At the heart of the best children’s story is the message that love triumphs over hate … so how deliciously appropriate that Miss Lossie Mouth’s drag queen story hour was stowed out at Elgin Library.
This, you might recall, was the event that prompted an online pile-on of vitriol and vile abuse when it was first announced – so much so that Moray Council and Miss Lossie Mouth (drama teacher John Campbell) felt compelled to call out the offensive tirades.
Of course, we all know social media has murky depths that allow bigots to spew bile, so no surprise they breenged in.
What is surprising, though, is Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross weighing in with his tuppence worth about the show being “totally inappropriate”.
Gosh, and there was me thinking banning drag acts was the sole preserve of some of the more ultra-right-wing Republican states in the US.
But nope, here’s Mr Ross importing it to the north-east.
So, a story hour that aims to spark children’s imaginations and get them reading is wrong, is it?
Or maybe it’s the idea that it is being presented by a man in drag. Hmmm, Mr Ross is going to really lose his spit if he ever goes to a panto, isn’t he?
Or perhaps it is the themes of the stories themselves that got his dander up so much that he felt compelled to reach for his red card. You know, things like anti-racism messages, anti-bullying and same-sex parents.
Is the idea of tolerance, love, justice and dignity, not something we should expose children to? Shouldn’t we be laying in a moral compass of care and compassion? Or is that something which might deter them from growing up to be Tory voters?
The sad thing is that Mr Ross’s ill-judged intervention is a dog-whistle to the extremists out there, who crave validation for their toxic views on gender. The types who were making death threats against Miss Lossie Mouth.
They are the ones who see an innocent hour of fun for wee kids as something sinister and corrupt. Jings, they need pity for seeing life through that joyless prism.
In the end, the verdict on Miss Lossie Mouth’s story hour was delivered by the parents and children of Elgin. Some 100 delighted kids packed the library and loved every minute of it, singing, dancing and enthralled by the tales.
And just to confirm the righteousness of the universe, Miss Lossie Mouth is now being inundated with more bookings to do more of the same.
The end result for Miss Lossie Mouth – and, of course, John Campbell’s – will be to get kids into books, into reading, into using their own imagination, into growing up being more accepting of others.
That is an achievement to be proud of and a legacy to be treasured.
I wonder what Mr Ross’s will be?
Why are we being taxed to the hilt by Westminster while people struggle with cost-of-living?
So here I am back from a wee sunshine holiday in Gran Canaria with a bit of a tan and a head full of questions.
You see, as we were travelling around the island (excellent bus service if ever Stagecoach wants a role model) we kept passing petrol stations offering fuel for about 1.23 Euros per litre. Gosh, when I filled up the car to drive to our flight out of Glasgow I thought I got an absolute steal for £1.33.
Why, may I ask, does it cost so much less in Spain – even more so when you do the currency conversion?
And how come it is so cheap on what is basically a rock off the coast of Africa, compared to the north-east where (if you believe Granite Harbour) you can see the oil rigs in the North Sea?
Could it be we are being gouged by the oil giants who are racking up billions in profits while pleading they can’t do anything about oil prices?
Or is it, perhaps, because we are being taxed to the hilt with fuel duty by a Westminster Government even as people struggle with a cost-of-living crisis? Is it too much to suggest they could lower the rate to help everyone out?
And, of course, those same energy firms who are raking in the dosh at a dizzying rate are still making sure our household energy bills that shot up like a rocket as oil prices soared are coming down like a feather as prices drop.
No doubt clever people who know about economics and such like would be able to put forward a cogent argument for all this.
But the easiest one is that we are being fleeced and our lords and masters are aiding and abetting rather than stopping it.
Surrounded by constant reminders I’m getting old
The getting old thing is accelerating in unexpected ways now.
It’s not just the creaky knees or the involuntary noises (don’t ask) either.
There I was on a plane, jetting off to sunnier climes when a wee toddler in front of me kept popping his head up to look over the seat at me.
There was a brief game of peekaboo and he started chattering words at me. His mum helpfully explained what he was saying and why.
‘He thinks you’re his grandad because you look just like him!”
Thanks, son. Thanks a bunch.
Scott Begbie is a former journalist and editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express