I was nineteen before I first visited Scotland - a long weekend with a school mate studying there. He was living in the basement of an old stone house on the edge of Loanhead, with the Esk thundering through a deep gorge below the house. A long evening walking trip with pub stops thrown in ended at the Roslin Arms, and a Scots wedding party, which sucked us in with such a warmth of welcome that I hardly noticed the volume of Whisky I drank. A near-suicidal stumble home in the dark on a narrow path beside a sheer drop to the river, audible far below but not visible, and Scotland had won my heart. I loved the country. The following day we accidentally found the only Tory in Loanhead - a town red to the bone. He was a local curiosity, like a calf with two heads.
Even then, in the seventies, I was happy to recognise Scotland's separate status; the banknotes, the law system and most noticeably the liberal pub opening hours (at a time when English pubs were closed by law from 2pm to 5pm, watching a Pink Panther video in an Edinburgh pub in mid-afternoon brought to reality the great figures of Scots Liberalism and the Enlightenment). It was then, and is now, a separate nation, united only under the same crown.
And now in my mature years a committed Localist, I welcome wholly and fully that which is being described as 'Devo Max' - and described as though it were an English gift to Scotland, and not Scotland's right. Yes, Scotland should set and raise her own taxes, determine her own public spending, paying over a precept only to the UK Treasury for common and Kingdom-wide expenses. I also believe England should have the same rights, and Wales, and as far as its people want, the Province of Northern Ireland carved out of the ancient Kingdom of Ulster.
The vote of course is a matter for the people of Scotland. I hope they vote 'No'. But I also hope Scotland throws off the shackles of London centralism and achieves true federal status within the realm - and that the rest of us follow.