Unfortunately, the producer in charge of the program called me late the night before the recording to inform me that my presence was no longer necessary.

This can happen for a variety of reasons and journalists who are asked to resign, no matter how late in the day, should not be agitated when it happens.

On this occasion, the SNP informed the producers that the party’s original choice, Kaukab Stewart, the very capable MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, had had to cancel due to sudden illness.

Furthermore, the SNP was unable to find a female party representative to replace Ms Stewart and therefore chose Alasdair Allan, the Nah-Eileanan MSP.

It meant that, in order to maintain gender diversity, a male guest with no political affiliation had to leave. And so, I became that soldier. Having always been an advocate for gender diversity on political shows, he was happy to oblige.

Sadly, however, several people on social media guessed something ominous in the SNP’s claim that no woman was available to represent them. And that they had “gamed” the system to ensure my removal. After all, along with several others, I have been critical of the party in recent months.

However, it seems highly unlikely to me that the ruling party, whose politicians are backed by a small army of investigators and advisers, would go to such lengths to humbly eliminate an inelegant loner like me. I felt that I had to clear that up.

We must not lose sight of the human factor in all this: that is, the health of the affected Mrs. Stewart. And so I’m delighted to report that she seemed to have recovered quickly from whatever ailed her.

The next day, she tweeted a poignant image of herself in Holyrood, where she had met representatives from Cats Protection to discuss the shortage of pet-friendly rental accommodation in Scotland. This is a cause I’m sure we can all support.

The MSP tweet

The MSP tweet

Bonnie on the Clyde

The highlight of my week was a visit to Waverley on Lancefield Quay for the Glasgow Science Centre. The ship is a true national treasure, as she is the last remaining fully operational steamship in the world.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to speak with my old colleague Ian Bruce, the formidable former defense and geopolitical editor of The Herald. Ian estimates that he has sailed the Waverley over 600 times. These trips also gave him the opportunity to savor the delights of Scotland’s coastal hospitality sector.

Says Ian: “We thought of it as a paddle wheel version of the Starship Enterprise. Except our mission was more like Bar Trek, exploring strange new hows and the new life forms they contained.

The old Harbor Bar in Ayr, now demolished, comes to mind. It was like Groundhog Day on the inside.

Always the same group of drunk and tired fishermen, the same loud conversations and a jukebox that contained nothing post-1969, nothing bad in itself.

The Islay Frigate Hotel in Tarbert was another regular venue. It had a beer garden out back and on a slope that could have been run with a sherpa and oxygen tanks.

Our favorites were naturally in Rothesay.

The golfers, the tavern, the black bull, the galatea and the “Gluepot” –the Argyll Arms–

which displayed assegais, shields and sabers from the Zulu War on its walls.

See Scottish pubs, see culture… unbeatable.



fruity language

I MUCH prefer Mr. Bruce’s no-nonsense style of reviewing restaurants and taverns to the one favored by the New Yorker magazine.

Here’s one from last week: “But nothing beats ‘frozen yogurt’: half a grapefruit hollowed out and filled with absurdly sour ice cream, tossed with grapefruit and Campari marmalade and green olive oil, accompanied by a small tureen of jam extra.

The writer describes this bacchanal as “a marvel of luxury and restraint”.

I would like to see one of your dishes that has not been restricted.

paradise not lost

I am chided by a friend who calls to challenge my somewhat impious description last week of the proposed new museum of Catholicism in Glasgow’s Calton district.

I referred to this as The Tim Capsule, which he felt only encouraged depressing cultural tropes.

He is a fan of Florence’s majestic Uffizi Gallery, which he has used to inspire his own nickname for the new ecclesiastical museum: The Foritza Gallery.

This would be an elegant and subtle nod to the Celtic song that plays in nearby Parkhead every other week.

But with European and neoclassical nuances worthy of any Scottish cultural effort.

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