It’s a Worry No 1 – The Open

In 1986 or thereby, four of us flew to Malaga for a week’s golf at Sotogrande. We flew from Newcastle and enjoyed the trip down listening to the designated driver’s audio tapes of the Masters tournament of bygone years. I remember one fondly. Fred Couples was leading in the final round by a couple of shots when he hit his ball into the stream at Amen Corner. The commentator asked ‘I wonder what’s going through his mind right now’. There followed a very audible and heartfelt ‘Oh F—!’ from the boy Fred.

Not the best though. At one point, one American commentator referred to the ‘British Open’. At which, the other Yank cried ‘Don’t call it that. We’ll get all those letters from that Colonel guy in England again. We know it’s the Open.’

Totally correct, of course. As we all know, there are four golf majors – the US Masters, the US Open, the USPGA and. primus inter pares, the Open. It’s just like the stamps. We thought of it first so we don’t have to call it the British Open just as we don’t have to put the name of our country on said stamps.

The Open was held in Scotland for the first 30 years or so until it went to Royal St George’s in 1894. Only ever played on 14 courses in its history. I’m lucky enough to have had at least one round on 11 of them, by the way.

Anyhow, what happens if we vote for ‘Freedom’ and sign out of Britain? In all logic, how can they continue to hold the ‘British’ Open on golf courses which are no longer British? I realise that Sleekit and the deluded will yammer on about scare-mongering and assert that our rUK chums will still allow us to carry on as usual because we’ll all still be ‘British’ by virtue of living in the British isles. Doesn’t work for the Irish in the Republic and I don’t see how it should work for us.

I trust that the organising body of the Open, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews will do the decent thing and pass control of the event to the rUK. Or secede from Salmondland.


1966 and All That

In case you had forgotten, I have rules about the countries that I support to beat England. In cricket, it’s Scotland. For rugby it’s Scotland, Wales, Ireland and South Africa. At football I will happily cheer on my Sassenach cousins except against Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales (unless that diving bastard, Gareth Bale, is playing for the Taffs).

It follows that I enthusiastically supported England throughout their 1966 campaign. We had failed to qualify despite that magic day in 1965 when I was part of a crowd of 100,393 at Hampden Park to watch John Greig smack the ball past the Italian goalie and give us a chance of going to the party when we won the return leg. We didn’t.

Come the Finals, I was 16, 6′ tall and able to pass in pubs. Watched most of the games in the Station Hotel, Perth nursing a pint of Light. That’s where I was on 30 July 1966. I still remember cheering when England won, despite that non-goal.

Now, if Scotland had ever won the World Cup, we all know that we would have wandered up to pick up the trophy in a diffident and self-effacing manner, making absolutely no attempt to rub our opponent’s faces into the fact that we had gubbed them. We would have taken the cup home and put it on our national mantle piece, alongside our many Nobel prizes and other awards for inventing most important things and generally being better than everybody else at everything. We would never have mentioned it again unless somebody asked us about it. In which case we might, under repeated importuning, have primed our pipe, lit it and puffed reflectively as we told the tale of the day. Modesty is our middle name.

How very different from our Sassenach cousins. They have talked of little else since they became World Champions. We, of course, took the title off them by humiliating them 2-3 at Wembley in 1967 but they still bang about that 1966 game.

Anyhow, it’s World Cup time in Brazil. We appear to have been robbed and to have failed to qualify again. So, it’s ‘c’mon England’ for another campaign.

My worry is that Alex Salmond will probably be at my shoulder this time as I cheer on the Southrons. In normal times, I am certain that he would have bought his Uruguayan, Italian and Costa Rican shirts for England’s qualification group by now. I am also certain that he will be hoping that England go all the way this time in the expectation that the media will go on and on and on and on about it and drive some of my fellow Jocks towards the Yes delusion.

Whatever. c’mon England. I still hope that my friends and fellow countrymen will win in Brazil. And that Sleekit will, in due course, lose in Scotland.

On Your Mark! Get Set! Don’t Blow!

In case you missed it, the upcoming Weegie Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony ran into a wee bit of controversy recently. Obviously, we in Caledonia were never going have anything like the same amount of money as the reactionary Westminster junta gave to the 2012 Olympic Games. A classic example of our being starved of proper funding by the English oppressor.

We were having to make do with a miserly £14m out of the pittance which the UK Government grudgingly doles out to us. Our Great Leader has now managed to increase that to £21m, presumably by cutting back on his utterly justifiable and reasonable expenses at great personal sacrifice. Continue reading

An Answer to FFEG

<p><em>’Just finished watching the BBC coverage of the Edinburgh Tattoo. It was as entertaining as it was when Mrs FEEG and I were there in person 10 years ago. Absolutely stunning.

There is still one question that arises from it, though. When you are in Auld Reekie, the atmosphere around Festival time is great except for all the “bagpipe buskers”.

So, my question for Mr Mackie is, “Why is it that bagpipe solos sound like a particularly sadistic version of cat strangulation, whereas a massed pipe and drum band is one of the greatest sounds on Earth?” ‘</em>

A fair question, FEEG and one which I have often pondered of a summer evening as my homeward bus sits at the junction of Waverley Bridge and Princes Street snarled up in the interminable Embran pre-tram delays. That spot is one of the mercifully very few where licensed bagpipe playing by a succession of inept pipers clothed in many and varied versions of what they fondly believe to be ‘The Garb of Old Gaul’ as in the regimental march of Her Majesty’s Scots Guards is allowed.</p><p></p><p>

Not that they play that particular tune very often. Their repertoire usually runs through uninspired performances of ‘Scotland the Brave’, ‘Highland Cathedral’, ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and a few other hackneyed, over-played and often over-blown standards. May their reeds rot in their chanters and in all of their drones!

I don’t blame them. There are easy pickings to be made from eager tourists clamouring to have their photos taken next to a man with bare knees aping the example of Old Nick in ‘Tam O’Shanter who, according to our Rabbie, ‘screwed the pipes and gart them skirl’.

I do blame Mel Gibson  in ‘Braveheart ‘ for this Outlander  belief that all of us Jocks are blessed with sheer animal magnetism. Don’t blame him too much, of course. You just can’t fight the truth.

In fact, our corner-hogging licensed pipe-screwers would probably make the same money even if we fitted silencers to their bagpipes. I’ll write to the Council suggesting it once I’ve finished composing my ten volume epistle to them about the bloody trams.

Down the road from me there is a Scout Hall where aspiring young pipers practice If you think that solo bagpipe playing is bad, you should try living with apprentice solo bagpipe murdering.

But with respect, you are wrong. I’ll give you the buskers and I see where you are coming from and why you might choose to hold your ears in pain. But the lone piper on the battlements of Embra Castle at the end of the Tattoo still raises my hair and hackles in the right way every time.

And there will always be this particular lone piper for me.

Is Nothing Sacred?

I have never been an incandescent sort of person. In truth, you would probably have to douse me with 100% proof spirit and toss a lighted match on me to inflame me about anything. I just have this congenital belief that the other chap may not be talking total rubbish and that I should, in fairness, listen to him even if what he is saying is utter piffle. 

There does. however, come a point when the meekest of worms must turn and I have wriggled to that point. I have read the works of many authors and enjoyed them but there are only a handful of them who have enthralled me.

Obviously AA Milne, As it happened to happen for me, Dorothy L Sayers, Jules Verne, Isaac Aasimov, Thorne  Smith, James Thurber and others. Then , in due and happy course, I encountered  PG Wodehouse.

He has been my constant companion and delight ever since. As far as I know,  I have every one of his books, sometimes several times over. Which is my I am seriously considering self-combusting about the forthcoming BBC ‘Blandings’ series.

As any fule kno, Lord Emsworth is a vague,tall, thin, balding sort of cove. Aunie Beeb, whom God rot, have cast Timothy Spall in the part.

Timothy bloody Spall? Undoubtedly a fine actor but more suited to playing Lord Emsworth’s prize pig, the Empress of Blandings, or Beach the butler in my opinion. 

It will end in tears. 



Haggis Go Home

As we steadfastly march behind our Glorious Leader towards the glorious dawn of Scottish Independence, fanned by the zephyr-like breath of the tens of millions of wind turbines crowding across every available inch of our mountains and glens and far too sober thanks to the extortionate amount of alcohol duty levied by the Health Fascists of the Scottish Parliament, it is time to reflect on one of the few good things which will come out of that Independence.

I refer to the fact that one of the first edicts of Emperor Salmond will be to declare haggis a banned substance. For far too long our proud nation has lived with the vile calumny that we are responsible for this abomination. Haggis is one of the main reasons why we have a totally undeserved reputation for being dour and miserable. You would be pretty hacked off too if that was what you were supposed to dish up and eat every time that there was some sort of national celebration. It’s all the fault of the English and their erstwhile colonial masters, the Romans.

I refer you to the famous Roman historian/poet Livid and his oft-quoted ‘Hagges a Romanis revelata sunt’. Having discovered haggises, tasted them and spat them out, they sent them off to sustain the subject nations. Which is how they arrived in England. The Romans tried to foist them off on us as well in their forays into Caledonia (stern and wild) but we got severely piqued about that. That’s why they called us the Picts. The Romans got so fed up with us lobbing the haggises back at them that they built a wall to stop us.

We lived free and unhaggis-fed for centuries after that until we signed up of our own free will and in our own self interest to the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. We were betrayed. As you will all remember, Article 210 of the Act clearly said ‘No stinking haggis muck will be imported into North Britain’.

Oh, that perfidious Albion! Within months of the Union, English agents were trying to reduce their haggis glut by flogging them to us. Didn’t work to begin with but then the English Haggis Marketing Board were lucky enough to employ two of the greatest spin doctors of all time.

Step forward Sir Walter English and Bob Burns. Sir Walter changed his name to the Jock-friendly ‘Scott’ and beavered away in Embra inventing a completely mythical history to soften us up. Meanwhile Bob, who originally came from Essex, learnt the Scots language, changed his name to Rabbie and was embedded in an Ayrshire farming family. In due course, he wrote ‘To a Haggis’ and the rest is an alternative and deeply untrue history. But now, the time has come to set the record straight.

To paraphrase The Proclaimers, ‘Haggis no more’. Let us rise as a free and united people and drive this English-imposed excrescence from our own dear native land for ever.

Mind, we’ll keep the Burns Suppers and the whisky. We just have to think of something to eat instead of the sheep’s stomach thing.

Being a Wodehouse fan, I’m tempted to suggest ‘Timbales de Ris de Veau Toulousaines’ as prepared by Aunt Dahlia’s chef, Anatole.

Or deep-fried Mars Bars.

Another Time and Place

Elections, even US elections, bring it all flooding back.

In my youth, I was a political animal, Neither ashamed nor defensive about that. It was just what I was. My first memory is the 1959 election. Lying on the floor of the lounge in an Army house on the Bulbridge Estate in Wilton filling in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ constituency map of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in either blue or red (other colours were not really necessary) as the results poured in over the radio on the Friday afternoon and evening.

At 14, I joined the Young Conservatives, Young Liberals and Young Socialists to sample their wares. In those happy days, the young Scottish Nationalists were drooling incompetents so I felt no urge to sign up to them. Not a lot of change there, when I think about it.

I admit to having had my knee stroked by Jeremy Thorpe in the bar of the ‘Salutation Hotel’ in Perth, but that did not turn me Liberal. YS were never serious starters, to be fair, so I settled on the Tories as my party of choice. It was fun, starting with my first election activism in 1964. Wrote a McGonagall pome for that one as I recall:-

‘T’was the fifteenth of October in the year of ’64,
When Labour won the election, a thing I do deplore.
Their majority was five which later turned to three,
Thanks to Patrick Gordon-Walker, then Foreign Secretary,
For he lost the vote at Smethwick and later on Leyton,
By which he lost both the seats and his Parliamentary station…….’

I’ll spare you the rest, even although it is all still seared into my very sad memory.

Uni of Embra in 1967 and we’re talking ‘Bliss was it in that dawn’ time. I lived it and I loved it.

In 1970, I thought that Edward Heath was a great man. I now realise of course, that I could perhaps have been slightly wrong about that. But, I threw myself into that 1970 election with a fervour. We were sure we were going to lose but we were going to try our best. We were allocated to the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency held by our boy, Norman Wylie with a majority of about 60 in 1966. The national polls were against us and we thought that all we were doing was damage limitation.

I knocked my volunteer pan out for three weeks. My last remembered act of the campaign is harassing a boy out of his bath and huckling him to the polling station with half an hour to go. Tired and expecting defeat, we all adjourned to get blootered. The first result in showed a big swing to us and thereafter it all went pure magic. Norman won by 3,000 votes.

I moved on after that and went down the non-polly road to a respectablish job. I will always wonder whether I would have had the necessary thick skin and mental flexibility to be a proper politician.

Whatever, the blood still fires when there’s elections about so I will be watching tonight’s developments.

More importantly, I’m going to be right back in there kicking ScotNat backsides when referendum time comes. Keep Scotland British!