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Revolution. Resolution. And…something else that starts with R and ends with ‘ion’… (Don’t laugh. This alliteration stuff is harder than it looks.)

Since last week, only a handful of ferries have run between Arran and the mainland. Yes, as islanders, we understand that weather and even a pandemic plays a part. But with a superannuated ferry fleet, replacement ferries more than five years overdue with no delivery in sight, cost overruns of hundreds of millions of pounds, and steadily increasing sailing cancellations, the situation is fast approaching desperate.

How superspreader events get started…

Our basic human rights…

My fellow islanders couldn’t get to the mainland (again) for medical appointments, urgent business, family meetings… Not to mention Costco, IKEA, or the mall. Groceries, fuel, mail, and other lifeline basics couldn’t be delivered.  There were no potatoes. POTATOES! That has got to constitute some kind of human rights violation. 

All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions. —John Locke

Twelve thousand years ago, our little island was home to neolithic farmers, who built elaborate graves and stone circles, but did not (as far as we can tell) operate a ferry system. They were eventually replaced by criss-crossing streams of Irish, Scandinavian, Scottish, and other traders, all of whom managed frequent and even regular sailings, and some of whom decided to stay on. Irish settlers built elaborate monasteries. Vikings (elaborately) sacked monasteries and built forts. They were followed by Scots who raised sheep and a LOT of illegal (but undoubtedly elaborate) whisky stills, which product they rowed to the mainland under cover of darkness. The next wave of invaders came in summers and brought their golf clubs. They travelled to island hotels and guest houses on steamers which called at local villages on daily schedules.

You see the theme here? (No, not the whole raining death and destruction thing…) Boats!  Each wave of invaders brought their own boats. Which sailed. Lots.

Until now.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and there’s only one thing to do when your home is under threat by invaders* from across the sea. You need to declare your independence. Then you need to declare war. Then you absolutely need to lose that war, preferably before anyone gets hurt.**

*[NOTE #1: I use invaders in the loosest possible way because frankly, Arran’s history over the last twelve thousand years consists of one invader after another.]

**[Note #2: Actually, I only realized this when I watched The Mouse That Roared, a Peter Sellers comedy cold war documentary from 1959.]

Since things are slow on Arran right now, what with no ferries and winter and all, I think we should get the revolution started right away. It’s not nearly as complicated as you might think. We would need to do the following:

  1. Declare independence from the UK. This has an incredible number of advantages, not the least of which include being able to rejoin the European Union, and not having Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. And Arran makes a perfect country: not too big, but with at least one of everything that matters (mountain, whisky distillery, craft beer brewery, artisan gin maker, chocolate maker, standing stones, castle, ruined castle, fairy glen, ancient archeological sites, seals, otters, dolphins, beaches, and the Doctor’s stone waterfront bathtub.)
  2. Choose a form of government. Personally, I’d go for a constitutional monarchy. (We already have a castle, and it would be a shame to have it go to waste.) Of course, we’d need a monarch, but we’d probably go for term limits. Say, 5 years with a one-time repeat. Personally, my vote for the first ruler would go to Big Davy Ballantyne, the Arran dad who regularly performs superhuman feats—carrying an anvil to the highest point of Goatfell mountain, or a whisky barrel for a 70-mile circuit of the island, or hauling 9.5 stone (60KG/ 132 pounds) of chains up Ben Nevis, and more— to raise funds for charities including juvenile diabetes research. Now, I’m an American so I don’t really get monarchies, but I can’t imagine anyone being much more inspiring. (I also think we should give our ruler the title of Duke of Earl, so we have an instant national anthem. The bagpipers of our Arran Pipe Band should be able to play it very soon.)

    Brodick Castle, Kingdom of Arran Seat of Government (proposed)

  3. Write a constitution. This sounds like a big deal, but actually it’s a piece of cake if we use something already proven to work. I’d suggest we ask a kindergarten teacher for their classroom rules. Our constitution would mandate something like:
    1. Article I: Be helpful and nice.
    2. Article II: Use your inside voices.
    3. Article III: Put things back where they belong and don’t take away anything unless you brought it.
    4. Article IV: Keep our classroom island clean.
    5. Article V: Make smart choices.
  4. Pick a Prime Minister. This should be someone with extensive experience in making difficult choices, negotiating between sworn enemies, and giving orders. Any experienced mom should do fine.
  5. Provide for the common defense. Obviously, this would involve naming my friend Tola as Sheriff because they live in the old Police Cottage over in Whiting Bay. When they bought their cottage, they had to agree to use their spare room for a jail cell if it’s ever needed for something like locking up that English kid who’s a few Fruitloops short of a bowl—the one who stole the little ATV from Robin’s organic gardening business and drove it halfway across England, all while posting selfie videos with running commentary onto Facebook. For the Arran Naval Forces, we will of course commission a pair of efficient and modern catamaran ferries and ask Janie’s Cafe in Brodick to provide tea and scones to all passengers.  Our island duty free shop will, obviously, stock the Kingdom of Arran’s finest artisan products, liquor, and artworks.
  6. Declare war on the USA. Whichever Mom is currently Prime Minister will negotiate our terms of surrender, give them our bank details, and have everyone back home by tea time if it’s a school night.

No sooner is the aggressor defeated, then the Americans pour in food, machinery, clothing, technical aid, and lots and lots of money for the the relief of its former enemies. In other words, gentlemen, in effect, we declare war on Monday, we are defeated on Tuesday, and by Friday we will be rehabilitated beyond our wildest dreams.—The Mouse That Roared, 1959

That just leaves us with two things to do:

  1. Collect Reparations: (that was the word I was trying to remember). Things being what they are, these may not be as extensive as we could hope. But if we run short of enough reparations to get those catamaran ferries, we can always use our secret weapon. Arran. It’s an incredibly beautiful, friendly, and welcoming place. And our visas are really very reasonably priced and make lovely souvenirs. 
  2. Raise a glass of Arran whisky/Arran beer/Arran gin to the Kingdom of Arran. Long may her flag wave and her ferries run on schedule!