With a group of friends many years ago I was once caught in a blizzard that resulted in us (fortunately) having to take shelter and sustenance by the warm fireside of a quaint loch-side pub. Brushing off the accumulated snow we stumbled through the welcoming front doors of the hostelry to find ourselves bizarrely in a lounge full of colourful tartan, accordions, the odd bagpiper or two, strong lighting and camera crews. It became apparent very quickly that one of the broadcasters of last resort which currently service the people of Scotland were recording a Hogmanay Bells special (at least six weeks before Hogmanay).
Feeling a wee bit like we were caught up in an episode of the Twilight Zone entitled “The Brig A Doon Experiment” we settled in for a quiet pint and some grub in the corner observing the events as they unfolded. There then ensued several short sessions of recording, where the production crew would herd the rent-an-audience of around forty people around to the positions where they wanted them to sit, stand, dance, clap etc, wheel in the hosts and a singer/ musician to do their bit, film it, and move on to the next scene.
I marvelled at the way the audience and the hosts could repeatedly, and immediately, flick from bored expressions and quiet conversations to sudden big jolly smiles and much whooping and dancing in the blink of an eye once the cameras were switched on. I guess it was all part of the act, a means to project to the viewing public that what they were looking at was something real, something to be enthusiastic about, something wholesomely Scottish, something comfortable, when really perhaps it wasn’t any of that.
On that subject maybe we should just give up on getting our own news service eh? This Scottish Six experiment, according to the unionist pundits, sounds too much like hard work. Nothing really happens in Scotland anyway, isn’t that right? Maybe we should accept that we Scots are just stereotypes and cameos only ever on the edge of the big stories. We’re plucky soldiers , the Thin Red Line, razor gangsters, tramps in tube stations, Russ Abbott sketches, prison hard-men in comedy shows who are considered somehow funny because we are black and have a Scottish accent. We’re Begbie, We’re Gary, Tank Commander. We’re tight with our money, even though we’re always the first one, and usually the last one, to buy a round of drinks. We’re Supergran. We are wee wummin selling floor cleaner. We are domestically abused. We’re always, always drunk. We’re subsidised. We’re supplicants. We talk funny.
Why would we deserve to have our own news broadcasting services? We’re insignificant. Better we continue to have our hopes, ambitions and aspirations ignored and belittled. Let’s keep watching news broadcasts where camera shots take in very small bands of paid “supporters’ surrounding useless self-serving politicians telling us how great they are, how bad the people are who are trying to encourage us to believe in radical change to improve our children’s futures, and how we are much better off letting someone else tell us what to do whilst ripping us off. After all they are so much cleverer than us, and it has worked that way for at least three hundred years, so it must be right. Anyway, we’re just a passing cult.
No, we don’t need our own news service. Eat your cereal.