I was giving a talk at a festival in Moniave on Saturday morning which meant I didn't get to Dumfries until 12.30. When I first chatted online to one of the organisers of the town's Independence march a few months ago, he told me they hoped to maybe put 500 onto the streets. The day before there had been some Facebook talk of 2000. I have to admit this got my head shaking. I mean this is Dumfries when all is said and done. 66% 'NO' despite the likes of me throwing the kitchen sink at the thing back in 2014. 2000? well, maybe.
The roads into the town centre were all closed off so I parked up and walked onto Buccleuch St bridge and duly stopped dead in my tracks.
A sea of blue and white all the way up to the top of Buccleuch St. A sea of blue and white all the way to the far end of Whitesands. A sea of blue and white which must have been at least a mile long and probably then some.
Astounding. So 2000 had indeed been completely wrong: just not in the way everyone thought.
By the time I reached Dock Park, people were talking about a tweet from the local cops.
Bloody hell. 10,000 right bang slap in the very heart of Better Together Central.
I walked along Whitesands with Christiana, Dami and John, the Nigerian family we have supported for two years whilst they have waited and waited on the Home Office. The sight of young John enthusiastically joining in chants for an Independent Scotland couldn't help but put a smile on my face. And the smile stayed wrapped across my face for the next few hours.
And yet, underneath the smile I also felt a slow burn kind of anger. All around me were 10,000 similarly smiling faces enjoying the spring sunshine and basking in a sense of unity. I was angry at the way such people are constantly portrayed by the ghastly Unionist media. I was angry because these nasty, English owned rags continue to make up fairytales about how dark and divisive InyRef was.
It wasn't of course. It was like this. A celebration. A carnival. A blossoming of hope which went on through the weeks of a hot summer and found its crescendo in September 2014.
Our referendum did not open a Pandora's Box of racism and bigotry like the Brexit vote. Those who bought into the idea of becoming a shiny Nordic place took to the streets and waved flags. Those who didn't stayed home and quietly put a cross in the 'NO' box.
As is their absolute right of course. They don't boast about it. I never, ever seem to meet anyone who owns up to voting 'NO' back in 2014. They did what they did quietly and they have stayed quiet about it to this day.
As I stood on the bridge and absorbed the extraordinary scenes in front of me, my mind couldn't help but wander back to Buccleuch St on the morning of September 19, 2014.
I arrived at work lacking sleep and a will to live. I recall a thin rain. A few cars. A couple of pedestrians. Forlorn 'YES' signs in forlorn windows. A sparkling future ripped away. How would the street have looked if we had won? Wow. Party time. And the party would have gone on for weeks. Better Together didn't throw a party. Those who voted 'NO' retreated behind their locked doors and kept it to themselves. We are told the Queen purred. Cameron stood on the steps of Number 10 and spat out a mouthful of poison.
He might as well have stood there and screamed 'SUCKERS!!!!'
And now we have a Government in Edinburgh who seem to be banned from even uttering the word 'Independence'. They seem to be running from Ruth Davidson and the Daily Mail like a Pakistani schoolboy being pursued by fifty skinheads dosed to their eyeballs on Meth.
We are so constantly polite. There must be a whole bunch of dead guys spinning in their graves at our endless politeness. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you George Washington and Charles Stuart Parnell and Mahatma Gandhi and Kwami Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta and Gamal Nasser. I suppose I best also give you our very own local boy, Robert the Bruce.
None of these guys did polite. History teaches us very clearly all about how to get out from under the stamp of London Rule. You don't do it by being polite. You do it by getting right in their faces.
And as I stood on Buccleuch St bridge, my eyes feasted on the sight of ten thousand people basically saying stuff being polite. Truly a sight for sore eyes.
Good people. Young and old. All types. All colours. From skipping kids to mobility scooters. And just about each and every one of them waving a flag.
At this point I need to remember to say a big thanks to everyone who donated food and cash to First Base. It came to about £1000. And it was appreciated . Of course it was appreciated. The march will help us to get our Independence sometime in the years to come. In the meantime, it will make sure a few people don't have to go hungry in the next few weeks.
Special mentions need to be made for Wings over Scotland, the guys who organised the 'Aye Night' in Castle Douglas a couple of weeks ago, and the local SNP office who stored all the donated food.
Later I got myself onto YouTube. As you do, right? Lots of videos of Dumfries looking like it has never looked before. Someone worked out the town hadn't seen such a gathering since the funeral of Robert Burns.
And then there was an ITV News interview with local Tory MSP, Oliver Mundell. Yeah, that's right. The son of the esteemed Secretary of State for Scotland. He looked like an ISIS guy had forced him to chew a mouthful of rotten prawns at the point of an AK47.
So Mr Mundell, what are your thoughts about the march in Dumfries today?
Now there could have been plenty of handy fire exits for a politician with a bit of class about them. Maybe Oliver might have tried something like this on for size.
First up, smile. Look like a regular guy.
'Well of course, I don't exactly agree with all the people who have filled the streets of Dumfries today. But when all is said and done I am a democrat, and it is hard not to be enthused by such a display. The police tell me the march has been entirely peaceful, and I think this says much about what a great country Scotland is.....'
Now that would have been a touch of class. Well, I think it would have been.
But Oliver didn't say that. Instead he glowered into the camera like a spoilt brat who had not received what he wanted for Christmas. He described the march as 'A complete waste of time'.
And then he went one better and said it was 'affront' to all the decent people who voted NO in 2014.
Abhorrent? Are you being serious? Continuing to believe in something is an affront? Maybe you should stop and think about this nonsense for a minute.
William Wilberforce didn't get slavery abolished at the first attempt. I guess it must have been a affront to all those decent slave owners when he just kept on trying.
The pesky Irish kept bleating on about Independence for fifty years before they got it. An affront.
Ditto the other 40 or so countries who finally managed the shake themselves free of London's grasp.
In 1939 we sent an expeditionary force across the Channel to take on Hitler only to see them sent packing a year later. It must have seemed like an absolute affront when we showed the ill grace to have another go in June 1944.
So here's the thing, Oliver. It's called living in a country where having an opinion is allowed. It is our hard won right. And it shouldn't be an affront to anyone.
Not that I am about to moan about it. Because every time you and your dad behave like petulant schoolboys you add another few hundred to our ranks.
So keep on spitting the dummy, Oliver.
Cue a few words from Peter Gabriel's homage to the great Steve Biko
'You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the fames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher.'