Clinging to November…

In a “stunning” last minute substitution – as I believe folk on the football field say – I’ve been drafted in to replace Mike Ritchie and triumphantly boot this week’s Scottish Roundup into the back of the net. Fear not, there is no red or yellow card – Mike is simply hamstrung by the Tyrant, Work – leaving yours truly to speed “down the line”. That was just one of a number of befuddling phrases I recall being flung about on our school football pitches. Happily, I mostly avoided the ball, therefore wasn’t forced to contort my features in bemusement terribly often, as my ungeometric sensibilities failed to locate a “line” in the ragbag of egotistical demi-pubescents who careened across the grass. I never did deduce whether “Man on!” was a warning about some lurking opponent, or a stern admonition to lurk threateningly myself, feet flailing.

The invisible hand of the school sporting market soon allocated me my place  -  doing an unconvincing bollard impression between the coloured paps of some unfortunate team’s goalposts.  I distinctly recall how one of my dun-bellied P.E. teachers waddled up and informed me that I’d get on better in goal if I uncrossed my arms. I rather archly-tartly asked the gormless quarter troll if that was his hypothesis. He grunted. I had my petulant, adolescent, intellectual victory.  No doubt he thought I was an effete little puke. Needless to say, my lumpen stint in goals was not marked by dexterous handling and heroic defending of our position. I was at least a handy excuse if the thrusting strikers on my squad failed to negotiate the ball past the opposition’s goal-posts, which I dare say were also diffidently blocked by an unheroic, abstruse academical soul, sourly doing physical service. But I digress.

Even a man as much out of it as myself couldn’t help but notice the tumult tearing through Scottish football. Happily, we needn’t rely on my expertise (sic) to understand the issues.  Left Back in the Changing Room focussed on the issue of referees. or those of you, like me, who aren’t regular attenders to footballing affairs, Gerry Hassan summarises the issues neatly, arguing that the:

“… emotional spasm which has gripped Scottish football would be comic, were it not so serious, revealing some of the sore wounds and faultlines of Scottish society”.

Martin Kelly connects these developments to shifting Catholic theology on prophylactics arguing:

“… even when the Catholic Church cannot bring itself to comment upon a development which challenges what every Catholic in Scotland has been taught to believe, there is one area of Scottish public life of such gravity, such importance, that time and energy can always be devoted to commenting upon it. That activity is football. Being a football referee is an odd hobby. The tendency of referees to dress in black and impose discipline on athletic young men suggests to me that the Christian Brothers of a harsher, less enlightened era might have lost more than a few vocations to the beautiful game. The psychological stranglehold, the deathgrip, that football exercises over Scotland will hopefully be broken by the imminent referees’ strike. In a mad, Kafkaesque kind of way, wildcat industrial action by the last recognised authority figures in a nation in love with authority for its own sake will hopefully produce a collective public nervous breakdown as a result of which both Scotland and the Scots can be made anew.”

Nick Johnston composes a purely fictional (ahem hem!) tale about Scottish Tories, Baron Sandstone and their leader in the Scottish Parliament, Arabella Tweedie. Meanwhile, well-kent columnist Ian Bell has started writing over at Prospero Inc. The gustiest political story of the week concerns the Scottish Variable Rate and John Swinney’s guilty parliamentary silence. Ideas of Civilisations emerges from his crypt to write about A power so important it was never used. Given her partisan bent, it may shock nobody to discover that Joan McAlpine sees it was a case of the tribulations of Honest John against the toadies. Neil Craig takes a starkly different view. It remains unclear how the brouhaha will effect public opinion (if at all). I have a brisk analysis of the headlines of the Ipsos-MORI poll published this week, while a non-aligned political Corbie assesses some of the questions posed by public attitudes towards the council tax.

One consequence of the SVR ballyhoo is that the stage 1 vote on Margo MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill has been deferred. SNP Glasgow list MSP Anne McLaughlin is struggling with her conscience on the issues raised and asks her constituents for their opinions. This week, Suitably Despairing pens a greenish review of Tony Blair’s biography, A Journey. Cowrin’s opening gambit is that:

“I would say it was fair to categorise him as a better-than-average Prime Minister, with the caveat that he was a lying, warmongering, press-obsessed egomaniac.”

Read the rest here. Scots Whay Hae have also been reviewing this week – Allan Brown’s Nileism: The Strange Course of The Blue Nile.  Alistair Braidwood writes of his trepidation as he opened the tome:

“… there is a problem with biographies of your heroes. Sometimes it is better not to look behind the curtain and discover how the magic is made.”

Not a problem Cowrin wrestled with with Blair’s life, methinks. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, writes about homosexuality and debates at the recent meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod under the stark title, Preferring me dead. More jauntily, the damsel of the dancing scones writes about blogging’s transformative potential to accentuate the positive.

In local stories, Bright Green Scotland host an insider’s view of the recent financial collapse of the University of Edinburgh Settlement. In the Western Isles, Angus Nicolson writes about protecting rural schools, while Last Year’s Girl laments the closure of Glasgow’s Borders bookshop:

“I miss how you could get lost browsing the racks, how the stairs and the way the floors were numbered never matched up. It reminded me of the university building that housed my journalism degree – the one that was a converted mental hospital, which was missing a fourth floor although it had two halves of a third and a fifth.”

James Kelly writes on Political Betting about taking a punt on Scottish independence. A Lump in the Throat is conducting an international poetry experiment.  BellaCaledonia have fed their coins into the machine and are now blaring out Maggie’s Jukebox, choice musical memories from 1979 – 1990. Don’t get misty eyed there now. Meanwhile, nautical rodent guineapigmum shares a favourite image of a sea anemone.  She writes:

I took it years ago in the late 1980s on an expedition to St Kilda. There is an underwater cave about 25m down, right below the peak of the island of Dùn in Village Bay; the roof of the cave is covered with sheets of these white cluster anemones (and I’m sorry, we have to do Latin here) Parazoanthus anguicomus.  This photo might not win prizes or be technically the best but I like it.  It evokes for me a wonderful dive site and some great trips to the very edge of Scotland.

Living proof that not all bloggers are ancient opinionated middle aged men, Hollie is a fourteen year old Scottish lassie who blogs here. Meanwhile, Scottish writer Andy McCallum Crawford has been interrogated for the Greek Omikron Magazine and publishes an English translation.

Finally, as it draws to a close, “Remember, remember the month of MOvember! Face-furniture, whiskers and fuzz…” Whyte and Mackay’s Master Blender, Richard “the Nose” Paterson, explains the significance of MOvember and his own reasons for adopting a commemorative cold upper lip, contrary to his usual whisky-strainer style.

And yes, that is the whistle blown! The crowd erupt. The team sag off for a nourishing cup of coffee…  Do remember to keep sending us your nominations and know no shame about nominating yourselves.

Cheerio for now!


  1. Extra time not needed for your excellent round-up, especially as a last-minute compiler, coming as a sub off the bench while I was stuck in the dug-out of work.

    Thanks again for helping me out.