Today I took a photograph from a very significant spot, NT 849 401 (UK map, OS locator if my grid references are accurate).

What does it show?

  • a snapshot of a tiny part of a tiny planet in an infinite universe;
  • the photograph was taken when the planet was billions of years old;
  • countless atoms of H2O that have been circulating the planet for eternity thanks to convection currents that take moisture from the surface of the planet up into the atmosphere so that it may be deposited again via precipitation (otherwise known locally as The River Tweed);
  • unseen are the countless elements that comprise the atmosphere – some of which are recycled thanks to the system which enables plants to convert CO2 into oxygen so that animals may sustain their lives by inhaling oxygen and expiring CO2 ; like the H2O molecules, these elements will have been circulating the planet as a result of the complex weather systems;
  • there are plants and trees visible that will mainly have grown thanks to a variety of natural seed distribution processes, the seeds may have originated quite a distance from the site of the actual plant;
  • for a very brief instant during the life of the planet, humans have played a part in modifying the landscape, resulting in the construction of the town of Coldstream as visible in the distance;
  • also in the atmosphere are numerous sources of telecommunications data – invisible unless decoded by appropriate equipment;
  • in the grand scheme of the life of the universe, the view represents so little, but if I focus a bit, I can describe the scene in less significant terms;
  • it is a view of a part of the surface of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth;
  • it is a view of part of Europe, but not quite continental Europe;
  • when the photograph was taken, everything that can be seen is considered to be a part of the European Union;
  • others may see the scene as simply a part of The United Kingdom;
  • it is also a view of tiny parts of two separate countries, England to the left and Scotland to the right, with the border being the centre of the River Tweed;
  • another way of looking at it might be to note that the land on the left hand bank of the river is part of the county of Northumberland, whilst the land on the right is part of the Scottish Borders Council administrative area (others might wish to note that previously the land on the right would have been part of the County of Berwickshire, whilst at present Berwickshire is simply an administrative division of a larger area;
  • I will not begin to attempt to research just how many elected representatives are paid from the public purse to seek to govern the people who live within the area pictured – I will, however note that there are local councillors, a constituency MSP, list MSPs, MPs and MEPs;
  • in around two years time those living on the right hand side of the river (as long as they are old enough) will be given a vote to record their opinion as to whether or not a more defined division will be constructed between the two communities, none of those living on the left hand side of the river will be able to formally register their opinions;
  • I find the whole situation rather depressing, arguments about Scottish independence have been conducted for as long as I can remember and will certainly increase during the coming two years;
  • I very much doubt that the outcome will make the slightest bit of difference to the way in which the river continues to flow, the air continues to circulate, or the wild plant life continues to germinate. One thing is very clear, however, if mother nature decides – the river will flood, the wind will blow as a gale, and the plants may contract some disease that might either kill them off of cause them to grow excessively with very little that humans might be able to do to try to control;
  • as the debate rages about the pros and cons of Scottish Independence I keep thinking about a wide range of issues; one of the possible outcomes is that an independent Scotland may have to apply to join the EU as an accession state (although how this squares with true independence I have no idea) – one consequence of a successful application might mean that Scotland would have to become part of the ‘Shengen’ border agreement, which in turn could mean an end to my present ability to freely walk backwards and forwards across this bridge without being subject to border controls. Now some politicians claim that this would never happen, although others seem fairly clear that it won’t – I have a natural tendency to disbelieve any promises made by politicians who are seeking my vote. Whilst they might not be deliberately lying (they may simply be choosing to selectively ignore particular legal advice), one thing is sure, they can’t both be telling the truth, but could both be wrong;
  • one thing that is abundantly clear to me – look at a map of this location and the current border between Scotland and England will be visible, but there is absolutely no sign of it in reality – just a river with similar vegetation growing on either side of it;
  • as far as I am concerned many of the world’s problems (both past and present) have been caused by the existence of such invisible lines

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