A New Angel for Scottish Independence: My Appreciation for David McKim
Professor Joe Goldblatt
I often referred to my friend David McKim as the “Scottish independence cat with nine lives”. During his final years, he regrettably suffered from a series of health problems of which any one could have meant the end. However, each time when I visited him in hospital, his eyes sparkled with enthusiasim whilst simultaneously accepting the challenges that lay before him. All the while I saw him as a cat with nine lives and loved his devlish grin, there was actually another persona deep within his sweet soul.
David had an enthusasism for life that was propelled in large part by his deep and constant devotion to the idea of Scottish independence. Long before I arrived upon these shores, David had been fighting for the right for Scotland to be independent and his passion, despite illness, never once dimmed.
He was also my sooth (south) side neighbour and his adventures at pub’s such as the Royal Oak are just as legendary as those who four centuries ago debated the virtues of faith and reason in similar taverns before their loud voices became raised fists and they were shown the door. David was well known for his brilliant piano playing and could pound out a Scottish folk song while continuously sipping the water of life. David would have been right at home with these activists of many years ago as he would not suffer fools gladly and strongly defended, with practical wisdom, his passionate beliefs.
His life could not have been an easy one. He was indeed an eccentric in a city that is world renowned for all kinds of characters. However, he also used his impish grin to suggest that when others saw him as different than the rest, he wore that mantle with great pride.
One Saturday morning, I was campaigning for a local election and stopped by David’s flat. His door was covered from top to bottom with Scottish independence leaflets, posters and messages. When he answered the door he looked tired and I asked if there was anything I could do to help him. He gave me his customary wink and said “Nae, I am not supposed to still be here and here I am. Keep up the good work!”
Like so many great campaigners for Scottish independence whom we have lost during the past year, David many times said, as I do in my prayers each morning, “Please, let independence come in my lifetime.” For David, and sadly others, his wish was not to be granted.
I now have come to believe that during our long campaign for Scotland to rise up in confidence and aspiration to seize the moment of our well deserved independence it will require a few angels to look after us as we continue our journey. David, in my mind, is one of these many angels.
In the Edinburgh Central SNP Branch Rooms bar there are four stools against the walls. David could often be found perched upon one holding court with his many long time friends. I shall miss seeing him there and now will have to look for him in another place.
His goodness of spirit, creativity, generosity and kindness to me and many others has actually earned him his Scottish independence angel’s wings. So, now when I look up at the night sky I like shall now imagine that among the stars there is my friend David looking down upon us with one hand on the piano keyboard and the other holding a dram while grinning from ear to ear as he tells us “On ya go!”
I am also firmly convinced that one day soon we shall win the battle for Scottish independence with the further help of mysterious and memorable angels such as my dear friend David McKim.
I also believe that David would grimmace at being described as an angel. Regardless, I believe angels come from the good deeds of humans on earth. Therefore, in my mind, David has well earned his Scottish independence wings.