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Iain Maciver: Nicola Sturgeon knows when you’ve got ‘em by the bells, their hearts and minds will follow

People queuing to be ‘boosted by the bells’ outside the old John Lewis store turned vaccination centre in Aberdeen (Photo: Kath Flannery/DCT Media)
People queuing to be ‘boosted by the bells’ outside the old John Lewis store turned vaccination centre in Aberdeen (Photo: Kath Flannery/DCT Media)

With the daughter at home, I got cajoled into a Christmas Day walk with her two collies, Lance and Sleek.

Mrs X waved us off saying she would have something hot for us when we returned. By the time we had walked, or been dragged, out the Arnish road, I was as cold as the welcome that Harry and Meghan get at Buckingham Palace.

How I needed my promised hot welcome. Mrs X was chatting at the garden fence. That was when I spotted a pan on the cooker. Ah, soup. That’s very welcome. It didn’t occur to me that few have soup on Christmas Day. I got a big spoon and dug in. As my grandfather used to say, it just stuck to your ribs. Maybe oxtail?

The cold finally drove Mrs X indoors and her first shrieks were: “Who’s been at the gravy?” Shamefaced, I had to take her to get more at the only shop open.

“Quick,” she yelled, “squeeze in there between these cars.” I protested the Qashqai was too wide but she moaned. Finally, I managed to edge in gingerly. As she headed for the Engebret shop, she lambasted me with: “That’s always been your trouble – thinking whatever you have is bigger than it really is.”

I made sure this pan of brown soup-cum-gravy was much bigger. At first, it was too thin. I added cornflour, but it became too thick. I added water. Then it was too thin again. It was a viscous circle.

New year, new bolshie attitude

It’s a similar circle because of the Scottish Government’s repeating failures to make ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne implement proper ferry maintenance and to put its hands in its pocket to provide £800,000 – a pittance in real Scottish transport cost terms – to pay CalMac staff to keep the Skye to Harris ferry going at full capacity.

But, no, transport minister Graeme Dey and Nicola Sturgeon seem intellectually incapable of understanding the vital benefits that would bring to these islands.

Or do they just hate islanders? Actually, going by their joint recent dreadful performance, that’s probably it. Why should we support this continuing farcical government with votes?

With the deafening silence from our subservient SNP representatives, they too are now rapidly losing the right to represent us. Is it too early to start a campaign? I’ll wait a bit. New year, new bolshie attitude. It’s never too late.

For instance, Her Maj the Queen is getting bolshie at 95. It struck me as she did that final, lingering soft stare into the camera that she had not even mentioned some family in her 3pm speech, as I stirred the gravy.

Charles, tick. Anne, tick. William, tick. Kate, tick. What about Har…? Nope. Meg…? Nope. Andr…? Not a cheep. So there. Ooer, we are not amused. Me and you both, your Maj.

Get boosted by the bells

We are amused by progress in getting everyone protected from sneaky bug Omicron. I love the latest slogan from the NHS in Scotland. At the beginning of this week, we only had 73% of the population boosted. A catchy slogan makes all the difference in planting an idea in people’s brains. Get boosted by the bells. What a great catchphrase.

It reminds of a similar slogan I heard the other day on TV in that excellent flick about the Watergate scandal called All the President’s Men.

The editor of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward explains who Charles Colson is: “The most powerful man in the United States is President Nixon. You’ve heard of him? Charles Colson is special counsel to the president. There’s a cartoon on his wall. The caption reads: ‘When you’ve got ‘em by the bells, their hearts and minds will follow’.”

Was it bells? It was something like that.

Making resolutions

My resolution is that I am going to be more like my grandfather. A fisherman and seaman in World War One, he felt no need to hold back on the burning questions of the day. He would come out with some unexpected utterances.

A church elder came in for a wee ceilidh one day. As the tea and scones arrived, the elder suddenly began reciting grace, as they do. Butter melted and beverage cooled as the elder endlessly droned on about the ruination of the nation’s morals and all the canoodling outwith holy wedlock.

When it ended, my grandfather objected, saying: “Now look here, Mr Macdonald. There is nothing wrong with that hanky-panky before marriage – well, as long as it doesn’t delay the ceremony, of course.”

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