I ate a slice of toast and Marmite then kissed my wife. I won’t be repeating the experience. She recoiled in disgust and said “YUCK!” I love Marmite, she doesn’t, even though it’s 100 per cent vegetarian like she is. She won’t eat anything that has a mother or a face. I’m quite partial to a bacon roll, unlike those of the Muslim faith. Me, I’m a Catholic agnostic. My two fishing buddies are atheists. I’ve supported Hibs since I was young enough to be lifted over the turnstiles but some of my best pals are Jambos. I wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of chinos but I know guys who have six pairs hanging in the wardrobe. I met a pal of mine on the bus yesterday. He was wearing a white poppy for peace on his lapel. He’d just been at a wreath-laying ceremony along with lots of other people wearing red poppies.
I watched the first episode of David Attenborough’s new Planet Earth series and enjoyed the scene where a lonely albatross had a wee chat with a gregarious penguin. When somebody puts up a bird-feeder, they’re hoping to see all kinds of birds arrive to share the freebies: goldfinches, chaffinches, blue-tits, sparrows, woodpeckers, blackbirds, thrushes, robins. And I’ve yet to meet anybody who plants a garden with one kind of flower.
Our lives are enriched by the differences between us and around us. That’s why so many of us looked on in horror at the slow-motion car-crash that was Donald Trump making it to the White House. This is a guy who spent 18 months standing up in front of the world’s press spouting hatred. Hatred for women, hatred for the disabled, hatred for Mexicans, hatred for Muslims, hatred for Jews, hatred for anybody who disagreed with him. He encouraged people to beat up protesters at his rallies. He called women pigs, dogs and sluts in public and he treated them even worse in private.
Yet despite the fact that more people in America voted for Hillary Clinton, America’s archaic electoral college system and a majority of white males managed to shove him over the line and into the most powerful position in the world.
Trump’s rise and the Brexit referendum result in Britain have wrenched the lid off a simmering stew of racial hatred. Violently intolerant opinions we thought were dead and buried have re-surfaced. In France Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party is on the rise. In Austria, the extreme right-wing presidential nominee Norbert Hofer has 50 per cent of the country on his side.
But the last thing we should be doing is wringing our hands and prophesying doom and gloom. Now is the time for us to react against racial hatred wherever we find it. So if you’re on the bus home and some drunk starts abusing somebody for their skin colour or their sexual orientation, don’t look away and feel helpless. Stand up and stand next to the victim. Make it obvious to everybody that you won’t tolerate intolerance. Don’t put up with casual racism wherever you find it; challenge people who start sentences with “I’m not racist but . . .”. And go out of your way to show people of different faiths, backgrounds and sexual preference that you welcome them and support them. There’s only one race in the world – the human race.
Drastic measures required to tackle sea of plastic
Last week, Greenpeace’s new boat The Esperanza was refused permission to dock at Leith because the port was “too busy”. I suppose we’ll have to take Forth Port’s word for that although I can’t imagine that Greenpeace just turned up unannounced, without any forward planning, hoping to get a space on spec.
As it turned out, Greenpeace probably got more publicity from being refused a berth at Leith than it would have generated if it had been allowed to tie up at the docks.
The ship was here to highlight the fact that our oceans are in so much danger from plastic waste that by 2050 scientists predict they will contain more plastic than fish. In pointing this out, Greenpeace were also lending their support for a bottle deposit return scheme in Scotland.
Bottle deposit return schemes are the only proven way to get people to recycle. The idea is very simple: you pay a small deposit when you buy drinks cans and bottles and you get it back when you return them. Could it work in Scotland? Of course it could. Deposit return schemes are already working in Canada, Australia, America, Sweden, Germany and Norway.
It still astonishes me that in a country as beautiful as Scotland you can drive up the A9 and see our carriageway verges littered with plastic bottles – Irn-Bru, Strathmore, Highland Spring, they’re all there. And yet companies like AG Barr would have us believe that the present situation is okay.
Last year, on Hogmanay, they scrapped their own 100 year-old bottle deposit return scheme. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they are now in cahoots with the rest of the drinks industry, privately lobbying the Scottish Government not to introduce deposit return legislation. They won’t come out and debate this in public. It’s all done behind the scenes.
To make matters worse, they have persuaded Keep Scotland Beautiful to side with them. You couldn’t make it up. The environmental charity whose mission is to “make Scotland clean, green and more sustainable” has joined forces with the companies whose packaging litters our landscape to oppose the only proven way of persuading the public to recycle.
In countries where bottle deposit return schemes exist, more than 90 per cent of bottles are recycled. In Scotland, the figure is well below 50 per cent.
What can you do to end this nonsense from our un-cooperative drinks industry ? Hit them where it hurts. Stop drinking Coke. Stop drinking bottled water (what’s wrong with the stuff that comes out the tap?). And stop drinking Irn-Bru. You know it makes sense.
It was a miserable day for the Jambos when Hibs put the memory of 5-1 behind them forever. For that reason alone, the two-disc film of this famous victory – entitled Time For Heroes – is worth every cent of its £25 price tag. If your blood runs green, this is the Christmas present for you.