Tom Morton's Week (Sunday Herald, 27 September)
http://www.heraldscotland.com (but this isn't available there)
We are awash with rhubarb and ginger jam, which I made yesterday in a fit of autumnal domesticity. I also made a rhubarb crumble so large it could alleviate the Texan constipation problem, which is allegedly as large as most Texans. How are they off for rhubarb in Dallas? Loads of its verbal namesake in Bournemouth, as former Glesca cooncillor, and once lecturer at Gilmorehill Dr Vince Cable ( that name sounds like it should belong to an actor, possibly from something like...The Wire) sends panic rippling through the beards and sandals of the assembled Libocrats.
A tax on rich people's houses, eh? Catchy. Goodness, that reminds of something, let me see if I can remember...yes, I have it! It was called, eh, socialism. Something Dr Hawser was not unacquainted with in his bell-bottomed Caledonian days, when he was contributing to a book called The Red Paper on Scotland, edited by a raging lefty called...Gordon Brown.
Next minute Dr Strand is glooming and dooming in Bournemouth about Scotland declaring itself in the huff, should the Tories win the next election (fat chance, eh?). This process would be known technically as Decameronisation, which is, alas, nothing to do with Giovanni Boccaccio.
I spy my wife sneaking out the door with clanking shopping bags. We have too much rhubarb jam, she tells me, and it must be distributed to the needy. I'm wondering if she's going to offer it to patients she diagnoses as suffering from that medical condition known as bungedupness, but it's just been revealed that doctors never, ever get their diagnoses right. It says it on the telly so it must be true. Never mind, I have sneaked several gallons of jam into a back cupboard and will sell it on the internet as a cure for gallstones. If I say that on the internet it will become true. This is a rule.
Formula One is in disarray once more. Honestly, if it's not dodgy sex games involving spanking, everybody getting really, really annoyed about their tyres, or Jensen Button allegedly having such tiny hands some photographs of him steering utilise a 'hand double' (and what kind of name is Jensen Button, anyway? It's as if your dad called you Ferrari Pandy, instead of plain old Andy), it's Nelson Riddle crashing his Renault deliberately.
Sorry, Piquet Junior. Nelson has turned Mosley's Evidence, so he gets away without even a smack. And after all, it was his life at risk in that hefty colllision with the concrete. The Renault officials responsible for ordering him to crash have already walked, so all that remains is for Bernie Ecclescake and co to warmly congratulate the company on their strategic thinking. No, they don't do that, but the mild whisk with a warmed set of birch twigs they do get seems, to any neutral observer, laughable. Call that a sport?
Formula One is a bad, boring, ludicrously expensive joke, wholly compromised by peculiar leadership and venal practitioners. And the reverberations reach right down through almost all motor sport. If you want to see pure, motorised racing, so dangerous it can never be televised, so frequently fatal even mentioning it in some quarters is frowned upon, investigate the twilit world of the Irish motorcycle road races. This is competition virtually devoid of financial reward. The North West 200 in Portrush, Portsewtart and Coleraine, dangerous enough with its street furniture and white lines, is the least of it. On closed farm roads throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic, during the summer, bikes ridden by amateurs slither and howl at speeds of over 150mph, and crashing is never, ever deliberate, strategic or usually, anything but fatal. It puts the antics of millionaire cheats like Piquet in some kind of context.
Tonight sees another edition of Jonathan Meades' Off Kilter series broadcast on BBC 4, in which the acerbic aesthete, cultural critic and wearer of lumpy suits takes on Scotland, whence his maternal grandparents came, prior to their sudden appearance in whatever southern branch of Bohemia Mr Meades stems from.
I like Meades. His glum, St Bernard's face and poor-man's-Anthony-Burgess locution is a refreshing antidote to the other approved practitioners of television documetary - Griff Rhys-Jones, Paul Merton, Neil Oliver (Get your hair cut! Wear a net! Stop shouting!) and Lord William of Connolly. Meat has already cut a leisurely swathe through Aberdeen and Lewis (Rust Island) in this series, so to see him taking on the likes of Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline, Methil, Kirkcaldy and other communities known only to him through the football pools was always going to be bracing. The selection of 'Jakey drinks' was illuminating, though it's Scotsmac, not Lanliq that was made at the old Viking cinema in largs by James Wham, a former war hero who was involved in the raid mythologised in The Guns of Navarone. There were some great moments of scathing commentary - Celtic, Rangers, Hibs and Hearts dismissed as 'excuses for hatred' - but Mr Meat (a Maed, by the way, in Shetland is a navigation cairn used by fishermen to guide their way home) is best over 30, not 60 minutes. I was looking forward to his celebration of Grangemouth's greatness, as it matches my own fascination with the place, where my good friend Lindsay Hutton lives and breathes and provides the world with the best online rock'n'roll blog there has ever been or will be, the legendary Next Big Thing. Scouringly abrasive, grumpy and perceptive, romantic and bitter, Lindsay is a kind of Ramones-loving, Cramps-worshipping Jonathan Meades of Scotland. Pity they never met. Pity I fell asleep for the last bit of the programme.
I have recently acquired the DVD of In The Loop, Armando Ianucci's (with help from 'swearing consultant' Ian Martin) excoriating take on Anglo-American political relations. The extras are, unusually for a DVD, absolutely superb, including a stunning encounter between The Crossest Man In Scotland (spin doctor Jamie, played by Paul Higgins) and Gina McKie, Most Beautiful Woman Ever In the History of Tyneside. There's also an interview with Ms McKie (I'm not ashamed to swoon) and Chris Addison, in which Gina (I can call you Gina, can't I?) quietly bemoans the fact that she did not get to go America with the rest of the cast, instead filming her ostensibly New York-set scenes in Glasgow. I thought I recognised Lally's Palais, masquerading as the UN.
Anyway, In The Loop, with its squirmingly embarrassing scenes where the pathetic Brits desperately try to arrange meetings with senior American politicans, was inevitably brought to mind by the antics of the Downing Street press corps last night at the real UN, as they attempted to engineer a meeting between Once-Red Gordon Brown and Smokin' Barack Obama, in the face of apparent US indifference. Obama was up for meeting the Chinese, Japanese and Russian Premiers, but not the Democratically Elected King of Kirkcaldy. Presumably he doesn't want to waste his handshakes when Cameronisation is imminent. In the end, Gordon and Barack bumped into each other in a kitchen, where our PM was presumably 'accidentally' hanging around, checking the quality of the bean sprouts.
As for Colonel Gadaafi-Bono's sopeech, what a corker! Who killed JFK, Swine Flu an example of biological warfare...did Dan Brown write it?
And now, to more important things: Peter Andre, sometime pop star (for about three minutes or less) and erstwhile partner of forward-biased glamour novelist Jordan, has been mobbed during a series of appearances at...supermarkets. It's wonderful to see someone begin the long road back to true stardom. Reduced to signing albums at branches of ASDA, the coverage of his break up with Katie Jordan-Price has fuelled what appears to be mass public interest. Four thousand turned up in Bolton to swoon, including one lass who had been in hospital with pneumonia for six weeks, but queued for six hours as inmmediatel tcured, six times over! This is sinister, as you can see from the appearance of the number 666! What's that tattooed on Peter's forehead?
There's a great (and possibly apocryphal) tale about the hyper intellectual Peter, that he read somewhere about how good bananas were for you, and began a six-week banana-only diet. He allegedly managed only a few days before being rushed to hospital, suffering from potassium poisoning. But he's all right now. And doubtless preparing for the reconciliation duet single with Jordan which will be released, oh around Christmas, coupled with a joint guest appearance (possibly with weans) on either the X- Factor or Strictly Come Dancing.
Vegetarian alert: risk of offence coming up! Hell's teeth, I hate hens. We have several of the filthy beasts, which are far better wrapped in polythene and chilled or frozen from the supermarket. Alive, they have feathers and defaecate absolutely everywhere. Only geese are worse, the filthiest birds in the universe. At least the French have worked out someyhing to do with their livers
Chickens are also very difficult to kill. I once shot a particularly vicious cockerel (the postman eventually refused to deliver to our house, as his trousers were being regularly ripped) seven times with a 12-bore, and it failed to expire. You could see through it in several places, but it was still running about and squawking in a belligerent, cocky fashion. And don't believe all that stuff about grabbing them and wringing their necks. During the summer, my son and his wife were visiting from Northern Ireland with their dog Cuillin, who is from Derry and was a trifle confrontational. Cuillin, no more than a puppy, pounced on a half-grown cockerel and took several lumps out of it. I gave the damaged bird's neck a severe twisting and chucked it over the sea wall to be eaten by passing bonxies, otters and other forms of nature, red in tooth and claw. A week later, with a somewhat extended neck, the bird was back. Now it's hale, hearty (if somewhat giraffe-like in appearance) and an Incredible Hulk among fowl. Cuillin, meanwhile, having had his genitals removed, is living a peaceful life in Tyrone.
Shake it all about: The decision by Dave Peacock to stop touring with this long-term partner Chas Hodges means that the long-standing rock'n'roll urban myth has come sadly true: it goes like this. There's a notice outside a venue saying 'TONIGHT: Chas and Dave (not original Dave)'. Chas Hodges has announced that all outstanding dates will be played by Chas 'and his band'.