Scotland voted Yes by 60% in the independence referendum, and in one of the largest constitutional crisis that Great Britain had faced since America gained independence from the British Empire, the situation quickly escalated. David Cameron was forced out of office, and with the coalition dissolving faster than an effervescent asprin in a bucket of boiling acid, England became a post-apocalyptic nightmare in days, filled with ultra nationalists rioting and Scots forced into hiding.
But on the 25th of September – one week after the referendum devastation – EGX was to take place in what is left of London. EGX had now been named English Games Expo, and things were not looking good. And yet, with my tickets already booked, I head into the wilderness and wasteland that is the south of England…
I’ve taken to drinking my Irn Bru from a paper bag, cautiously checking my surrounding beforehand as I masquerade as a midday alcoholic (I suspect this ruse has fooled many an Englishman in the past…). That’s pretty much the normal state for Scottish people, but now that England had become a world devoid of hope, alcohol was what many people turned to. It only took a few six-packs and a couple bottles of Bailies for the entire country because they’re all lightweights. To be honest, the only reason I wasn’t drinking was because I needed to stay vigilant, and blend in with the crowd as well as I could.
As I boarded the train in Edinburgh Waverly Station, the ticket inspector’s eyebrows raised as he heard my attempt at a cockney accent, before handing my tickets back and suggesting that I try something less intelligible. I quickly headed to the bathroom to practice my Liverpudlian and Mancunian in the mirror, desperately hoping my Scottish accent wouldn’t show through. Some say they’ve been using Kinect to test people, some say they used Siri, but I really hoped that they’ve used PlayStation technology so it wouldn’t recognise my voice no matter the accent.
“Stay on the right side, you need to fit in.” I repeated in my head as I stepped onto the escalator in the tube station. Right, I’m out, time for a beer. Beer unites people – the pubs are generally safe, just as long as I don’t react when I’m told it’s £18 for two drinks. I clear the alcohol checkpoint at the door – to check that I’m over the required limit to enter – and reach the bar, standing next to what I’m sure is another disguised Scotsman.
This guy’s too obvious though, he’s wearing an ill fitted England football shirt and talking in a ridiculous accent. I’m not the only one who notices. As he hands over a Scottish five pound note, claiming it to be “legal tender”, the bartender looks perplexed. “Get ‘im!” were the final words I heard uttered as I slipped out the door and slink away into the night to the howls of pain. Reaching Tuffcub’s flat, I was glad to finally be safe for the night.
I had been so caught up in trying to fit in that I almost forgot the reason for my trip – EGX. Even as one of the few designated safe zones, I was herded into Earls Court through a rear entrance with my fellow Scotsmen the next morning. Normally a rowdy bunch, we were a little more subdued as police held back protestors holding placards and screaming incendiary slurs as we passed. I later found out that they gave us differently coloured wristbands. They did have the Saltire on them though, which was nice.
As I sat down for the presentation of British Citizenship Simulator 2015 with a small group of fellow writers, designed to simultaneously help immigrants pass the old citizenship tests, the developer awkwardly noted the blue wristband I was wearing, and asked if I needed a translator, to which I naturally replied “Och no, a dinnae need yir help, big man”. As I tucked in to my complimentary haggis, the developer moved swiftly on to talk about how they’re having to rebuild the game from the ground up, to remove all references to Scotland in order to qualify for the inevitable rewriting of the tax breaks system. At least, I thought that was what he said – he was from Berkshire or Surrey or somewhere, and who can honestly understand that accent?
It’s only when I stepped outside at lunchtime that I realise something was off. Heavy, torrential rain. “This is just like Scotland,” I muttered, but a nearby zealot who’d managed to make it through the cordon must have heard me and spotted my wristband, as the last thing I felt was a blow to the back of my head as I fell to the ground.
I could still feel the rain pouring, as I came to. “No, no, no…” I say, and with all the power I can muster I slowly open my eyes. White tiles? Where am I? “No…” I repeat. “Oh no. Oh, no!” spurts out of my mouth as I’m still being splashed with water. “Oh, it was a No vote, wasn’t it?” I remember as I turn the shower off, almost instantly forgetting about my little daydream.
A bizarre fantasy brought to you by the fevered imaginations of Blair and Stefan.