Susan Boyle, plastic bags and Andy Murray – is that all there is?

Susan Boyle, plastic bags and Andy Murray – is that all there is?

by Mr Eugenides
article from Saturday 29, June, 2013

WRITING A weekly column, even one as unfailingly mediocre as this one, isn’t as straightforward as it may look. Coming up with a new topic to be outraged about each and every Saturday isn’t easy. For one thing, there are only so many variations on “our politicians are stupid and corrupt” that one can explore before the ennui begins to set in among even the most loyal of readers; indeed, I occasionally receive helpful emails pointing out that even my swearwords are getting repetitive (“You called Ross Finnie a ‘lack-witted spunktrumpet’ in May 2009 and twice in January 2012, can’t you do any better?”).

There comes a time, in other words, when even the richest of seams has been fully mined and you have to look elsewhere. One thing is for sure, I’ll never mock Alex Massie again (or at least not for his columns; his ghastly seersucker suits are fair game). This stuff is hard.

So it was, last night, that I took to Twitter to ask for ideas for today’s column. It wasn’t, with all due respect to my smart, witty and eclectic bunch of followers, a terribly helpful exercise. “Why don't you write a piece about how much you care about the Scottish Labour reshuffle”, chortled one, in a calculated attempt to induce a Gandolfinian spike in my blood pressure. That’s a non-starter, obviously, because I know nothing about the Scottish Labour frontbench and care even less, and I’d rather lower my ballsack into a coffee grinder full of leeches than devote any more time to thinking about those clowns than is absolutely necessary. If that’s what floats your boat, away and read Gerry Hassan.

A surprising number of you seemed to want me to share my thoughts on the plans for a 5p tax on plastic bags, which is if possible even less fucking interesting to me than the Scottish Labour reshuffle. No-one, let’s face it, ever won an Orwell prize for 1,000 words on plastic bags. And I can’t really see myself getting more than a couple of hundred words in before I put my head in the bag and try to asphyxiate myself – which might make for an amusing entry in Tom Shields’ Diary next weekend but isn’t my idea of a fun Friday night, even after imbibing copious quantities of vino tinto. So, respectfully, no.

Our esteemed editor even weighed in to suggest something about Alex Salmond fighting Spanish fishermen, which made zero sense until I read about the SNP’s plan to declare war on the rest of Europe if it doesn’t get its way over fishing rights. (Who says euroscepticism doesn’t sell north of the border?) I’ll admit that the prospect of blockading the North Sea with the fledgling Scottish Navy is an engaging one, but I still can’t really summon up the energy to make any jokes about it.

The truth is that there’s not much to say because, in Scottish politics at least, not much is going on. There’s the gay marriage bill, which started its way through Holyrood this week, but that is supported by all the main parties and opposed only by the Catholic Church, Brian Souter and, perhaps, some of the readers of this website. It’ll pass, life will go on and few of us will notice any difference. I’m all for it, by the way, but that doesn’t mean I want to write about it.

That apart, there is a strange absence of much in the way of newsworthy stories in Scottish politics right now. The newspapers are filled with fluff and ephemera; Susan Boyle, plastic bags and Andy Murray. Our First Minister is reduced to creating artificial controversies to get himself in the newspapers, boycotting the Open at Muirfield next month due to its hosts’ men-only membership policy, and prompting the rather uncharitable observation from Jackson Carlaw that “at least we will all be spared more photographs of him sprawled like a beached whale beside the Muirfield greens.” I couldn’t give a flying toss whether the Tartanissimo attends the Open, and nor should anyone else. This is silly season mouthwash, and should be treated as such.

Which is odd: because we are, supposedly, in the middle of an epochal debate on the future of the nation, one that will define us as a people not just for the next decades but, potentially, for centuries to come. We stand on the cusp of revolutionary change, but we don’t really seem to care. We are engaged in a long phoney war, it seems, where we dance round issues that really matter without ever getting any kind of actual enlightenment on the major issues. What is the SNP’s vision for independence? How can we talk of “independence” anyway, when we don’t know if we’ll be using pounds, euros or cowrie shells? Can any of our other political parties make a positive case for the Union, or are we to be treated to another eighteen months of scaremongering and half-truths from both sides?

There’s precious little “debate” going on, except perhaps online, where it’s always liable to be drowned out by the buzzing of cybernats. Instead we just get more of the same from our politicians; discussion conducted at primary school levels of sophistication, more heat than light, and insults so tired than even I wouldn’t use them in print. Our political establishment seem to have resolved to work as if they live in the early days of a more boring, petty nation.

So, no, I don’t really have much to write about this week, and I’m sure it shows. Blame them, not me.


ThinkScotland exists thanks to readers' support - please donate in any currency and often

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter & like and share this article