I had no idea what she was talking about. It was rather easier to predict what she would say next, and indeed she didn’t disappoint my expectations: ‘There’s been a murrrrdddeeeeerrrrrrr,’ she said, followed by a chuckle; a chuckle that seemed to say, ‘That’s a cracker, that one. Bet no-one’s ever said that after a murder before.’
According to my mum, a man had been stabbed to death in a local pub a mere mile from her house and had then staggered a few hundred yards down the road to his house, whereupon he promptly died. Her source for this information? Twitter: the cyberspace equivalent of a gossiping conga line stretching across a billion tenement back-fences. Fuck you, Reuters! By the time the story had been banded about the kitchen a few times, the villages of Polmont and Brightons were on lock-down, armed coppers were perched in sentry towers, people were being detained and then airlifted for extraordinary rendition in Germany, helicopters were commanding the skies like a swarm of angry wasps, and martial law had been declared. In addition, six old ladies were shot coming out of the butchers, which at least spared them the horror of the nuclear blast that erupted from ‘Auld Nessie’s Cat Charity Shop’ across the road.
My mate and I did some car-based reconnaissance. One tiny street with a pub in it was cordoned off, and two coppers were standing outside of a house. Miami Vice, motherfuckers. As we drove past the first cordon, my mate clocked the police tape and asked thoughtfully, ‘What do you think the police would do if we just ran through that tape like we’d finished a marathon?’ A tenner for anybody who does that at the next murder scene they stumble across. Twenty quid if they’re a copper (thirty if they’re the suspect). Do it in slow motion, though, yeah?
We rounded the corner from the pub, past the local Spar, and clocked a heavy-set man coming out of the store wearing a fleece that said ‘NYPD’. We couldn’t help but share a giggle. ‘Jesus,’ said my mate. ‘They’re really taking this case seriously.’ Well played, NYPD guy. Well played.
Back at my mum’s house, we sat down to watch Scotland Today on STV. A murder in a sleepy hamlet in Falkirk? There’s no way that won’t feature on the news, even if it only merits a few solemn sentences. So we watched. And waited. Yadda yadda yadda underage drinking. Yadda yadda yadda kids voting. And then we were treated to approximately twelve minutes – TWELVE MINUTES of a twenty-seven minute news show covering all of Scotland – about tonight’s Celtic vs Barcelona football match. TWELVE MINUTES of interviewing Celtic’s coaches, directors and managers, where we gleaned such insights as: ‘It should be a good game,’ ‘I hope we win,’ and ‘The players just need to go out there and play the game.’ Fuck me. Then a woman in a near-empty stadium told us how exciting it was to be standing in that near-empty stadium, just knowing a football match was about to happen. Then we were treated to an ‘interview’ with some young Barcelona fans who were enjoying a couple of pre-match pints in Glasgow city centre. Shockingly, they hoped Barcelona would win, but whatever happened they thought it should be a good game, and urged the players to just get out there and play the game. They were then asked to sing a typical Barcelona terrace song – in Spanish obviously – which I can only hope was about shagging the bodies of their dead foes.
What a coincidence that STV had the broadcast rights to the same football match it plugged for twelve minutes during its own fucking news programme.
I get that it’s a Champions’ League match, and that the event has great cultural significance and entertainment value, but surely if the story’s featured in THE FUCKING NEWS it should be covered thusly: ‘Celtic are playing Barcelona at home tonight.’ What more is there to say? SPORT is not NEWS! Was there nothing else of any significance happening elsewhere in the country? No bribery, corruption, controversial legislation, or, oh I don’t know… MURDER??
Well, yes, there was something better than all of that, actually (but not as good as football, obviously). Some fat guy with long hair was so angry about tourists rubbing the nose of Edinburgh’s Greyfriars’ Bobby statue that he went on TV to complain about it. They captioned him as a ‘Campaigner’. A campaigner for what? A blacker nose on a pretend dog? Bono’ll be in touch soon, my man.
The fat guy went on to tell us that his mate’s been putting shoe polish on the dog’s nose to dispense some rough justice to the tourists. Tourists? TERRORISTS more like! (impulse to write ‘ruff’ instead of ‘rough’ resisted)
Here’s a genuine quote from that news story:
‘It’s amazing how the tourists feel when they come away with a slightly grubby, waxy hand after doing something they shouldn’t be doing.’
So said the fat man, with a proud, steely look in his eyes as if he’d just participated in the vigilante murder of a child killer – instead of what he’d actually done, which was to over-see the repainting of a statue’s nose. Pulitzer’s all round.
(another tenner’s going spare for anyone who paints a big cock on Greyfriar’s Bobby)
And still no murder. Does nobody give a shit? Why is this not deemed important enough to share news space with a rubbed statue? So we switched to Reporting Scotland on BBC1. The headline? The murder rate in Scotland has dropped by 32 per cent. What? Not only was there nothing about the murder, BBC1 was actually reporting the absence of murders (Admittedly, if the news editor had already decided to lead with a story about how there’s no murder in Scotland – possibly at the behest of the police and government – then they wouldn’t allow a pesky little thing like a fresh murder to come along and waste the composition of the news bulletin)
Now I’m not even sure if there’s been a murder at all. It’s funny how the rumour mill goes into meltdown when something horrid happens on your doorstep. Anyway, a man has died, and it’s a horrible tragedy, whatever the circumstances. Of that I’m sure, at least. I just thought the news – the Scottish news at least – would tell us more about this, and rather less about a man getting angry about a statue.
I’m off to not watch the football.