There is going to be massive and unprecedented disruption over COP26 next month, and not just because of the protests. Roads around the venue, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), will be closed, including the Clydeside Expressway and several other streets in the vicinity. The River Clyde will also be shut to boats in front of the SEC, not that there’s much traffic there anyway. The police and the army will probably have gunboats moored in case any protester swims up from Gourock.
Additionally, for two weeks, just about all of the central belt – Glasgow and the west, parts of Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Stirling, and Edinburgh and the Lothians – will be closed to air traffic, including drones, apart from commercial flights.
I’m not playing down the security issues. But why Edinburgh and thereabouts?
Undoubtedly so that VIPs, world leaders, movers and shakers and their bag-carriers can stay in fancy hotels and be shuttled over in helicopters and private jets. I hope someone will be monitoring the amount of CO2 and noxious emissions this unnecessary farce generates.
This could all be done electronically, over Zoom or a supercharged version, but then Johnson, Biden, Xi Jinping and crew wouldn’t get their jolly.
Name’s not much COP
Police Scotland have been practising for the expected tumult, mayhem and street-fighting at the COP26 shindig by taking on a made-up protest group in exercises. They’ve called the group – of plainclothes plod presumably? – Destruction Uprising.
I don’t know if the faux protesters superglue themselves to railings and statues like Insulate Britain or just generally mill about screaming “f*** the polis” while waiting to be kettled, or whether there’s water on hand to douse the eyes of the CS gas.
If the genuine protesters are clever about it, they’ll produce their own Destruction Uprising banners and paraphernalia so the real cops won’t know who to arrest.
Oh, and a memo to the Chief Constable. I’ve registered as my intellectual property the Destruction Uprising domain name so you’ll be hearing from my solicitor. Or you could make me an attractive offer.
Own goal for Toon
THOSE cuddly people who brought you public beheadings and amputations, funded the Taliban and Salafist jihadi groups, killed journalists and subjugate everyone who isn’t a royal (mind you, there are more than 5,000 of them) now own Newcastle United. To pretend that Saudi Arabia, through its sovereign wealth fund, doesn’t is a flat-out and deliberate lie. The Toon fans despised Mike Ashley and danced in the streets after the deal, but as far as I know Ashley never murdered anyone.
They’re now talking about winning titles, competing with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City, rather than rivals Sunderland. But the real rival is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
BACK in the early 1970s, and for decades before, the manufacturer of Irn-Bru, Barr, ran cartoon ads in newspapers featuring Sandy and his chum Ba-Bru, who might have been modelled on Rudyard Kipling’s Sabu the Elephant Boy. They were the longest-running cartoon ads in history, apparently, going back to the 1930s, but they may well have offended contemporary mores with whiffs of racism and were axed. There were even TV ads where the two lads’ lines were: “I am very thirsty.” “I am thirsty too.” “Here’s the drink for me and you, Barr’s Irn-Bru.”
There was also a prominent sign on top of Central Station in Glasgow featuring the turbaned Ba-Bru until it was replaced in the 1980s by the Irn-Bru clock, later to be superseded by one of those horrid electronic ones that has moving pictures, and in colour too.
Later advertising Irn-Bru iterations were “Your other national drink” and “Made from girders” which, of course, it isn’t. It was originally called Strachan’s Brew, then Iron Brew and became Irn-Bru in 1946, either because there was little or no iron in it, or it wasn’t brewed, or maybe both.
Times change and they have at AG Barr too. The firm sure hasn’t been Funkin about. Or rather it has. That’s the name of the brand of cocktails in a can it makes and Funkin’s sales rocketed by more than 200 per cent during lockdown. Barr has both ends of the market tied up. You quaff cocktails in the evening and then reach for Irn-Bru as the hangover cure in the morning.
Over a barrel
“IT’S Scotland’s oil” was the SNP slogan back in the 1970s, older readers will recall. Back in 1973, when Arab states embargoed the black stuff on the West in response to Israel and the Yom Kippur War, the price of a barrel quadrupled from $3 to $12. And when the Shah of Iran was toppled it went up to $25.
This was well before we got fussy about the air we breathe and when we happily went on destroying the planet without a smidgeon of guilt.
That 1979 25-buck barrel is equivalent to $94 today. On Friday, a barrel of Brent Crude would have set you back $83, the price more than doubling in a year, and it is likely to go on rising, although it has a bit to go to reach the ludicrously optimistic $110 a barrel that Andrew Wilson and the SNP promised before the referendum.
The high price of oil makes a good economic case for the Nats but they can’t now go on about it with COP26 looming and wee neb Greta on the rampage. “It’s Scotland’s wind” doesn’t have the same resonance.
Driven to chuck it
MY eldest daughter’s boyfriend is one of the “missing 100,000”, a former long-distance HGV driver who gave it up during lockdown. He used to pilot these massive trucks for touring rock bands and went all over Britain and Europe, which meant he was away for days on end. And if the money was okay for him – unlike your Tesco driver – it wasn’t just about that.
There was the inconvenience and the lack of decent facilities in the UK on the way. Driving on a motorway across the Channel there are truck stops every few kilometres with decent food and where you can park up overnight for free.
In Britain, it’s £40 a night if you can find a spot and then endure dismal conditions. So, while drivers’ pay is increasing what they have to put up with en route isn’t diminishing.
Pitch perfect gesture
MARCUS Rashford, given an honorary degree at Manchester University, rails against poverty and the withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift. He really is the caped crusader.
Another footballer, Partick Thistle’s Brian Graham, spoke searingly and movingly during the week about the mental problems and the suicide of his elder brother Daniel, who was in and out of hospital but didn’t get the treatment he needed.
Graham was speaking to boost the
FC United to Prevent Suicide campaign. He said that at first he was embarrassed about it and because he was in the public eye, he didn’t want the family exposed.
But as he grew older, he realised that if he could speak out about it then it might just help another family.
For Graham, there has even been an element of closure. He had a dream about Daniel. “It was him apologising to me, saying sorry and the two of us were crying in the dream. I woke up in the middle of the night, I was in floods of tears and was like ‘Was that real?’.
“It was as if he was coming back to say, ‘I’m sorry for my behaviour’. It was as if we made up in that dream.”