Kailyaird kitsch on acid

It’s the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, whoop de bloody doo. Many of the residents here in the East End of Glasgow have been left feeling like someone’s holding a party and a lavish banquet in our living room, only we’ve been confined to the spare bedroom with the dug for the duration of the proceedings with a packet of crisps and an auld telly whose channel is stuck on Dougie Donnelly. Naw, ye cannae get oot intae the lobby, away pish in a bucket. The neighbours have organised a “we’re trapped” party.

My hoose is going to be cut off because of the Games. The main road will be blocked off so that there can be a cycle race, even though the main road provides the only access for our wee area to the rest of the world. The cooncil haven’t seen fit to inform everyone officially – some neighbours got a letter, but there was none at this house or several others locally – despite the fact that this area is home to many elderly people who depend upon visits from care assistants. Just how are the care assistants expected to get in and out? What happens if a doctor needs to be called? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m just relieved that my other half, who suffers from vascular dementia, is currently in hospital, otherwise I’d be worried sick. Seemingly the care needs of Glasgow’s elderly and vulnerable people is not as important as a few people running and jumping about a bit. But never mind, Gordon Matheson can get to be on the telly and that makes it all worthwhile.

Being a sportophobe, who would attend therapy sessions to get over my irrational revulsion for all things involving semmits and running shorts only I can’t get oot the hoose for folk in semmits and running shorts, my natural instinct is always to regard sporting events with a bemused condescension. Sport is as relevant as tiddly winks, and less productive than macramé, yet millions of people invest it with an immense significance. Sport is just video games for people who don’t know how to switch on an Xbox. It’s a pastime, an amusement, a means of passing the time. So is sex, and sex is much more fun. Achieves the same thing too – you jiggle things about a bit, get hot and sweaty and lose calories, only with sex if you do it properly you get an orgasm out of it too. I know what sort of pole vaulting I prefer.

But I am unable to regard the Commonwealth Games with the usual detached bemusement, since I can’t get out of my fecking house to be detachedly bemused anywhere. Not even at therapy sessions for sportophobes. Instead I need to content myself with being detachedly bemused at whatever clown thought dressing up weans as Tunnocks teacakes was a good idea for the opening ceremony. Possibly the set designer for BBC2’s Scotland 2014. Maybe it was an artistic comment on the childhood obesity crisis from the same folk that thought blowing up the Red Road flats was a statement about urban renewal.

There are all sorts of pastimes, but only a minority get the glory and the TV airtime. I play with model trains and trams, but I don’t expect the bloody main road to be closed off just so someone can demonstrate their new scale model layout of Brechin train station circa 1950. And it’s even got working buses, which is more than you can say for the main road by my house during the Commonwealth Games. But some pastimes get a lot more attention than others, and those would be the butch male pastimes as opposed to the more female pursuits or geeky male pastimes. It’s patriarchal oppression you know. Is the Judean People’s Liberation Front represented at the Games? Or did those splitters in the Popular Front get the place instead?

Why are there no Commonwealth Games for women and geeks – or that minority group that just about everyone overlooks, geeky women. There’s a gold medal for fencing furfexake, how many fencers have you ever met? I did once know a guy with a samurai sword, but he got arrested for drug dealing and the polis confiscated it. That’s the closest to fencing you’ll get in this part of the world – apart from the neighbour who got creosote all over the back garden. There are no medals for creosoting, and the neighbour wouldn’t win one even if there were. There are no medals for knitting or extreme ironing either.  No really, extreme ironing is a thing.  If extreme ironing was a Commonwealth sport I might not moan about the Games being on … Well, OK, that’s a lie, I probably would. I reckon I could win gold medals for Scotland for camp bitchery, gay humour, and working up a full steam of righteous indignation. And also probably for telling gay jokes about car parks, but that might not go down too well with Gordon Matheson. Unlike his pal in the car park.

During the Winter Olympics at Sochi, there were calls for an international boycot of the games because of the appallingly homophobic laws and practices of the Russian state. Yet these Commonwealth Games will welcome nations which make Moscow seem like an Amsterdam leather bar in terms of its acceptance of LGBT people. In Scotland, the openly gay man writing this blog can poke gay fun at the openly gay man who is the leader of Glasgow city cooncil. In many Commonwealth nations both Gordon and I would be in jail. In no less than 42 of the 71 countries and territories which will participate in the Commonwealth Games, it is illegal to be gay. In Uganda it is an offence punishable by up to three years in prison for any person who discovers that someone else is gay and doesn’t report it to the police within 24 hours. All of you reading this blog would face up to three years in a Ugandan prison for not dobbing me into the polis within 24 hours of reading this. And I don’t sell drugs or possess a samurai sword.

Mind you, John Barrowman should definitely be in the jail, but that’s got nothing to do with him being gay and everything to do with crimes against fashion and good taste. That suit he was wearing during the opening ceremony should have come with a warning for epilepsy sufferers.

I’ll stop with the gay politics, because we’re not supposed to be using the Games to make political points. Nor apparently, points about good taste or artistic expression, and definitely not independence related points. The RAF doing a flyover trailing red white and blue smoke over Celtic park can’t possibly be read as a symbol of ownership or anything. Anyway, it’s only evil nationalists who could dream of politicising the Commonwealth Games, but despite the angst in the UK media, no one booed the English team, which was possibly a first in the history of Celtic Park.

The opening ceremony is still going on, but I’m going to end my review here – before I go blind with the bland multihued Rod Stewartness of it all. It’s like Brigadoon on acid, kailyard kitsch on smack, thus handily combining the two cultural stereotypes for which Scotland is best known – at least in the UK media. And this in a city which has world class designers, they must all have been away for the Fair.

As opening ceremonies go, it was pretty naff. It didn’t get the billions thrown at the London Olympics and we got an exercise in colourful cringe for ProudScots ™. But what did you expect? It’s a ceremony that’s trying to achieve two contradictory aims – on the one hand its obstensible purpose is to celebrate the city of Glasgow and the country of Scotland, but on the other the City Faithers don’t want to celebrate too much in case we get ideas above our station. So the independence debate is carefully danced around by brightly clothed volunteers wielding dinner chairs – nope, no idea what that was about either. The Games are the Basil Fawlty Don’t Mention the Indy Debate sketch in the middle of the referendum show. What they give us is the best of both Unionist worlds, John Barrowman in a lurid suit, and Susan Boyle crooning. It’s the best we can aspire to – under the Union at any rate. A wee pat on the heid from the big boys for trying, but you’re still a bit rubbish. Some people are more comfortable when no one notices them, that’s Scotland’s place in the Union.

Just about every symbol that represents Scottishness or Britishness can be seen as political during the referendum debate. But we’re not supposed to be mentioning the politics of the Games in case some Scottish person running away really quickly and getting a medal for it makes the rest of us realise that we can run away from Westminster and win a major prize too. Better than a gold painted medal anyway.

Running away from Westminster is one sport even this sportophobe will enthusiastically participate in. I’m looking forward to the event on 18th September.

Scotland’s going to win its self determination – that’s worth more than gold.


Update 11.45pm Wed 23 : Just took the dug oot in time for the fireworks to go off at Celtic Park.  Lots of loud bangs and a very nervous dug.  Which makes me wonder – whit eejit though it was a good idea to take 71 Scottie dugs to a fireworks display?


32 comments on “Kailyaird kitsch on acid

  1. Bamstick says:

    Thank you! Best laugh for a while.
    My hoose is boycotting the opening ceremony. We watched for about 1 minute until that Scottish man with the bike (Chris somebody) was asked a question for his view as a “real Scotsman”.
    That’s it, out we go.

    So we went for a wee drive instead. Streets are empty, they must all be in watching the opening ceremony. We walked over one bridge, up and down another and then drove home and it’s still on.
    I won’t watch it but he’s telling me they have wee Scottish dogs on and Rod Stewart who I can’t stand so I’m glad we went out for a wee run.

    Just off to watch my box set of Dallas. That’s all the tellies good for these days, watching DVD’s.
    On the positive YES side he’s out the morn delivering HUGE YES signs and later, on at night, collecting the latest newspaper things ready to take them round the hooses.
    How will you celebrate on the 19th?

  2. Reluctantly watched it, feeling compelled to do so as it was in Scotland. But it showed a Scotland many of us have left behind – a Scotland of kitsch and cringe, parochial too. I didn’t understand all the references, and I was born in the city (long time ago, but still). So how others in all those wee independent countries of 1300 and so folk (and they say Scotland is too wee!) would understand, heaven knows.

    It reminded me of one of the many school plays I attended when the kids were young. And you gave a wee smile at the antics, glad your kids hadn’t made any greater fools of themselves than the others. But this ‘spectacle’ couldn’t be looked on in the same way. This wasn’t a wee kids school, this was what was once a great city in our country desperately trying to hold onto the whitewashed past instead of boldly portraying the modern go-ahead, wealthy nation that we are.

    Very sad. And as someone noted in a tweet, any Scot allowed on screen had to have a minder.

    • macart763 says:

      It left me with the same impression. Of all the great young talent on offer John Barrowman and Susan Boyle? Every touristy reference except the old fresh air in a can, it left me quite bemused and good grief, dancing Tunnock’s? Couple of good highlights including the crowd participation and UNICEF plea as a world first, but other than that the result has to be ‘could do way better’.

      Here’s hoping the closing ceremony and party looks more to the future than the past.

  3. diabloandco says:

    ‘Scuse me but I used to fence and you have met me no matter how briefly , so you know one erstwhile fencer!.

    Sorry to hear that you and your neighbours are trapped and unenthused by running ,jumping and chucking things. Not to mention Mr Barrowman and the OAP Rod Stewart – I know Scotland has wondrous ,young musical talent and for the life of me I cannot understand the choices of Barrowman ,Boyle and Stewart.

    Andy has been in hospital a while now , is he improving ?

  4. Ye’re on fire tonight, Paul! I’m pishing mysel here! I’m not sure I’ve got the heart to tell you I’m a keen (but totally shite) cyclist or that I like running in the mud between the trees in these parts. Keeps the Wee Black Dug at bay in the winter, ye see!🙂

  5. JGedd says:

    Managed to miss every Olympic Games over several decades and Commonwealth games too, so am continuing as always, ignoring it all totally. Same with all sporting competitions for that matter and I don’t think that I have ever missed anything important.

    As Paul says, sporting events are simply pastimes, fine for those who enjoy taking part but boring as hell to watch. I always have the sneaking feeling when hearing sporting prowess lauded as some kind of human excellence that I’m sorely tempted to say, ” But how would he fare swimming in that pool with sharks?” Or ” Let’s see how well those sprinters could outrun a pride of lionesses.”

    There is a French film called Micmacs which has a scene involving a football match in which the pitch is actually a minefield. The trick is not just to score a goal but to avoid being blown up. Regrettably someone is. Brings a whole new element into spectator sport. Just saying….

  6. mary vasey says:

    Oh gawd WGD haven’t laughed so much for ages so taken me forever to read it. Thank you.
    Sorry for all folks who will be more or less housebound till the games are over, I ken fine fit at’ s like. Cheers to you both.

  7. macart763 says:

    If thone Welsh commentator mentioned referendum votes (failed and successful) or small independent states one more time I think a boot may have been aimed at the telly and I can’t afford to replace it. Hazel did well to ignore most of the references, but it was almost as though the fella was inviting Hazel to comment. Or maybe that was just me?

  8. bjsalba says:

    I have no TV. A book I reserved arrived at the library. Canvassing daytime and reading evenings. I’m all set.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Good for you, I am currently re reading the Outlander Series of books by Diana Gabaldon, each book is around 15 hours worth of reading and shall see me through this.

  9. Rosemary Champion says:

    At least Paul McCartney wasn’t there – he did live in Scotland briefly and penned the dirge “Mull of Kintyre”. One of the worst songs ever written surely.

  10. Maggie Craig says:

    My goodness sir, you’re on top form this morning! And absolutely, let’s hear for it for geeky girls! Abby on NCIS is my current heroine.

  11. dennis mclaughlin says:

    Bitch factor 12 and a really good laugh….we’re on course for a real Rammy on the 19th….can ah come tae your pairty mister ?.

  12. Nana says:

    Gawd this is soooo funny. I hereby award the gold medal for hilarious writing to you.

    I didn’t watch one minute of the ceremony, I know it would not do my blood pressure any good.

  13. CapnAndy. says:

    I’m offshore and missed it, however was mailing the other half who gave up during the pre show waffle. I’m sorry to hear the whole thing dissolved into tartan kitchsh. However, what a great rant, you’re on form today.

  14. diabloandco says:

    Switched on this morning to discover that the BBBC team has hijacked the games and will be the commentators for the watching world.
    Have switched off again.
    No harm to Jonathon Edwards and co but are there no Scottish commentators?
    ( I have a guilty passion for track and field!)

  15. John Duncanson says:

    I’m sorry, but who is John Barrowman?

    • hektorsmum says:

      Bet you do not watch TV, and good on you, some naebody who went off to the US and became a ham actor, he is currently behaving as a straight but rotten billionaire in a programme called Arrow/

  16. hiorta says:

    Great and enjoyable hilarious article. thank you sir.
    This cheap circus made me feel nostalgic for ‘Brigadoon’ which achieved unplumbed notoriety in its day.
    Commonwealth? Common ‘wealth’? Where?
    Foodbank Frolics is merr like it than this patronising array of litter.

    Ah well, could we expect anything better? Scots have to be taught their place is a couple of notches beneath the Grand Deluded.
    Roll on the referendum, so we really can ‘end ’em’.

  17. hektorsmum says:

    Cannae stand sport either and can think of many things I would rather do like watching paint dry than bother with the Commonwealth Games. seeing we had to foot the bill for the Edinburgh 80’s games. Always thought it was there and only there to see if they could counter the Referendum but I hear they slapped a Union Flag onto oor’s so that will work wonders for them.
    Sorry for Ginger, hate fireworks cause my wee Lassie who was another rescue hated them. The Pugs never bothered and the current title holder thinks they are asking for a fight.

  18. YESGUY says:

    Paul so sorry to go o/t

    A few friends decided to get together and record “Caledonia” to raise money for the food banks.

    The song will be up for sale on Itunes and amazon over the next few day but the video is online and can be seen at

    or at http://www.Caledonia2014.com

    Please have a wee look and listen . ALL the money raised goes to local food banks.

    Many thanks Paul and the readers of WGD.

    • Just watched and listened. Beautiful and poignant. I’ll be downloading.

    • YESGUY says:

      I think i have a troll following me changing the video of The Libations version of “Caledonia ” . I wanted WGD readers to hear and see a great bunch of lads who recorded the song with all the money raised going to local food banks.

      Sorry its O/T but it is important and a worthy cause. The song is brilliant and the singers my bestest buddy

      Song will be available on 27th July hope you enjoy it and buy , We can all do a wee bit for the poor and hungry in this country.

      or visit the website for a wee look at how they did the Biz.


      Thanks for the freedom to plug the song Paul.

      Thanks to all at WGD for listening/ watching.

  19. dcanmore says:

    Here in London it was the same feeling during the olympics. BBC et al desperately wanted to show how inclusive the games were but the reality was one of detachment for most people. You couldn’t even just walk around the vast olympic park at the time without a bloody ticket and mass commercialism shoved down yer throat. So I gave up pretty quickly and ran away on holiday for two weeks and watched the olympics on the telly, which felt more inclusive than being in the actual ‘olympic city’ itself. So I know how you feel.

    As for the Commonweal Games (as it should be known in Scotland), didn’t watch the opening hour or so, I can’t stomach Barrowman. I find him creepy and fake and knew with his involvement it will be some crappy plastic song and dance number on a low budget, so I avoided until the countries marched in, quite enjoyed it from there till the end, only niggle at this point was endless commentary from BBC newsreader as if he was on the radio or something. Funny to see the budget get blown on the biggest widescreen telly ever!

  20. handclapping says:

    How do you know it was 71 dugs and not 10 dugs going round 7 times?

  21. Cag-does-thinking says:

    I did think that the dug leaders only seemed to number about six but maybe that’s just me. I sometimes wonder about this “we’re Scots so we can laugh at ourselves”. It’s an admirable trait but you know it looked more like somebody ripping the pish out of us and that doesn’t go down quite so well. The leader of the council delivering the Nuremberg address seemed a bit worrying too. I thought it looked as I suspected it would, the Labour vision of Scotland, cliched and buried in the past. Teacakes of the union. You could almost hear Terry Wogan giving the Eurovision commentary on it and I half expected Moira Anderson to come on and sing My Heart’s in the Highlands but luckily they’ve lost her number.

    The West End is full of london luvvies and slightly confused Commonwealth athletes who took a wrong turning looking for the M74. Obviously those BBC expenses accounts are generous enough to make it boom time in Byres Road. It makes me yearn for 18th September when we can choose our own way of doing things and laugh at ourselves for the right reasons.

  22. Capella says:

    I think everybody’s being a bit harsh. I watched it on iPlayer today (not the first hour) and agree John Barrowman was naff and I’d never heard of him before either. Karen Dunbar was certainly “gallus” but isn’t that typical Glasgow. But it got better as it went along with some real highlights. Billy Connolly talking about Nelson Mandela’s freedom of Glasgow, followed by a rendition of the Freedom Come Aw Ye; Nicola Benedetti playing By Yon Bonnie Banks and the crowd joined in singing. And what’s wrong with tartan and kilts and bagpipes? I thought they managed to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I’m told that the second half was a lot better than the first. I didn’t watch the second half, having switched off due to excessive nausea after watching John Barrowman.

      • Capella says:

        Understood. But the parade of the athletes was good, led out by Scottie dogs to very upbeat music. The Giant screen was very effective. At 2hrs 45 min in the Scottish team comes out, big Saltires all round, and the show improves immensely (apart from Gordon Matheson who was unaware he had a microphone and didn’t need to shout). The Gaelic song (Julie Fowlis) is not to be missed.

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