First Person - with Paul McCabe

Paul McCabe
Paul McCabe
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I ACCIDENTALLY watched a Party Political Broadcast the other night there.

I stress accidentally because literally no-one in their right mind would ever actually choose to watch one, would they?

I say watched, but in reality I was only dimly aware of its presence as it bumbled on and on in the corner of the room, boring all and sundry with its tedious bilge.

It was on behalf of the Labour Party and was presented in the main not by an MSP, but by a young, pretty, smiley, Labour-supporting female. Gazillions of pounds and hours would have been spent on this broadcast and some PR head honcho after a multitude of meetings and focus group surveys would have come to the staggering conclusion that pretty-smiley-girly should be the face of the Labour Party on TV because she’s a bit easier on the eye than the party leader. But fear not, Wee Johann Krankie did make an appearance right at the end, reading painfully and miserably from the autocue with all the charm and charisma of a compost bin.


A sure fire vote winner, no question. From the bits that I absent-mindedly and unintentionally absorbed, it was the same old waffle that you’d get from any of the parties - the Scottish National Party, because they’re the party in power, being blamed for cancer, AIDS, the Highland clearances, Wembley ‘75, the horsemeat scandal and Jedward and should you vote for Labour then everything will be all right, honest.

But there was a brief moment though where I perked up, slightly surprising myself. Pretty-smiley-girly confidently exclaimed in her nicest, slightly nasal, posho Morningside accent, “I think that Scotland is the best country in the world”.

“WELL YOU’D BE WRONG!” I heard my brain shout, “BECAUSE IT ISN’T! IT’S FREEZING!”

Hardly a Wildean riposte granted, but one that pretty much sums it up for me.

Our history, culture and overall notable achievements don’t count for anything in my book. Because it’s freezing. I’m well into my fifth decade in this grey, drizzly, miserable, cold climate and still I’m not used to it.

Most mornings I open the curtains and scowl. I detest the rain, snow makes my heart sink, but it’s my arch-nemesis the wind that I keep most of my fury for. What’s the point of it precisely? And why do we all bother living here by choice?

As you might gather, I’m not much of a patriot. I just happen to be Scottish and it’s not something I’m particularly proud of and see no real reason why I should be.

At least that’s what I think most of the time, but sometimes a latent haggis-basher comes to the fore in the most unexpected of situations.


In a previous job of mine our entire office went on a team-building overnight to New Lanark, one of those painfully forced experiences where you’re supposed to bond over team games but ultimately it never really changes anything that much and upon returning to work everyone just bashes away at their keyboards all day in silence as usual.

It was on this trip that I found myself alone in my hotel room near midnight leaping up and down on my bed in unfettered tartan-cloaked joy as the TV showed the Scottish woman’s curling team winning gold at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Now, I don’t particularly like curling, I didn’t even know there was a women’s team until that night, but as commentator Hazel Irvine’s voice cracked with emotion a clootie dumpling-sized lump grew in my throat and with the skirl of the bagpipes blasting in my head I ordered whisky, shortbread and oatcakes from reception and insisted they be delivered by a ginger.

Wha’s like us? Sláinte.