Kids, and the poor timing of their poo-poos

Our eldest son Jack, who’s three-and-a-bit, gets a small cup of fruit juice first thing in the morning with his breakfast, and pretty much drinks water the rest of the time, give or take the odd swig of diluting juice as a treat. In Scotland, where teeth and hearts have a significantly lower life-span than their host bodies, it makes sense to encourage as many healthy habits as possible, as early as possible. While our pro-H20 stance is certainly commendable it has had the unfortunate side-effect of making juice something of a taboo, and we all know how children swarm to taboos like wasps to open cans of Cola. If we’re ever lax enough to leave our own flagons of diluting juice within his reach – and we are that lax, painfully often – he’ll stand there with his fingers twitching at his side like a gunslinger’s, before grabbing for that juice as if his life depended upon it. He might manage to glug a small cup’s worth, he might manage to glug a litre. One thing’s for sure: we’re rarely quick enough to stop him.

One morning between Christmas and New Year I took him and his little brother Christopher (who’s not long turned 1) to the historic village of Culross – a favourite family haunt of ours. In the rush to get all of us ready to go I neglected to notice a big bottle of pre-mixed Ribena sitting unattended on a table-top. Jack managed to down an indeterminate volume of juice before I clocked on and managed to snatch the bottle away from him.

Even though I bade him piss before we left the house we still had to pull over on a dual carriageway minutes into the journey so he could relieve himself. We stopped again just over the bridge in the village of Kincardine, where he had to piss against one of our car’s front wheels. I caught a bit of friendly fire splash-back on my hand, so took baby-wipes out of little Chrissy’s travel-bag, spilling some of the bag’s contents on to the floor of the car in the process. We eventually reached Culross, and I hoped that Jack’s tank was now empty. It had to be, I told myself, else his bladder’s a bloody TARDIS. The three of us larked in the play-park as the winter wind threw handfuls of invisible ice at us. I ran between two swings at opposite ends of the small park – little safety-swing for Chris, big half-moon wrecking-ball swing for Jack – pushing the kids for a few seconds each time, to warm myself up as much as to amuse the boys. I soon realised that it was too cold to linger long at the unsheltered shore, so we started walking, Jack jumping along by my side, little Christopher warmly ensconced in his wind-proof buggy as I pushed and puffed him along the street.

We normally head up the hill – up the narrow, cobbled streets with their tiny hobbit doors, to the old, cold church that overlooks the town – but today I decided, in no uncertain terms, ‘fuck that’. Let’s go sideways. Let’s buck the trend and spend the entirety of our trip today going ‘along’ instead of ‘up’. Fuck ‘up’. My bones creaked with gratitude; my heart even gave a little double-thump salute. Unbeknownst to us all, horror lay along that long, flat road. I’d been so focused on dealing with the pee-pee situation that I hadn’t even considered the possibility of emergent poo-poo. I was going to pay for my poo-bris. We were about to move to Defcon BUM.

I was glad we’d gone ‘along’, as before long we discovered a community garden we hadn’t known existed. There was a large, decorated Christmas Tree just inside the entrance gate, something that wouldn’t have lasted intact for a single evening had it been erected in my urban shithole of a town; there was a pagoda, various little potting sheds, and as the garden sloped up it sent steps up past clumps of wild flowers, herbs and mini-thickets of trees, and back down again, with benches dotted at strategic points around the loop. It’s beautiful: obviously well-used and well-maintained; a real labour of love by the locals.

And we shat in it.

I’d taken Christopher out of his buggy, and left it at the main gate (again, that buggy would’ve been on bricks and on E-Bay along with the Christmas tree if this had been Grangemouth!). Jack wanted to walk up and around, and back down the garden, again and again, again and again, and we accompanied him, Jack light and spry on his feet, me beginning to feel the strain of the inert boulder of my second-born against my biceps. We’d done about four or five loops, and I just wanted it to end, and for the journey into the unknown ‘along’ to continue. But be careful what you wish for, right?

‘Daddy, I need a poo-poo! I need a poo-poo!’ cried Jack, beginning to waddle like a cowboy penguin, a hand reaching down to cup his bum.

I scanned the area. There was nowhere for him to defecate that wouldn’t be plainly visible to the whole of creation. The public toilets were a ten-minute walk away. I had to help him, but I had Christopher in my arms, and we were far away from the buggy, too far away for me to have run back to it, strapped Christopher in and wheeled him back to Jack before the klaxxon sounded for Code Brown. Shit, shit, shit, I thought – rather appositely, I suppose.

‘Daddy!’ Jack wailed.

‘OK,’ I said, beginning to pull myself together, ‘OK, down over there, behind that shed, there are a couple of trees, can you make it?’

He added a little quick-step dance to his waddle.


This was turning into an episode of 24. DAMN IT!

‘Yes, Daddy.’

‘You can do this, son, come on, hold it in, you’re almost there.’

I bent down to help him pull down his trousers, as Christopher dangled limply over the precipice of my shoulder. There was nothing for Jack to steady himself against, so he was forced to squat. In the haste and panic I’d spared no thought for the position of his pecker relative to his trousers; in any case, he’d surely pissed every centilitre of liquid from his body over the past forty-five minutes, so additional pee-pee was severely unlikely, right? Wrong. His bum may have been poised over a wet mound of leaves, but his wee willy was aimed straight at the back of his jogging bottoms, and there was definitely still juice in the tank.

‘SON OF A BITCH!’ I snarled in frustration, as the piss skooshed out.

‘Son of a bitch!’ came the parroted reply from the little shitting – and pissing – figure below me.

‘NOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo!’ I yelled, my trademark grace-under-fire, calm-under-pressure portion of personality really kicking in. I opened Christopher’s travel-bag to take out some nappy sacks and baby wipes, but… oh no. They were all on the floor of the car. And there, at my feet, was my piss-covered, dirty bum-med child, squatting over a big, brown, highly visible poop. There were two paper hankies in my pocket, which I had to use to wipe the worst of the poo from Jack’s bum. With nowhere to put them, they fluttered to the ground like feathers. Horrible, shit-stained feathers. I tried to kick some leaves over them.

‘What have we done?’ I asked my boys, and perhaps even the Gods themselves. There was no answer.

We headed back to the car, taking the coastal path. I watched the dark circle on the back of Jack’s slacks as he happily bobbed along just in-front of us, a stark reminder of my woeful lack of parental preparedness. I put Jack in his car seat sans trousers and tucked a blanket over him.

In the long hours that followed I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d caused my son to have to make a ten-minute journey covered in his own piss. The fact that he didn’t seem to give a shit (if you’ll excuse the word choice) did nothing to salve my guilt. Neither could I stop thinking about how we’d desecrated and defiled a beautiful garden. Inside my thoughts and conscience I’d cast myself as some horrible X-rated panto villain. ‘OH, YOU’VE DONE SUCH A LOVELY JOB, BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE A NICE ADDITION TO YOUR PRECIOUS SANCTUARY, CHILDREN AND OLD PEOPLE OF CULROSS? A BIG HUMAN SHIT! HA HA HA HA HA! AND SOME SHITTY HANKIES MUHAHAHAHAHA!!’

The next day I was haunted. Should I drive back to the scene of the crime to dispose of the evidence? What if some sweet old lady slips in it, or bashes it with her hoe and gets some hunks of it in her mouth? What if a kid finds one of the brown-tinged hankies and tries to blow their nose with it? I couldn’t bear it. It was like The Tell-Tale Heart, but with a jobby. Edgar Allan Poo! I wanted to confess. I needed to confess. Email the community association and say: ‘I admit the deed! Look behind the shed! Here, here! It is the steaming of my son’s hideous shit!’

But I didn’t.

People of Culross, if you’re reading this, rest assured that karma got me in the end. Literally. I’ve just recovered from a sickness and diarrhoea bug.

Head hung in shame, it’ll be a long time before I return to your Garden of Peed-in (I know my son shat in it, but there’s no such thing as the Garden of Shat-in, so I hope you’ll allow me some creative license).

A Very Scottish New Year’s Day 2018 – The Loony Dook

South Queensferry – New Year’s Day 2018

The Loony Dook – or the Baptism of the Bams, if you prefer – is a charity event that’s been held in South Queensferry every New Year’s Day since 1986. From a starting point of three local nutcases, the event has grown in size, scope and stature to the point where it is now considered an official part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay/New Year’s celebrations, and attracts many thousands of participants and spectators, from the local to the international. Up to a thousand brave souls don fancy dress – or shed as many layers of clothing as sanity and decency permit – and dive, paddle, shriek and waddle into the freezing winter waters of the Firth of Forth. The Scottish participants are the bravest: a nation of people with bad hearts plunging into sub-zero temperatures after a night of heavy drinking. It takes balls – something the male participants will no longer possess after 15 seconds in the water.

My partner and I took our two kids along to see the Loony Dook this year. It’s always a good policy to expose your offspring to as many unconventional events, places and rituals as possible, to get their burgeoning, ever-stitching brains accustomed to variety, possibility and diversity. For instance, we’d love to take them to the Stonehaven Fireball Festival; to Shetland’s Up Helly Aa; to the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake in Gloucester; to East Renfrewshire, to point out all the vile fucking reprobates who voted Tory. But the Dook is on our doorstep, and I thought a bracing trip to the sort-of-sea-side would be better than just sitting in our jammies watching movies on the couch, even if my partner didn’t necessarily agree (actually, there’s no necessarily about it – she just didn’t agree).

Loony Dook 2018

We stood along the stone pier and watched the dookers dooking. There were life-boats in the water, camera crews all around, drones and seagulls in the sky, and a succession of people dressed as hot-air-balloonists, bears and bath-tubs sploshing into the water, but still my eldest son, Jack (who is 3 and a wee bit), said: ‘This is boring. Let’s go somewhere else.’ My partner gave me a look as if to say, ‘If you wanted to see balloonists, we could’ve just stayed on the couch and watched ‘Up’, you arsehole. No matter. Jack and I had great fun skating on the film of sludgey moss and sea-weed that covered the ground at our feet. I guess it was strange and out-of-the-ordinary watching people get dried, undressed and dressed again in broad daylight on a busy high-street (“Daddy… why are all of these people naked?”) and it must’ve given him a kick to see these two chirpy alcoholics:

Not to mention people dressed as bananas. Check out the picture below this short paragrarph. It looks like two banana lovers re-uniting on the first armistice day after the Great Banana War (but don’t ever ask Daddy Banana to talk about what he did at the Battle of Fyffes).

If not for the Loony Dook South Queensferry would be a ghost town on New Year’s Day, but what shop, café or restaurant owner would be foolish enough to keep the shutters down when an unseasonable swarm of thousands of people is moving up and down the high street, especially when a high percentage of the swarm’s members are cold and wet, and in dire need of piping hot sustenance. That’s just basic supply and demand, but where The Loony Dook provides capitalism with the confidence to bolt out of the New Year starting gate with its head – and boot – held high is through the wonder of greed.

The eatery owners are more than happy to charge prices so disgustingly exorbitant that they’d make a Mafioso blush with shame. I know they’re open and working on a public holiday, and quite possibly having to pay their staff holiday rates, but they’re taking advantage of a lucrative business opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise have been afforded to them, not being forced at gunpoint to throw open their doors. Why punish the pockets of the people who’ve assembled to celebrate the twin pillars of charity and insanity? Maybe I’m just being a miserable bastard; maybe this is a sign that I’ll never be ruthless enough to run a successful business. I’ll let you decide. Guess how much one café was charging for a cup of coffee and a bacon roll?

(Drum roll) Have you guessed how much that bacon roll and coffee cost yet?


If I’m paying six pounds for a coffee and a bacon roll I want documented proof that I’m eating the dough-swaddled flesh of Babe, Peppa and Miss Piggy, and drinking coffee that’s been filtered through Pablo Escobar’s string-vest. If the event organisers ever decide to change tack, but still retain the shock value of the dook, they’d do well simply to lead thousands of Scots into that café to show them the menu. They’d probably need a lot more ambulance crews on stand-by.

Most terrifying of all, that’s probably just the price of a bacon roll and a coffee in South Queensferry all year round. It’s a small town with cobbled streets, bistros and a book shop. Of course a drink and a snack is six quid. I’m used to living in the Grangemouth and Falkirk area where three quid will buy you a full breakfast and an evening with a prostitute.

Anyway, how delightfully Scottish of me. I’m describing attendance at a popular fringe event where a thousand people dress in outlandish costumes and hurl themselves into the sea, and I’ve spent a significant portion of the word-count moaning about how expensive everything is.

As we were exiting the high street on our way back to the car, a half-naked husky-voiced man stood on the top tier of the walkway above us, raised his towel aloft and shouted a gravelly-voiced HAPPY NEW YEAR! If this were America, he’d have just kicked off a firework display and a ‘wooooooooooooooooooooooooo’ that lasted twelve days. Because this is Central Scotland he merely elicited the sort of half-hearted response you usually get from kids forced to say ‘Amen’ at the end of school assembly. He zoomed off down some steps, behind the church, and into a bookstore, which I presume he owned, else he was just really into reading, and wanted to get the most out of Moby Dick.

We went to the local chippie and sat on a bench overlooking the water as we ate fried-food smothered in brown sauce. We’d probably have been safer jumping head-first into the Firth.

Happy New Year.


Fancy a whistle-stop tour round some of Scotland’s other hot-spots? Click HERE

How about checking out my 2018 resolutions HERE

Scotland’s Smacking Ban: a Hit?

‘Smacking’ sounds really nice, doesn’t it? The word, I mean. If you’re hungry for a snack, your lips might smack; if your gran comes to visit she might ask you to pucker up and give her a big old smacker on the kisser. Onomatopeiacally, a smack is rather like a crack, but much less forceful: sharper, cleaner, kinder.

It’s the sort of sound that makes you nostalgic for the good old days, when men were men, women were women, and botties were smacked. By golly we miss those halcyon, smoke-hazed days, before the cultural assassins in the Stalinist SNP tried to rob us of our right to smack: a right that is as sacred to us Scots as is the right to bear arms to the Americans, by God! And we will fight to defend that right!

I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll organise a protest outside of the Scottish parliament: six-thousand angry parents and their six-thousand passive, blank-faced children. We’ll march them up to the front door, whip their trousers down, bend them over our knees and show Nicola Sturgeon that we mean business with the world’s biggest six-hour-long, six-thousand-bum synchronised smacking, the sound of which will fill the air like revolutionary gun-fire! Smack, smack, smack! Read our bums, Nicola! We won’t be turning the other cheek on this one. Well, we will be, as a matter of fact, but only so we can bloody well smack it, too!

…Language is a funny old thing, isn’t it? Time and again we bend and smash and smush and twist our words as though they were putty and paste, making paper machier towers that we let ourselves believe are permanent, solid, unbreakable. We build words around us like ramparts, and take up sniper positions behind them; we try on words like we’re shopping for clothes, seeking out dazzling combinations that accentuate our wealth, power, sex appeal, or contrition – does my guilt look thinner in this sentence? – or else use them to reinvent ourselves entirely; sometimes we use words as shields to protect us from the force of the truth: the truth of who we are and what we do: enemy combatant; extraordinary rendition; my honourable friend; friendly fire; constructive dismissal; it’s not you it’s me; McDonalds Happy Meal.

‘Smacking’ isn’t really smacking, you see: it’s hitting. Why don’t you try saying that instead? ‘Smacking’ is hitting a small, defenceless child, and that’s true regardless of the strength of the hit, or whether the point of impact is a bottie, a thigh, an arm, a face or a chest.

If you’re defending what you perceive as your universal human right to smack a child, then at least be honest about it. Rip the mask from the face of that word to reveal its true identity, and lay bare your own sub-Lecter-ish lust for pain and power. Spell out your intentions both to yourself and to the world at large. Shout it from the rooftops: ‘I demand the right to hit and inflict pain on the fruits of my loin without consequence or interference, whenever I see fit and however spurious the reason.’

In terms of self-delusion there’s very little difference between ‘I don’t beat my children, for goodness sake, I just give them a light corrective smack’ and ‘I’m not an alcoholic, for goodness sake, I wait until at least lunchtime before having my first drink!’

‘Yea, yea, yeah, you ponce!’ you might cry. ‘But I got smacked, and it never did me any harm!’

Ah, that familiar cry, countered so many times by the now-equally familiar cry, ‘Yes it did, because you believe that it’s okay to hit children.’ I’ve noticed that the most ardent supporters of ‘smacking’ are usually those upon whose faces you can see the tragic consequences of a life lived through shortcuts in a permanent present tense: crumbling teeth; unkempt hair; blotched and bloodshot eyes that show the world a map of impulse forever left unchecked.

Probably best to eschew parenting advice from someone who’s lazy and blinkered enough to hit first and ask questions later.

Plus, if smacking is your go-to punishment of choice, how do you punish your child for hitting somebody? By hitting them? What message does that send? Especially since they may be hitting other people precisely because you’ve taught them that hitting is permissible.

‘But how else will children learn right from wrong?’

Take violence from our toolbox, and we’re powerless! It’s true. That’s why we still beat children in schools, and our boss is legally entitled to smash us in the face with a tyre iron. That’s why when the judge is about to pronounce sentence in the courtroom he might say something like: ‘The defendant has been found guilty on all counts of his robbery charges. Now bring him here so I can kick the fuck out of him.’

I can understand the impulse to hit. Of course I can, I’m a human being, and I live in a world that contains Piers Morgan. I can even understand the impulse to hit a child. No creature on earth can inspire such anger, and scream-inducing helplessness and frustration as your own child. But I would never – and could never – do it. I don’t think I could ever look my kids in the eye again, and I’d feel like an irredeemable failure as a father.

In no other sphere of life do we condone hitting as a solution. Even savagely violent, hopelessly recidivistic killers are spared violence as a behaviour modification tool. Looking for another reason not to hit your child? Let reason itself be your reason. Behold the maxim below that’s been floating around cyberspace in meme form for quite some time now:

Now that our eldest son, Jack, is approaching the age of reason, we’ve started using a sticker-based behaviour-modification system, through which good behaviour can be recognised, rewarded and reinforced, and bad behaviour can be circumnavigated. It’s not a perfect system, granted, but it seems to achieve its aims without causing major psychological damage. The other week, Jack was trying to pilfer a biscuit before bedtime; he had a hand inside the bag with a biscuit held between his fingers in a vice-like pincer grip. When I calmly advised that his current course of action would result in the immediate loss of a sticker, he couldn’t have dropped that biscuit any quicker if I’d been an armed New York cop shouting ‘Freeze, dirtbag!’

On a few occasions, thanks to the child’s method of learning and evolving through mimicry, he put on his best faux-cross-face and told me he was going to take a sticker away from ME.

Replay that scene again, mimicry and all, but this time imagine that I’d hit him.

‘Kids will run wild if you don’t show them who’s boss.’

It’s hard to believe that we once allowed teachers to belt our children up and down the schoolyard, making our own flesh-and-blood handy scapegoats for everything wrong in a teacher’s life from sexual frustration to really bad hangovers.

But there are still those who would give a wildly disingenuous defence of smacking, both private and corporal. They’ll tell you that there’s a direct correlation between the ban on corporal punishment, and a decline of discipline, order and respect in today’s society. That somehow if we were to take the next logical step and ban smacking entirely then discipline would cease to exist. Instead of there being negative consequences for misbehaviour, kids would instead be disproportionately rewarded for their breaches: “Ah, I see you’ve thrown a television through the window of the old folks’ home, Timmy. What would you say to a lovely new Playstation 4, slugger?” (PS: If anyone should be beaten for their transgressions, it should be me for splitting an infinitive in the previous sentence)

You want to be disingenuous? I can be disingenuous too. My friends, there’s a direct link between corporal punishment and child beatings, and the advent of both world wars. Violence begets violence, you see.

We can’t live in the past. We have to move forward. Learn from our mistakes. As has become abundantly clear in recent months and years, there are many among us content to hark back to the good old days, which weren’t really all that good anyway. They wish they still lived in a world where they could be thirty-thousand feet in the air in an aeroplane piloted by a shit-faced captain, knocking back whiskeys, maniacally chain-smoking, free to punch their child in the face should they have the temerity to cough, and occasionally stopping to hurl sexually-charged racial abuse at one of the stewardesses: ‘Phwoar, you’re alright for a darkie, sweetheart!’

I don’t think the smacking ban has a realistic chance of being properly policed or enforced, but it might just open up the issue to public scrutiny – as it’s doing right now – and perhaps dissuade parents from adding smacking to their parental repertoire. The ban, however symbolic its application, will at least amplify the message, loud and clear, that we don’t live in that world anymore.

Scotland’s Hot-Spots and Pot-Holes: A Wee Tour

What self-respecting whistle-stop tour of Scotland could begin with anything other than a picture of the Bronx?

It pretty much goes without saying – except for the fact that I’m currently saying it – that we’re all different. People are different; places are different. People are different because of places, and places are different because of people. Some places are good, some places are bad; some are happy, some are sad; some are absolutely beautiful, some are Kilmarnock. Vive la difference! Taking a stroll through the posher portions of Corstorphine doesn’t feel quite the same as a wee jog through the Bronx, for the simple reason that there are far, far fewer cunts in the Bronx.

You needn’t travel half-way around the world to see such stark contrasts between places. Look in the next city over, or the next town, or the next street. Small steps can reveal seismic shifts in mood, architecture, diversity and affluence.

Case in point. Grangemouth and Bridge of Allan. Two towns nary twenty miles apart, but strikingly different, I’m sure we’ll all agree. I live in the former, and couldn’t afford a house in the latter even if Bridge of Allan were to be razed to cinders by a 700-megaton nuclear strike.

Yes, Mr Andrew, I can see that this property’s caught your eye. At offers over £500,000, this cosy impact crater filled with thousands of irradiated skulls is something of a steal. A lot of people would give their eye-teeth to live here and, believe me, thanks to the fallout, a lot of people now literally have them.”

Grangemouth at night: Bladerunner meets Dante’s Inferno, via The Wire

Grangemouth is famous for sky-cancer, violence, drugs, drinking, destitution, pollution, prostitution, deprivation, and Kay Adams. Bridge of Allan is famous for being twinned with ‘Raised Walkway of Colin’, New Hampshire, USA.

Grangemouth’s town centre comprises mainly fast-food outlets and betting shops. Bridge of Allan’s high street boasts a rich blend of bespoke brands, shops and outlets, that only a cousin of the queen could afford to shop in. Both of the towns have charity shops. There’s a slight difference in number. Bridge of Allan has one; Grangemouth has 19,658. Each and every one of Grangemouth’s charity shops smells like the soup-splattered bloomers of an incontinent octogenarian grandmother (‘Today’s special is broccoli soup with a soupcon of piss”); they sell things like nicotine-stained doillies; microwave instruction manuals from 1983 (that have all been vandalised with crayon-drawn pictures of penises); and MC Hammer albums on cassette (that somebody’s taped over with the game ‘Horace Goes Skiing’ for the ZX Spectrum).

Bridge of Allan’s charity shop, on the other hand, is actually a boutique, darling. It’s called ‘Mrs Periwinkle’s Benevolence-themed Haberdashery for Those of High Breeding’, and it sells pre-loved harps and tiaras made from unicorn teeth.

There’s the bridge. Allan’s just behind that tree. No, not that tree, the one next to it.

Just in case you’re not getting the picture here, I’d like to draw your attention to Bridge of Allan’s chip shop, which has a sign in the window declaring it ‘Gluten Free’. Not even kicks to the head are gluten-free in Grangemouth. Last time I was in Bridge of Allan, I found  only one example of street-littering. The litter? A handful of mussel shells. Bridge of Allan couldn’t be any more genteel and middle-class if somebody knitted it a giant Pringle sweater, and drove it away in a fucking Volvo. Even the graffiti on the bus shelter is in Latin (I believe the bus shelter’s just been purchased for £500k by a Saudi sheik).

Still, one man’s palace is another man’s hovel. People from Dollar and Dunblane think of Bridge of Allan’s residents as ‘schemies’.

“Well, McKenzie, I heard that in Bridge of Allan they drive their children to cello recital… (whispers) in BMWs.”

“Oh, Florence, those fucking savages.”

Linlithgow: a traffic jam with some bunting.

Just along the road from Grangemouth is the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow. It’s a town that’s steeped in history, prestige and affluence, sure, but it’s also a town that is, paradoxically, something of a shite-hole. Linlithgow’s worst feature is the architectural atrocity known as The Vennel, a retail and housing development that I guess developers and council officials fifty-plus years ago thought would give a modern, even futuristic, sheen to the town, but which now, in the cold light of day, makes it look like the 1960s have thrown up over the 1750s. The single road that cuts through the middle of Linlithgow’s high-end high-street is permanently clogged with traffic, which makes a trip through the town feel like being stuck behind the funeral procession of the person you hated most in the world whilst running late for the first day in your new job as a ‘Punctuality Co-ordinator’ for Linlithgow Council.

The name Linlithgow means ‘place in the lake by the damp hollow.’ Historians believe that the ‘damp hollow’ being referred to here is Bo’ness, a town that was built to serve as Mary Queen of Scots’ toilet. Bo’ness is in the process of being regenerated, but, regrettably, it’s being regenerated into Colin Baker. To be fair to Bo’ness, despite the fact that its town centre has all the vibrancy and razzmatazz of 1930s Albania, and its annual children’s festival is an alcoholic apocalypse, Bo’ness is actually a perfectly fine place to find oneself (as long as you don’t use words like ‘oneself’ in the open, or they’ll kill you). It will probably never find its name included in Scotland’s unofficial roster of shame, alongside less-than-salubrious towns such as Methil, New Cumnock, Cumbernauld, parts of Paisley and, of course,…  

Cowdenbeath’s hottest tourist attraction

Cowdenbeath? Cowdenbeath? What sort of a name is Cowdenbeath? It sounds like the act of explaining a slaughterhouse to a stupid person.

“Cow… den wheelbarrow?”


“Cow den horse?”

“Try again.”

“Cow den beef?”

“You got it, smarty-pants!”

On the evidence of my one short trip there, filtered through the focal point of its local Co-op supermarket, Cowdenbeath IS a slaughterhouse; a slaughterhouse of the soul. It’s Slaughterhouse 1, 2, 3, 4 AND 5. Take the ‘laughter’ out of the ‘slaughterhouse’, and what are you left with? S-house. And that’s short for shit-house. Cow-incidence? I think not. Walking through the Cowdenbeath Co-op was like walking through the final level of a zombie FPS. Driving down its high street led me to believe that someone, somewhere is making an awful lot of money from the sale of plywood window-boards.

Still. There are worse places…

Imagine if Irvine Welsh made a film set amongst the Orcs of Tolkein’s Middle Earth, starring Jeremy Kyle as himself. You’ve just imagined Alloa. The tagline of Clackmannanshire, the town’s parent district, is ‘More Than You Imagine’; Alloa’s tagline is ‘It Really Is Just As Shit As It Looks, I’m Afraid.’ In fact, it’s even shitter than it looks. The bleakness and hopelessness of the place is somehow bigger on the inside, and the deeper you plod towards its centre, the more pronounced the effects become, like some haunted TARDIS controlled by the ghosts of Nazis. God seems to have taken great care when creating most of the places on earth; when he made Alloa he just poured a bucket of tattoos and limps over Central Scotland. I’ve never been so depressed and afraid walking through a town, and I’m from Grangemouth, remember? The last – and only time – I visited I took my son to a Manhattan-themed cafe for lunch. The Manhattan theme was an ill-fit, like lingerie on a corpse. If it resembled Manhattan at all, it was a Manhattan that King Kong had thumped and shat over. 

That’s not Alloa’s only incongruous (or Kingkonggruous, if you like) association. I find it cruel indeed that Alloa’s name is only one altered emphasis away from being a Hawaiian greeting, when Alloa is to Hawaii what Donald Trump’s ballsack is to … well, Hawaii. The impression conjured by that assocation with the South Pacific makes Alloa seem even worse by comparison. If you do receive a garland around your neck to mark your arrival in Alloa it’s more likely to be made of a burning tyre than lei. Please feel free to make your own joke about the wisdom of looking for a lei in Alloa.  

Throughout the course of this piece of writing I’ve catalogued a smattering of towns and highlighted some of the differences between them; all filtered, of course, through my own biases and prejudices, and written very much with tongue planted firmly in cheek (except for the bits about each of the towns I’ve mentioned – I meant every word). But do you know who else holds ideas about the differences that exist between places? Who not only knows about these differences, but can quantify them to the billionth decimal place, and will almost certainly use this data to take over the entire universe?


That’s right. Asda. If you’re ever on the road and find yourself pin-balling between motorway service stations and retail parks, visit a broad sample of Asdas and have a good look at the things they sell. There are standards and staples, sure, products you’ll find in every Asda up and down the country, but sometimes the goods on the shelves – or the absence of particular goods – can speak volumes about the town in which you find yourself. Sometimes the look and feel of an Asda – the features it has – lets you know just what the retail giant’s evil overlords think of your town, or the town you’re in.    

The picture above is of Asda in Robroyston, and shows the police clearing up after the daily 11:30 murder. This Asda is bigger and boasts more mod-cons than its Grangemouth cousin, but inside it’s a green-and-grey carnival of lumpy people, whose faces have been morphed into masks of despair by the onslaught of life. This Asda makes the one in Grangemouth seem like a Monte Carlo Mardi Gras. Asda Robroyston does special deals on packs of razor blades, spades, body bags, and allows you to buy as much fucking paracetemol as you like.

Never mind the Office of National Statistics. There’s no better way to take the socio-economic pulse of the local area than a stroll through your local Asda. What’s that you’ve picked up there? Ah, a cumin and broccoli risotto sprinkled with shredded hundred-pound notes. I don’t know exactly where you are, but it’s probably not Fauldhouse, right? Have a look around the George department, why don’t you, try on some of the clothes. Are you wearing a £1.99 T-shirt with a picture of Tweety Pie on it, and cow-print leggings? Goooooooooood morning, Cambuslang!    

A trip round Asda in Bearsden will make you feel like a pauper, even if you’re a chartered accountant from Queensferry called Gerald. The place is big, and fresh, and clean. The cafe has mood lighting, for Christ’s sake. It looks like a trendy Scandinavian vodka bar. The check-out staff are all part-time astrophysicists. The people who shop there are unfailingly beautiful, and those who aren’t are at least immaculately turned out. No small wonder, since the clothes on sale in the George department wouldn’t look out of place in downtown Milan.

See below for a picture of Asda Bearsden.

Asda Bearsden

These big supermarkets hold data that could swing elections, and help governments address such over-arching global and societal problems as inequality, poverty and hunger. That they use their power to sell me £3 jeans and Pepperamis is almost unconscionable. Anyway, I can’t hang around here all day.

I’m off to Asda in Ayr to get myself a chocolate-flavoured brick of lard sandwich and a sub-machine gun.

Reflections on school days, bullying and the bad bus

seatbeltsIt’s going to be a while before either of my children (one a toddler, the other yet to be born) go to school, but given how quickly time has whizzed by since little Jack first emerged gunky and cone-headed into the world, I wouldn’t be surprised to look up to discover him bedecked in a blazer and sporting an incredibly ill-advised side-parting the second I’m finished writing this article.

The thought of sending my children to school terrifies me. For all that school is a place of forced captivity where lessons are learned and friendships forged, so is fucking prison. School’s a place where we’re bundled off to be indoctrinated into a work-a-day routine that’ll help keep the wheels of capitalism spinning, whether we’re destined to become the spinners or the spun. They’re living-flesh factories, sorting children by aptitude and ability and then spitting them along the conveyer belt – or down the garbage chute – of life. Teachers seem to be so over-worked and under-resourced that even the most inspirational of them are too busy being crushed under a ton-weight of bureaucracy to break out any Dead Poets Society-style shit. While it’s true that school has the power to teach you a lot about yourself and the wider world, that doesn’t prove that the experience is ultimately a worthwhile one. After all, even in war people still find time to play a quick game of five-asides against the foreign exchange students.

In some ways, things are even more war-like than they were in my day. Schools now have their own cops, for Christ’s sake! How did that happen? This development in community policing indicates either that schools are now fundamentally unsafe places to send our children, or else the government is conducting a grand experiment to save time and money by identifying and labelling future offenders early: a choice between The Hunger Games and Minority Report, if you like. Bullying, which has always been a constant of school-life, has now entered The Matrix thanks to the oppressive, omnipresent connectivity of social media. 2016’s bullies have the access and power of the fucking Lawnmower Man, meaning that my kids can now be bullied in the comfort of their own bedrooms, 24/7. In my day (there’s that fuddy duddy refrain again), a bedroom was a sanctuary that only homework and mothers had to power to penetrate.


I’m perhaps over-accentuating the doom and gloom element of school life in general and my own school days in particular. My schools were hardly the stuff of The Wire, or Dangerous Minds; they were rather pleasant places, actually, and I do have a lot of fond memories to look back upon. As I still live in the same general area I’ve no reason to expect that my sons will experience a radically different school-life from mine. Even still, whichever school they attend is going to have a ‘Lord of the Flies’ flavour that I dearly wish they didn’t have to taste: regardless of any culturally-shared notions of school ‘preparing them for the real world’ or ‘building their characters’. Simply put, my partner and I can’t afford to send them to private school.

The good news is, though, that because we can’t send them to private school, my paper-thin socialist sensibilities get to remain untested and intact. Thank God for that. (clears throat and raises fist aloft) Education for all! Down with the two-tier system! Private school kids are all snobby bastards… (checks bank balance again, just in case)

Of course, Private school wouldn’t eliminate psychopathic bullies from my children’s school life, but it would probably buy them a better breed of psychopathic bully. Instead of being stuck in a class alongside kids who listed among their hobbies eating stringy bogies, setting fire to bins and taking steaming shits in the teacher’s supply cupboard, they could be rubbing shoulders with the crème de la creme of cold-hearted monsters, the sort of rich boys who will inevitably grow up to destroy the world’s economy with one solitary sniff of Bolivian and a single thump of an ENTER key (We’ve considered home-schooling, but my partner’s worried we’d make them weird. They share fifty per cent of my DNA, love. That ship’s already sailed).

Thinking about my kids’ future school days has got me thinking about my own behaviour at high school. While – broadly speaking – I was a good, unobjectionable and unremarkable young lad: never quite top of the class; never quite on the teachers’ shit lists; liked – or at least tolerated – by a wide-ish spectrum of the school continuum – I could still be an absolute cuntbag. As all teenage boys, I’m certain, have the potential to be, a potential that most of them fulfil at one point or another.


My cuntbaggery always shone brightest when I was sitting up the back seats of the Wallacestone bus on the journey home from school, alongside a merry band of chanting dick-bags who – when we weren’t cruelly impersonating teachers or singing bawdy football songs (which even I joined in with, despite my hatred of football) – took great delight in providing really quite horrible intro music for the bus’s regular cast of characters. We revelled in the supreme power our size, seniority and prime seating afforded us, believing ourselves to be banter-maestros extraordinaire, when in reality we were a bunch of boorish, bullying bastards in the iron grip of mob rule.

The memories are a catalogue of shame. There was a little boy of wholly Caucasian extraction whom we decided had a curiously Mexican flavour to his heritage, and so, without fail, every time this poor unfortunate boy stepped onto the bus, we stamped our feet in unison and mimicked the vigorous strumming of guitars, belting out a Speedy Gonzales-esque Mexican ditty. You know the one: de de de-de de de-de de de-de, de de-de de de-de de de-de. We may even have shouted Ariba. We really were cunts.

There was another boy called Michael, still not sure of his surname, whose only crime was to have an ear-ring. He also bore a striking resemblance to a young Jimmy Sommerville. When he got on the bus we always chanted, “Micheal Thingmy is a poofter!”, which we repeated and repeated until he’d sat down, each line of the chant punctuated by four loud hand-claps. I don’t know what hit Michael Thingmy the hardest: the taunts about his ear-ring, or the fact that we never considered his surname all that important to the bullying process. Michael’s probably a bank manager with a wife and three kids by now, and it’s my fond hope that the Thingmy family is doing well.


Another poor boy was welcomed daily with a chant of ‘You smell, and you know you do’, again and again until he disappeared up the top deck of the bus. It’s never been confirmed that he actually smelled, and it’s certainly never been confirmed that he knew that he did. He never stuck around to debate the matter with us, quite correctly ascertaining that a gang of idiots with a mixed-back of monosyllabic chants probably wasn’t the best group to engage in rational discussion.

The worst song was reserved for one of our own, a pleasant chap by the name of Craig Muir (*not his real name), and to my eternal shame I must confess to having written it. Craig was a nice, normal lad, peaceful by nature, and never went looking for trouble. He had a close friendship with his brother, and at primary school used to win fights by chewing on his own hand with a terrifying look in his eyes (the tactic being: “If I can do this to myself, think what I’ll do to you!”). From that scant biography grew a song that went a little like this:

The Muiry Song

Verse 1

He lives in a house of tar and bricks,

He’s had the same jacket since primary six,

And when in a fight one must demand,

He opens his mouth and bites his hand.


Muiry boy,

Muiry boy,

Went to the shop for a new sex toy,

Stuck it up his bum,

Covered it in cum,

Oh Muiry boy, oh what’s your ploy?

There were a lot of other verses, possibly as many as there are to be found in our own national anthem, which have thankfully been lost to the mists of time: one of which I’m sure was about the Muir brothers fucking each other. It was a very subtle piece of work. The song became so popular that another wee guy in our circle, Karl, typed up the lyrics and handed out song sheets. Song sheets on the bus, for fuck sake. Some of these guys never did their homework, but committed themselves with great zeal to this extra-curricular musical extravaganza. Years later, in my mid-twenties, I was at a function at a hotel, and was served by Craig Muir. One of the first things he said to me, with a scowl on his face, was: ‘That fucking Muiry Boy song.’

The bad news: I was an arsehole. The good news? I’d written a hit song.

NEXT TIME: The scales are re-balanced slightly when I recount my own experiences of being bullied, and of saving someone from bullying. Plus, an introduction to the phenomenon of ‘the shaggy pole’.

(PLEASE NOTE: NEXT TIME could be a long time away. Child number 2 is imminent, and I have to be in the mood to write it. I’m sure you’re on the edges of your seats waiting, right?)

Scotland Decides… What to Watch on TV

Let’s take a look at what’s happened to TV in Scotland – and Britain beyond – in the wake of the referendum result. Welcome to a Scotland where every TV programme has something to do with independence, a lack thereof, or the wankiness of government. 

To contribute to a future edition of this TV Guide, please email your submissions to, including your name and location, and if enough people get involved I’ll do another one.


Fawlty Powers

Cameron Fawlty is desperately trying to keep the guests in his run-down hotel happy so that his business doesn’t collapse around him. He does appear to be trying rather harder to please the rich guests, especially the ones with Home Counties’ accents, but let’s not get cynical, that’s probably just coincidence. Cameron is helped along by his luckless servant Man-No-Very-Well, of whom Cameron remarks to other guests: “I’m terribly sorry, he’s from Caledonia.” Get ready to shriek with laughter as Man-No-Very-Well is repeatedly struck over the head and threatened with a loss of earnings and a reduction of his liberty.

Tonight’s episode is everyone’s favourite, ‘The Scottish’, where we get to hear the immortal line: “Don’t mention the Barnett Formula! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it alright. So, that’s two Scotch eggs, a dismantled NHS, a billion barrels of oil, a West Lothian question, and four deep fried Mars Bars.”

Not to mention: “Well you started it.” “No, we didn’t.” “Yes you did, you elected Salmond.”

Miliband of Brothers

Ep 6. A Scottish battalion – low on weapons and ammo – is coming under heavy fire from Westminster forces at the Battle of Referendum. General Miliband sends them a telegraph from HQ 800 miles away ordering them to stand down and allow their bollocks to be shot off by the enemy, who aren’t really their enemy, even though it might seem that way because they’re in the process of being attacked by them. Miliband vows that after the battle he’ll definitely send more weapons and ammo. Definitely. One hundred per cent. Possibly. Well, maybe. Put it this way, he’ll seriously think about thinking about talking about thinking about it. “Thufferin’ thuccotash, chaps,” signs off Miliband. “We’re all in this together! Thee you on the other thide!”

Lamonty Python’s Lying Circus

Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour Party are back, and just as side-splittingly hilarious as you remember them. Includes the all-time classic ‘Dead Party’ sketch:

Johann Cleese: “Look, matey, I know a dead party when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.”

Michael Failin: “No, no, it’s not dead, it’s, it’s restin’! Remarkable party, the Glaswegian Red, int’it, ay? Beautiful plumage.”

Johann Cleese: “The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead. This party has ceased to be. This is an ex-party!”

Get ready to guffaw your head off at more of your old favourites, like the Argument Clinic sketch (“Hello. I hear Scottish Labour is going to be a strong, credible force in the next election.”  “No it isn’t.” “But Labour stands for the working man against people like the Tories.” “No it doesn’t.”), The Four Scotsmen sketch (“I used to get out of my bed and go down the mines to work for twelve hours a day, and when I got home, I’d always go to the polling booth to vote for Labour. But you try and tell the young people today that… they won’t believe you.”) and, of course, the funniest sketch of all, The Ministry of Silly Cunts.

The Far Right Stuff

Join your host Nigel Farage for his mirth-filled mid-morning magazine show. Joining him today are Nick Griffin and Paul Golding. Why not call in and share your views on immigration with the guys? (Unless you’re an immigrant, in which case don’t waste our fucking taxes on a phone call.). The Far Right Stuff hopes to relocate its studios to Westminster in 2015, and go on to ensure even better coverage for viewers in Scotland.


BBC News

A new series of the hilarious comedy.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

The exciting tale of an ordinary faction of loyalist Rangers Supporters who use their super-powers to stamp out the twin evils of Republicanism and Nationalism. In today’s episode, the gang is threatened by a wee 9-year-old girl waving a saltire in George Square. Donning their trademark Union Jack body-suits and balaclavas, and with a cry of ‘WE ARE THE PEOPLE’, they bond together and crack out their mightiest super-powers of all: the powers of “kicking fuck oot ay cunts an’ that” and “settin’ fire tay some cunt’s bin coz he’s prolly a bleck or a Tim.”

Mighty Corstorphine Flower Arrangers

In this spin-off show, a group of rich old Tory women from Edinburgh form a guild, which they use as a cover to fight the forces of fairness, justice and progressiveness. Watch out for their special power of saying ‘NO THANKS’ really loudly, and their devastating super-attack of ‘not wanting to risk the value of their husband Gerald’s stock portfolio’.

Lamont and Eck’s Friday Morning Take-away

Johann Lamont and Alex Salmond are back for a special post-referendum edition of the popular studio-based game-show in which Alex Salmond desperately tries to give autonomy, prestige and democracy to the Scottish people, and Johann Lamont tries to take it all away again.

Look out for the hilarious round where Lamont has only five minutes to terrify as many old people as possible by phoning them up and telling them that they’re going to lose their savings. Tonight’s first special guest is the woman from that advert who thinks the best time of the day is when they’re all out and it’s nice and quiet. Tonight’s other special guest is Tommy Sheridan, who’ll probably try to fuck her.

Cameron-nation Street

Just to recap the story so far: The Cabin was forced to close due to the opening of the town’s ninth Tesco Megastore just two streets away. Ken Barlow hung himself once he realised that his state pension was only six pence a month. Twelve residents have died since it now costs £6000 for a tub of paracetamol. All of the street’s houses have been repossessed. Actually, nobody lives on Cameron-nation Street anymore. Tonight’s episode is just a 30-minute static shot of the street, accompanied by the sound of an unseen man screaming himself to death. Last in the series.

Or if you’re in the mood for a movie instead, how about Danny Alexander Champion of Fuck All or No Country Because of Old Men.

Space lizards and dead goats: A Q&A with the No Campaign

Better Together

I spent a little time in Westminster and asked a representative of the government what he thought about independence, the Better Together campaign, Scotland’s chances of going it alone, and why he thought Scotland would be better off voting ‘No’ this Thursday…

Which celebrities or influential people have joined the No campaign?

There are literally some people who have thrown their weight behind the No campaign. There’s George from Rainbow; the smaller of the two Chuckle Brothers; a walk-on extra who appeared in Take the High Road in 1987; David Beckham’s left testicle; Where’s Wally AND Where’s Waldo (a real transatlantic alliance there); Screech from Saved by the Bell, and the late Fred Gwynne. Fred Gwynne once warned us in his hit movie Pet Sematary that “there’s a lot of animals died on that road”, and I know you’ll join me in reaching the foregone conclusion that he was talking about the hard consequences we would face in the aftermath of an independent Scotland.

Tell me about the UK’s, and by extension a future independent Scotland’s, relationship with the EU…

If you don’t want to be pushed around by the EU, vote No. It’s as simple as that. The UK government will not stand idly by and let a small state become subservient to the whims of a larger one. Except in the case of Scotland, of course, because you band of breakfast-time booze-hounds need our help to stop you from drinking yourselves to death. It’s a known fact that if you were to be left alone for two minutes you’d be smashing up your granny’s house, injecting heroin into your eyeballs and shoving things up your bums.

Anyway, even if you go independent and leave our union, and decide that you want to cosy up to the EU, I’ll tell you now: they won’t have you. They think you smell. Belgium doesn’t like your haircut. And France says your mum buys all your clothes.

But what about Norway, you might ask? Yes, they’ve certainly made some sickening overtures to woo you into their evil orbit should you vote for independence. Are you crazy? Is that what you want?  To team up with the baddies from World War II? Well, if you love snow and elk-fucking all that much, then please be our guest.  (Apologies for the harsh tone. Of course we don’t want you to be our guest. You live here with us. We want to keep you just as you are: a permanent resident that’s chained up in the basement for your own good).

I’m not saying that forming an alliance with Norway would make every single pet in Scotland spontaneously combust, but if I were you tomorrow I’d start digging thousands of tiny graves.

What do you think about Alex Salmond?

I’m not saying that Alex Salmond is a depraved serial sex killer, but it’s hard not to imagine him donning a black balaclava and latex gloves and speeding up and down the A90 trawling for victims whilst vigorously masturbating himself beneath the steering wheel. Once found, his victims doubtless would be treated to the sort of terrifying and excruciating death we think only happens to characters in horror movies. Now I’m not saying that he would ‘do it’ with their corpses afterwards, but I think it’s pretty clear that he’d ‘do it’ with their corpses afterwards. And this is the man you want running your country?  This monster must be stopped before he kills again – and let’s be under no illusions whatsoever: Salmond WILL kill again.

But the vote’s to decide whether people want Scotland to remain in the Union or become independent. It’s not a vote for or against Salmond, is it? …

That’s a common misconception. Of course it is. What most people don’t realise is that Salmond is an all-powerful shape-shifting reptilian power beast from the Yarglanokan nebula on the far side of the galaxy. Once installed in his role as Supreme and Terrible Leader of Scotland, Salmond swiftly will reveal his true reptilian form, and unleash his fearsome gaping jaws which are capable of crushing and devouring an entire disabled person, wheelchair and everything, with room left over for a small malnourished Glasweigen child.

Salmond plans to rule for at least twelve-thousand years, after which he’ll nuke not just Scotland, but the entire solar system. After all, he’s done it before. (Source: Armit, M., (2012) The One Show, BBC) Once he’s finished his reign of terror he’ll travel to other galaxies, visiting his sadistic serial sex murders on an unsuspecting alien populace, turning the universe into his very own intergalactic A90. I wonder when the people of Scotland will wake up and smell the space-lizard excrement.

What about the NHS? Are the Scots right to fear privatisation or dismantlement of their beloved institution?

Hark back to a time when you’ve been to see shows at the Edinburgh Festival (which incidentally is nothing more than a month-long lesbian communist plot). What did you think of those free shows? They were terrible, weren’t they? And why? Because you didn’t have to pay for them. How good can something be if it’s free? Now, look at how our friends in America do things with their health-care system. If you want a new lung you jolly well have to cough up for it, and just think how much more American citizens appreciate their smashing new lungs as a consequence. And look at child-birth. If you’re going to fork out £6000 to give birth to a child, you’d better bloody well mean it. If birth was as expensive a business in this country there’d be less poor people on our streets, and those poor people who did manage to ‘make it through to the next round’, as it were, would be in an awful fucking state. A wonderfully, gloriously awful fucking state. Dried blood instead of shoes, coats made from used nappies, and thirty-eight deadly diseases in their genitalia alone. And with poor people like that, maybe we in Britain could finally start producing world-class TV dramas like ‘The Wire’. What I’m saying is, if you want more dreary piss like ‘New Tricks’ on your telly, then by all means vote ‘Yes’.

What about the currency debate? What monetary unit would the people of Scotland use in the event of independence? 

I don’t want to cause a panic, but in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, all currency will be abolished in Scotland until the end of time. The Scots simply won’t be allowed to have money of any kind. Now, I’m not saying that the English will invade Scotland, but when English shock troops have reduced Scotland to a smouldering husk, and the people are trying to barter dead goats for sexual favours, or in most cases just deciding to fuck the dead goats instead, just remember that Alistair Darling’s eyebrows once gazed at you benevolently from beneath a beautiful sliver of silver hair, and you decided to shave them off to spite your face.

And let’s not forget that the Bank of England has threatened to relocate its HQ to England in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

But what about the oil?

There is no oil. Tommy Sheridan made it up.

But what about the oil platforms in the North Sea?

Those have nothing to do with drilling. Well, in a way they do. Sheridan had them built so that he could host swingers’ parties in the ocean.

Does The Bible tell us anything about independence?

I’m glad you asked. If you take the Bible and cut out every individual letter from every page of Genesis, and then re-arrange a pile of those letters to form the phrase ‘Scotland is Better Together’, then you’ll discover an amazing thing: you’ll be able to decipher the phrase ‘Scotland is Better Together’. Spooky. Also, few people realise this but the Book of Revelations is actually a treatise against Alex Salmond’s fiscal policies.

Any closing words for those still on the fence for the referendum?

Yes. ‘Better Together’ sounds a bit like ‘Butter Toga Thor’, and those are three things that you’d be hard pressed to feel sad about. After all, who among us hasn’t fantasised about dressing up like a Roman senator and smothering our huge hammers in dairy products?  The word ‘Yes’, however, sounds like ‘abscess’. And I hope the Scottish people think about that on Thursday.

Independence: are we sick of it already?


A common complaint I heard from undecided voters in the early days of the independence debate was that nobody from either side was engaging with them. “Well,” they’d say haughtily, “Nobody’s sat down and told me why I should vote for them.”

What did they expect? Alex Salmond coming round their house with a change of clothes and a bottle of whisky? “I’m supposed to be at a rally tonight, missus, but screw that, me and you all the way. Right, I’ll do the first bit, and then Sean Connery’s coming round about half-ten to finish off. (clears throat) Now, we begin in 1270, on the day Mel Gibson was born…”

That’s if Salmond doesn’t get thrown off his stride by Clegg and Cameron rolling up outside the house in a tank, trailed by hordes of Labour voters, UKIPers and holidaying Ulster Unionists, while Alistair Darling hollers into a megaphone: “Step away from the voter, Salmond, you podgy porridge-eating separatist, she belongs to us now!”

Heaven forfend we should actually have to seek out, read, research, listen, watch, discuss, think or evaluate. In no other sphere of our lives do we expect answers to fall into our laps, or be spoon-fed the motivation to participate in a process. When you’re booking a holiday you readily accept that you’ll have to work and research to get the best deal. You don’t expect a phone call like this:

“Hello, Mrs McGlinchy, this is Turkey. I just wondered if we could count on your support this holiday season? I’ve also got some statistics here which prove unequivocally that Sunny Beach is a fucking shithole.”

“Huh. I’m surprised you’ve got the cheek to phone. Last time I holidayed with you I couldn’t concentrate on my Jackie Collins for all that prayer racket five times a day. Do you think you could ask them to give it a rest – at least for the first two weeks in July? Oh, hang on, got to go… that’s Spain on Call Waiting…”

I know, I know, political campaigners regularly carry out door-to-door and telephone canvassing so that analogy isn’t perfect, but you take my point, right? You wouldn’t rely solely on canvassing to help make up your mind on an issue, would you? You wouldn’t refuse to find the facts for yourself and instead sit in a vegetative stupor on the off-chance that somebody was going to hand you a piece of paper with THE ANSWERS on it. (“I’m no’ deciding anything till there’s a chap on that door. And if it’s a Halloween guiser, then I guess I’ll be votin’ Dracula this year, eh?”) I certainly hope not. In any case, I’ve always believed that canvassing’s more about having a greater number of troops on the ground to gain a psychological advantage over the enemy, rather than a genuine attempt to sway the undecided or win converts through talk.

A genius comedy character invented by the Better Together campaign.

A genius comedy character invented by the Better Together campaign.

The debate is now thundering towards its climax, and you can’t lift a newspaper, switch on the TV, or round a corner without encountering a YES or a NO. Whatever the result on Thursday, what’s happening now is a bona fide democratic miracle. Scottish people are talking and organising and debating and enthusing in a way I haven’t witnessed in my lifetime. And what do we hear from the people who before had complained of a lack of engagement? That they’re bored of it all. Now that they possess all of the information they could possibly need or want… they don’t want it. Let’s start the chant:

“What do we want?”


“When do we want it?”


In our modern age of 24-hour rolling news and social-media saturation we’ve become too used to news stories having a three-day care-by-date. I dare say that even if a nuke were to wipe out 9/10 of civilisation on a Monday, everyone would be sick of hearing about it by the Wednesday. I find it desperately sad that although Thursday’s referendum is the most important political event in our country’s modern history, already a large number of people are wishing they could just be left in peace to watch Big Brother. (While Big Brother watches us.)

It’s a good job we didn’t have such short attention spans, or indeed Facebook, in days gone by, else we might have seen a few social-media status updates like these ones:

“OMG Patty Hurst or sumthin has thrown herself under a horse. Am I da only one that’s soooo over it? Neeiiiiiggghhhh thanks, lov e!!! Lol!”

“So yoove got to give up yer seat on the bus? BFD. Getting bored of this now… shurrupaboutit! Yoove got speshal buses for YOORSELVES anyway, so get on dem!! Or walk, it’s betta 4 u anyway, lazy!!”

“So da Nazis have aressted yoor family and karted them off in da train?… YAWN CITY! Cheeseus, does evryfing have to be about politicks these days?”

Please don’t weary of one of the most important discussions, debates and decisions in modern Scottish history. This is a great thing. It’s not a fad: it’s a movement, and one that will have an influence upon every single facet of your life wherever it takes us. There’s no such thing as talking about it too much.

If it helps, just think of the independence movement as a giant picture of your own dinner.

Waiter, Waiter, There’s a Lie in My Soup

fb1My girlfriend and I went for a meal at Frankie and Benny’s in Stirling. Our waiter was tall and rubber-faced, and behaved like a robot programmed to be the world’s best butler. His manner ill befitted a thematic gastro-chain: he was far too polite and professional. In eateries such as Frankie and Benny’s I’m happy if my waiter looks like the sort of guy who won’t rip off a bead of shit caught in his arse hair and then touch our cutlery. Instead we got the Termiwaiter, a silver service cyborg sent through time from the 17th century to pander to the culinary whims of a bunch of undeserving round-faced cretins. All around him fat families decked out in obscenely colourful T-shirts demeaned humanity by gorging themselves like dead-eyed, drooling beasts, while their children shrieked and frolicked between tables like E-spiked lambs, but still the Termiwaiter’s waxy face stayed frozen in that same servile sneer, programmed to exhibit just the right balance of obsequiousness and charming mischief. He was awesome.

I called a manager over, and as he leaned forward I said, ‘I’d like to make a complaint about our waiter.’

The manager looked both shocked and frightened, and sat down next to me in a manner which suggested that a) I was about to diagnose him with cancer, and b) he needed a stiff drink to calm his nerves.

I continued, with these exact words: ‘He’s far too polite, professional and likable. Now we’ll have to give the prick a tip Tell him to be a little more obnoxious, I’m too tight for this.’

fb2The shock evaporated from the manager’s eyes, to be replaced by a twinkle. The cause of his shock? Apparently our waiter had been the subject of a genuine complaint earlier that week, when Termiwaiter misjudged how far he could banter with a table of diners. When asked if the calzone was any good, he’d replied that it was ‘the mutt’s nuts.’ They – clearly being unworthy of the gift of continued existence – had grassed him in to the management.

My girlfriend still chuckles when she remember’s the manager’s initial reaction as I introduced my ‘complaint’. We thought it was only possible to get shell-shock from mustard gas attacks in WWI, not by proxy of a cheeky waiter.

I don’t know if the manager informed the Termiwaiter of my compliment, or if Termiwaiter saw me conferring with his manager and assumed the worst, because when he returned to our table he ramped up the charisma and banter. All that was missing was a series of backflips, and a set of stilts and juggling clubs. It’s clear that the fleeting, table-based fame had gone to his head, but the Termiwaiter was on fire, and clearly out to maximise his tippage. I remember saying to my girlfriend, ‘This cunt realises he’s only getting three quid, right?’

Can you see where this story’s going? I couldn’t resist it. Termiwaiter returned to our table to clear away the plates from the main course, and asked us if we’d enjoyed it.

fb3‘It was great,’ I told him. ‘Really delicious…

…the mutt’s nuts.’

His smile seemed simultaneously to be saying ‘Bravo’ and ‘you dick’. Don’t feel too bad for him, though. We gave the cunt a fiver.

EPILOGUE: 1) OK, it was £4.50, but a fiver sounds better, and 2) he really was an excellent waiter. Dude’s name is Andy. But call him the Termiwaiter. He’ll like it.

Young Jamie: Kindergarten Cock (Part 6)

Coasters was a roller-skating rink. It was essentially a giant, health and safety nightmare: you could hire rickety, worn-away boots with wobbly wheels; feel safe under the protective gaze of psychopathically disinterested marshals; navigate a wooden rink that still had nails sticking through it; and embrace a million opportunities to trip over the stalls of the grandstand or tumble down concrete stairs to your doom.  Coasters operated at a time when nobody cared if their kid came home with a broken hip, or dead. Anyway, skating wasn't the point. Coasters wasn't really for skating. It was a place where teenage girls went to get fingered. But on wheels! (Richard Desmond, if you're reading this page, now is the best time to commission 'Strictly Come Fingered on Skates' for Channel 5) I remember shitting myself at Coasters - literally shitting myself. Sexy, eh? Right into a pair of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle orange Y-fronts. Probably mushed the turtle's head right into Splinter's face. I'm pretty sure, given when the Hero Turtles were on TV, that when this shitting occurred I would have been a) way too old to have been wearing Hero Turtle Y-fronts and b) too old to be accidentally shitting myself in public. I whipped them off in the cubicles, smuggled them outside and stashed them under a big pile of litter. Sorry council workers. I know a child's poo pants aren't exactly considered the jewel in the crown of a working day. Anyway, my sister will love this drawing. I've given her the waist, hips and torso of the big black woman from the Tom and Jerry cartoons, plus the haircut of a 53-year-old woman. Not to mention a London police uniform from 1952. And I've made her boyfriend look like Freddy Krueger with bad acne. I wonder where Angelo is now? Probably running a chip shop somewhere. Or a skating rink.

Coasters was a roller-skating rink. It was essentially a giant, health and safety nightmare: you could hire rickety, worn-away boots with wobbly wheels; feel safe under the protective gaze of psychopathically disinterested marshals; navigate a wooden rink that still had nails sticking through it; and embrace a million opportunities to trip over the stalls of the grandstand or tumble down concrete stairs to your doom. Coasters operated at a time when nobody cared if their kid came home with a broken hip, or dead. Anyway, skating wasn’t the point. Coasters wasn’t really for skating. It was a place where teenage girls went to get fingered. But on wheels! (Richard Desmond, if you’re reading this page, now is the best time to commission ‘Strictly Come Fingered on Skates’ for Channel 5) I remember shitting myself at Coasters – literally shitting myself. Sexy, eh? Right into a pair of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle orange Y-fronts. Probably mushed the turtle’s head right into Splinter’s face. I’m pretty sure, given when the Hero Turtles were on TV, that when this shitting occurred I would have been a) way too old to have been wearing Hero Turtle Y-fronts and b) too old to be accidentally shitting myself in public. I whipped them off in the cubicles, smuggled them outside and stashed them under a big pile of litter. Sorry council workers. I know a child’s poo pants aren’t exactly considered the jewel in the crown of a working day. Anyway, my sister will love this drawing. I’ve given her the waist, hips and torso of the big black woman from the Tom and Jerry cartoons, plus the haircut of a 53-year-old woman. Not to mention a London police uniform from 1952. And I’ve made her boyfriend look like Freddy Krueger with bad acne. I wonder where Angelo is now? Probably running a chip shop somewhere. Or a skating rink.

USA Declares War on Scotland

Megrahi: Guilty of a terrible crime - those glasses are fucking horrendous.

al-Megrahi: Guilty of a terrible crime – wearing those fucking horrendous specs.

CIA files leaked earlier this week reveal the extent of the hostility felt by the US towards Scotland in the wake of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s (but buddy, you can call me Al) release from a Scottish prison in 2009. US officials were so incensed by the decision to release on compassionate grounds the Libyan man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 that a plan was set in motion to destabilise Scotland by sabotaging its national cultural identity and legacy.

"I WANNA SPEND MY LIFE WITH YOU!" Nah, you're alright, pal...

“I WANNA SPEND MY LIFE WITH YOU!” Nah, you’re alright, pal…

The first victim of this diabolical plan – codenamed Operation Bomby Scorch land – was Scottish ‘musical’ act The Proclaimers (it’s a fallacy that The Proclaimers consists of two brothers; in reality, The Proclaimers is a single entity, believed to have been created in a laboratory). Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill, the man ultimately responsible for releasing al-Megrahi, received a ‘Letter from America’ informing him that the Proclaimers had been brutally murdered. A mysterious phone-call followed:

‘The Proclaimers are dead,’ said the anonymous caller.
‘What have you done with their bodies?’ demanded MacAskill.
‘You’ll find them if you take a look up the rail-tracks, from Miami to Canada.’
‘That’s quite a long route,’ said MacAskill, ‘could you be a bit more specific?’
‘Oh, all right, then, their corpses are just outside Miami Central Station.’

The US army: ready to kick Scotland right in the bad teeth.

The US army: ready to kick Scotland right in the bad teeth.

Thankfully, it was a false alarm. The Proclaimers were alive and well. Government spooks had accidentally murdered two very, very ugly guys wearing shit glasses who had travelled to Florida from Glasgow on holiday. Their families were informed, and they just laughed. ‘Aye, they do look a wee bit like The Proclaimers, right enough,’ said one mother.

‘Daft cunts,’ she added.

Despite The Proclaimers setback, the CIA pressed on with their mission, and successfully  managed to:

  • Go through every episode of the original Star Trek series and change Scotty’s name to ‘Englishy.’
  • Spread a rumour that the Loch Ness monster is a homosexual communist with ties to Yemen.
  • Convince every American celebrity to refer to Annie Lennox as ‘Tranny Lennox’, and always make the gesture of possessing a massive cock whenever she walked past. The joke was on the US, though, as Annie Lennox later hung herself. No, I’m sorry, I read that wrong… what I meant to say was, it turns out Annie Lennox WAS hung after all.
  • Fund a tourism campaign, with the slogan: ‘Don’t go to Scotland, it’s shit and they don’t brush their teeth.’
  • Destroy every existing copy of Braveheart, and then reshoot the movie with an uzi-toting Arnold Swarzennegger as King Edward, and the guy who played McLuvin as William Wallace. They also changed William Wallace’s name to ‘Full-Blown-AIDS McCunty’.
X-rated Krankies: a black helmet pushing through a big purple cunt.

X-rated Krankies: a black helmet pushing through a big purple cunt-hole.

The US only backed down from its onslaught when McAskill threatened to deploy The Krankies on US soil. A US government spokesman said: ‘OK, we’ll back off. But know this: if you assholes ever again even think about sending The Krankies to America, we’ll melt your disgusting little country into hot mush like it’s a fucking petrol-laced welly boot in a microwave.’

Use of any Krankie as an instrument of warfare, either singularly or in conjunction with another Krankie, is prohibited under International Law, and is in direct contravention of the Motherwell Convention of the United Nations. The Krankies are currently the only weapons of mass destruction to regularly appear in panto.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ‘ICKE DON’T BELIEVE IT’ MAIN MENU, and more bizarre news stories.

Young Jamie: Kindergarten Cock (Part 2)

What a nice, caring and sharing child I must've been. You can see from the first panel on the left-hand-side of the page that I've got a new comic. You can also see that I'm rubbing this fact in the face of a poor, sad little baseball cap wearing boy. 'CHECK OUT MY COMIC, YOU PENNILESS OAF! I HOPE YOU'VE GOT GOOD EYESIGHT, PLEB, BECAUSE THIS IS AS CLOSE AS YOU'RE FUCKING GETTING TO IT!' The wee capped guy probably isn't that bothered, to be honest. He's got bigger problems: like being trapped in a cement block without any arms. PS: What in the name of cemented children is a LOINheart? And why was I not content with a single one? Perhaps the comic was pitched at kids who enjoyed raw meat, and so its publishers routinely gave away strange butcher-meat hybrids. FREE WITH THIS EXCITING ISSUE - HALF A POUND OF COCKBRISKET.

What a nice, caring and sharing child I must’ve been. You can see from the first panel on the left-hand-side of the page that I’ve got a new comic. You can also see that I’m rubbing this fact in the face of a poor, sad little baseball cap wearing boy. ‘CHECK OUT MY COMIC, YOU PENNILESS OAF! I HOPE YOU’VE GOT GOOD EYESIGHT, PLEB, BECAUSE THIS IS AS CLOSE AS YOU’RE FUCKING GETTING TO IT!’ The wee capped guy probably isn’t that bothered, to be honest. He’s got bigger problems: like being trapped in a cement block without any arms. PS: What in the name of cemented children is a LOINheart? And why was I not content with a single one? Perhaps the comic was pitched at kids who enjoyed raw meat, and so its publishers routinely gave away strange butcher-meat hybrids. FREE WITH THIS EXCITING ISSUE – HALF A POUND OF COCKBRISKET.

Bore Drummond Safari Park – Part 1


I hadn’t been to the safari park since I was a kid. As I drove up the winding, field-flanked road, all I could see were lazy battalions of sheep. Surely things hadn’t changed this much? Sheep the main attraction of the safari park? If I was going to part with a tenner then I wanted to see animals that I had never eaten before. Or, at the very least, animals that were capable of eating me back.

OK, of course there were wild animals. Maybe there wasn’t as varied a selection as you would find in a zoo, but at least the whole experience felt marginally more humane: no big, sad gorillas with their haunted, ‘pass me a blade’ eyes; or hyper-tense tigers who looked close to dashing their grrrreeeeaaaat big brains out against the reinforced plexi-glass windows; or even waddling brown bears trapped in two-by four-feet enclosures, dreaming happily of their days having cigarettes ground out in their eyes back at the Russian Circus.

Nothing even a millionth as exciting as this happened on my trip.

Well, it looked a little more humane; but I’m not one hundred percent sure that it was. Yes, animals are afforded greater freedom in a safari park as opposed to a zoo, that’s true. However, part of me thinks that subjecting animals’ lungs to a daily pollution-output that’s equivalent to that generated by an eight-hour-long traffic jam is less than kind, and should the animals ever learn to talk I find it unlikely that their first words will be a chorus of ‘Thanks’. And if that turns out to be the case, it’ll be a very sarcastic thanks, drowned out by wheezing and coughing.

I drove through the three animal enclosures. To my great disappointment, the first enclosure contained creatures that were only marginally more impressive and entertaining than the sheep I’d encountered at the gates; there being a heavy emphasis on deer, and bulls with great big bloody horns, which didn’t exactly fill me with wonderment and awe. 

Yaawwwwnnnn. Get fucked, Bambi.

I got the feeling that just before the park opened back in the sixties those in charge had looked around, scratched their heads, and thought, ‘Hmmm, it’s good, but it’s a bit empty, isn’t it?’, and one of their number had scurried into the nearby woods and returned with an armful of hedgehogs and squirrels, and somebody else had given a shake of the head and said, ‘Nah, but you’re thinking along the right lines; get back in there and think bigger!’

OK, there was something to be said for the bulls with the gigantic horns – those things were so big and so wide that they could have pierced either side of a bus – but I didn’t want to see shit, every-day animals with extra bits added on to them. I wanted to see strange, alien animals from the darkest – and lightest – most far-flung reaches of the globe. Not deer, ducks, cows and motherfucking seagulls. When I think safari, I think Kenya. And when I think Kenya, I don’t think seagulls.

‘Hey! Yo! Over here! Fuck the giraffe, mate, check out our quality flying!’

To be fair, the presence of the seagulls probably wasn’t part of the plan; it’s just that the little cawing bastards get everywhere. Wherever there is garbage, or the promise of garbage, there they’ll be. They’re especially attracted to buildings containing clusters of humans who don’t want to be woken up at 5am by the sounds of seagulls fighting over a Pringle and shagging, the noisy feathered cunts.

I don’t know. Perhaps the gulls were just jealous of the safari animals’ exotic celebrity status, and wanted a slice of fame for themselves. In support of this theory, just try taking a picture of an animal in the park next time you’re there – any animal at all – and take a good, long look at the photograph. I guarantee that in each one you’ll find a stupidly grinning seagull – possibly beaming out from behind a bison – that’s just jumped into shot, giving you its best thumbs-up. Well, sort of a feathers-up, but you get the idea.

I read somewhere that urban seagulls that live within a 30-mile radius of the park hang around the bins behind B&Q so they can dip themselves in half-empty tins of fluorescent orange paint, and then fly back to the park and dive bomb into the lion enclosure. ‘Who, me? Yeah, I’m exotic. I’m from Africa, actually, yes. I’m a Senegal Seagull, doncha know? Make sure you get my good side.’

{joke deleted as it involved the camel ‘having the hump’}

Thankfully, somewhere amongst the shit animals and seagulls, there were a few camels strutting about to liven things up. Well, I say liven things up – they’re hardly party animals. But they do move a little like those fluffy, head-bobbing puppets that you operate with the cross-handle and the strings, and that can only be a plus-point. Besides, a camel isn’t something you see every day in Scotland (unless you work in the safari park, I suppose – it’s all relative), and they did meet my criteria of being an animal that I haven’t yet eaten. Note the ‘yet’ in that sentence, camels: I’m coming for you, you tasty sons of bitches. Actually, I might let you live, given that you can both read and access the internet, and are therefore a super-intelligent creature with much to teach our species. Well played, camel. Well played.

If you haven’t seen The Mist, do so NOW. If only for the last few minutes, which will have you laughing like a monster.

I’d only ever seen camels on television, and I hadn’t realised how massive they were. As one of them lumbered towards my car it reminded me of that scene near the end of The Mist, where they’re driving through the fog and encounter that big fucking gigantic spindly thing that makes a noise like a haunted foghorn. So, yeah, camels are big. And ugly. And smelly. And humpy. What’s that? You want me to take over from Attenborough after he dies? No problem. My knowledge of the animal kingdom and its nomenclature is extensive. You want to know about sharks? Personally, I find them pretty swimmy and taily. And bitey. Bow down, Davey. Your documentary days are over. {Since writing this I’ve actually ridden a camel, but I can’t say too much about that until after the court case}


The Rain in June Falls Mostly on the Toon: Grangemouth Gala Day 2012

We just don’t do carnivals, fairs or fetes with as much aplomb or on the same grand scale as the Americans. Maybe it would help if we smiled occasionally, but we’re genetically incapable of such a facial contortion. We Scots would only smile if God proved his existence once and for all by a) reaching a thumb from Dover to Berwick and squashing the English like woodlice, and then b) rounding off the miracle by replacing the North Sea with heroin.

Or, at a pinch, we’d smile if there was a special episode of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ in which each and every video featured David Cameron being stabbed in the balls by a different angry dwarf in a kilt.

Yes, the Americans like a good smile. If the Grangemouth Gala Day was held in California, USA, (which would be rather unlikely, I’m forced to admit) it would be a non-stop, 24-hour, noisy orgasm of vim, streamers, colour, mariachi bands and pomp, featuring half-naked back-flipping pom-pom girls – with smiles so blinding they could down aircraft – jiggling their breasts with the enthusiasm of a force 4 earthquake. There would be a 50ft-tall animatronic Mickey Mouse shooting fireworks out of its bell-end into the hungry, gaping mouth of a robot Pluto, as sixteen million children wept with joy. And somewhere, somehow, there would be guys in red bell-boy jackets playing trumpets on the backs of motorbikes – upside down and through their arses.

This year, in Grangemouth, Scotland, the Grangemouth Gala Day looked like… well, it looked like exactly what it was: a procession of miserable cunts in anoraks shuffling through the rain in search of the most suitable cliff for an act of mass suicide. It looked like there’d been a delivery of crepe paper and face-paints to a funeral march. If you haven’t visited Grangemouth before and find yourself wondering what it looks like, have a gander at the drug-riddled communities in HBO’s ‘The Wire’, but imagine that everybody’s white.

So What is the Gala Day?

Well, it’s technically a Children’s Day, which makes me a bit of a cock for slating it. It’s not really meant to be enjoyed by the likes of me, childless interloper that I am. What’ll I be doing next? Telling you how shit I found the latest episode of Sesame Street because it wasn’t nearly as good as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

The galas themselves started off as annual celebrations for miners and mining communities, but the focus of the celebrations was shifted for the following wonderful reason:

In the late Nineteenth century, some Miners’ Gala Days were given over to children in order to reduce drunkenness.

Resources for Learning in Scotland website

And we all know how successful a strategy that turned out to be. Here’s the zinger:

Gun Terror of Oilman 

A teenage thug pointed a gun at the head of a man who told him off for breaking bottles in a kids’ play area.

Gary Martin told 45-year-old oil rig worker Jim Kelly: ‘You’re dead.’

But Mr Kelly grappled Martin to the ground and got the air pistol off him, Falkirk Sheriff Court heard yesterday.

The terror attack happened on Grangemouth Gala Day in June.

Lawyer Andy Bryson said Martin was ‘exceedingly drunk’ at the gala day.

Ah, yes. The only flaw in that plan was that by 2012 all of the children would be alcoholics, too. Alcohol does indeed still play a huge part in the Grangemouth Gala Day. Like they say of the 1960s: if you can remember what happened, then you weren’t actually there. Grangemouth has other things in common with the 1960s, in that it’s full of incredibly racist people with shite haircuts taking drugs and having unfussy sex with strangers.

(actually, a joke I used to tell on-stage about Grangemouth is that it’s a lot like Amsterdam: in that it’s completely flat, and filled with drugs and whores.)

So What Happens ‘an That?

No smart alec remarks: this arch is pretty fucking cool. And The Muppets was the only TV show that made me shut up as a child.

What happens is this: each year a ‘royal family’ is assembled from one of the local primary schools, a different school having the honour of doing this each year until it’s back to the start of the cycle again. Kids at the year’s chosen school are then asked if they’d like to volunteer themselves to be one of the gala’s persons of special significance. Those who do are then whittled down by their schoolmates by means of a popularity contest, until each of the main roles are filled: Queen, Ladies in Waiting, Paiges, a Flower Queen etc.

The girl elected Queen (Republicans take note) then has the arduous task of selecting just one of her classmates to be sealed inside a BMW and slammed into a wall by a drunk driver. OK, I made that bit up.

There’s no King of the Gala Day, but one lucky boy does get to be the Prince, whose role it is to follow the Queen around muttering increasingly unhelpful racist remarks. OK, I made that bit up, too. But they should introduce that role. It’d be so easy to find viable candidates amongst the people of Grangemouth.

Dustbin Beaver is actually slang for a Grangemouth girl.

The parents of ‘the royals’ then have to spend £80 million trillion pounds building an arch display over their homes. If they’re poor, they simply steal the necessary materials, or just selotape bits of A4 paper that read: ‘ALL HAYL THE QUEAN’ to their windows. Some of the displays are incredible. You know, fairy-tale castles, enchanted forests, 1940s cinemas. And some of them are shit.

On the day itself – where it’s usually raining despite the event taking place towards the end of June – trucks filled with children (that makes it sound like a pogrom: no concentration camps are involved), and floats prepared by other schools and local businesses, and pipe bands, and brass bands, and veterans, and such like, all form a long procession through the streets, before arriving in the central park for the crowning ceremony. And, as we’ve already established, lots of people get drunk.

Oh, and there are lots of flags everywhere. Or bunting, as they call it. Which sounds to me a little too much like a sex act. And a jolly good one at that.

In closing, as I’ve already stated, it’s actually a grand day out for the folks of Grangemouth, especially for those with relatives taking part in the procession. And some of the arches have been super-awesome in this and previous years, as you’ll see from the pictures below. (OK, part of this, like with the Skinflats article, is life-insurance, but I mean it, too, honest!) Actually, my niece was in the procession this year, and she was awesome, so get that roond ye.


Graceland in Grangemouth, circa 2008.


And, of course, this happens at the Grangemouth Gala Day shows every year, and must be shared with the world:

BEHOLD… COBO! Urban dance legend of Grangemouth! Enjoy the video…


Blakey the Jakey: a Modern Scottish Fairytale – Pt 2

The story so far: Young Blake’s squandered the family ‘fortune’ on magic beans, and found himself banished from his family home by his mother as a consequence. Just as he thought all was hopeless he rubbed the dust from a magic bottle and found himself face to face with a genie. Click the link below to revisit Part 1.


Having consumed enough of the magic brew to make his mind mellow, Blake was quite ready to accept the disappearance of the local drunk and the appearance of an ancient genie in his place.

‘So ah’ve goat two mair,’ Blake stated. He knew the facts when it came to cartoons.

‘NO!’ boomed the genie again, stony faced.

Nut? Whit dae ye mean, nut? How no?’


Cutbacks?’ Blake rocked his head forward and shot a laugh out towards the ground. ‘Whit are yoo talkin’ aboot, man? Cutbacks!’


Blake considered this for a moment.

‘Ah wish I hud a million wishes!’ he laughed. ‘How’s that?’


‘You’ve goat tae gee me them wishes, fur ah wished fur them!’


Blake massaged his forehead with his free hand, unsure whether to laugh, cry, argue or vomit. His body felt like doing all four at once, his stomach leading the uprising.

‘Whit’s happenin’ here, sir? Ah’m believin the genie bit, but…lawyers, cutbacks…I jist…’ Blake held the bottle aloft. ‘Ah thought yoos were meant tae be in lamps, like in Aladdin an that. Fucking lawyers, man.’

Where Blake had brushed the dust off with his hand, a line of letters proclaimed, ‘BUCKFAST.’


A curtain in every flat along the street was twitching.

‘Is that oor Blakey ootside getting pished up an’ chattin’ wi a magical entity, Morag?’ asked old Mrs Archibald at number 57.

‘Aye,’ replied Morag. Within seconds they were back on the settee and knitting furiously.

‘Wisnae like that in ma day,’ scowled Mrs Archibald.

‘Aye,’ agreed Morag.

If the finger work had been just a fraction more furious, flames would have engulfed the half-knitted sweaters that were cascading over their knees.

‘Pass us the crack-pipe, Morag.’


Outside, the genie was losing patience and two minutes away from contacting his union official.


‘Whit’s Californian Red? Beetroot or some’hing?’


‘Ooooh, red wine! La de da! Dae ye take it up the arse, likes?’


‘Just try it, pal, ma big brother’s in the TA, ye ken.’

The genie slapped his forehead in exasperation and let out a deep sigh that could have blown the clouds from Scotland to Pluto.


‘So you lot shrink inside bottles of booze until some alkie gees ye a rub and lets ye oot?’


‘If I cannae hae a million wishes, I guess I’ll just have tae hae a million poonds, eh?’ smiled Blake, gulping another river of Buckfast down his throat.


‘Whit? Just gee me a million poonds, eh? Or yell be hearin’ from ma lawyer, ya big blue bastart. Ma lawyer’s got five knuckles an’ a sovvy ring.’


Blake gripped the bottle neck and brandished it like a weapon. ‘You’re aboot two seconds away fae a glassin’, big man, nae shite.’


‘Ah wish you’d bloody shut yer big mooth, ye big blue fuckin’ shi… AH FUCK!’ hollered Blake, as he realised the enormity of this very unintended wish. He shot to his feet and was seemingly sober within a second. ‘Nut, that’s no fair! That’s no fair!’

The genie said nothing. Unsurprisingly.

His arms stayed wrapped against his big, bulging chest, and his bull-neck froze. The only things that had altered pose since the big man-of-magic’s arrival were his lips. Now, a huge grin spread them apart.

Pouf! And the genie was gone, leaving Blake with nothing but an overworked liver.

Auld Jack was in Dresden, swigging back another Grolsh. He’d trimmed his moustache into a neat oblong.

At the same time, Blake’s kitchen window was blown open by a gust of insults.

‘If you’re no oota ma sight in two meenits, ah’ll be oot there wi ma saucepan and brush, do you hear me, Blakey?!’

There were few that didn’t hear her. Perhaps even Auld Jack had heard her.

‘Ho, ya cow, some of us are on the nightshift here!’ shouted a particularly brave neighbour from his bedroom window.

‘Yell be on the graveyard shift if ye dinnae bugger aff, ya nosey shite!’ roared the beast in reply. ‘You too,’ she barked, eyeballing her son, ‘and dinnae even think aboot coming home unless ye have a million poonds in yer back pocket!’

Slam! Blake stood up, rocked on his heels, then took another long, lingering, sloshing slurp of the Buckfast.

‘This stuff’s magic!’ he said.

The bottle was soon discarded in the grass, taking pride of place in the man-made flowerbed of used condoms, bloody sanitary towels, syringes, crisp wrappers and fag ends. It was time to think. Finally. He had managed to avoid it for close to sixteen years. The bones of a plan quickly formed a skeletonic idea in his head. A smile crept upon his face, which lit up his drink-fogged eyes.

‘I know what tae dae!’ he exclaimed.

Full of excitement, he quickly set himself to the task of urinating through his mother’s letterbox. Then, the real plan hit him.

‘I’m gonnae go and see ma gran. She’s a bit of an effin’ weirdo, likes, but I ken she’ll help me! At the very least I can sell some of her stuff.’

Or her,’ he thought cheerfully to himself.



Blakey the Jakey: a Modern Scottish Fairytale – Pt 1

‘You did whit, Blakey?’

‘I sold the car, maw.’

A sharp slap echoed across his hollow cheeks.

‘Whit did ye sell the Escort fur, ye wee bugger?’

‘Fur a load ay magic beans, maw.’

Another slap clapped across Blake’s already stinging cheek.

‘I didnae ask whit ye goat fur it, ah said whit did you sell it fur!’

‘Fur money, maw. This guy at the market said he’d gee us loads ay money fur it.’ A sliver of snotters sniffed their way back up Blake’s nostrils and a grazed knuckle rose to sweep away a clove of tears. ‘Yer aye sayin’ yer efter a holiday, ah thought I wid get ye the money for yin, cheer ye up, like.’

Whoosh. Slap. Oyah!

‘Cheer me up? Whit holiday am ah gonnae git wae magic bloody beans, ye wee toley? And noo I’ve no goat a car!’

Blake’s mother slumped her plump frame into a chair and began to sob her woes out over the kitchen table. Blake felt helpless. He sunk a clammy palm onto her shoulder. Sensing his guilt and sadness, she rammed her elbow into his stomach.

‘Bugger aff!’ she wept.

‘But, maw,’ whined Blake, glad that the elbow hadn’t sunk any lower, ‘we kin sell the Magic Beans. Guy at the market says we kin make a killin’, like.’

The sobs clicked off. ‘The only killin’ around here’ll be dun by me, ye wee tyke,’ she spat, ‘An ah could caw ye worse than that, the way am feelin’ the noo, ye wee useless cunt!’

Blake reached into the pocket of his jeans and took out the small, clear plastic pouch containing the beans. He waggled them in front of his mother’s face.

‘Let’s sell them, maw, let’s sell the hings. Ah’ll get the money back, promise ah wull.’

Blake’s mother shot to her feet, grabbed the packet of beans, stormed over to the open window and tossed them down onto the grass below. She pirouetted in a whirlwind of rage to face his downcast head, and laid down upon it a demand for exile.

‘First thing the morra’s mornin’, you’re oot o this hoose, or ah’ll bloody fling you oot the windae!’


And so, as the moon revolved into its night-time slot, knocking the sun down below the horizon, the nocturnal denizens of Grangemouth scurried out from the back of supermarkets, from bus shelters, from alley ways and from play-parks, to gather in the flickering lamp-lit streets like zombies from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.

As if driven by some deep, buried instinct, they found the packet of Magic Beans lying in the grass at the foot of Blakey’s flat. A circle of baseball caps peered down, before a cygnet-ringed hand scooped them up and held them aloft. A cry of feral triumph whooped into the air.

In the morning, the magic beans were missing: presumed gubbed.

Outside the kitchen window, twelve baseball caps saluted skyward from the grass, attached to twelve bleary bodies in varying states of consciousness. A ghetto blaster, powered by a length of extension cable, bang-thud-jerked its techno-menace over the still-sleepy street.

A lone ‘dancer’ – the term applying loosely – shuddered violently to the beat of the bass-line, a carnival of jutting, punching limbs. His pupils shifted from big to small, like some demented camera lens, and sweat lashed his exposed skin.

‘They beans are magic, sir!’ he exclaimed with ecstasy, lost in the dance.

The kitchen window of the Blake household flew open on its hinges and the curler-clad head of Blake’s mum burst out.

‘Ho, John Travolta!’ she yelled to the ‘dancer’, ‘Shut that bloody racket aff, wake up that pile a’ deed ducks on ma gress an’ bugger aff the lot o’ ye!’

The slam of the window acted as a gunshot to the frightened herd of ravers. Twelve sets of heels pelted down the street, ‘John Travolta’ dancing after them as fast as he could. The wail of an encroaching police siren only encouraged him to dance harder.

‘Tha’s magic, sir!’ he exclaimed, ‘Ah didnae ken they’d released that tune yet!’

One of the fleeing mob ran back and dragged him kicking and dancing around the corner to safety.


The street was quiet again. Somebody had already stolen the ghetto blaster, but then it had been stolen in the first place.

Blake sat on the pavement outside of his flat, head in hands, rucksack slung over a bony shoulder. With all of the beans gone, Blake had a mammoth mission ahead of him: find a way to make back money for both car and holiday or… he didn’t even want to think about the ‘or else’ part.

The odds seemed insurmountable. Not to Blake, of course, simply because the boy had no idea what ‘insurmountable’ meant. Blake’s ilk juggled with a few balls less in their vocabulary, but perhaps their stripped vernacular was more efficient in its expressiveness.

‘Fuck,’ he sighed. ‘Fuckin’ shite.’

As if sensing his heavy heart, the magical powers above granted some hope to Blake in liquid form. Pouf!

‘Did some cunt just caw us a poof?’ snapped Blake.

The boy noticed quickly that an object had appeared next to him from thin air. He was bright that way.

‘Where’d that come fae?’ whispered Blake, puzzlement ruffling his brow as he eyed the newcomer. He reached to his right and clasped the ancient-looking glass bottle in his hand. Someone, or something, had scrawled ‘Drink Me’ in the film of dust covering the green bottle. Blake obeyed.

The magical brew tasted to Blake like a mixture somewhere between cough syrup and paint stripper. With a bit of piss thrown in for good measure. It did not take many gulps for the hope-shunned youngster to fall under its spell. A few gulps more and he was entranced. Half the bottle, and his eyes became windows to worlds of magic, his stomach slosh-pit to the ebbs and flows of wonder. The tonic – health-giving though it seemed – was not enough to quell the anger that had built in him since the evening before.

Just then, a gaunt old man shuffled out from a neighbouring block of flats and made his sure-but-steady way towards him. A shell suit hung on his rag-and-wrinkle body and a silver-flecked moustache obscured his top lip. Various species of crumb made the hairy monstrosity their home.

It was Jack the Alike. No one liked him, but he always seemed to be everywhere, rather like Gok Wan. ‘Whit’re ye drinkin’, Blakey son?’ he croaked.

‘Dinnae ken,’ hiccuped Blake, ‘Whit’s it tae you, ye auld fanny?’

Instantly bored by ‘Jack the Alkie’ and agitated by his unwelcome presence, Blake distractedly rubbed at his magical bottle. Dust smeared his palm.

‘It’s guid tae share, son,’ smiled old Jack, a mossy tongue licking at chapped lips, ‘gee auld Jack a swally, noo.’

‘Ma maw aye says that ah’m no supposed tae talk tae strange auld men on account that they might turn oot to be dirty peedos like yersel, ken?’

Jack’s top lip trembled beneath its hairy camouflage. His burst-veined cheeks flashed crimson.

‘Ye ungrateful wee bastard! Efter aw I did fur this country… If it wisnae fur the likes ay Auld Jack, well, you’d be a lad in trouble, that’s fur sure! I did time in a POW camp fur wee shites like yersel’!’

Blake took another teasing swig from the bottle.

‘Ken whit, Auld Jack, I wish the bloody Germans had kept ye.’

Pouf! Old Jack seemed to implode to the size of a marble in seconds, leaving a brilliant white flash of light and a veil of smoke in his wake. As Blake recovered from this optical onslaught, blinking and cursing his sight back to 20/20, he saw before him, through a grey, choking cloud, a bearish, blubbery gent, skin the colour of rust, with a large, blue turban writhing and teetering on top of his head. A giant pair of arms was folded against his massive, shining chest.