‘NOBODY in Scotland actually talks like that.”

Well … doy. Of course they don’t – at least not on BBC Scotland, where most of us get most of our ideas about our fellow soap-dodgers. Even I don’t speak like that, not in real life. Who’s got the nerve, nowadays, to rock up to a job interview or a hospital appointment and start sounding off like a rejected teuchter cousin from The Broons? Is human interaction not difficult enough without the exquisite social suicide of Scots? Don’t people have enough reasons to hate us forby the dystopian distress-whoop we palm off as a language?

I guess there must have been a time before I knew all this, some prelapsarian Paradise when I was innocent about the differences between speaking English and speaking Scots. But if there is, I can’t remember it. Like one and a half million others in this country, I was born with the knowledge of a black shadow lying upon my heart, some dark cohabitant of my soul who was forever fighting for its captaincy, pushing me to the side of my own life at some of its most significant moments – my exams, my first vote, my wedding. Call that force Gil-Martin, call it Mr Hyde – ach, call it Tyler Durden, if you like. Me, I call it English.

Noo, some English speakers are right impatient with this wee narrative. They bide in a world where everybody writes and talks exactly like they do, and so they dinnae really value the notion that the way ye speak might in some manner symbolise the way ye are – that tae reject English might be a conscious choice tae refuse whit James Joyce called “the cracked looking-glass of the servant”. Often there’s a certain leftish permissiveness thirlt tae this attitude, allowing for and respecting a sma modicum o difference – a smattering o common Scots amongst the Queen’s Own – but on the whole, the message is plain. Speak Scots if you HAVE to, but – keep it to your own bedrooms.

And God knows we try tae. (Self-censor as we will, the odd wird ayeweys sneaks throu … Ah mean, through.) When ye grow up working-class, as mony Scots speakers dae, ye cannae afford tae gie advantages up blythely – and English is a huge advantage, the thing maist liable tae disguise from unfriendly view those aspects o yersel ye’ve aye been invited tae feel ashamed aboot. Like the superglue that hauds the sole tae yer gym shoe, or the deodorant that masks the dank stench o yer blazer, the use o English conceals yer social inadequacies frae awbody but the only person that matters – yersel.

Coorse, modren society is quick tae let ye ken that mebbe ye dinnae matter as much as ye micht think ye dae … But it’s the lies ye tell yersel that kill ye, an when ah hear aboot the epidemic o anti-social behaviour that’s supposedly brocht society tae its knees, ah wunner if mebbe a bairn that has went aff the rails is jist a bairn that’s realised richt aff the bat the thing it taks mony o us years tae suss oot – that the gemme is rigged, an has been frae the stairt, an that they an thoosands o ithers were born that faur ahint that they can never catch up …

Ah’m ower auld noo tae cut aboot smashin shop windaes or vandalisin phone-boxes, houever much ah sometimes feel like it. But ah identify straicht doon the line wi the fowk on ilka side o ilka political crevasse wha think naethin they ever dae maks ony difference – nae vote, nae protest, nae letter tae their MP – an that the hale business o choosin hou we live is locked up ticht bi a confederacy o politícians an lawmakars an journalists whase principal job is the stagin o the end-o-the-pier Punch an Judy turns that mak the lave o us think they’re at each ither’s throats when, really, they’re aw as palsy-walsy as ye like. Ma fowk are the fowk wha’ve exhaustit aw the legítimate forms o expressin their unhappiness an dinnae ken whit tae dae next, cept that they’re no redd tae lie doon deid jist yet.

Mebbe this is hou ye feel yersel. Mebbe it should be. It’s no jist fowk in cooncil hooses an doon the job centre wha are bein boxed oot o the warld. Tak a luik aroond ye. The notion that participation is the anely adult choice tae mak is aw that’s keepin millions o us fae chuckin the hale jingbang an switchin ower tae Challenge TV forever.

Why dae ah write in Scots? There’s a hantle o reasons, but if ah’m honest wi ye the biggest yin is that ah’m sick tae the back teeth wi awthin else. Ah’m sick o this shark-jumped soap opera we caw ‘normal’, sick o white chiels on the telly blythely guessin aboot things that’ll mak nae odds tae thaim either wey, sick o the conventional wisdom that conventional wisdom is aw the wisdom there is, sick o, o … well, o English. Scots is the social rebellion ah wis born tae, the protest ah’m maist able to mount aboot the sorry fankle aw this is makkin o ma soul. Tae me an mony ithers, the uise o Scots is linguistic shorthaund for “the hell wi this”. It’s a wey o optin oot wioot drappin oot, tae insist on bein somethin ither than jist a pollin demographic, anither Big Data votin bloc tae be twistit this wey an that aroond the monochrome Tetris board o ‘oor’ politics. Scots is oor anely wey o sayin: jist, naw.

But one day, in the lifetimes of our children – maybe even in our own – we’ll all wake up and find that Scots is gone. It won’t die romantically, with a single speaker exhaling her last lilt in a wee bothy outside of Lerwick. It’ll die when me, and you, and all our children get up one morning and decide that life is hard enough without making it any harder – that the psychic tariff of just being ourselves in word as well as deed, a cost which our governments have long passed on to the consumer, is simply too much. You say tomato, I say … Fine, tomato, whatever. Orwell called it – the death of a dictionary is the death of a democracy. Why get rid of dissidents when you can just get rid of the words they use? And so millions of voices, the collective dissenting conscience of our past, present and future – all gone, at the stroke of a single red pen. But, ach, it’s no big loss. Nobody really talks like that. Not in real life.