Contains Gin Baublemania, my boss from hell, The Hounds of Gove, driving bans, postmodern panto
A version of this appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail December 6 2016
It’s said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, although the current climate suggests that even a smidge of power in the hands of the wrong candidate is also burns the soul
Just try pleading with a traffic warden. Or try to retrieve a forgotten object just after exiting a uniformed security fiefdom. Or insist to a nightclub doorman that your name really should be on the guest list.
However, it’s the boardroom bosses that leave indelible stains. We haven’t forgotten you, ‘Sir’ Philip Green, for throwing three day £6million superstar-decorated birthday festivities while draining the financial security from 22,000 pensions.
Or Baroness Michelle Mone, who remains a monument to the desperation of David Cameron when casting around for silly, vain acolytes to fill seats in the House of Lords.
The daddy of them all is Donald Trump, currently demonstrating that he’s more frightened by a Saturday night comedy show making fun of him, than he is of going to war with China.
So it was instructive to watch his trusted aide Kellyanne Conway, taking time out from contemplating how best to fill the president-elect’s mouth with quick-drying concrete, to attack a teenager who had the temerity to ask how Conway could work for an accused sexual predator.
CONWAY retorted that women were tired of that argument, a variation on the ‘your point is invalid’ stonewalling schtick that she deploys whenever flaws in her awful, tax-dodging, debt-evading, woman-grabbing boss are raised.
When you work for a bad boss, your job devolves to that of an organic farmer: after your boss wanders through another eccentric decision, it is the Kellyannes who are left holding a big sack of manure, having to choose how best to spread it around.
Most of us, at one time or another, have worked for someone we felt was a bad boss. Maybe they took credit for your work, criticised continuously or rarely spoke to you.
Some brickbats directed at bosses are unfair. The job can be stressful. I certainly don’t grudge a responsible boss the right to a decent paypacket, for the same reason that I don’t want the pilot of my plane to be broke and desperate with nothing to live for.
But a chat with friends has confirmed that there are bad bosses. And worse bosses. Then there’s the teetotal and intensely religious boss who banned an employee from yoga classes because she believed meditative chants ‘might summon demons’.
Another boss used to come back thoroughly refreshed after a long lunch, prompting a panicky rush to hide the office staplers because of her habit of standing on desks, throwing whatever office equipment she could scoop up, because her staff were ‘boring’.
My own favourite was the boss who took us all out to a bowling alley for a hideously stiff teambuilding evening, and was overheard asking the office PA to bring us ‘two bottles of the cheapest wine they have’. Impressive frugality, given how cheap the best wine must be in a bowling alley.
Now my boss is the worst ever: someone who takes on more work than I can manage, forgets to submit invoices on time and nips off for coffee with friends whenever possible.
But that is the price you pay for being self-employed.
Pickerings, an Edinburgh company produced this year’s Christmas must-have: a £30 set of glass baubles for the Christmas tree, each filled with a double measure of gin. Don’t go looking for them this year — they sold out in 83 seconds. So I’m making my own using colourful twine and a case of Hendricks. They might last us all the way through to Christmas breakfast.
NOWADAYS, motorists barely have time for the business of driving cars because there are so many other demands for their attention, such as phone calls, reading, CDs, putting on make-up, nose dredging, brushing teeth and, in the case of one Honda Civic I passed in Dundee recently, shaving the entire head.
However, from this week, there’s one less distraction available because smoking in cars is now banned in Scotland if there are children present.
The two remarkable things about this law are that this level of care and consideration actually requires legislation, and that doctors are already saying it does not go far enough, and that smoking in cars needs an outright ban.
To which we say — “get in line, doctors”, because there are so many other car-related rules that we could introduce.
*a minimum height for drivers: to avoid tiny people peering over the top of their dashboard like Kilroy, while driving 4x4s so big you could strap Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio to the front.
*monthly reminders on how to approach from any sliproad onto the M8: no driving as though there is an open drawbridge just ahead, and the driver needs to accelerate so they can jump across it.
*hands where we can see them: Not opening a cd cover, extracting Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild, and attempting to stab it into the hard-to-find dashboard slot without taking your eyes off the road, nor reaching your left arm back between seats to grope blindly around in search of the A-Z, or the plug for your GPS.
*music: some countries have already banned those extremely powerful car stereos where bass notes sound like nuclear devices being detonated. But power ballads are also a hazard. No-one wants to be your passenger when you close your eyes to harmonise with Mariah Carey on that high note.
Wow! Wow! Wow! Unbelievable! Kate Bush has shocked some of her fans by giving an interview where she admits she “really likes” Theresa May, describing her as “very sensible”.
Should we be surprised when the wealthy feminist composer of This Woman’s Work expresses a broad and rather pedestrian admiration for a female politician?
It’s not the first time Kate’s politics have intrigued us; I still have a CD single of her anthem Ken, where she describes Ken Livingstone as “the man we all need” who is also a “funky sex machine.” It’s not political orientating Kate needs: it’s stronger specs.
Besides, if we refuse to engage with artists because they have different views from us, visits to theatre, cinema, galleries and other events suddenly become very limited. However, I will be rearranging my Spotify if she releases The Hounds of Gove.
(this is still amazing)
The guy who invented the McDonald’s Big Mac — and ate one every day — passed away this week at the ripe old age of 98.
Beat that, whoever invented cottage cheese.
PANTO season is here - oh, yes, it is! - and Scotland's grande dame is busier than ever. As well as writing, directing and starring in The Snaw Queen at Glasgow's Tron theatre, somehow Johnny McKnight has also found time to write Weans In The Wood for Stirling's Macrobert Arts Centre.
I managed to catch The Snaw Queen, a chaotic, shaggy deer story about Rudolph the Reindeer being transformed into an ice-hearted version of Madonna, forcing McKnight's Mrs Claus to hunt for magic trinkets that might save Christmas. It's the sort of weird plotting you might dream up after a wheel of festive stilton, but this raucous, rambunctious show smartly taps into the traditional love of fairy tales, glitter and music hall, while offering local digs, pop singalongs and a Brechtian running commentary on theatre in Scotland.
When Rudolph reminds Santa's little helpers that the red-nosed reindeer can slow down time so that a second feels a year, Elvira the elf notes ruefully: 'I had that when I went to see the James Plays.'
I suspect the wisecracks depend on the mood of the audience because The Snaw Queen has a loose, improvisational vibe that likes to run with whatever happens on the night, whether it's a child who vehemently refuses to forgive penitent villains, or a house that turns out to be packed with theatre critics on opening night.
Both audiences chortled appreciatively at a scene with a magic mirror which can reflect the greatest fear of whoever holds it.
'Next year,' it taunted McKnight, 'you'll be playing the Pavilioooon!'
If anyone is still upset by the new tallow-coated fivers, I am happy to dispose of them. Just post them out to me. It’s fine. I will even pay for the stamp