I know we all love our anecdotes about finding Yes voters in unexpected places, so I thought you might enjoy this one. For the last four years or so, I've been going to the monthly meetings of a book club - in fact, I think I may have been on my way there when I suffered my excruciating pain/Wendy Alexander incident a couple of years ago. It's exactly how you'd picture a book club - predominantly female and middle-class. It also tends to attract newcomers to the area who are looking for something to do and to meet new people, so there's always a significant minority of people from south of the border, and a few from further afield - before I even joined, a Korean woman who I was briefly friends with went to a couple of meetings, and since then there have been people from Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.
There's a nomination-followed-by-vote system to decide which books to read each month, and at some point last year I found myself casting a decisive vote in favour of Dominion by C. J. Samson. I'm vaguely interested in history, so the idea of a speculative alternative history of the Second World War's aftermath appealed to me - but, alas, I was blissfully unaware that a large chunk of the book is made up of deeply offensive "the SNP would have collaborated with the Nazis" propaganda, and that Samson is one of the No campaign's fabulously wealthy donors. I was intensely irritated with myself when I found out, if only because my vote had indirectly led to Samson selling another 20-odd copies of his book, thus subsidising a tiny bit of his bloody donation!
Luckily, though, I had a chance to cancel out my mistake at the end of last month's meeting, because someone nominated A People's History of Scotland, written by Yes supporter Chris Bambery. So I voted for it, and thankfully that was again a vote that swung the balance. The meeting to discuss the book was earlier this evening. I went along knowing there would probably be a debate about the referendum, and also fully expecting that I would find myself in a tiny minority as a Yes voter. But I couldn't have been more wrong - person after person identified themselves as favouring Yes, including one who turned out to be an active campaigner. There was one man who spoke from an Old Left viewpoint, and who kept using the dread word "separation", but even he concluded by saying that his views had moved on and that, at the very least, he wouldn't be voting No. It got to the stage where it was so one-sided that the assistant organiser appealed for a contribution from anyone who is voting No, and at that point a couple of people who had been keeping quiet made the case against independence (doubtless Martin Boon would interpret that as compelling evidence of Shy No Syndrome!). But at the end, a quick vote was held, and there was a clear majority for Yes.
Colour me astonished. I'm inclined to say that if we can win among a demographic like that, we can win absolutely anywhere. But I know life is rarely that simple...