Toe-curling, infuriating, shaming.  These are only some of the emotions I experienced while watching BBC Scotland’s documentary on the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Sub-titled The Bank that Ran out of Money, the programme laid bare the extent of the folly of RBS’s global ambitions.  As one commentator put it, they thought they were spinning gold out of straw.

Worst moments?  Watching Tom McKillop, a fine chemist and industrialist, clearly out of his depth – but I’ll cry few tears at his fate, given that he’s still managing to accumulate baubles on the boardroom circuit.  Realising that either Goodwin didn’t have a scooby what he was doing, or if he did, he told barefaced lies to shareholders and the rest of us, year after year.  But absolutely the worst was realising that an awful lot of RBS employees got unco rich on the back of selling poor Americans an unfeasible dream.  Here was financial piracy and imperialism on an incredible scale, and it was cloaked in the Saltire.

At the same time, RBS was branding itself glitzily across big sporting events and sponsorship opportunities.  Swashbuckling its way into everyone’s consciousness.  And most of us were proud of seeing a wee Scottish company mix it with the big boys and willing to share a little of the lustre of its reputation:  few of us paused to question the desirability or necessity of big being better.

Now, we have come full circle.  RBS has eschewed splashing the cash in favour of grassroots community sponsorship and grantmaking in an attempt to rehabilitate itself.  Yet, even this is blatant blaggarding.  To vote in its Community Force competition that pits charities against each other in a bilious game of sell your need, you must register with its website and attempt to avoid the bank’s marketing clutches in the process.  A sneaky way to try and drum up new customers methinks.

Such swinging extremes seem part and parcel of the Scottish psyche, epitomised by the stance of political parties over our constitutional future.  We’re either too wee to be half way decent on our own, or capable of dazzling the family of nations with our greatness.  The SNP, in particular, is guilty of braggadocio, albeit with the best of intentions and understandable rationale.

If your opponents constantly do down your country’s prospects, the obvious temptation is to counter that by trying to show how much better – wealthier and healthier – Scotland could be with independence.  Filling Scots with hope, aspiration and big ambition is a vital tenet of Salmond’s strategy towards independence.  It’s why under an SNP Government, building a sense of national pride through showcase sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup are key components of the masterplan.  It’s also why the First Minister is much taken by Scotland being a world leader in renewable energy technology.  Self belief is everything in the race to win hearts and minds.

But this extreme is matched by the perverse pride many Unionists take in promoting the idea that Scotland on its own would be an economic basketcase, a stance that has encouraged them to forge political careers out of keeping the Scots cringe firmly at the forefront of our approach to life.  There is something far wrong with a political creed that revels in doing down a people’s ability to survive and thrive.  And it has succeeded in maintaining generations under the yoke of under-achievement, making us sniffy about real success, happy to wallow in our mediocrity.  How else to explain our swagger under the weight of poverty, ill-health, violence and aim always to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in everything from sporting endeavour to personal attainment?

There is a dishonesty inherent in both extremes and a little more honesty in our political discourse would go a long way.  Like Goldilocks, I’d be happy with just right.  Not every country can be great;  this nation does not need to be rubbish;  a half way house that does things decently would do for me.

I’d settle for living in a country which prioritises tackling inequality and injustice, where fairness is at the heart of the agenda.   That resolves to end the scandal of children growing up in poverty;  which ensures that the most vulnerable citizens do not go without or have to fight to get what they need;  where people pay what they can afford for the benefit of all.  I’d settle for a Scotland that feels confident enough to remove the chip on it shoulder, but does not feel the need to wear a fur coat with nae knickers either.  I’d be happy with a Scotland that is neither great nor rubbish, but just content with being good enough.