Deliberate tease

Texas was not subservient. Texas was not subsumed. Texas could choose to secede from the US. Texas chooses not to do so.

Texans cheerfully confess that their assertion of a distinct identity frequently exasperates their fellow US citizens from less fiercely defined states.

It is, they insist, part of their charm - and, frequently, a deliberate tease.

As one put it to me, Texans like to poke their fellow Americans in the ribs from time to time, if only to stress that the States may be United but they are far from uniform.

PS: Welcome your comments as ever. Would remind you, gently, that it is one of the house rules that responses should not stray from the particular topic on offer.

This is designed to ensure that, in the interests of all readers, there can be focused, substantive debate.

Over a prolonged period, it means that the broadest possible range of topics can be aired.


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