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Fiona McCade: On the positive side, welcome to Ayeland

How would you feel about visiting Volcania? Or perhaps you’d prefer to have a holiday in Danceland, Niceland, Catch-A-Cloudland, Jump-For-Joyland, Eyjafjallajökullland, or OMGWTFland?

In fact, these are all the same place. You and I know it as Iceland, but the Icelandic tourist board is currently running a competition to come up with something more interesting, and these are some of the suggestions so far.

If, like me, you think that there’s nothing wrong with a good, strong, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin name like Iceland, don’t worry. They’re not serious (although a lot of people on the internet appear to think they are), but there is method in their madness.

It seems that when you’re called something that starts with ‘ice’, people don’t always tend to think very much further than “Ooh, must be cold”. So, in an attempt to reflect the many facets of the island, visitors are being asked: “What would you name Iceland if this was your first glimpse?”

I’ve never been – though I’d love to – so the best I can come up with is Bjorkland and I don’t think that’ll win. Eyjafjallajökullland is equally doubtful, given that if you’re trying to make people think outside the “Brrr, cold” box, asking them to contemplate the “majorly disruptive exploding volcano” box probably isn’t the way you’d want to go, either. However, Iceland’s exercise in self-promotion has got me wondering what Scotland can do to make the world give us a fresh look.

Some of the debates surrounding the upcoming independence referendum have been dull indeed. Stuff like: If we vote “Yes”, how many people would be employed by Scottish customs and excise, and what would their pension rights be? Or, should we stay in Nato?

OK, worthy subjects, but oh dear. Way to go to make us all stay at home on polling day. Come on, this is first and foremost about identity, so, I’m saying, let’s add one more question to the voting paper. Let’s ask Scotland: what would you really like to be called?

If we vote yes, we’ll need a serious rebrand anyway, so why not be prepared? And, since everyone will be involved – even the “No” voters – suggestions like “North Northumberland” and “Scotlandshire” will be seriously considered. For a second.

We don’t even have to jettison “Scotland”. Ireland manages to be Eire as well, and Wales is also Cymru, so we can have another name, too, can’t we?

Alba is the obvious choice, but it hasn’t really caught on, possibly because of Jessica, or because nobody wants us to get accidentally mixed up with Albania. Caledonia is fine, and Scotia would be fair enough, but we really need to come up with something that will capture the world’s imagination and make more people visit.

We could lie, of course, and call ourselves Sunland, or Warmerica, but we’d be rumbled the moment the first visitor got off the plane.

Going back to our roots with something like Pictenstein might be an idea. Tartania would work, or Haggistan. Whiskay would be good. Or we could flaunt our natural wealth by rebranding as North Sea Gasedonia, with Aberdeen rechristened as Oilopolis.

Calling ourselves Braveland could also be quite inspirational – or how about: “Ayeland – the country that likes to say yes!”

We really need to get our finest brains onto this. Like the independence referendum itself, this is about how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. Here’s a chance to create a brilliant, new identity and usher in a bright, fresh future; full of hope, dynamism and common purpose.

On the other hand, we could just totally sell out and flog our brand new beginning to the highest commercial bidder. How about calling ourselves McDonaldland? We’d give our souls – and free, countrywide, 24/7 advertising – to McDonalds and in return they would sponsor everything we do. Sure, it would mean that the Golden Arches would shine atop Ben Nevis, and See You Jimmy hats would give way to Ronald McDonald wigs, but hey, we’d never have to work again.

And it would only take a small tweak of all the road signs to rename the capital Edinburger.

 

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