Kick Up the Tabloids


I’m writing this from the other side of the World, as I am currently in Australia, performing at The Adelaide Fringe.It took over 24 hours to fly out here, which was tiring enough even before I watched The Iron Lady on the in-flight movie player.How Meryl Steep managed to win an Oscar for such a wildly inaccurate performance is beyond me. There has been much controversy about her portrayal of Thatcher as senile and mentally-unstable. That did not bother me. What I found offensive was her portrayal of middle-age Thatcher as some kind of human being with a sense of compassion.

It’s mid-summer here and temperatures have been as high as 39 degrees.Apart from that, it feels eerily like home. Like Edinburgh, Adelaide has a large international Fringe Festival every year which draws tourists and artistes into the city from all over the Globe. Like Edinburgh, Adelaide has a zoo which has recently acquired two pandas from China, and is hyping the fact to the maximum degree. However, the similarities end there.Unlike Edinburgh,Adelaide is full of healthy, cheerful people who don’t need to wear jumpers and duffle-coats in summer.And unlike Edinburgh, Adelaide has a fully-working tram network.

Australians do, however, have a very similar attitude to the Scots on a number of issues.The Royal Family, for example. There is a similar lack of enthusiasm here for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Just before I left home, Tory Education Minister Michael Gove had incensed public opinion by suggesting that the taxpayer should buy a new Royal Yacht for Her Majesty.This seems incredibly insensitive, particularly during a recession.All the same, one could be bought on the cheap.I reckon they could buy a second-hand one in Italy for a knock-down price.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering who this mythical character “The Taxpayer” is, he’s a man called Harry Redknapp.

Australians in general appear very interested and very supportive of the idea of Scottish Independence. I have been asked a number of questions about the referendum, some of which I have been able to answer. As, of course, there are many questions about the referendum which remain unanswered.

One of the most frequently asked questions is who will get to vote.For example, will the franchise be extended to Scottish people living outside Scotland? I guess it all depends on how you define “Scottish”. It is thought the following criteria will apply:

  • People living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but born in Scotland.
  • People living and born elsewhere in the UK, one or both of whose parents were born in Scotland.
  • People living and born in England who have had one or more heart attacks before the age of 45.
  • People living anywhere who are alcoholic bigots.

The Scottish Government want to lower the voting age to include 16- and 17-year-olds. To me this seems perfectly valid.At the moment, we have a ridiculous legally anomaly whereby a 17-year-old can have a sexual relationship with an MP but not be entitled to vote for him.Furthermore, it strikes me that it is only seems only fair that people in Scotland should vote younger. Because people in Scotland die younger.

A Scottish male with a life expectancy of 71 can vote for up to five per cent less of his lifetime than a woman born in England.However, life expectancy for men in certain parts of Glasgow such as Shettleston is as low as 57, so the local voting age may have to be lowered to 8 and three-quarters.While in certain parts of Paisley and Greenock, life expectancy is so low that pregnant women may to be given two votes.

Many people are also getting themselves particularly agitated for no obvious reason about what will happen to the Union Flag were Scotland to become independent. If the blue is to be removed, what flag will represent the rump GB ? Also, if the Union Jack is to disappear, what flag are Rangers fans going to fly at Old Firm games? This last question may, of course, be a moot one, given the financial plight of the Ibrox club. Out here in Australia, I have met a number of ex-pat fans of both Rangers and Celtic, which goes to prove the global reach of both clubs. Indeed, a group of Rangers supporters in Australia are planning to organise an international fund-raising telethon to help save their club. They are planning to call it either Orange Aid or Blue Nose Day.