Why does Scotland want to be free? This is a tricky question. In India, we ask this of a wide variety of people, but most of them are too busy shooting at us to reply. As always, history holds the key.

Two thousand years ago, when our own civilisation was at its height, the British were living in trees and painting their faces blue, a practice recently revived by Mamata Banerjee. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, people in Europe were getting very bored. This was in the days before television. They spent a lot of their time fighting each other, but beyond a point, they felt the urge to fight someone new. The first people to feel this urge were the Romans, who had already massacred everyone else, and were yet to invent the orgy. They were followed in rapid succession by the Angles, the Saxons, the Vikings, and, in a final, crowning indignity, the French.

This went on for a thousand years, until the English decided that the best way to avoid being invaded was to invade other people. Thus, was born the British Empire. Empires, like charity, begin at home, so the first thing the English did was invade their neighbours. The Scots were technologically less advanced than the English at this point. They were yet to invent pants. They never stood a chance, especially when it was windy. They were defeated repeatedly. As an act of retaliation, they invented the bagpipes.

A devious plan

Around the same time, the English also invaded the French, but they were at roughly the same level technologically, so this ended in a draw. Seeing their success with the Scots, the English decided that from this point onwards, they would only invade technologically less advanced societies. Soon, they were all over the world, stealing everything and opening clubs. In a cunning move, they called this criminal enterprise the British Empire. As a result, the Scots never realised that it was an English empire, and supported them wholeheartedly. Plus, there was nothing much to do in Scotland, except make whiskey.

All good things must come to an end, and so did the British Empire. The British withdrew from their colonies, one by one, but in the process, they developed a taste for partitioning. They partitioned Palestine. They partitioned Cyprus. They partitioned Ireland. They partitioned North America. They partitioned us. Where other people see one nation, the British have always seen two. But now, after years of good work, they have run out of things to partition. Their possessions have dwindled. Their footprint has shrunk. Gibraltar is too small, and the Falklands is mostly sheep. As a result, the inevitable has happened, and now they are partitioning themselves.

On the Scottish side, resentments have been building up, ever since Sean Connery was replaced by Roger Moore, and the English forced them to wear pants, which restricted their freedom of movement. Once Manchester United kicked out David Moyes and replaced him with a foreigner, there was no turning back. These things take their toll. The Scots are also feeling more confident financially, because now they can borrow money from JK Rowling.

Helpful suggestions

How can we help them at a time like this? We should give them helpful suggestions, based on our own experience. The first thing they should do is set up a Boundary Commission, to be headed by someone with no relevant experience, such as David Beckham. They should make sure he has less than three weeks to draw the borders. Two English judges and two Scots judges, who will disagree on everything, should assist him. All borders should be drawn with a very thick pen. They should avoid dividing up the water, so that the two young nations will have something to keep them busy for the next 50-odd years. To make things exciting, the border should be finalised on the day of independence.

Each individual district should be given the option of freedom, so that tomorrow we could have countries like Laphroaig and Lower Pultney. The whole affair should be presided over by a nincompoop, for example, a navy man so legendarily incompetent that officers of the Royal Navy still sprinkle themselves with holy water before mentioning his name. We could also send over Reliance, who could help resolve the North Sea Gas dispute by not producing any, as well as Sakshi Maharaj, to prevent Love Jihad. Scottish women are particularly ferocious. People like Hugh Grant need protection.

But if indeed the Scots march off to freedom, kilts flapping in the breeze, what the English will need most is our sympathy and understanding. As the sad columns of English refugees leave Edinburgh, carrying their meagre belongings, pausing once in a while to gaze back sadly at the place they once called home, we must be there to lend a shoulder to cry on. It will look like a poor little thing, this new British Empire, reduced to Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Delhi Gymkhana. We must remind them not to lose heart, because they built better than they knew. Whenever they feel depressed, they should remember that there is still one little corner on God’s green earth, where lease rentals are fifty paise per acre, and the golf is free, and the whiskey is cheap, and the Empire lives on in all its glory. All that’s changed is the colour of its skin.