Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Voluntary Holiday On St Andrew's Day Is A Triumph For The Politics Of The Daft Patriotic Gesture

As a Senior Citizen, I take a dim view of public holidays. In general, I side with the late Mr Mick McGahey, who I once observed at close quarters in Larry's barbershop, in the basement of 10 Montgomery Street, Leith. The gruff miners' leader - though it should be noted that Mr McGahey led all Scottish miners, and not just the gruff ones - was having a pensioners' short-back-and-sides at the hands of Mr Larry's son, Mr Paul. Mr Paul's hairdressing skills were impaired by his partial deafness, which inhibited his ability to chat; a slight handicap in a barber, but a bearable one, as long as one does not greet every misheard reply with a sudden ejaculation of "Eh!" - as Mr Paul often did.
However, aware as he was of his father's ability to converse on such disparate topics as the weather, the phrasing of Mr Frank Sinatra, and the surprising banality of naked ladies on the beach of Benalmadena, Mr Paul was not deterred, and on this occasion he asked Mr McGahey the usually routine question: "Have you any holidays planned?" Without looking up from his knitting, Mr McGahey let out a terrible grunt, and coughed out the following words: "I'm done wi' all that." His point, as I surmised it, was that we pensioners are always on holiday, even if we do not always denote this by wearing a Kiss-Me-Quick hat.
All of which brings me to the Scottish parliament's decision to implement a voluntary public holiday on St Andrew's day. This, according to Mr Dennis Canavan, whose briliant idea it was, will allow us to celebrate our national identity, albeit in a way that does not alienate the minority populations of Pakistan and the like, who will presumably be required to do their national duty and keep their shops open late so that everyone else can buy crates of fortified wine.
A voluntary holiday is, I think, a very Scottish solution. The only thing more Scottish would be a national day of half-day closing in which the cafes and tearooms refused to serve lunch because "the kitchen closed five minutes ago".
Incidentally, on watching Reporting Scotland, I couldn't help noticing two things. Firstly, the Senior Retainer, Mr McConnell, has developed a new style of public address, with a poetic metre somewhere between that of the Prime Minister and a speak-your-weight machine. He talks as. If he is. Receiving Messages From. The Littlegreenmen In His. Invisible Earpiece.
It is very disturbing.
Secondly, the report on the St Andrew's Day holiday was delivered by a Mr John Knox. A small comfort.


Anonymous said...


Montgomery St is most definately NOT in Leith. The Boundary Bar, or whatever its new fangled name is, is at least 600 yards to the North-East of the barbershop.

An unamused resident

Montgomery Street, Edinburgh

Kirk Elder said...

Mr Anonymous, I do apologise. I tend to measure the beginning of Leith from the geographical point at which one feels the urge to run, not walk, through the streets. This is roughly two feet to the right of Valvona & Crolla's, where the air is thick with fear and the scent of cheap pastry (Gregg's the baker). However, I accept your clarification.

Ed said...

Larry's! Happy days indeed, although I only started going there when Sandy from down in Broughton St was in the evening of his clipping days and moved up there to while away a few hours.
And an excellent sentiment on this nonsense that is a St Andrews day. It'll be like that ghastly abomination that is 'St Paddy's' day beloved by the oirish diaspora and oafish students everywhere. Oh the joy of it.

Kirk Elder said...

Mr Sandy of Broughton St was an excellent barber, a master of the "flat top". He also had a sympathetic line in smalltalk, greeting his (mostly unemployed) customers with a cheery: "Are ye idle?"