I don't make a habit of yelling obscenities at my father down the phone, but when the conversation throws up (and I use the expression advisedly) the name of a certain tabloid hack, I cannot contain myself. After my father has demonstrated that he's fallen hook, line and sinker for the 'free speech' canard, and that he's one of the readers whom said hack has squarely in his sights when he (the hack, not my father) sets out to bring out the worst in human nature, in all its greed, spite, envy, small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness, and my dad is not habitually any of those things as a rule, I say to him, Father, I say, let me ask you something.
Suppose, just suppose, that instead of being an evenly distributed mixture of both your parents, you had turned out the absolute dead spit of your father, with no visible sign that you were your Scottish mother's son.
Let us then suppose that for some reason you had been taken away from your father, or he from you, in early infancy, and, despite your lack of any family resemblance to her, you had nonetheless been brought up exclusively by your mother, in Edinburgh or Stirling or Glasgow, being taught her values and supported by her family.
Let us further suppose that then, one day, a grant or scholarship or job became available that was earmarked exclusively for persons identifying as Scots. And let us suppose that you applied for, and were successful in obtaining, said grant or scholarship or job.
What would you say, and how would you feel, if some non-Scottish tabloid hack then wrote a breathtakingly unpleasant, crudely sarcastic, factually inaccurate and demonstrably defamatory article identifying you by name and sneering at you for being a false pretender to eligibility for this prize, arguing that you do not look Scottish (for he just knows what a Scot is supposed to look like) and therefore cannot possibly be your mother's son, and therefore -- 'therefore' -- not a Scot?
Frankly I thought this was a pretty classy argument, and I was hoping it would stop my father in his tracks. Unfortunately, for him as for so many other people and to quote the great Fran Leibowitz, the opposite of 'talking' is not 'listening'. The opposite of 'talking' is 'waiting'.
In which the pond turns to the Caterists and Dame Groan ... - The pond is never sure whether the reptiles are mocking the Donald, or mocking themselves for admitting that they're the Donalds of down under journalism...
15 minutes ago