By Sheona Small
There are days when I can be going about my business and everything is pretty tickety-boo.
And then out of the blue, to darken my day, a press release slides into my inbox to goad me to the brink and sometimes even tip me over the edge into a ranting outburst.
This week it was glad tidings about a new version of Monopoly, a special Scotland edition no less.
My heckles started to prickle to attention when the missive - from a Leeds-based PR company - enthusiastically told me it was a celebration of all things Scottish in this “the nation’s most momentous year ever.” Phew, I thought, thanks for that reminder, up here we’d forgotten all about anything important happening recently.
“Fife ‘passes Go’” it heralded - oh how I chuckled at that wordplay mastery - before discovering the tenuous angle being dangled in the hope of a plug was that St Andrews was mentioned on a Chance card.
If I was to ask you to come up with half a dozen hackneyed old clichés about Scotland, I’d guarantee, like hitting a straight run with the top answers in a tartan-clad Celtic Family Fortunes, you’d be doing a highland fling at finding them all here. Nessie? Check. Haggis? Check, check. “Robbie” Burns? Check, check, check.
I should have stopped there but it was like having an itchy two-day-old scab on a skint knee, I just couldn’t help myself.
I could be wrong but I suspect the ‘brains’ behind this didn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of the nation when they brainstormed what and who should be included. Not when they point out their “own goal” of including an English-born famous person in its set of “celebrity Scots”.
And who is this non-Scot awarded honorary Scottish status-hood for the purposes of a game about the very Scottishness of Scotland?
Well, we should all just thank the roll of the dice that let author JK Rowling pick a Chance card and end up in our fair capital city when she was down on her luck.
But in our “most momentous year ever”, was including someone who very publicly donated £1 million to the No campaign such a good idea? If you’re a 45er, you’re not going to go near a game that holds the Harry Potter creator up as an example of a worthy Scot.
But then I found out who is sidling up, games-wise, as JK’s companion is in this ‘celebrity set’.
Now, here I would put a hefty wager on that, again given a what-do-you-think-100-people-asked-woud-say scenario, you would be unlikely to pick this person’s name from the small pool of noteworthy ‘celebrities’ doing the rounds up here in Och-Aye-the-Noo-land. Can you bear the suspense? It’s… Alex Salmond. Yes, him, our former First Minister, or the Lord of Darkness if you are in any other political camp.
I wondered if the game devisers thought it was a clever ruse, a bit of a wheeze and each would cancel out any potential ill-will.
But then they hasten to add that there is no change in the currency. Not for us any need for new Smackeroonies, it turns out we also have a right to Monopoly money just like the rest of the UK.
This version of Scotland has no place in Scotland itself. It’s for people with tartan-tinted glasses who think “The Highlands” is a mountain range and can’t even come up with an equivalent to the upmarket Park Lane and Mayfair of the original game. It gives us Balmoral, the summer holiday home of the Royals. Really? And it puts haggis and whisky in place of the downmarket Old Kent and Whitechapel Roads. That’s the best it thinks we have to offer.
Monopoly is the ultimate game of greed and self-interest so while it might make me angry to be patronised, maybe I shouldn’t really be surprised it’s being used to make money out of a Brigadoon shortbread-tin version of my country. The makers should roll the dice themselves and Go Straight to Jail.