P&J Column 4.8.14

These are meant to be the ‘Friendly Games’. Did nobody tell Usain?

Struan Metcalfe, MSP for Aberdeenshire North and Surrounding Nether Regions.

Well, this morning I feel like the famous Lossiemouth hairdressing salon “Curl up and Dye”. I’ve got a crushing hangover after a 4 day jolly watching the Dons in San Sebastián last Thursday on the invitation of a couple of Aberdeenshire oil barons (very kind of them, hope there’s something I can do for them one day!) then to Glasgow for the Commie games. That seems to be a total misnomer, though. I saw no sign at all of Russia, China nor those funny little North Koreans.

The trip to Spain was dashed good fun, though it was a blinking pfaff getting to San Sebastián. If I hadn’t been able to write off the £500 plane fare as a legitimate parliamentary expense, I might not have bothered, but once there it was great to see our boys getting thrashed two-nil. Can’t wait for the away leg.

But to the point – I really must apologise for an incendiary tweet I sent on Friday.

“I see from the headlines today that Gaza is under attack again. My heart goes out. He was a great player, but so many troubles off the field.”

Boy, Super Dave was livid. Apparently, the Geordie ex-footballer was not the subject of the story, it’s another broohahah in the Middle East, and my remark was considered ‘insensitive’.

Apologies all round, no-intention to offend etc. Though no-one seemed to notice that particular faux-pas thanks largely to Usain Bolt telling the Times what he thought of the Friendly Games. Usain denies using the word (starts with ‘sh’ and rhymes ‘unfit’), and obviously it’s a disaster on the PR front, but fair play to the Fastest Man on Earth, Glasgow is ghastly, isn’t it?


Davinia Smythe-Barratt, ordinary mum

There are times in any ordinary mum’s life where she must put her deep-seated principles to one side for the sake of her children. Last week saw just such an occasion in the Smythe-Barratt household with our ill-fated trip to the Commonwealth games.

I made my moral stance crystal clear to the children. The Commonwealth is a throwback to the British Empire, a global effort to oppress, enslave and corrupt poorer nations. These games represent Britain’s continued clandestine domination of other cultures. Emmeline and Fidel listened attentively to my message but the lure of artistic gymnastics and the pole vault was just too great.

So off we set for Glasgow. Now with the Games being held in the UK, one would expect the organisation and infrastructure to be second to none. Well, let me tell you from bitter experience, nothing could be further from the truth! it was like the third world. First of all, the roads were a total nightmare. I put Hampden park in the Range Rover’s SatNav but as we drew closer we came upon several road closures and a plethora of police. When advised to “turn right in 30 metres” I just went for it (traffic cones are no match for my bull bars) only to be halted by some power-mad puppet of the system. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked. When I told him, he looked at me as though I had 2 heads. “Not up here you’re not. You can park over there and get a shuttle bus”. A bus?! This is 2014!

A stand-off developed, and I only backed down because Fidel became impatient and began kicking the back of my seat (his polite way of asking mummy to hurry up). Once we had arrived at the stadium (where there was plenty of room for the car, I might add) we had to negotiate the maze of security. I mean I’m all for safe events, but shouldn’t they have a fast-track queue for us ordinary, non-terrorists? When we finally got to the scanners we came across yet another fascist figure. Apparently Emmeline’s laser pen and Fidel’s air pistol were ‘prohibited’ items and were removed. And they call this a free country!

Other ordinary mums can imagine the scene. 2 grumpy kids and I eventually found our seats (allocated to us, another reminder of the Commonwealth’s history of subjugation) only for Emmeline to announce that she was hungry. I headed to the catering stalls, in search of hummus, alfalfa sprouts and tahini paste or a spot of tofu. Needless to say my search was fruitless. Pies, burgers, fish and chips abounded, of course, but not a fair-trade option in sight!

Things got worse when the relays started. Fidel’s a huge Usain Bolt fan and when he saw him warming up, the little tyke was off. Ipad clutched in one little hand, Digital SLR camera in the other, he bounded down the steps and vaulted the gate heading for the running track. It nearly brought tears to my eyes! Then when a burly security guard rugby-tackled him I was in floods. Maternal instincts are difficult to fight against, and so, it turns out, are four police officers.

The rest is Something of a blur. I can only hope they sort their roads out in time for my next trip to Glasgow in a couple of weeks. Does anyone know the postcode for the Sheriff Court?