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Season of peace and ill-will

Season of peace and ill-will

Imagine for a moment that I had just been named Miss Holyrood 2014. Yes, madam, I know I have a beard. Focus, if you would be so kind, on the moobs and the sensitive personality.

I waddle up to the plinth to be crowned and, after this millinery is bludgeoned onto my bonce, I am asked in the traditional manner to name my dearest wish. “It is,” I reply with becoming bashfulness, “an end to conflict in the world. Oh, and a family-sized bag of Maltesers.”

Readers, we take as the theme of this issue’s sermon, not – you will doubtless be disappointed to learn – Maltesers, but the worthy topic of conflict and the eternal desire that we all, or nearly all, share for it to bugger off.

It seems apposite at this time of year, as families prepare to throttle each other and couples find grounds for divorce, to start a fight here on the subject of conflict. Conflict – and I will brook no argument on this – takes many forms.

For a kick-off, there’s the conflict between rich and poor, which top communist Karl Marx believed was the motor-force of progress, though I am bowdlerising his carefully thought out theory catastrophically. Even so, I cannot think it too controversial to think that, in the great scheme of things, poverty is a cause of much unhappiness and strife.

Christmas throws it into sharp relief, not just with food banks versus bonus-fed bankers, but with the materialism of the age throwing harsh demands on cash-strapped parents to purchase branded gewgaws for their sadly duped sprogs.

Perhaps the first conflict of all was between the original Mum and Dad, Adam and Eve. For, lo, it is written that Adam sayeth unto Eve: “Hoy, apple-face, where have you put my loincloth?” And Eve sayeth unto Adam: “For, yea, it is upon your head whereth you put it for safekeeping, thou stone-age berk.” And, lo, there was a right barney.

I haven’t read my Holy Bibble for yonks and can’t remember when Adam and Eve first started getting fruity. But let us say it was just after the dinosaurs, so about 500 years ago, on the creationist interpretation of evolution.

Now you see gangs of women in big shoulder pads and deadly heels stravaiging aboot the Scottish Parliament as if they owned the place, which indeed they do, and two cheers for that.

Five hundred years it’s taken us to get to grips with the inequality of the sexes, at least in the Scottish Government. Now you see gangs of women in big shoulder pads and deadly heels stravaiging aboot the Scottish Parliament as if they owned the place, which indeed they do, and two cheers for that.

Women are healers of conflict, as Johann Lamont and Jackie Baillie have demonstrated. OK, I jest, but you get my drift. Was it not the Blessed Margaret T who intoned, “where there is strife, let there be harmony”? Well, it was either her or The Beatles.

New First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seems keen on conflict resolution in the Scandinavian manner, so she can expect a good monstering in the press which, like all good literature, thrives on disagreement.

The media will welcome as leader of the opposition Murphy J., a cunning operator usually associated with plotting and discord. Jim is seen by many as a tribal Labour Party man through and through. However, in a revolutionary move, he has spoken irresponsibly of putting country before party and has even reached out to Yes voters, calling for their support. Well, good luck with that.

Party politics, of course, thrives on conflict. The opposing sides in yonder House of Commons are actually divided by sword lengths, even if today they deploy only their rapier wit on each other.

However, there are distinct signs that the peasantry doon there ain’t laughing any more. Their representatives in Englandshire – Russell Brand on the left, Norbert (is it Norbert?) Farage on the right – have even appeared on political quiz shows such as Question Time, making a quest for acceptability on a platform that both found unacceptable.

Subsequently, each criticised such programmes for their formulaic fomenting of an outmoded dialectic with didactic underpinnings vis-à-vis society’s syphilitic cultural hegemony. Sorry, went a bit Russell there myself.

Is a new politics being born? Well, yes and, to continue the note of conflict, no. It’s true that the great unwashed are turning against the established way of doing things. They want excitement and, at the same time, honesty which, to my way of thinking, is asking for a bit much.

But the Brandites and Faragists will never agree so, for all Russell’s dreams of universal harmony and his ardent fiddling with his sutras, the conflict will go on forever, so what can you do?

As for Scotia Minor, we squabble and bicker while promising to bury our differences, if none too deeply. But we’ve had our conflict of yea and nay – can’t get much more fundamental than yon – and we march on, blithely and with sporrans swinging, towards a new tomorrow loosely based on all the old tomorrows. For nothing will ever alter the fact that we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. And Mrs Tamson’s too, of course. 

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