The first few days of August 2014 have been spent in Scotland, in a log cabin in Ayrshire, and going to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The Commonwealth Games, we are constantly told, are the Friendly Games, and indeed they were. I have been left with very fond memories of Glasgow itself, and of its people, who seemed hospitable and remarkably solid and real.
It is rather like Liverpool, without the pressure to constantly perform and crack jokes. Not everyone is trying to be Billy Connolly.
Both cities were major ports on the west coast, on large rivers (Glasgow on the Clyde, Liverpool on the Mersey). Both cities had huge shipbuilding industries, both have cultural and ethnic links with Ireland, and both have semi-tribal fault lines that revolve around religion and the support of football teams. This is a massive generalisation, but generally the Catholic communities support Celtic and Everton, and the Protestants support Rangers and Liverpool.
The Scottish independence debate was shelved during the Games, but, to me as an Englishman, the national pride was obvious, although the willingness to cheer all of the UK nations was also there.
There seems to be a strange kind of irony, a strange sense of history repeating itself, in this gathering of youth and athleticism from what was the British Empire on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
On 4th August, 1914, Germany invaded neutral Belgium, and Britain declared war. Imperial troops would have gathered in Glasgow then, as now. The nations of what would become the Commonwealth had gathered in response to the metaphorical baton, with its message from the King, but it would not turn out to be a Friendly War!
The Eurosceptic argument is obvious. Friendliness and help comes from the Commonwealth, the nations of which have been well-trained in English politeness (though, sometimes, they go off the rails, like wayward children!), and war, death and pestilence come from those pesky Europeans, with their hubristic dreams of empires to rival the British one!