RICHARD Nixon had his list, an so dae ah, tacked up at the heid o ma bed. A full-blawn rogue’s gallery o moothy bosses, crabbit cooncillors an clapped-oot train conductors; the first thing ah luik at o a mornin, the last thing ah think o at nicht, an the anely thing ah dream o inatween. Ma Enemies List.

Cause ah’m kind o a bitter guy, ye see… An ma life hasnae really panned oot the wey ah howped it would. The hale thing’s needin ripped oot an knittit ower again, if ah’m bein honest wi ye… But ah hivnae the time for that, no at ma advanced age, an aw ah can howp for noo is that, if ah’m gawin doon, ah’m takkin a hantle o these bawheids wi me.

Fae thon chancer o a doctor that skelped the life intae me, tae whitever bevvied-up bampot’s waitin at the end tae snuff it aw back oot, ah’m getting masel oot there, takkin names an settlin scores.

Naebody’s safe.

An whit’s wrang wi that, onywey? When did we aw stairt turnin oor neb up at guid auld-farrant Revenge? Back in the days o Shakespeare, naebody got oot o bed o a morn unless they’d a wrang tae richt, or a faither tae avenge.

Nooadays, o coorse, we prefer oor villains tae be motiveless monsters, bad simply for the sake o badness. It saves on brain-pouer, an we’re needin aw the smairts we’ve got tae wirk oot how tae upgrade oor phone contract wioot actually hivvin tae talk tae onybody. Oor heids are mince, an nane o us hiv time ony mair for onythin sae personal as revenge. Sae we’ve duin whit ony government daes when wan o its policies turns toxic. We’ve rebranded it.

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Forget the Eskimos an aw their fancy wirds for snaw, an check oot this. Gubbed. Howked. Scudded. Shirracked. Droont. Scots spikkers hae got mair weys o gettin skelped than uisers o ony ither tongue. Sae it’s kind o weird – or mebbe it’s no – that a people sae linguistically an constitutionally caught up wi the concept o loss should lack a wird for whit the Chinese caw “bǎozhu miànzi”, an the Arabs caw “hafiẓa māʼ al-wajh”, an the English caw “saving face”.

Oor day-tae-day vocabulary is totally stowed oot wi wirds for gettin oor bahookies haundit tae us, an nae wunner. We’ve eight Warld Cups’ warth o experience. But when it comes tae dealin healthily wi defeat, or – mair importantly – helpin ithers deal wi it, we’ve literally naethin tae say.

Ah luve direct democracy, so ah dae. Up Wi Referendums! Pouer tae Ra Peepul, an aw that. But whit referenda need in order tae come aff – an whit oor last twa hae signally lacked – is some kind o built-in notion o Dignity For The Defeated.

There’s naethin inherently divisive aboot referendums – thon’s a wee canard o fowk whase interests are in keepin us dividit – but if hauf the kintrae is aboot tae wake up o a morn wi their herts torn oot their kists, the last thing we’re needin is for the ither hauf tae rock up wi a muckle big cheeser on their collective puss an tell them tae pick their lip up aff the flair.

Haunshaks at the end jist willnae cut it. We need tae decide richt noo – whit kind o winners we’re settin oorsels tae be, an whit kind o losers we’re giein oorsels tae bide wi.

Films mak it luik that easy. Darth Vader dies, the Nazis lose, the banditos get ran oot o toon. The vanquished, be they ever sae radge, hae aye got the guid grace tae get the hell oot o Dodge as suin as their tea is oot. But barrin the aft-promised exodus tae Carlisle, indyref2 willnae end thon wey.

Insteid, it’ll fínish wi hauf o Scotland in mournin, an the ither hauf switherin aboot whether tae crank up Kool & The Gang an stairt jitterbuggin on some graves … An awbody likes a pairty, dinnae get me wrang. But if the last five years hae lairnt us naethin else at aw, it’s that it isnae the fowk that won wha decide when a referendum’s ower wi. It’s the fowk that lost.

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An thon’s whaur it’s gemme’s a bogey for the UDI an aw sic havers, Plans B throu Z blawin up in oor face like a Wile E Coyote jetpack. Cause when Brexit faws throu, as ah dout it will, it’ll be a nice wee get-it-up-ye tae the racists – but it’ll be a disaster tae aw the Leavers wha votit against the EU raither than against Europe, the honest fowk whase votes were motivatit no bi the Dunkirk spirit, but bi the unelectit technocrats o the European Central Bank an the International Monetary Fund.

An when Scotland gangs its wey, as ah dout it will, it’ll be a sair keeker for the Britain Firsters an the Orange Order – but it’ll lea an awfy lot o decent people terrified, feart o whit consumerist super-pouer is gonnae be the first tae get its tackety boots on oor puir wee gangrel o a nation’s thrapple.

If oor anely road tae winnin a referendum is bi tramplin ower the backs o siclike fowk, then we neednae haud oor braith for a declaration o independence tae wirk its wey throu oor pairliament. We’ll be waitin till Doomsday in the efternuin.

Cause let’s no kid oorsels. An independent Scotland, wance it’s shakken loose fae the Croon, will mak a bonnie wee bauble for the pochlin o ony nummer o multinational cowboys – Jeff Bezos, Vladimir Putin, you name them. It’s a big bad planet oot there the noo, an wi aw the ideals we’re claimin for oorsels, we’ll hae plenty eneuch enemies tae gang roond.

But it’s freends ye need tae get by in this interconnectit warld, an if we cannae find them bidin wi us richt noo in oor ain schemes, how will we howp tae airt them oot in Brussels or in Washington?

The journey o a thoosand miles stairts the same wey as ony ither unnertakkin – an argument, say, or a reconciliation. A single step taewards. Nae man is an island, the poet says. But ilka body can be a brig.