I’m intrigued that Michael Russell has written a blog. Nay, I’m more than intrigued.
I’m concerned, delighted, flabbergasted, discombobulated and downright, rootin’ tootin’ fascinated.
What can the Education Secretary be thinking of? He had a personal blog before.
I know. I used to read it. Yes: hello, I’m sad.
But he had to pack it in when he joined the Government, because of all the odd and unpleasant comments these things tend to attract. Now, he has written a Government blog, as it were. I hope I have my terminology right. Generally speaking, when considering “columns” as such, one ought to differentiate between creating a piece of writing and just typing up one’s thoughts. The latter activity is blogging.
And Michael, as he keeps telling us, is “a writer”. You wouldn’t have to rummage long in his drawers before you came across a cravat. I imagine he has several. Picture the scene in the morning: “Darling, pass me my breakfast cravat. For I would eat some Honey Nut Loops.” One fancies that, when Michael meets people at soirees (he strikes me as that kind of guy, I’m soiree to say), he says: “Yes, I’m a writer, don’t you know? However, I have to keep this day-job as Education Secretary to make ends meet. So tiresome.” He’s certainly one of Parliament’s more erudite members. It’s difficult to imagine him having an enjoyable conversation with some of Labour’s backbenchers, whose main contribution might be: “Eh?” He’d have to keep consulting his pocket thesaurus to find words with fewer syllables. Labour member: “Thesaurus? Wiz there one o’ thame in Jurassic Park?” I rather fancy he thinks he’s Disreali. Diz he really? He diz, readers, he diz. To wit, he’s a politician who also writes. Of course, there have been a few of these. There was that Churchill, to name but one. I seem to remember Michael was also fond of a cigar.
However, he’s rarely drunk by lunchtime.
More’s the pity, in my view.
Michael’s blog appears on the Scottish Government website, eatmorefruit.com.
It concerns his recent trip to Sweden and Finland to see if we can learn from, and possibly emulate, the mess they’ve made of their education systems.
His several entries generally received between 0 and 1 comments, which is quite a high score as these things go. I remember, once, a trendy Fleet Street editor writing a piece about the excellence and desirablity of all this interactivity with newspapers. The result, readers? All together now: “0 comments.” Michael starts off low-key, writing about how hectic it all is, what with having to attend dinner with some Swedes and everything.
See? One paragraph in, and he’s already got a soiree under his belt.
I’m just skimming over the rest of it now.
Blah-de-blah schools. Yada-yada teachers.
Oh God, it’s all about education. Boring! No, hang on, there’s more about dinner. It was in a “lovely” restaurant, he tells us. Oh dear, now it’s getting lively. Someone has thrown a scone at Michael’s head. The police are called. Michael slams a trifle into the face of a Swedish headteacher. One of the policemen is poked in the eye by a waiter. Back-up is called for. A helicopter hovers overhead.
Anyway, that was day one.
Day two sees Michael not at all clear where he is. The first blog gives the impression that last night’s bunfight was in Sweden. But here he is taking off from Helsinki. It doesn’t matter.
It’s all bloody freezing anyway. In Stockholm, he is taken on a small sightseeing tour, which seems to pass without incident. Then he has to have lunch with a local education convener, who just happens to be an attractive blonde.
He has appended a picture, lest we find the idea of an attractive Swedish blonde unlikely.
Later, on his way to a dinner, Michael drops his iPhone, whose screen shatters. Gosh, what a page-turner, eh?
In Helsinki or Stockholm – I’m completely lost now, and wish he’d appended a map, like in Lord of the Rings – he meets four people from Dundee. Which is pretty typical, when that’s just the sort of thing you’ve come to get away from. After lunch with the Education Secretary of wherever he is, he has to have drinks at the embassy. How tiresome. And which cravat to wear? Will anyone have read his last novel, The Pittenweem Supremacy?
Later, Michael has “an excellent dinner in a restaurant featuring cuisine from Lapland”.
Here, he appears to have eaten an elk. Well, someone has to. And so it carries on. I cannot read any more, as it is making me hungry.
But, let me say, I am in favour of this sort of thing. We ought to know what our ministers eat and so forth. What’s more worrying is that all ministers or MSPs might feel obliged to write from now on. Imagine Labour had been in power and one of its backbenchers-turned-minister had been required to write a blog: “Sweden is very big. We saw a car and a bus and a moon. Some people wore shorts.
Duncan hurt his finger.” In the meantime, I hope Michael writes more blogs. Mind you, I wouldn’t want his writing to eat into his ministerial duties.