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Iain Maciver: Gogglebox would be a welcome distraction if the stars could slow down

Glasgow-based couple Roisin and Joe appear on Channel 4 programme, Gogglebox (Photo: Channel4/Studio Lambert)
Glasgow-based couple Roisin and Joe appear on Channel 4 programme, Gogglebox (Photo: Channel4/Studio Lambert)

Poor Roisin and Joe, the new Glaswegian couple on Gogglebox.

I knew they were going to be boring from the way Channel 4 introduced them. Its statement said they had been together for four years and live at Joe’s family home. Joe, it said, enjoys playing videos games, making pizza and, wait for it, spending time with Roisin. Oh, for goodness’ sake. Pass the sick bag, Alice.

It then said Roisin enjoys shopping, getting dressed up and socialising with friends. You go, girl. Get your glad rags on and go on the razzle and forget that wet blanket indoors watching the telly with his Nintendo in one hand and a soggy pepperoni in the other. Oh, and tell him not to wait up.

Their Glaswegian accents and rapid-fire speech have divided the country. Around the UK, people couldn’t understand them. To be honest, I was born and brought up for some years in Glasgow, went back regularly, and even I had to put on the subtitles. Here are some handy tips for interpreting Glaswegian for everybody else watching Roisin and her man.

When a team wins, Glaswegians don’t usually say better luck next time. They may substitute that with: “Get it right up ye”. A wee beverage tends to be a “wee swally”, a busy public house is regularly described as “hoachin'” and, when the weather forecast is promising, the phrase often used is “taps aff”.

One may also hear incongruous references to wood, such as: “Hiv ye gote a lumber for the dancin’?” They are usually nothing to do with timber.

We all want you to do well on the box, guys. You need to slow down a wee bit. In life, you can be toffs or street sweepers, it doesn’t matter. But it’s important you’re understood.

You’re only Glaswegian, by the way. It’s not as if you have any excuse for being incomprehensible. After all, ye could be fae Aberdeen. Fit aboot dat?

Does a Russian crew want to claim political asylum in the People’s Republic of Point?

And fit aboot… Sorry, I meant to ask what about this awful and frightening news in the world just now? It makes us all very jittery.

As I write this, there is a ship, the Viktor Zabelin, seemingly rocking quietly at anchor in Broad Bay, just off Shulishader in Point. It has come from Waterford in Ireland. Nice.

Shall we row out to it for some Waterford crystal? Wait. The marine tracker says its destination is RUARH. Is that the code for Sullom Voe or Aberdeen?

The Viktor Zabelin, a Russian cargo ship seen anchored in Broad Bay, off Point and Back, Isle of Lewis (Photo: SandiePhotos)

No. It’s RU for the country and ARH for the port. It’s Arkhangelsk. That’s in the north of Russia. Yup, there’s a very large Russian ship exactly 4.94 miles from the chair I am sat in right now. Didn’t see this one on the news.

It is a cargo ship and is 107.68 metres long. Waow. Och, they’re probably sheltering from weather and as jittery as I am. Should we tell Point people to go and flash lights at them in case the crew want to claim political asylum in the People’s Republic of Point?

Maybe not. Depending on who they meet down there, they could head straight back out to the ship.

How to get a free drink in Glasgow

And I’ll head straight back to something else to try to help cheer you up, dear reader. How about one of my famous handy tips? I don’t call them life hacks or winning at life, like some. Handy tips are what they are.

Here’s one I learned myself. If your partner is giving you the silent treatment, it can be really tough. You want a tip on how to deal with that? When they’re not about, you tighten the lids on all jars in the house. No matter what you did or what they said, they will have to come and speak to you eventually.

Tell them you’re doing a crossword but you’re stuck at a word meaning ‘stuck on a desert island’

Finally, I really hope Joe will take my handy tip and not be such a big drip on Gogglebox. And I hope he and Roisin both heed my call for them to just slow down a tad with that strong accent.

One of the reasons is that there is an easy way to get someone with a strong Glasgow accent to buy you a drink in a pub. You tell them you’re doing a crossword but you’re stuck at a word meaning “stuck on a desert island”. It has eight letters and starts with M.

Nine times out of 10, they will say the word “marooned”. Then you say: “Thanks, pal. As you’re offering, I’ll have a large Grouse, please.”


Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides

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