Tag Archives: Scotland

Ah, Sassenachs!

My name is Michael Grundy. I wish I didn’t need to share that, but it’s important that it is made clear to everyone before they read the following story. And by ‘story’, I mean the incredible, yet wholly real, absolute clusterfuck of events that it has been my fate to endure.

I spent three or so days around New Year in Scotland, which was a pleasant enough experience even when the wind, rain, and pervading atmosphere of impending doom are factored in. I passed the early evening of New Year’s Eve at an enjoyable dinner party in Edinburgh with a few old university friends, along with some unfamiliar faces. I only mention the fact that it was particularly enjoyable as I’m somewhat prone to bouts of nausea at the dinner table, especially when not already acquainted with my fellow guests. I will typically go silent, begin to sweat uncontrollably and find my stomach twisting itself into reef knots as I struggle to eat, regardless of how hungry I might have been before. I should really, I suppose, see someone about this.

On this occasion, however, there was a rich and convivial atmosphere that allowed for a greater degree of relaxation than is usual on my part in such a situation. We were all resigned to the fact that we were to spend the rest of the evening together, ringing in another fucking year where nothing of note would actually happen and, on that basis, we might as well tuck in, drink up, and enjoy ourselves. All of us are going to die (according to statistics, those living on this northern side of the border considerably earlier), so why not make merry, grab a Buckfast and run the risk of waking up next to an acne-ridden trout of a woman from Musselburgh the next morning?

After dinner, it was agreed that for midnight we would head over to the house party of a friend who had purposefully not been invited to dine with us. This person, hereafter known as Dougal, was, and to the best of my knowledge still is, Scottish. Dougal as a Scotsman falls into a very distinct category: that of what my grandfather would have termed the ‘skiting Scot’. Wherever one travels, whether it is Berlin, Bangkok, Minsk or Mumbai, as an English speaker, especially an English English-speaker, one is bound sooner or later to run into this sort; the kind of Scotsman (and frequently Scotswoman) whose sole purpose in life is to bore others to death with tales of Scotland’s greatness.

I have no doubt it is a magnificent and scenic country, which has given birth to some of history’s finest thinkers, artists and writers. But those of Dougal’s nature wish to berate others ceaselessly with the fact that the television, telephone and teleprinter are all entirely Scottish inventions. Not only does Dougal incessantly bother others with the stories of Bannockburn and the Highland Clearances (affecting, of course, a deep resentment of his southern neighbours), he considers himself a great comedian and practical joker. The joke he was to play on me, while from any rational-minded and level-headed point of view would generate nothing but disdain and annoyance, Dougal undoubtedly considered among his best.

After negotiating our way through the cobbled streets, a struggle compounded by the fact that we were now all of us decidedly half-cut, we made it to Dougal’s flat in the genteel Marchmont district. He was waiting to greet us, a cheery grin pasted across his mottled Celtic countenance, dressed in a smoking jacket and, of course, aggressively kilted.

‘Ah, Sassenachs! Come on in, y’English bastards!’

Dougal’s hospitality knew no bounds, and he merrily introduced us around. Already in attendance were his teenage cousins from Dumfries, a rather moody bunch who had segregated themselves off from the main party, blocking the way to the bathroom. The majority of guests, however, were the host’s high school chums from North Berwick, a charming seaside town frequented by the young Robert Louis Stevenson during his school holidays, and nowadays widely renowned for its golf courses and teenage pregnancy.

Midnight came and went, according to the usual sequence of events: a brief period of euphoria found itself replaced by a feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing as the night became just like any other. It was around one o’clock that I decided the room had swelled to such a degree that it was time to remove my jumper. As I placed it safely on the bed of an unoccupied room, I could not have guessed at what an egregious error this would prove to be; an error that Dougal was to capitalise on.

By 5 a.m. the party was over. Dougal’s cousins had disappeared, the floor was thick with the sleeping bodies of revellers and a thick miasma of stale alcohol had insinuated itself into every possible corner of the place. It was time to leave. As I tottered towards the front door along the carpet that was now indistinguishable from a gravel path, I couldn’t help but get the feeling I was forgetting something. Not to worry, I thought as I hiccoughed my way out. I’m sure it’s nothing.

A week later, I had safely returned to my leafy suburban idyll of London’s zone 6, and received one of those wonderful red cards the postman leaves when he decides, on whatever arseholish whim, not to deliver your mail. On top of the card was the name ‘Schmichael Schmundy’. It had to be Dougal. While I appreciated the gesture, as I had by now realised I’d left my jumper at his place, that base level of humour could only have been him.

To this day, I have still not retrieved my jumper. While perhaps there is a little laziness at play on my part, it is overwhelmingly due to the incompetence and absolute scumbaggery of the post office. Who is called Schmichael Schmundy? You would think that the man behind the counter could have employed a little common sense when he saw that my address was the same as Mr Schmundy’s.

But he has always refused to hand the parcel over. ‘I have to protect the public’, he said. From who? Schmichael Schmundy? That devilish bounder? Dashing around town seducing wealthy dowagers and recklessly affixing his name to other people’s mail so that they too can experience this minor inconvenience on a Saturday morning? Fuck the post office. And fuck Dougal.

Clacton or Clyde

It’s too late to cancel the Scottish independence vote now, we’ll have to let that go ahead. There’s a bi-election on the way as well but I’m not currently focused on whether some skinny Tory tit can beat off a man named Roger in some coastal town filled with people gasping for one last view of the sea before they heave their final decrepit breath.

But people probably think they’re going to get a vote in a general election in whatever’s left of the UK in May next year. Well, people are wrong, because I’ve just cancelled it.

I’m afraid it’s time the people of this country accepted that a healthy majority, in terms of numbers if not health, do not understand how elections work and therefore shouldn’t have the right to elect anything more than the next chairman of John Lewis. And because I despise the upper classes of this country just as much as the imbeciles who vote for whoever Murdoch likes this month, I’m banning the whole process, and declaring myself in charge at the head of a very angry dictatorship.

Scotland are currently trying to work out whether to fuck off by themselves, and whether they should or shouldn’t is not for me to say, though obviously they shouldn’t. Yet kilted prat after kilted prat has been on my TV in the last couple of weeks saying something like this: “They say we won’t be allowed to keep the pound and our economy will go to shit, but to be honest I think they’re just scaremongering, so I’m voting ‘yes’.”

A naked (impressively chested) young lady covered in blood runs shrieking from a cabin in a forest. There’s a reasonable chance that there’s a madman with an axe in there chopping up her boyfriend, but to be honest I think she’s just scaremongering so I think I’ll pop my head round the door anyway.

As patiently as I can manage: just because they’re saying things to frighten you, it doesn’t mean you’re not all going to be left bankrupt within a week, tearing each other’s hair out for food and fucking the neighbour’s guinea pig because ‘a need ma hole’ before you die screaming. Right now in Aberdeen there are people saying ‘we want to rule ourselves we don’t want more Tory governments we want democracy wah wah wah’ ohhhh Christ, fucking get it through your heads that one day, believe it or not, David Cameron will get old and die and not be Prime Minister any more so using him and his evil chums as a reason to vote for independence is like stockpiling sun loungers and burning all your coats in June.

Meanwhile, in a seaside town in Essex or Kent or Suffolk or wherever the fuck they’re all almost dead and therefore love Nigel Farage, there’s a bi-election, and a hag was asked by a reporter if she’d vote UKIP. Oh yes, she said. She was then asked if she’d vote UKIP in the next general election. Oh I don’t know about that, she said.

My darling, you simply do not understand how these things work, and oh I’m sorry that bell means it’s your turn for the crematorium. She brilliantly underlined the mistake most people make in elections: they think their vote is crucial.

It’s painful to have to say this to you, but your one single vote makes fuck all difference to anything. Yes, it’s important to cast it, to have a say, but it’s one vote. One out of many thousands does not a crucial vote make. So might you not just as well vote for who you actually want to be the winner?

Perhaps, just perhaps, you should vote for who you think best represents your views. If everyone did that then, yes, this fucking place might end up with Nick Griffin as Prime Minister but if that’s what it takes to break this lunatic idea that we can only vote for a couple of parties because we assume that’s what everyone else will do, so fucking be it. When will you people fucking realise that they all start on zero?

In 1997, my first general election, I voted for the Tories. The logic behind that was it seemed clear that Labour were going to win by a huge margin, and that didn’t seem healthy for politics (I wanted Labour to win, just not control the world forever more), so I voted for some blue dickhead in a pathetic attempt to balance it up a bit. I’ve hated that logic ever since.

In every election since, I’ve voted for the candidate closest to my own views, regardless of party. In the 2008 mayoral election I voted for an independent candidate named Lindsey German and subsequently got blamed, personally, by a mate in the pub for allowing the idiot Johnson to win because I’d not voted for Ken Livingstone.

No-one thinks any more, nobody weighs up pros and cons – they just expel sound at each other. If Scotland go independent, if a town of old people vote UKIP, it’s fine so long as they’ve thought it through rather than react insanely against other people, or base their vote on what other people might do, or what people they don’t like have said. Sometimes, a big red button with ‘Do Not Press’ on it is a detonator.

It’s your vote, use it to vote for who you want to win, not for who you think can win, because at the start of a vote everyone can win, and your one single vote does not decide a goddamn thing.

But you won’t listen, I know that – so that’s it, no more elections. It’s vote for me by sending me a postal order or don’t vote for anyone from now on. Be it Clacton or Clyde the people of this country are too stupid to be trusted with a vote on anything so I hereby proclaim I am the ruler of you all like you one day knew I would and secretly wanted all along.